Wintry weather over the past week has not brought any surprises from the Arctic, though good numbers of Glaucous Gulls have raised interesting questions about the extent of variability in the species, the possible occurrence of extralimital taxa, and hybrids – areas which need more work. The kumlieni-type Iceland was again present on 29th. Another interesting identification challenge – the possible longipes Oystercatcher at Sandwick – has developed a pale collar which looks narrower than typical of that taxon.
Wildfowl have included two fine male Goosanders at Catfirth (scarce in Shetland) and the 2CY male King Eider at Quarff which I saw on my fourth attempt (for a photo by Larry Dalziel see: http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/display.php?gallery=gallery9 ). It became apparent why it is so elusive: following a tip-off from local resident Russ Haywood I arrived within 30 minutes and saw it immediately with the Eider flock; ten minutes later, a boat working on the mussel lines flushed the flock, which disappeared down the sound.
The non-avian highlight was provided by one or two Humpback Whales at Gulberwick on 28th; November seems to be a good month for this species in Shetland.
Finally, we have added Iceland Gull and Snow Bunting to the garden list, which now stands at 113.