Monday, 31 October 2016

31st October 2016 Unst NW2 Overcast

After the excitement of yesterday it was back to work today although I did see a Merlin take a Fieldfare and it was very evident there had been a large arrival of Blackbirds with Fieldfares and Redwings also remaining on the island in good numbers. Back in time to squeeze in nearly an hours sea-watching from Lamba Ness seeing 6 Little Auks (N), 3 Sooty Shearwaters (N),  19 blue Fulmars (N), 3 Bonxies (N), a winter-plumaged drake Long-tailed Duck (N) and 6 Greylags (N) with a couple of Snow Buntings also being heard there.

Having just enjoyed reading the first chapter of the superb 'Heligoland An Ornithological Observatory' it's good to see there is a Siberian Accentor there today - something that the legendary Heinrich Gatke never recorded there.

Bonxie passing Lamba Ness

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Sooty Shearwater and Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Sunday, 30 October 2016

30th October 2016 Unst SW2 Light rain then cleared

Having read about the Poms and Sooties passing North Ronaldsay yesterday I spent the early morning at Lamba Ness seeing a large northerly movement of Fulmars but little else apart from a few Gannets and Auks in light rain and poor visibility. Not long after returning home I saw the news of the 'Fea's Petrel flying NW past North Ronaldsay at 9.13am plus 4 Poms and a Little Auk'. After initial thoughts of 'bu**er it, why couldn't that/they have flown past Lamba Ness' it then proved sufficient encouragement to head back down there. The rain had stopped and the visibility had improved and I'd seen a Sooty within a minute, 3 Sooties, 2 blue Fulmars & a Bonxie within 5 minutes and 40 minutes later with the tally being a summer-plumaged large Diver sp. (S), 7 Sooties, 9 blue Fulmars, 4 Bonxies (S) a Fea's/Zino Petrel flew into view... simply stunning! Whilst never close, it was brilliant all the same, especially as I'd picked it up well round to the south so enjoyed views for a couple of minutes as it headed north at 11.30am. Despite the near-calm conditions its flight was so undulating, rising and falling effortlessly on its long wings and the sharp contrast between its primarily jet black underwings and snow white underparts breathtaking! After watching it for a couple of minutes with it 4/5 of the way past me it rose and suddenly doubled-back, but only for 100m or so, before doubling-back again to continue north. With just 2 hours 17 mins between the two sightings it is presumably too short a time for the same individual to have been involved? but whatever did the trick for one to pass the NE of Orkney this morning worked for the NE of Shetland too. I remained seawatching until nearly 3pm seeing another 7 Sooties (13N & 1S) and another 5 blue Fulmars (all N), 9 Long-tailed Ducks (all w/p drakes 2N & 7S), 12 Little Auks (all S including flocks of 5 & 3) and a juvenile Glaucous Gull (S). Shortly after returning home I received a text from Brydon to say that he had found a male Pine Bunting behind the Post Office! We soon arrived and saw it in fading light.

Summer-plumaged Great Northern / White-billed Diver passing Lamba Ness
Being up against the sky, frustratingly, try as I might, I simply couldn't see its bill colour or bill shape

Sooty Shearwater passing Lamba Ness

Juvenile Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness

 Male Pine Bunting near the Post Office
many thanks Brydon!

Friday, 28 October 2016

28th October 2016 Unst W8 Clear

The westerly gale raged for a second day but at least it was dry. A trip to the shop revealed many Redwings were on the island whereas just a single Fieldfare was seen. A Merlin was seen near Haroldswick and a Little Egret that had earlier flown past Brydon's house and then seen on the houb was seen distantly around the small lochan in the field behind the church. On our way home the first Snow Bunting we've seen this Autumn was on the road at Buness House.

Little Egret at Baltasound

Snow Bunting at Buness House

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

25th October 2016 Unst S1 Overcast

Rain overnight had cleared by dawn and it soon became another nice calm day. As I walked to Norwick I met Robbie and Micky and we saw a Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrests, the 2 Common Rosefinches, 2 Chaffinch, c.10 Brambling and a Mealy Redpoll. Just as we had split up Robbie shouted to say he'd seen a Hawfinch in the roses near the bus shelter. Whilst elusive we eventually saw it fly around us, drop into a sycamore before diving back into the roses. Haroldswick produced a Robin, 2 Blackcaps and 3 Chiffchaffs. Setters Hill held just a Robin and a Waxwing flew over. At the School there was a Robin and 2 Goldcrests. We then met Micky again who had seen a Northern Bullfinch at Halligarth and we were soon there watching a fearless male and listening to it quietly trumpeting.

Hawfinch at Norwick

Northern Bullfinch at Halligarth
Seen previously on Fair Isle 12 years ago I'd forgotten how large these are!

Monday, 24 October 2016

24th October 2016 Unst SE1 Clear

There was a Merlin, 2 Common Rosefinches and 3 Waxwings at Norwick today and a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen hunting over the slopes. As we were driving to Lund I noticed a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll sat on a fence alongside the road near the junction with Baliasta. On getting out of the car it was apparent there was a small flock of Redpolls that appeared to also consist of at least 3 Coue's Arctic Redpolls, a Greenland Redpoll and 6 Mealy Redpolls. The Wood Sandpiper was also present on a small pool at the junction. Lund produced the Little Bunting and 3 Lapland Buntings and superb views of the Siberian Accentor in the evening sunshine.

Merlin with a sycamore leaf at Norwick

Two Common Rosefinches at Norwick



Ringtail Hen Harrier at Norwick
A well-marked head pattern and a dark boa are oft-quoted characters of Northern Harrier but the pattern of the underside of the primaries (including 4 dark bars on p9) and its streaked underparts are characters of Hen Harrier

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll
dwarfing a Mealy Redpoll

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll alongside a Greenland Redpoll

Coue's Arctic Redpoll with Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

 Coue's Arctic Redpoll (note tail)

Coue's Arctic Repoll (probably same based on tail)

Coue's Arctic Redpoll (full tail)

Coue's Arctic Redpoll

Possible Coue's Arctic Redpoll?

Wood Sandpiper

Siberian Accentor at Lund

 Lapland Bunting at Lund

Pink-footed Geese at Baltasound

Sunday, 23 October 2016

23rd October 2016 Unst SE1 Overcast

Another overcast but virtually calm morning. Skaw was glowing in the sunshine and a walk along the beach produced my first Black Redstart of the Autumn with 2 Robins, a Dunnock and a Goldcrest also seen plus several flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings. Norwick had held most of its birds from yesterday with 2 Woodcock, a Robin, 3 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrests, the Waxwing, 2 Chaffinches, 8 Brambling and the Common Rosefinch all seen. North Dale was quiet with just 3 Robins seen chasing each other around. At Burrafirth a Water Rail was inadvertently flushed, a Waxwing flew over calling and 2 Goldcrests were seen on the cliffs. Setters Hill yielded a single Blue Tit and nearby at Halligarth there were 2 Blue Tits, 3 Waxwings, a Blackcap and a Goldcrest. As we drove home a Long-tailed Duck was present at Haroldswick.

Skaw Beach looking prime real estate for a rare Wheatear...

Black Redstart on Skaw beach

Hedge Accentor at Skaw
my Prunella fix for today!

Common Rosefinch at Norwick

Long-tailed Duck at Haroldswick