Wednesday, 26 July 2017

27th July 2017 Unst SE1 Overcast clearing

Not for the first time this week my day at work on Yell was interrupted with the news that Brydon had added to the tally of Two-barred Crossbills on Unst with a new female that he originally heard at Halligarth, from where it soon relocated to Setters Hill, joining the two present there. On my way home, new birds in, were represented by 3 Tufted Duck and 5 Knot at Uyeasound. I then saw the 3 Two-barred Crossbills in the pines at the School before they flew off with two being lost to view as tiny specks high in the sky heading southwest with the other seen to double-back towards Baltasound. A quick look at Setters Hill on my way past then drew a blank.  


The first record of Two-barred Crossbill for Unst was also the first acceptable record for Scotland. All accepted records for Unst, as far as I can ascertain, are as follows:

1859 
Halligarth, female and immature, shot, 4th September (H.L. Saxby).

2008 
Lamba Ness, male, 26th July (P. Nadin).
Norwick, female/first-winter, 5th August (S.J. Davies, K. Moyes).
Haroldswick, juvenile, 10th August (S.E. Duffield).

2011 
Halligarth, first-summer female, 29th July to 1st August (B.H. Thomason et al.).
Halligarth, male, 30th July to 1st August (B.H. Thomason et al.).

2013 
Baltasound, at least four, two females and two juveniles, 26th July to 5th August (B.H. Thomason et al.).
Hamar, two, immature male and immature female, 6th August (P.V. Harvey).
Burrafirth, Norwick and Skaw, juvenile, 20th to 25th September (R. Foyster, R.M.R. James et al.).


This year's trio include the two earliest Autumn records ever with find dates now as follows:

21/7  //  25/7  //  26/7  //  26/7  //  27/7  //  29/7  //  30/7  //  5/8  //  6/8  //  10/8  //  4/9  //  20/9

26th July 2017 Unst SE2 Overcast with some drizzle

On looking out of the window this morning the first bird seen was a new migrant in the form of a juvenile Grey Heron stood in the cut hay field being dive-bombed by Common Gulls and Arctic Terns. It later moved to the marsh at Norwick. Whilst I've seen a couple on Yell recently it's the first I've seen on Unst since the Spring. Unfortunately other sites checked didn't reveal the presence of any other new migrants although at Setters Hill both the Two-barred Crossbills were still busily feeding in front of their admirers and the Willow Warbler was still occasionally singing.


Juvenile Grey Heron at Norwick
Grey Herons don't breed on Shetland so any juvenile is an immigrant. BoS states the majority of Shetland birds originate from the migratory Scandinavian population as indicated by six recoveries of birds ringed as chicks in Norway and two others ringed in Shetland that have been found in Norway.

Juvenile Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill

 First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

25th July 2017 Unst SE1 Overcast

Whilst Brydon was checking Setters Hill this morning he picked out a juvenile Two-barred Crossbill flying over the houses that dropped into the pines and quickly joined the first-summer female again present there. They were both then seen at the School pines. I saw them both feeding together at Setters Hill showing well this afternoon in the calm sunny weather.

 Juvenile Wheatear on Yell
Seeing lots of these at the moment including three in our garden

Arctic Skua on Yell



Juvenile Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill




First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill

Monday, 24 July 2017

24th July 2017 Unst N4 Overcast

No sign of the Two-barred Crossbill today but the Willow Warbler was still present. An hour's seawatch from Lamba Ness this evening produced just the usual suspects.

Part of a flock of 70 Lapwings being a sure sign of Autumn!

Gannets passing Lamba Ness

Fulmar and Puffin passing Lamba Ness

Puffin with dinner passing Lamba Ness

Guillemot and 2 Puffins passing Lamba Ness


Bridled Guillemots passing Lamba Ness

Razorbill passing Lamba Ness

Black Guillemot passing Lamba Ness

Shag passing Lamba Ness

Twite at Skaw

Saturday, 22 July 2017

22nd July 2017 Unst SE2 Clear

A nice morning trying various areas that produced a presumably leucistic Fulmar sat on the cliffs at Skaw and a few Sanderling on the beach there, 2 Garden Warblers together at Norwick and the first-summer female Two-barred Crossbill still present at Setters Hill.

First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill 
In BW22:8:331-332 Deryk Shaw documented a first-summer male Two-barred Crossbill on Fair Isle in July 2009 that as with the current Unst bird lacked any white tertial tips suggesting they were not replaced at the same time as its inner greater coverts. The Unst bird was very vocal today regularly switching between its so-called 'flight calls' and its (superb)  diagnostic 'trumpet calls' that I managed to record here. Its then interesting to compare the close similarity in the resulting sonograms as follows:

Unst trumpet, flight, flight, trumpet, flight

Sweden flight, trumpet

Sweden flight

Fulmar at Skaw
presumably a leucistic individual




Sanderling at Skaw


Garden Warbler at Norwick

Friday, 21 July 2017

21st July 2017 Unst SE1 Clear

A stop at Setters Hill produced a very nice find on my way home from work...






First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill, Unst
I've been keeping my eyes and ears open ever since JFC told me  a couple of weeks ago that they were on the move on the Continent. Here's a recording of it's trumpet call




Willow Warbler at Setters Hill
My first of the autumn that was occasionally singing. It appears to be renewing its secondaries.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

18th July 2017 Unst W3 Overcast clearing

The forecast for today looked good so alarm clock set and off to work but I only got as far as Baltasound when heavy drizzle, very poor visibility, black clouds and windy conditions were enough to convince me to turnaround. The clearance finally came around midday and it felt it might be a good time to take a look for the adult White-tailed Sea-Eagle after three consecutive days of poor weather. I'd only just started scanning from the highest point at the telecom transmitter when I picked it out sat on a fencepost. Within a few minutes it took to the air and headed towards Baltasound so I alerted the birders there one of whom saw it from their house. It then flew south down the east coast before returning to its fencepost! It only sat there for a few minutes before it flew high to the southeast before again returning. Otherwise just a few returning Whimbrel, Turnstone and Dunlin were seen.



Adult White-tailed Sea-Eagle over Baltasound