Saturday, 19 September 2020

19th September 2020 Unst SW2 Drizzle

A drizzly day with low cloud that came and went for most of the morning. Lamba Ness produced a Pied Flycatcher and my first 3 Snow Buntings of the Autumn. A quick look at Skaw added the lingering Blackcap and a Yellow-browed Warbler. My usual circuit of Norwick produced a Merlin, 3 Blackcaps, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 5 Tree Sparrows and the Common Rosefinch. 

Pied Flycatcher at Lamba Ness

Snow Buntings at Lamba Ness

Lapwings over Lamba Ness

Yellow-browed Warbler at Norwick


Friday, 18 September 2020

18th September 2020 Unst NW4 Drizzle

An overcast, grey, foggy and drizzly start to the day with the wind stronger than forecast. All I could find at Skaw was the lingering Blackcap. Norwick produced 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, a Willow Warbler, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Tree Sparrows, a Siskin and the Common Rosefinch. Burrafirth was better continuing to play host to a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Lapland Bunting and I found my first 2 Little Buntings of the year that proved typically super-confiding. Haroldswick added a Kestrel, a Barred Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers and a Yellow-browed Warbler.

Little Bunting at Burrafirth

Yellow-browed Warbler at Norwick
thanks Wilma!

Lesser Whitethroat at Norwick

Lesser Whitethroat at Norwick
the majority of those seen today showed characters associated with eastern forms

Pied Flycatcher at Norwick

Thursday, 17 September 2020

17th September 2020 Unst SW4 Overcast

With a short spell of a light easterly wind overnight hopes were raised for this morning and it dawned calmer than forecast. On arriving at Skaw my first Brambling of the Autumn overflew calling. As I followed the path alongside the burn a movement in the mugwort just a couple of feet from where I found an Arctic Warbler on the first day of the month... soon revealed itself to be another - brilliant!! A few other migrants were present including a Reed Warbler, 2 Garden Warblers and a Blackcap. Lamba Ness produced a Willow Warbler and a Lapland Bunting. A look around Norwick added the Swallow, the Stonechat, 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, my first 2 Yellow-browed Warblers of the Autumn, a Willow Warbler, 2 Pied Flycatchers, the 5 Tree Sparrows and the Common Rosefinch. Haroldswick added another Yellow-browed Warbler as did Burrafirth and NorthDale.

Arctic Warbler at Skaw
the sixth I've found on Shetland

Yellow-browed Warbler at NorthDale

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

16th September 2020 Unst N3 Overcast

An early start at Skaw was disappointing producing just a lingering Blackcap. Lamba Ness added a flock of 17 Lapland Buntings and Holsen's road a Common Rosefinch that flew off south. A circuit around Norwick proved quiet seeing a single Swallow, the juvenile Stonechat, 5 Tree Sparrows, a Blackcap, 2 Willow Warblers and a Common Rosefinch. RJF let me know of Britain's first Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on Tiree that was truly firing but seeing just a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff at Burrafirth quickly brought me back to reality! Jamie's Spotted Sandpiper proved an all-too-brief affair and unfortunately we failed to refind it, but whilst looking around Haroldswick we did see 2 Lesser Whitethroats. Whilst a walk up Clibberswick hill failed to add to the island's Nearctic wader tally there were 28 Lapland Buntings near the summit of which 19 flew off south towards the Heogs.

Common Rosefinch at Norwick

Lesser Whitethroat at Haroldswick

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

15th September 2020 Unst SW2 Foggy

Awoke to thick fog but at least it was virtually calm. Passerines remained in very short supply with just the Stonechat, a few Wheatears, a Willow Warbler and 5 Tree Sparrows around Norwick but there were a good number of grounded common migrant waders comprised mainly of Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstome on the beaches and even at Lamba Ness where I flushed c.40 Snipe and saw 5 Knot walking around on the short turf. Brydon had heard an American Golden Plover a couple of times around Baltasound and then a third time just as I was making my way there. I joined him and Casey at the houb but there was no sign. We decided to walk the field to the north as it was playing host to a large flock of Golden Plover but it wasn't among them. Just as we were walking back towards the houb we heard the lovely clear drawn-out 'chew-weee' flight call from somewhere behind Skibhoul Stores that quickened our pace especially when it was followed by a second closer call that left us sure that it had landed on the houb... but just as we were approaching the road we saw all the Turnstone take flight, and whilst we never heard or saw the AGP, we had that sinking feeling... so it was no real surprise when Rob sent a message to say that it had just flown over his house at Ordaal. We headed in that direction but all too soon Rob saw and heard it flying back towards the houb, and despite our best efforts, we failed to relocate it.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

13th September 2020 Unst NW3 Overcast

It was nice to awake to a calm dawn after a couple of very windy days. There was a Blackcap in our garden and a Reed Warbler on the drive to Skaw. Burrafirth added a Long-tailed Duck on the Loch of Cliff and a Willow Warbler. A walk around Norwick produced just the Kestrel and the Stonechat so I decided to try and emulate Patrick & Hannah's success at finding 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers on Bryher yesterday by walking a few headlands. I returned to Skaw and whilst watching a House Martin I heard the familiar call of Lapland Buntings overhead. Looking skywards I started to check an approaching flock of passerines to see how many were Buntings... the first, second and then third and fourth... it took me by surprise, so a few moments, before I realised that all 19 were Lapland Buntings! They flew off strongly out to sea heading northeast until being lost to view. On walking towards the first headland I then inadvertently flushed a flock of 14 Lapland Buntings that landed once, but as I approached again, they then flew off high inland. There was then an approachable singleton at the tip of the next headland, and then singles at the next two headlands before a nice quartet on the edge of Gorsun geo. Next up was a flock of 5 on a heathery hillside and then another singleton overflew. I headed for Lamba Ness hopeful of more so it was no surprise to quickly find a flock of 5 but then something of a disappointment to add just another 2 singletons albeit I was passed by a campervan whose driver proceeded to walk the entire tip of the Ness and in doing so may have inadvertently flushed any Lapland Buntings before I arrived there. 

Willow Warbler at Burrafirth

Long-tailed Duck and Greylags at Loch of Cliff

Lapland Buntings northeast Unst
Mike kindly brought it to my attention what a decent arrival the 53 seen today represents as prior to 2010 the only previous double-figure counts had come from Fair Isle, Foula or Out Skerries and the highest ever count away from Fair Isle was just 35 (on Foula in 2005). Are we in for a repeat of the big influx year of 2010 when early in September notable counts on Unst included 9 on Hermaness on 5th, and a flock which peaked at 40 at Lamba Ness on 15th-16th. Numbers increased even further from late September to mid-October when birds were particularly common and widespread with a peak on 2nd-3rd October when there were up to 60 at Uyeasound, 40 at Norwick, 40 at Baltasound and 30 at Haroldswick, and there were 60 still at Skaw on 15th. Most had moved on by late October although there were 12 at Haroldswick on 23rd October and a few later scattered records of 1-2 until the last record of 2 at Baltasound on 29th November.

Ringed Plovers at Lamba Ness

Aberrant Meadow Pipit at Lamba Ness
Sporting wholly white outer primaries on its right wing but also fluffy-white rear flanks.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

9th September 2020 Unst NW5 Overcast

My first Continental Robin of the Autumn brightened the start of the day at Skaw but otherwise I could only find the lingering Reed Warbler still present. A walk around Norwick added the Kestrel, the Barred Warbler, my first Chiffchaff of the Autumn, 3 Willow Warblers, the Greenish Warbler still calling away, an overflying Siskin and the Common Rosefinch had returned after a 3 day absence!

Continental Robin at Skaw

Willow Warbler at Norwick

Chiffchaff at Norwick