Saturday, 30 May 2015

30th May 2015 Unst to South Mainland

We made our usual early morning visit to Skaw and Lamba Ness but no new migrants were seen. Back to the croft for breakfast and packing before heading for the ferry to Yell, with a couple of quick stops at Haroldswick pool and Uyeasound. The usual fast drive across Yell for the ferry to Mainland and we then headed for towards Sumburgh. We quickly saw the drake Ring-necked Duck on Loch of Hillwell and also a drake Garganey, and then nearby to try to see the Corncrake. We soon located it calling and after some time it walked out of the thick grass and gave some superb views. It was now time to drive back to Lerwick to catch the overnight ferry to Aberdeen.

Whooper Swan 17
Garganey 1 drake
Ring-necked Duck 1 drake
Corncrake 1

Corncrake at South Mainland (JFC)

Loch of Hillwell

Friday, 29 May 2015

29th May 2015 Unst W1

Early morning visit to Halligarth and the nearby pines. We then headed for Fetlar where we saw 2 Red-necked Phalaropes at Funzie RSPB. We checked a few of the Baltasound sites on our return and Norwick but few migrants were in evidence.

Great Northern Diver 2
Red-necked Phalarope 2
Puffin 5
Collared Dove 2
Chiffchaff 2
Blackcap 2
Garden Warbler 1
Redpoll 1

Ferry crossing to Fetlar
Out Skerries from Fetlar
Oystercatcher on Fetlar
Bridled Guillemot from the ferry back to Unst

Thursday, 28 May 2015

28th May 2015 Unst SW4

Early morning visit to Skaw, Lamba Ness, Haroldswick and Burrafirth produced little. We then met Alan who had relocated his female subalpine in the roses at Halligarth which we soon saw. We then toured the Baltasound sites seeing the Todd’s Canada Goose but little else in the ongoing westerlies.

Pink-footed Goose 1
Todd’s Canada Goose 1
Wigeon 7
Teal 1
Pintail 2
Whimbrel 2
Iceland Gull 1
Chiffchaff 2
Blackcap 1
Subalpine Warbler 1 female
Sedge Warbler h
Redwing 1

Female Subalpine Warbler at Halligarth (Allan Conlin)
Allan not only found and identified but also obtained the above images of this ultra-skulking individual. With the recent split of Moltoni's Warbler, and the male present on nearby Fair Isle, we were disappointed not to hear this bird call as the understanding of any other identification characters of females is still in its infancy. However, it is interesting to compare the similarity in appearance with the female Subalpine Warbler present on Blakeney Point alongside the male Moltoni's Warbler a little earlier in the month:
Female Subalpine Warbler at Blakeney Point in May 2015 (Jake Gearty)

Pair of Pintail on Haroldswick pools (JFC)
Arctic Tern at Norwick Beach

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

27th May 2015 Unst

We checked Skaw, Lamba Ness and North Dale but no migrants were seen. We then tried Baltasound but were hampered by the weather. We revisited Baltasound in the afternoon when we found a superb Rustic Bunting in the pines opposite the police station and rumbled that there were two vagrant Canada Geese present on the island – the Lesser Canada Goose B.c. parvipes at Haroldswick Bay and identifying a Todd’s Canada Goose B.c. interior at Ordaal House.

Pink-footed Goose 1
Lesser Canada Goose B.c. parvipes 1
Todd’s Canada Goose B.c. interior 1
Gadwall 4
Pintail 1
Whimbrel 1
Iceland Gull 1
Chiffchaff 1
Blackcap 1
Garden Warbler 1
Sedge Warbler h
Redwing 1
Redpoll 1
Rustic Bunting 1

Rustic Bunting in the Baltasound pines (JFC) 
JFC photographing the Rustic Bunting
Appearing nearly as large as and standing taller than the Greylags with a very long thin neck and a very long body
Its typical posture holding its neck strongly curved. Large, long and broad-billed its culmen appeared straight and formed a sharp angle with its forehead so lacking the continuous profile of the Haroldswick Lesser Canada Goose.
Not only considerably larger this bird had a completely different appearance to the Lesser Canada Goose present at Haroldswick being very lanky, rangy, large and long-billed, incredibly long-bodied and its body-plumage was a dark warm-brown
Its black neck-sock was far more extensive on the fore-neck and met a subtle brown-washed breast so very different from the typically white-breasted feral UK birds. Its brown-washed breast was virtually concolorous with its belly.
Its wing-coverts noticeably darkened sub-terminally so lacked the unform plain appearance of those of the Haroldswick Lesser Canada Goose
Todd's Canada Goose at Ordaal House, Baltasound
Videograb showing dark chin-strap/gular line
Todd's Canada Goose and Pink-footed Goose at Ordaal House, Baltasound (JFC)
It seems likely they had arrived together, a product of the endless westerly winds
Leucistic Pink-footed Goose at Ordaal House, Baltasound (JFC)

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

26th May 2015 Unst W5

We visited Skaw, Lamba Ness and North Dale but not a single migrant seen! We then tried the usual Baltasound sites but saw very little before rain started. Late afternoon we revisited Baltasound, and on our return at 5pm, JFC found a Lesser Canada Goose B.c. parvipes on Haroldswick beach where a first-summer male Blue-headed Wagtail and 4 Gadwall were also present.

Whooper Swan 4
Lesser Canada Goose B.c. parvipes 1
Gadwall 4
Teal 1
Iceland Gull 1
Collared Dove 2
Chiffchaff 4
Tree Sparrow 7
Blue-headed Wagtail 1 first-summer male
White Wagtail 1

Tree Sparrows at Skaw
they didn't linger long, possibly because there are no trees at Skaw

First-summer male Blue-headed Wagtail at Haroldswick (JFC)
On a lone bird it is difficult for images to convey a true sense of size but these being some of JFC's initial images perhaps best portray its diminutive size in comparison to its surroundings as well as its compact and short-bodied thickset shape.
A Rock Dove helpfully appeared to put the Lesser Canada Goose's small size in perspective. It appeared so small that most of the discussion was whether it was a Lesser or Richardson's Canada Goose B.h. hutchinsii
No dark chin-strap/gular line dividing its white cheek patches
Its pale-breast blends to slightly darker flanks and belly
When relaxed it looked short-necked with a very restricted dark neck-sock especially on the fore-neck. Its neck appeared very short bulging at its base. It appeared rather plump-bodied and very short-winged.
It typically appeared short-legged
When alert its neck was extended to its full extent when its upper neck covered by its black neck-sock appears noticeably thin but it still showed a characteristic bulge at its base
Showing its bill shape and size to good effect as well as its rather uniform plain wing-coverts. Its culmen appears slightly concave and continuous with its gently sloping and rounded forehead to its crown. Its rear-crown also appears rounded.
Lesser Canada Goose B.c. parvipes at Haroldswick (JFC)
Gadwall at Haroldswick

Monday, 25 May 2015

25th May 2015 Unst W2

Very nice conditions with a ringtail Hen Harrier seen leaving from Lamba Ness. Spent much of the day at Baltasound unsuccessfully searching for a female Subalpine Warbler.

Great Northern Diver 5
Hen Harrier 1 ringtail
Sanderling 3
Iceland Gull 1
Collared Dove 5
Swallow 2
Chiffchaff 8
Blackcap 3
Garden Warbler 1
Redwing 1
Tree Sparrow 8
Pied Wagtail 2
Chaffinch 1
Common Redpoll 2

ringtail Hen Harrier at Lamba Ness (JFC)

JFC birding in the Vaylie garden

Hooded Crow at Baltasound (JFC)

Great Northern Divers off Haroldswick (JFC)

Black Guillemot off Clibberswick (JFC)