Saturday, 19 January 2019

19th January 2019 Unst Calm & clear

Another beautiful calm and clear day but with the forecast not looking so good for tomorrow we decided to complete the WeBS counts for Norwick and Burrafirth. The morning was dominated by a trickle of incoming Gulls at Norwick that numbered c.300 Great Black-backed Gulls and c.200 Herring Gulls including a high percentage of argentatus. Looking through them as best we could we saw 3 Glaucous Gulls (2 juv & a 2w) and a juvenile Iceland Gull. Similar arrivals usually spanning the entire morning have been seen on nice bright sunny days in past winters. Are these birds arriving from an offshore trawler fleet or from further afield? I guess we'll never know... Otherwise the most notable birds we saw were 2 Diver sp. flying distantly north past Lamba Ness, a Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and 11 Goldeneye on the sea at Burrafirth and 2 Water Rails at Norwick. 

Haroldswick from Upper Sotland

Great Black-backed & Herring Gulls arriving at Norwick

Water Rail at Norwick

Friday, 18 January 2019

18th January 2019 Unst Calm & clear

A cold, crisp and calm day. A Song Thrush in our garden was a surprise accompanying 3 Redwings today. I walked to Norwick and whilst chatting to Robbie a 3w Glaucous Gull flew in over the beach. I also saw a Water Rail, stumbled across a Long-eared Owl and flushed a Woodcock. We then drove to Uyeasound where the 2w Iceland Gull was present on Dam Loch, but with Easter Loch completely frozen, little else was seen. On driving back we saw the 2 Tundra Bean Geese in Baltasound that Robbie had found yesterday and there were 5 Dunlin present on the houb.

Long-eared Owl at Norwick

Adult Tundra Bean Goose at Baltasound
An adult so not one of the Clivocast/Muness trio

Thursday, 17 January 2019

17th January 2019 Unst N5 Overcast

The Redwing had remained in our garden and the flock of Twite numbered 22 today. Unfortunately Holsens Road was too icy to negotiate so I couldn't seawatch from Lamba Ness. I walked Clibberswick hill but saw little until just returning home when 2 juvenile Glaucous Gulls flew towards Norwick.

Haroldswick from Clibberswick hill

Holsens road from Clibberswick hill

Valyie from Clibberswick hill

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

16th January 2019 Unst N3 Overcast

A Redwing and 6 Twite in our garden was a nice start to the day. A look at Skaw failed to produce anything so with a cold northerly wind blowing I headed for Lamba Ness where the first Oystercatcher I've seen there this year was present - Fair Isle recorded their first for the year on the 12th. I then enjoyed the spectacle of c.2,000 Fulmars flying north in among which I saw 8 blue Fulmars including two together at one point. Otherwise , I saw my first flypast Red-throated Diver of the year, 10 Common Guillemots and 15 Kittiwakes all flying north. A flock of 20 Teal were on the sea off Norwick but had probably been flushed there by a low-flying helicopter buzzing over the north of Unst this morning.


the walls that provide some shelter when seawatching at Lamba Ness

Oystercatcher at Lamba Ness

Red-throated Diver passing Lamba Ness

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

15th January 2019 Yell W4 Overcast

With the forecast being for a mild and much calmer day and now with just enough daylight to complete a double shift at work, I headed for Yell. Ironically the only noteworthy sightings were both on Unst. I saw a juvenile Glaucous Gull in flight as I left our house with just the merest glimmer of light in the sky, and then saw another juvenile Glaucous Gull, again in flight, as I drove through Baltasound. Unfortunately I returned home after dark so too late to check Norwick beach today.

Monday, 14 January 2019

14th January 2019 Unst NW3 Snow showers

A light dusting of snow and subzero temperatures but the roads didn't seem too icy so I drove to Lamba Ness arriving just after sunrise. As the wind was forecast to slacken I felt the early morning was likely to be the best. There was a flock of 6 Golden Plover sat near the tip as I walked to the shelter of the walls. There were far fewer birds moving north than yesterday with totals seen in a couple of hours of c.500 Fulmars including 3 blue Fulmars, 3 Glaucous Gulls flew north and a juvenile flew south, 10 Kittiwakes, just one Guillemot and a Little Auk. On returning home there was an adult Glaucous Gull on Norwick beach. A late afternoon walk in the snow to Norwick beach produced a Viking Gull - hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gull and a Skylark being the 70th species I've seen this year.

A snowy scene on leaving home this morning

Norwick from Holsens Road

Golden Plover at Lamba Ness

Juvenile Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness

Robbie photographing on Norwick beach

Viking Gull at Norwick beach

Sunday, 13 January 2019

13th January 2019 Unst N6 Overcast

On drawing the curtains a juvenile Glaucous Gull was seen flying past heading for Norwick. A drop in temperatures overnight combined with a strong northerly wind made seawatching from Lamba Ness an attractive option. Shortly after arriving a Little Auk flew north and another was seen later being the highlight of the morning. Also seen flying north were several thousand Fulmars including 6 blue Fulmars, c.100 Kittiwakes, an adult Glaucous Gull, a juvenile Iceland Gull, c.40 Common Guillemots and a Black Guillemot. A couple of Dolphins also surfaced very briefly the once but it all happened too quickly for me to see any markings. Brydon then kindly let me know that he had seen a good-sized flock of Redpolls in Baltasound that included the Coue's Arctic Redpoll that he originally found on Boxing Day, but unfortunately, they'd disappeared by the time we took a look for them. I then returned to Lamba Ness this afternoon, where on the way, a flock of 20 Redwings along Holsens Road was perhaps the first hint I've seen that birds have fled the now much colder Scandinavia. The seawatch was quieter this afternoon, although a blue Fulmar and a 3w Glaucous Gull flew north.

Stormy seas at Lamba Ness

contaminated? Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Little Auk and Fulmar passing Lamba Ness
a terrible shot but it shows just how small Little Auks can appear

Little Auk passing Lamba Ness

Winter-plumaged Common Guillemots passing Lamba Ness

Third-winter Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness