Monday, 24 April 2017

24th April 2017 Yell & Unst W4

A snowy start to the day that soon brightened into quite a sunny afternoon. Yell produced a drake Scaup at Cullivoe and I finally obtained closer views of the Iceland Gull at Mid Yell. Back on Unst a Dunlin at Uyeasound was only the second encounter with the species this year and there was a Pink-footed Goose present with a flock of 20 then seen at Buness House. On the approach to Millfield there were 20 Redwings in a roadside field.

Drake Scaup at Cullivoe

Iceland Gull at Mid Yell

Saturday, 22 April 2017

22nd April 2017 Unst NW4

The 3 Brambling in our garden remain and were joined by a Chiffchaff today probably feeling out of place in the cold wind and frequent snow showers. A female-type Merlin zipped across the road near Baltasound and whilst driving near Buness House we chanced upon the first small flock of Eider we've seen off Baltasound this year. Whilst I am aware that the subspecies formerly known as 'Northern' Eider is now considered invalid by the BOU I've been looking for any individuals showing formerly published characters since I moved up here a year ago and today's small flock included a fine drake.

Drake Common Eider at Baltasound

Drake 'Northern' Eider at Baltasound
Showing the combination of hooked white scapular sails and both orangey-coloured frontal lobes and bill-base has previously been considered typical of S.m. borealis (e.g. see BW23 No.2 and here) albeit the recent rearrangement of  recognised North Atlantic forms is detailed here. The 2014 Dutch Birding identification paper places much emphasis on differences of nostril position.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

20th April 2017 Unst W4 Overcast

A really quiet day when 3 Brambling in our garden easily proved the highlight. Otherwise 14 Pinkfeet were at the Heritage Centre and just a few lingering Redwing seen.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

19th April 2017 Unst W2

Skaw produced my first Whimbrel of the year, a pair of Pied Wagtails, a few lingering Redwings and a couple of Chiffchaffs in one of the geos. A look out to sea from Lamba Ness produced my first 3 Arctic Skuas of the year that eventually virtually overflew me calling. Norwick was quiet with just a Goldcrest and a Brambling. On hearing of the Hermit Thrush on Noss I headed out to check some trees. No Catharus but an intriguing Gull in a field next to the Setters Hill pines, that I assumed was a hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Whimbrel at Skaw

Arctic Skuas at Lamba Ness

Presumed Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid at Baltasound
Click on some of the above images to enlarge. For images of a similar presumed hybrid see here. Some of the darker-mantled hybrids are apparently indistinguishable from Heuglin's Gulls. It appears to be a 4CY individual and published characters for Heuglin's including often showing just a single white mirror to p10, the black on the outer three primaries reaching the primary coverts, black subterminal band to the bill, some blackish tail markings, some outer secondaries showing limited dark centres, some vermiculations to the lower tertials and insipid leg colour could all equally apply to today's individual. There are images of an April 4CY Heuglin's Gull here.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

18th April 2017 Yell & Unst S1

The 6 Pinkfeet remained at the Windhouse bod on Yell. Whilst driving back across Unst I saw the Greenshank on the houb first seen by Mike yesterday and the 2 Barnacle Geese at Ordaal first seen by Robbie a couple of days ago.

Fritillary at the Windhouse Bod, Yell

 Arisdale, Yell
It felt very eerie walking alone through a plane crash site with wreckage still strewn across the hillside.

Monday, 17 April 2017

17th April 2017 Unst & Yell N2

Just the 2 Bramblings were seen during a quick look at Norwick. On Yell 6 Pinkfeet were consorting with domesticated Geese at the Windhouse bod.

Pinkfeet on Yell

Sunday, 16 April 2017

16th April 2017 Unst N1

Lamba Ness played host to 8 Pinkfeet and a pair of Snow Buntings near the Sheep Pens. Norwick produced just 2 Brambling.