Early this morning, after just a couple of hours of working on Yell, I received a text message to say that Robbie had found some Pilot Whales off Skaw. I resisted the temptation to head back not really expecting them to linger. Come 3pm and another message to say that Brydon had seen the White-tailed Sea-Eagle circling over the School. It was turning into a great day to be working on Yell! No mention of the Whales, but just as I reached the ferry back to Unst, I received a text from my parents to say that the Whales were off Lamba Ness. A fast drive across Unst and I was soon enjoying views of the pod of 41 Pilot Whales that spent the next few hours covering not more than 500m in the bay at Skaw. Many thanks to Dave Pullan for letting us obtain some superb views through his scope.
Firstly, congratulations to one of Sussex's finest rarity-finders, Alan Kitson, for finding Sussex's first Elegant Tern at Church Norton today - rarity-finding class never fades! Not nearly such an exciting day here on Unst with just a single Blackcap at Skaw and a Spotted Flycatcher at Norwick being seen. We also saw the sad sight of the corpse of the male Quail that we had enjoyed listening to from Al's garden a couple of days ago that Al found dead this morning alongside his house. The Quail had a zero fat score.
Surprisingly warm air today but with rain persisting for much of the morning. When the rain started to clear a look around Norwick produced a couple of Blackcaps and 3 Chiffchaffs. North Dale produced a singing Willow Warbler. It started to rain again but we decided to press on to Skaw where we found a couple of Phylloscs, a Garden Warbler, a Reed Warbler and best of all a crisp fresh-plumaged Marsh Warbler. On the way back there was a Spotted Flycatcher at Braeview. An evening then spent touring the Baltasound sites where surprisingly not a single migrant was seen.
Chiffchaff at Norwick
Garden Warbler at Skaw
Reed Warbler at Skaw
Click the lower two of the above images to enlarge. p4 doesn't appear emarginated effectively eliminating the possibility of it being a BRW. Also, the emargination on p3 falls beyond the tips of the longest tertial whereas the reverse would expected to be the case for BRW.
Awoke to thick fog and a Redwing in our garden so it didn't feel a lot like June! Drizzle but calm at Skaw produced just a single Willow Warbler. Burrafirth added a surprise Long-tailed Duck and a Chiffchaff. Haroldswick bay played host to a Common Tern. The fog thickened and rain soon followed. It cleared early afternoon and we saw the drake Surf Scoter with Eider off Hamar that Brydon had relocated there yesterday. The Baltasound sites added singing Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff and 2 Mealy Redpolls were present at the Post Office. Our reward came late in the day finding a female Red-backed Shrike at the School and a first-summer drake Velvet Scoter sat on the sea off Haroldswick.
A flock of 3 Barnacle Geese present at Burrafirth were a surprise and there was a juvenile Iceland Gull on the beach there. A visit to North Dale this evening produced a Reed Warbler and a Garden Warbler.
Barnacle Geese at Burrafirth
Reed Warbler at North Dale Another eye-catching pale sandy individual but lacking the white tips to its tail of the Norwick bird. Interestingly Steve Minton has seen a very pale individual at Scatness too here