Thursday, 24 November 2016

24th November 2016 Unst W3 Overcast

An overcast day with a trickle of Gulls seen arriving in off the sea at Norwick where a third-winter Iceland Gull paused briefly on the beach before flying off inland over Clibberswick. That prompted me to check Burrafirth beach where two juvenile Glaucous Gulls were present.

Third-winter Iceland Gull at Norwick

Juvenile Glaucous Gull at Burrafirth

Juvenile Glaucous Gull at Burrafirth
A slightly darker individual

Sunday, 20 November 2016

20th November 2016 Unst Calm and clear

After being out all day yesterday and seeing very little I didn't have any great expectations for today. However, I had promised that I would help with the annual Greylag count so was out early and a little surprised that there was such a hard frost. I was almost immediately aware of a steady arrival of small flocks of large Gulls and soon saw a couple of flocks that included juvenile Glaucous Gulls. The first couple flew straight inland but some of the subsequent flocks were attracted to Norwick beach that was soon hosting 3 juvenile Glaucous Gulls. I digiscoped them with some of the resulting images revealing 4 were present with what appears an older individual amongst their ranks. Whilst they were sat there I saw another fly ashore before the Gulls were disturbed by a dogwalker and all flew inland. Another inbound flock then included another juvenile Glaucous Gull. Thinking that Burrafirth beach might be playing host to a few Gulls we headed there but nothing prepared us for the 300 or so large Gulls present spread along its length! I'd only just started properly scanning through them, having seen 4 juvenile Glaucous Gulls, when they unfortunately all spooked. My phone then started to ring with Brydon telling me that he had counted 10 among the birds in flight as he was viewing from across the bay. Glaucous Gulls suddenly seemed to be everywhere as virtually all of the Gulls flew south past us to the Loch of Cliff. At Skaw a juvenile Glaucous Gull flew inland and a juvenile and an adult were seen sat on the offshore island. We finally headed for Lamba Ness where a juvenile Glaucous Gull was seen flying north and a juvenile and a second-winter were sat on rocks there. Despite the distraction we still counted 174 Greylags. Apart from the arrival of Gulls the hard frost didn't see the arrival of any other hard weather migrants, and if fact, all day we only saw a handful of clifftop Blackbirds, 2 Redwings, 1 Fieldfare and 1 Skylark!

The first juvenile Glaucous Gull seen arriving with Herring Gulls

Another soon on its way

Four Glaucous Gulls (3 juv) on Norwick beach

First shot of the scene at Burrafirth and it reveals 3 Glaucous Gulls as below

three Glaucous Gulls at Burrafirth

Second shot of the scene at Burrafirth and it reveals 3 or 4 Glaucous Gulls

Third shot of the scene at Burrafirth that reveals 2 Glaucous Gulls and what appears to be a cheeky Iceland Gull that I didn't see in the field as below

 Iceland Gull (left) and Glaucous Gull (right) at Burrafirth

Fourth shot of the scene at Burrafirth that reveals 3 Glaucous Gulls

Fifth shot of the scene at Burrafirth revealing just a single Glaucous Gull

and whilst logic dictates that this depicts another argentatus it would be nice to obtain better images to see just how Azorean'esque it appears (also not seen in the field)

A frosty Norwick

A frosty Clibberswick but with calm seas

Adult Glaucous Gull at Skaw digiscoped at range

Second-winter and juvenile Glaucous Gulls at Lamba Ness

Saturday, 19 November 2016

19th November 2016 Unst SW1 Clear

At Skaw we saw 2 Water Rails chasing each other around and a Snow Bunting. We then walked north from Westing seeing a Goldeneye and a few Teal and Wigeon on a loch there. We then visited Easter Loch where the Goldeneye and Whooper Swans were calling whilst displaying in the warm sunshine.

Water Rails at Skaw


18th November 2016 Unst SW2 Clear

No sign of the Woodlarks but the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll was performing nicely behind the Post Office along with 4 Mealy Redpolls.

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at the Post Office

Mealy Redpolls at the Post Office

Pied Wagtail at Norwick

Thursday, 17 November 2016

17th November 2016 Unst SW1 Overcast

On returning from Baltasound we were delighted to stumble across 2 Woodlarks feeding together in the North Base Saxa Vord Car Park. 

Woodlarks at North Base, Saxa Vord

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

16th November 2016 Unst SW5 Overcast

A wet and windy day but a trip to Uyeasound produced further views of the female-type Scaup.

Female-type Scaup at Easter Loch

Monday, 14 November 2016

14th November 2016 Unst S1 Overcast

As I walked out of the door there was a Fieldfare sat on the fence. As I drove out of Millfield a Snow Bunting was feeding along the road. As I arrived at Skaw a Woodcock flushed out of the burn, the Water Rail was skulking around and there were good numbers of Blackbirds. Driving back along Holsen's Road a Snow Bunting flushed off the road. We then visited Baltasound where the large flock of Redpolls was present opposite the Post Office. The first birds seen were a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll sat alongside a Coue's Arctic Redpoll. The Coue's flew and joined a second Coue's among a flock of Mealy Redpolls. The Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll then flew and I quickly noticed a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll that appeared more warmly-suffused than the original. The flock then disappeared towards the Community Hall. We took a break visiting Easter Loch seeing a female-type Scaup and 46 Goldeneye. A return to Baltasound saw us fail to refind the flock of Redpolls,

Snow Bunting at Millfield

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll sat alongside a Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Baltasound Post Office

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll (as above)

Coue's Arctic Redpoll flies to the ground...

joining a flock of Mealy Redpolls...

...and a second Coue's Arctic Redpoll (five right-hand birds the same five birds as above including Coue's at the far right with the next bird to the left of the flock of five the second Coue's)

second Coue's in flight

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Baltasound Post Office
What appears a more richly and extensively warmly-suffused individual appearing 'tanned' or just a trick of the light!? Whilst the breast-side streaking also appears heavier and slightly blotchier and there is a streak or two visible in the centre of its breast can this be explained by changes in its pose?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

13th November 2016 Unst S1 Clear

A very light frost but a lovely calm sunny dawn. Visited Burrafirth and Loch of Cliff and then Skaw and Norwick to complete the WeBS count for both sites with 3 female-type Scaup at the Loch of Cliff and a first-winter Purple Sandpiper at Skaw proving the highlights.

Sunrise over Haroldswick

Burrafirth burn

Burrafirth beach

the squeeze to Burrafirth east beach

 Shore Station from Burrafirth east beach

First-winter Purple Sandpiper at Skaw