First For Skerries

I’ve been visiting Skerries annually since 2007. In that time I’ve added three species to the bird list of the island – Savi’s Warbler one spring and then both Firecrest and Pied Wheatear in the awesome October 2017 stay. Today I made that four with an American Golden Plover.

American Golden Plover is expected in autumn on Shetland, with more than one usually seen. Skerries though does not do well for American shorebirds, this is largely down to it being on Shetland’s east coast and other prior landfall opportunities for birds coming in from the west.

In the above map Out Skerries is where the airplane sign is to the right and it says Bruray, the posh name for East Isle. it’s ironic that Skerries is still virtually hidden by a giant aeroplane at this OS map scale as there are no plane services and haven’t been for years. Anyway, this hopefully illustrates the point.

Today’s bird was in a small flock of Golden Plovers on the hills. The birds flew up from behind a ridge and it immediately drew attention to itself by calling. AGP’s don’t call like ‘our’ Golden Plovers so that was a giveaway, which enabled me to pick the bird out and confirm other features. Armpits are particularly key with ‘golden plover species’, the regular species here has white ‘armpits’ or axiliaries under the wing, this bird didn’t confirming it as an AGP.

As I succeeded in drowning my camera yesterday there are no pictures of today’s bird. Here from my archives is the only American Golden Plover I’ve found this side of the pond previously, a bird I saw whilst on holiday in Sal, Cape Verde in 2018. The long-legged, long-winged appearance is characteristic.

And to show the difference from Golden Plovers here’s a side by side picture by Stuart Piner. I’m sure he won’t mind me using it as he’s a friend. Stuart went through a period where he must have emitted pheromones that attracted AGPs in, as he found about four on the Fylde coast when nobody else could find any.

Anyway that encore probably is it for this trip unless the camera starts working again, as I am not inflicting phone pictures on people.

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