Sunday, 21 October 2018

21st October 2018 Unst SW5 Overcast

The westerly winds continue and not surprisingly it feels migration is at a complete standstill with a walk to Valyie producing a Long-eared Owl, a Robin, the Dunnock, a Song Thrush, 15 Redwings, 4 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, the Mealy Redpoll and a Chaffinch. Late this afternoon a Jackdaw flew past our house.

Long-eared Owl at Norwick

Saturday, 20 October 2018

20th October 2018 Unst SW4 Overcast

Skaw proved incredibly quiet with just a Chaffinch seen. A walk to Valyie produced a Peregrine, a Merlin, 2 Robins, the Dunnock, a Song Thrush, 25 Redwings, a Fieldfare, 3 Blackcaps, the Barred Warbler, the Yellow-browed Warbler, a Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, a Mealy Redpoll, 3 Chaffinches and 20 Brambling.

Mealy Redpoll at Norwick


Peregrine & Merlin at Norwick

Friday, 19 October 2018

19th October 2018 Unst SW4-5 Clear

Light intensity remained poor until nearly 9am this morning so the days are shortening fast. A walk to Valyie and back produced a now familiar line-up of species as I saw a Long-eared Owl, 2 Robins, the Whinchat, 25 Redwing, a Fieldfare, 5 Blackcaps, the Barred Warbler, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 5 Goldcrests, a Chaffinch and 55 Brambling. NorthDale added a Robin, Goldcrest, 5 Chaffinches and 15 Brambling. At Haroldswick I saw a Blackcap and 20 Brambling. Easter Loch was playing host to 31 Whooper Swans, a single Mute Swan and 15 Goldeneye.



Yellow-browed Warbler at Valyie

Whinchat at Norwick

Thursday, 18 October 2018

18th October 2018 Unst W4 Clear

A less windy start to the day was an improvement albeit the wind remains from an unhelpful direction. A walk to Valyie and back produced a Merlin, a Long-eared Owl, 3 Robins, 3 Song Thrushes, 20 Redwings, 5 Fieldfares, the Barred Warbler, 5 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 2 Goldfinches, 10 Chaffinches and 50 Bramblings. A look around Haroldswick added a Dunnock, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Reed Bunting and a Yellowhammer.

Reed Bunting at Haroldswick

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

17th October 2018 Unst SW5 Clear

On stepping out of the front door it immediately felt both colder and windier than forecast. A walk to Valyie and back produced 18 Whooper Swans being a flock of 13 adults followed an hour and a quarter later by a family party of 5 arriving in off the sea, 2 Long-eared Owls, 2 Robins, the Whinchat, a Song Thrush, 50 Redwing, a Fieldfare, 15 Blackbirds, the Barred Warbler, 4 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrest, 60 Brambling and 5 Chaffinches. All I saw at Skaw was a Robin, a Chiffchaff, a Brambling and a Chaffinch and at Lamba Ness just a Chiffchaff. Burrafirth added a Brambling. Setters Hill was playing host to 5 Goldcrest and a Jackdaw. A look around Uyeasound added a female Common Redstart.

Whooper Swans arriving in off the sea over Norwick
a fine sound and sight to start the day


Long-eared Owl at Norwick

Family of Whooper Swans arriving in off the sea at Norwick

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

16th October 2018 S6 Overcast

A walk around Valyie suggested there had been an overnight departure of migrants with just single Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest still present. Skaw played host to a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Goldcrest and there was a Yellow-browed Warbler at Braeview. Rain then stopped play but on returning home from the shop late afternoon coincided with the cloud clearing and a walk to Norwick produced a Waxwing and a Barred Warbler.

Barred Warbler at Norwick

Monday, 15 October 2018

15th October 2018 Unst SW3 Clear

After a very clear and virtually calm night it was a considerable surprise that so many migrants had remained on the island. Early morning at Valyie produced 3 Robin, my first Dunnock of the Autumn, the Great Grey Shrike that had been found yesterday morning, 50 Redwing, 20 Blackbirds, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Goldcrests and 50 Brambling. Skaw was also productive with my first Woodcock of the Autumn, 3 Robin, 200 Redwing, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Goldcrest. A trip to the shop in Baltasound ensured we checked a few sites there but it seemed generally quiet apart from several fields full of Golden Plover, Redwings and a single Goldcrest at Clingera and 5 Common Crossbills at Setters Hill.

Sunrise at Norwick

First-winter Great Grey Shrike at Valyie

Silver Y moth at Valyie

House Sparrows at Skaw
I infrequently see House Sparrows at Skaw and never a flock this size. They flew off high to the northeast(!) but were seen to return a few minutes later.

Common Crossbills at Setters Hill

14th October 2018 Unst NW2 Overcast

Nice to be out all day today in pleasant weather and plenty of migrants on the island. Plenty of Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds and a couple each of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests at Skaw. NorthDale provided my 'bird of the day' as a Siberian Chiffchaff was showing nicely and calling (most that I've seen since living on Shetland have been silent). Haroldswick added a Pink-footed Goose, my first Water Rail of the Autumn, a smart Greenland Wheatear and my only Yellow-browed Warbler of the day. The Barred Warbler was still at Norwick and a Whinchat showed nicely in the warm evening sunshine.

Redwings over Skaw

Goldcrest at NorthDale






Siberian Chiffchaff at NorthDale

Water Rail at Haroldswick

Male Greenland Wheatear at Haroldswick

Whinchat at Norwick

Wheatear at Norwick

13th October 2018 Unst SW5 Overcast

From the outset a good arrival of Thrushes and Finches was obvious with 3 Song Thrushes, c.500 Redwing, c.50 Fieldfare, c.50 Blackbirds and c.100 Brambling and c.30 Chaffinches seen throughout the day. A Peregrine flew over Valyie and yesterday's first-winter Ficedula was still present as were 5 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs and 4 Goldcrests. A female Hawfinch appeared in our garden late morning. We enjoyed a coffee with Wilma seeing a Barred Warbler, a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest in the process. An evening visit to Skaw produced a Mistle Thrush.

Raven & Peregrine over Valyie

Brambling at Valyie

Fieldfares over Valyie












First-winter male Ficedula sp. at Leawart
Brian, Geoff & Martin found this bird yesterday and immediately flagged-up its extensive white primary patch when drawing other observers' attention to it. Being viewed in the strong wind it was difficult to see much critical detail and the light was so poor it was impossible to obtain any useful images. It was performing much better today in the increasingly calm conditions. The tertial pattern and moult contrast in its greater coverts would appear to age it as a first-winter, and its inky-black longest uppertail-coverts sex it as a male. The identification of some first-winter Ficedula is incredibly difficult (impossible in the field?) compounded by the hybridization of  Collared and Pied Flycatchers producing birds with intermediate appearance and further hindering the understanding of the complete variation of pure bred birds. Whilst the white primary patch protruding beyond its primary coverts (see Shirihai & Svensson 2018), almost ghosted collar (even the suggestion of concealed white feather centers in its nape) and the white on its outer tail feathers reaching the tips could be construed as pro-Collared features, but being a male, it might then be expected that its primary patch extends onto its outer primaries and I didn't get the impression of it showing much white in the tail. However, intriguingly, whilst it twice failed to show any response to two playbacks of the song of Pied Flycatcher, it twice responded vigorously to the playback of the song of Collared Flycatcher - on the second occasion immediately flying in from c.50m. Whilst I've personally no firm feelings as to its identity, I will find it one of the most thought-provoking birds of the Autumn.

More on the identification of Ficedula here from which I've copied the image below of a Collared Flycatcher trapped at Spurn 30th August 2010:



and here from which I've copied the image below:
Collared Flycatcher (left) and Pied Flycatcher (right) at Ottenby


Female Hawfinch at Norwick

Dunlin at Norwick

Barred Warbler at Norwick

Mistle Thrush at Skaw