Wednesday, 18 July 2018

18th July 2018 Yell SW2 Showers

A Hobby that flew across the road and continued east at the Windhouse bod was the first I've seen on Shetland. A flock of 30 adult Dunlin on the beach at Gutcher are the first sizeable flock I've seen this Autumn and were accompanied by a Turnstone. As I arrived home a vocal trio of Whimbrel flew in high off the sea and continued on their way south.

Juvenile Ringed Plover

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

17th July 2018 Unst SE1 Overcast

A misty start to the day was presumably responsible for grounding a Black-tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper on Lamba Ness. I later saw the 5 Common Crossbills at Setters Hill found by Connel yesterday.

Adult Black-tailed Godwit at Lamba Ness

Green Sandpiper at Lamba Ness

Bonxie at Lamba Ness
about as pale as they come

Sonogram of Common Crossbills at Setters Hill
Sonograms reveal an identical match to 'Glip' Common Crossbill that Martin Garner states is the commonest vocal type in the UK 

Monday, 16 July 2018

16th July 2018 Unst Calm

As I walked out of the door at 6am this morning I heard and then quickly saw a Sandwich Tern over the sea at Norwick. I managed to obtain a few photos and still made my ferry on time! It is only the second Sandwich Tern that I've seen this year with the first being found in similar circumstances!

Sandwich Tern at Norwick

Saturday, 14 July 2018

14th July 2018 Unst S3 Drizzle

I drove to Belmont where the low cloud and drizzle made a visit to Yell look unpromising so I returned north checking a few wader sites to no avail. The drizzle stopped for a couple of hours mid-afternoon when a Common Whitethroat at Skaw proved a surprise!

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at Millfield
This eye-catching individual was also present last Summer

Common Whitethroat at Skaw

Friday, 13 July 2018

10th July 2018 Skaw, Whalsay Calm and sunny

With news of five Long-tailed Skuas present on Whalsay yesterday, including a near-mythical adult dark morph, it proved too difficult a temptation to resist. I met Larry Dalziel on my arrival at Skaw and he told me the good news that at least some of the Long-tailed Skuas were still present. Almost immediately, a pack of six Skuas flew low across the hillside on the far side of the loch that clearly included some Long-tailed Skuas - a close examination of the images obtained revealed the presence of the adult dark morph, the two adult pale morphs, the first-summer pale morph, the first-summer dark morph but also a third-summer pale morph. They all quickly gained height, thermaled-up to join around the same number of Arctic Skuas, and disappeared in different directions. The two adult pale morphs were then seen on and off for most of my visit with the first-summer pale morph also subsequently making a few appearances. The most exquisite of the pale morph adults put on the best performance with it even hovering over the moorland on several occasions. A Red Grouse was also seen at Skaw on Whalsay. A thoroughly enjoyable and instructional day shared with John Lowire Irvine, George Petrie and Roger Riddington.

Long-tailed Skuas at Skaw, Whalsay
click on image to enlarge

Adult, dark morph Long-tailed Skua at Skaw, Whalsay
for a selection of far superior images by the finder John Lowrie Irvine here

Adult, pale and dark morph Long-tailed Skuas at Skaw, Whalsay

Adult, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas at Skaw, Whalsay

Adult, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas at Skaw, Whalsay

Third-summer (left) and two adult, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas

Adult (left and third-summer, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas

Third-summer, pale morph Long-tailed Skua at Skaw, Whalsay
Whilst adult-like in respect of the contrast between its greyish upperparts and blackish flight feathers and in having long tail-streamers it shows both a greyish breast band and a paler belly as described by Olsen & Larsson (1997).

Third-summer (left) and first-summer, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas

First-summer, pale morph Long-tailed Skua at Skaw, Whalsay
Showing a nice combination of an overall cold appearance, pale collar and head-sides, broad dark breast-band, retained juvenile primaries and white underparts.

First-summer, pale and dark morph Long-tailed Skuas

Sunday, 8 July 2018

8th July 2018 Unst W4 Overcast

A tight flock of 30 Redshank accompanied by 2 Turnstone seen flying in off the sea and straight inland were my first returning waders of the season and an hour's seawatch from Lamba Ness once the drizzly rain had cleared through this morning produced 1,140 Puffins, 195 Guillemots, just 4 Razorbills, 25 Bonxies and a single Arctic Skua all flying north.

'Bridled' Common Guillemot passing Lamba Ness

 Bonxie passing Lamba Ness

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

3rd July 2018 Unst WNW2

The Reed warbler was still singing at Valyie. In Baltasound a pair of Tree Sparrows were seen feeding a recently-fledged juvenile and an unseasonable female Pied Flycatcher was a surprise!

Tree Sparrows in Baltasound

First-summer female Pied Flycatcher at Baltasound
An unseasonable silent female Ficedula was worthy of close scrutiny especially one appearing to lack a white edge to its shortest tertial (but that proved only to be the case on its left wing) but its tiny primary patch (consistent with the illustration of that of a first-summer female Pied in Mild & Shirihai Birding World Vol.7 No.6), lack of a median covert bar and blackish uppertail-coverts all point to it being a Pied Flycatcher.