Sunday, 30 April 2017

30th April 2017 Unst SE5 Clear

A fresh southeasterly wind didn't produce any Poms past Lamba Ness or much else for that matter! Skaw provided shelter for a Siberian Chiffchaff and there were more female Wheatears in evidence today that should please the displaying males. Haroldswick pool produced a White Wagtail and there was a scatter of Pied Wagtails throughout today. Burrafirth proved wintry with juvenile Glaucous and Iceland Gulls stood side by side. A Sparrowhawk was high over Norwick and there was a Mealy Redpoll at Valyie. At Haroldswick the fine adult summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver was watched dispatching crabs at close range. Finally a flock of 10 Brambling were seen at Millfield with another at Norwick.

Male Wheatear at Skaw

Female Wheatear at Skaw

Siberian Chiffchaff at Skaw

White Wagtail at Haroldswick

Iceland and Glaucous Gull at Burrafirth

Juvenile Iceland Gull at Burrafirth

Juvenile Glaucous Gull at Burrafirth

Mealy Redpoll at Valyie

 Great Northern Diver at Haroldswick

Saturday, 29 April 2017

29th April 2017 Unst SE3 Clear

A Willow Warbler was at Haroldswick where the Swallow was still present and there was a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver and dark-phase Arctic Skua offshore and a Dunlin on the beach. Our first Song Thrush of the year was at North Dale. A late afternoon stop at Setters Hill produced 2 Mealy Redpolls.

Willow Warbler at Haroldswick

Mealy Redpoll at Setters Hill

Friday, 28 April 2017

28th April 2017 Unst NE1 Clear

Mark Chapman has seen several White-billed Divers and some very impressive Spring movements of Skuas from the west coast of Shetland at Esha Ness over the years. A downside of living on Unst is the difficulty in accessing the west coast of the island, but after much encouragement from Mark, with today's switch to anticyclonic conditions I felt a few Arctic Skuas might be on the move especially having seen 2 dark-morphs together on Yell yesterday so it seemed a good day for a recce. Looking at the map, Flubergerdie seemed to offer the shortest walk to the optimal Birling / Bridges of Ross height of cliff albeit the walk across boggy and hilly terrain still took 75 minutes. Bonxies, Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins were all seen milling around but a couple of flocks of Kittiwakes did give the impression that they were on the move. Attempting to dry my wet socks and boots on a sunny rock was resulting in cold bare feet and I was regretting not taking a flask and something to eat. Without any Arctic Skuas it was beginning to look like 'pain for no gain' when at 7.55am a stunning summer-plumaged adult White-billed Diver came into view, high in the sky, approaching from the south at medium range. Having read of how their bills can all too easily 'disappear' against both sky and sea, with perfect lighting and viewing conditions looking due west, this one's bill stood out like a beacon! I rattled off a few record shots before continuing to watch it through the scope fly north. Brilliant. After returning home, and in need of a rest, a comfortably-seated seawatch from Lamba Ness seemed the ideal solution with plenty of northbound flocks of Auks to keep the interest. The wind veered east and in Spring-like weather there were more Wheatears in evidence, Skaw produced a Redwing, a Chiffchaff and 2 Brambling, Norwick a Sparrowhawk and a Chiffchaff, Burrafirth a bleached immature Iceland Gull on the beach only seen at range and another Chiffhcaff, and with Haroldswick producing the first Swallow of the year this evening.


the walk back

looking south along the west coast of Unst

Adult summer-plumaged White-billed Diver passing Flubergerdie

Puffins off Flubergerdie
these two were frequently gliding on raised wings presumably being part of their display

Presumably the same individual that we saw last Summer again sat among Fulmars

Brambling at Skaw

Sparrowhawk and Hooded Crow at Norwick

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

26th April 2017 Yell & Unst W2 Overcast

An ordinary start to the day seeing my first Carrion Crow of the year as I drove south through Haroldswick where there were also the first pair of Gadwall for the year sat in the bay and a flock of 27 Pinkfeet in nearby fields. The ferry trip to Yell took a detour to take a closer look at a superb pod of 14 Killer Whales heading west past Gutcher that we then followed to Cullivoe where the drake Scaup was still present. With the mid-afternoon onset of persistent rain I called it a day at work and took the 3pm sailing to Fetlar that then crosses to Unst. A few Great Northern Divers were seen on the way to Fetlar but then between Sound Gruney and Heogland on Unst I picked out a transitional-plumaged White-billed Diver. A flock of 18 Pinkfeet were seen at Buness House. Commuting to/fro work doesn't get much better than that!

Killer Whales off Yell

Transitional-plumaged adult White-billed Diver in Bluemull Sound