Thursday, 30 June 2016

30th June 2016 Unst Calm with heavy showers

A single Swallow was seen at Skaw. A walk around Norwick revealed that both the singing Chiffchaff and Marsh Warbler are still present. Robbie & JFC then very kindly informed us that Josh Jaggard had found a summer-plumaged Red-necked Grebe in Haroldswick Bay that we successfully saw this evening.

Eider family at Skaw

Arctic Terns at Skaw

Pale morph Arctic Skua at Lamba Ness

 Heavily-laden Redshank at Norwick Beach

Marsh Warbler at Norwick


Red-necked Grebe in Haroldswick Bay

Sunday, 26 June 2016

26th June 2016 Unst Calm and clear

The Marsh Warbler and Chiffchaff were both still singing at Norwick but today's surprise was a Sparrowhawk seen there. 

Two intermediate morph Arctic Skuas at Lamba Ness

Paler of the two intermediate morph Arctic Skuas
resembling the scarce pale type illustrated in Olsen & Larsson

 Marsh Warbler at Norwick
revealing the colour of its rump!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

25th June 2016 Unst NE1 Overcast drizzly

I heard the Marsh Warbler singing at Norwick but it didn't perform for the camera despite a two hour vigil. Otherwise there was just a singing Chiffchaff present. Baltasound played host to a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver and a single Turnstone. Robbie had mentioned that a Rook was present near the Baltasound Hotel a week or so ago that we bumped into this evening.

Rook at Baltasound

Friday, 24 June 2016

24th June 2016 Unst NE1 Foggy

A visit to Skaw produced a female Grey Wagtail and Norwick continues to play host to the singing Marsh Warbler proving much more mobile today presumably the result of no mate being present, a singing Chiffchaff and a Sand Martin that flew through in the foggy conditions.

Marsh Warbler at Norwick

Thursday, 23 June 2016

23rd June 2016 Unst SE1 Clear

Skaw produced an early morning surprise in the form of a Common Whitethroat and the singing Marsh Warbler was still present at Norwick.

Juvenile Pied Wagtails at Millfield
with the newly dug border proving popular!

 Marsh Warbler at Norwick

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

22nd June 2016 Unst S2 Showers clearing

A couple of showers passed through whilst I was at Skaw but were combined with a gentle warm southerly breeze so it felt nice conditions. A full summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver was sat off Norwick beach where there was also a Sanderling. Whilst walking around Norwick I heard another Marsh Warbler singing that was finally seen singing in the open allowing a few images to be obtained.

Great Northern Diver off Norwick beach

 Marsh Warbler at Norwick

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

21st June 2016 Unst & Yell S3

An early morning visit to Skaw produced a Great Northern Diver sat on the sea off the beach. A late afternoon visit to Baltasound and Haroldswick produced more Dunlin and Turnstone than of late and a Sanderling on Haroldswick beach with a Common Tern seen briefly fishing in Haroldswick Bay.

Great Northern Diver off Skaw

Dark morph Arctic Skua at Cunnister, Yell
The white spots on the leading edge of the wing made this a rather eye-catching individual. Olsen & Larsson state that albinism is regular in the North Atlantic islands (as high as 2% in certain populations). Such birds show pale marginal and lesser coverts, creating a pale leading edge to the inner wing, and many also have paler areas elsewhere, especially a pale patch in the central and lower parts of the belly that today's bird also showed! The book even includes a photograph (Figure 76) of a similar individual photographed by Gordon Langsbury in Shetland in June 1993.

Red-throated Diver in Haroldswick Bay
carrying food

Common Tern in Haroldswick Bay

Sanderling and Turnstone crossing paths on Haroldswick beach
Being mid-late June it would seem likely the Sanderling is still heading north whereas the Turnstone might be heading south per The Birds of Shetland

Sanderling on Haroldswick Beach

 Dunlin on Haroldswick Beach

20th June 2016 Unst W5 Rain clearing

An afternoon tour of the likely Wader sites on the island produced nothing more than a single Sanderling on Norwick beach. Being the Summer solstice it was tempting to stay awake until midnight just to see how dark it didn't get but in the event made to just after 11pm when still enough daylight for a Wheatear to be active in the garden and a Lesser Black-backed Gull to be patrolling the fields - birding never sleeps - as a good friend might say!

View across Norwick bay from Millfield gone 11pm

 Lesser Black-backed Gull from Millfield gone 11pm
Birding Never Sleeps here on Shetland at this time of year!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

19th June 2016 Unst SE2

A male Grey Wagtail at Skaw was the first seen there for some time but otherwise a tour of the sites on the island produced nothing more than a few Chiffchaffs. An evening seawatch from Lamba Ness in a strengthening southeasterly wind produced the usual suspects with good numbers of Puffins seen carrying food hopefully boding well for a productive breeding season.

Male Grey Wagtail at Skaw

Rock Dove at Millfield

Swallow at Norwick
carrying nesting material

 Intermediate morph dark type Arctic Skua at Millfield
A pleasant distraction whilst cutting the grass this afternoon!

Puffins passing Lamba Ness

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

15th June 2016 Yell NE5 Overcast

A strong northeasterly wind hampered birding today but a highlight came in finding two of the miniature Lesser Twayblades in flower on Yell being a new species of Orchid for me. 

Great Skua on Yell
Pale individuals are well-described by Olsen & Larsson (1997) and there's certainly a few here on Shetland. As most Bonxies on territory have become aggressive in the last week or so, but this one ignored me, I suspected it was likely to be a non-breeder and that would appear to be borne out by having commenced its primary moult on its left wing as the above-named authors note that failed breeders and non-breeders may start primary moult as early as July.

Golden Plover and Dunlin 'the Plover's Page'
Virtually every time a Golden Plover is encountered either on the ground or in flight it is accompanied by a Dunlin but this was documented as early as 1892 as detailed in British Birds Vol 41 No 8 here

Lesser Twayblades on Yell
It has a circumpolar distribution being found in Europe, Asia, Greenland and large parts of North America.