Tuesday, 30 May 2017

30th May 2017 Unst SE1 Overcast

A flock of 3 Barnacle Geese present at Burrafirth were a surprise and there was a juvenile Iceland Gull on the beach there. A visit to North Dale this evening produced a Reed Warbler and a Garden Warbler.

Barnacle Geese at Burrafirth

Reed Warbler at North Dale
Another eye-catching pale sandy individual but lacking the white tips to its tail of the Norwick bird. Interestingly Steve Minton has seen a very pale individual at Scatness too here

Monday, 29 May 2017

29th May 2017 Unst Calm & overcast

In what felt promising calm overcast and almost oppressive conditions it was disappointing that Skaw held nothing more than a Swallow and a couple of Phylloscs. Lamba Ness added a small flock of 'altifrons'-type 'Northern' Golden Plover and a tight flock of 4 migrant Ringed Plovers. Norwick beach produced my first 3 Sanderling of the year and continued to play host to the long-staying juvenile Iceland Gull, the Spotted Flycatcher had also remained but otherwise just a White Wagtail, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Mealy Redpoll were seen. Sites around Baltasound literally proved birdless until getting out of my car at Clingera where the song of a Common Rosefinch was immediately heard being soon tracked down to a first-summer 'orange variant' male. A check of Halligarth produced a singing male Blackcap.

Adult male altifrons-type Golden Plover at Lamba Ness
Robbie first introduced us to these strikingly-plumaged beauties a couple of years ago that are in fact illustrated in the Collin's Guide

Sanderling at Norwick

White Wagtail at Norwick

Mealy Redpoll at Norwick

Orange-variant first-summer male Common Rosefinch at Clingera

Male Blackcap at Halligarth

Sunday, 28 May 2017

28th May 2017 Unst N4 Overcast

With a northwesterly wind forecast I decided to take a trek out west in case of any late Skua passage. In the event the wind felt due north and all I saw were 3 Red-throated Divers, 2 Arctic Terns and 3 Arctic Skuas all heading north. Two Black-tailed Godwits were present on Haroldswick pool and the juvenile Iceland Gull was again on show from our kitchen window. Al had heard a Quail at North Dale that we successfully heard this evening.

Arctic Skua passing Flubersgerdie

Red-throated Diver and Fulmars off Flubersgerdie

Woodwick beach viewed from the west

Hevda Hill from the north

Dale of Woodwick

Saturday, 27 May 2017

27th May 2017 Unst S2 Clear

I only found a single new migrant today, but as it was a first-summer male Red-breasted Flycatcher, I'm not complaining. On seeing it, there was that slight tinge of disappointment that it wasn't a Spring male, when it burst into loud song as if just to prove that it was!

First-summer male Red-breasted Flycatcher at Skaw

Gleaning the insects from my car!

Friday, 26 May 2017

26th May 2017 Unst & Yell S2 Clear

A foggy morning with no migrants present at Skaw but a Shorelark at Lamba Ness. At Norwick there was a flock of 7 House Martins, the Reed Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Blackcap. Headed across to Yell where finally found the sunshine at Mid Yell. An hour or so at work and the adult White-tailed Sea-Eagle flew into view flying along the northern shore of Whale Firth where it circled up into the clear skies - very distant but majestic! A bleached juvenile Iceland Gull was seen at Mid Yell. On arriving home there was a Mealy Redpoll on our garden feeders.

Female Shorelark at Lamba Ness

Reed Warbler at Norwick
still showing-off its white tail tips!

Adult White-tailed Eagle at Whale Firth, Yell

Juvenile Iceland Gull at Mid Yell

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

24th May 2017 Unst W2 Overcast

An early visit to Skaw revealed nothing new. Norwick produced a Spotted Flycatcher, a Sedge Warbler and the Reed Warbler had remained overnight and briefly sang. A summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver was heard calling in Haroldswick bay this evening - brilliant! A Rock Pipit present on the rocks there looked good for a littoralis.

Reed Warbler at Norwick
Based on today's better views in better light and the resultant images showing the true extent of the wear on its primaries and being a close match to previous Spring Reed Warblers seen and trapped on Shetland its fair to say the pendulum has firmly swung to this being most-likely a cold scirpaceus. With many thanks to MSC, JFC, PVH, PK and RR for all  openly sharing their thoughts/knowledge.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Haroldswick

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

23rd May 2017 Unst SE1 Overcast with light rain during morning

A visit to Skaw produced the same Sedge Warbler as seen yesterday and a couple of Swallows. Norwick had only produced the juvenile Iceland Gull and a Blackcap when I chanced upon an interesting-looking Reed Warbler showing some features of fuscus, albeit with the variation shown by scirpaceus, DNA analysis seems to offer the only failsafe solution. All images below were obtained in heavily overcast conditions with light rain falling. The images have simply been cropped and no other adjustments made. Subsequent searches in better light unfortunately drew a blank. Very many thanks to both JFC and PVH for sharing their thoughts having cast their more expert eyes over the images.

Note the pale tip to outer tail feather, grey-brown hind-neck almost forming a shawl, faint pale fringes to its coverts and flight-feathers, emargination to p3 and quite probably faintly to p4

Note the pale tips to t3-t6. Also the apparent pale tips to its primaries or are they emphasised by photographic effect in this image?

Do its primaries appear too worn for a Spring fuscus?

Reed Warbler of uncertain subspecies at Norwick