Monday, 31 July 2017

31st July 2017 Unst Calm and overcast

The weather forecast was for heavy rain to persist all day. It was therefore a surprise to wake-up to dry and calm conditions. I joined Brydon to check Setters Hill where there were at least 4 Mealy Redpolls and a surprise reappearance by the first-winter female Two-barred Crossbill. The Ungirsta plantation held another 2 Mealy Redpolls and a Common Crossbill.

First-winter female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill
When we heard this individual on entering the plantation we were hopeful of it being a new individual but our hopes were soon dashed on seeing the obvious nick to the outer fringe of T2 and dishevelment of its underlying feathers confirming it to be the same individual as 'bird 3'.

First-winter female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill
Sonogram of seven trumpet calls and two flight calls this morning

Ungirsta plantation

Mealy Redpoll at Ungirsta plantation

 a 'wing-barred' first-winter 'Glip' Common Crossbill at Ungirsta plantation

First-winter 'Glip' Common Crossbill at Ungirsta

Sunday, 30 July 2017

30th July 2017 Unst SE1 Overcast

With the news of two male Two-barred Crossbills being seen on Whalsay yesterday Brydon hatched the plan of us spending the day scouring Unst for more. The result was our complete failure to find any at all despite searching the regular haunts of the recent trio. The only Crossbills that we encountered were two male Common Crossbills and the comparison of resultant sonograms of their flight calls with Magnus Robb's Dutch Birding paper here reveal them to be of the vocal type 'Glip' Common Crossbills.

Male 'Glip' Common Crossbill at Ungirsta

Sonogram of flight call of 'Glip' Common Crossbill (type C)

Saturday, 29 July 2017

29th July 2017 Unst SE2 Clear

A search of the pines at Setters Hill revealed just the presence of the original first-summer female Two-barred Crossbill. A cut hay field was playing host to a flock of 6 Whimbrel and there was a Greenshank on the houb.  A beached bird survey of Easting beach produced a flock of 20 Sanderling.

Setters Hill plantation

First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill
back to being on her own today

Juvenile Greenshank on the houb

track to Easting beach

Easting beach

Sanderling on Easting beach

Friday, 28 July 2017

28th July 2017 Unst SE1 Clear

The first juvenile Black-headed Gull of the Autumn was seen on the wing at Norwick this morning where a walk around produced nothing more than a couple of Sanderling on the beach. Having seen two of the Two-barred Crossbills fly off high SW late yesterday afternoon it was almost a surprise to find all three present at Setters Hill. We then saw 2 male Common Crossbills fly over the Post Office towards Halligarth and another male Common Crossbill at Ungirsta pines.

Juvenile Black-headed Gull at Norwick
being the first juvenile I've seen on  the wing on Unst this year

Hooded Crow at Norwick

First-winter female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill
The 'new' individual found by Brydon yesterday  A greyer and more heavily-streaked individual than the original first-summer female with less broad wingbars courtesy of its mainly retained juvenile wing-coverts and having white fringes to its tertials - interesting to see how the width of the tertial fringe differs on each of the three feathers and that it's missing its innermost tertial on its left wing that was still present yesterday as shown by Brydon's image of it on twitter.

First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill
the original bird still showing well

Male Common Crossbill at Ungirsta

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

27th July 2017 Unst SE1 Overcast clearing

Not for the first time this week my day at work on Yell was interrupted with the news that Brydon had added to the tally of Two-barred Crossbills on Unst with a new first-winter female that he originally heard at Halligarth, from where it soon relocated to Setters Hill, joining the two present there. On my way home, new birds in, were represented by 3 Tufted Duck and 5 Knot at Uyeasound. I then saw the 3 Two-barred Crossbills in the pines at the School before they flew off with two being lost to view as tiny specks high in the sky heading southwest with the other seen to double-back towards Baltasound. A quick look at Setters Hill on my way past then drew a blank.  

The first record of Two-barred Crossbill for Unst was also the first acceptable record for Scotland. All accepted records for Unst, as far as I can ascertain, are as follows:

Halligarth, female and immature, shot, 4th September (H.L. Saxby).

Lamba Ness, male, 26th July (P. Nadin).
Norwick, female/first-winter, 5th August (S.J. Davies, K. Moyes).
Haroldswick, juvenile, 10th August (S.E. Duffield).

Halligarth, first-summer female, 29th July to 1st August (B.H. Thomason et al.).
Halligarth, male, 30th July to 1st August (B.H. Thomason et al.).

Baltasound, at least four, two females and two juveniles, 26th July to 5th August (B.H. Thomason et al.).
Hamar, two, immature male and immature female, 6th August (P.V. Harvey).
Burrafirth, Norwick and Skaw, juvenile, 20th to 25th September (R. Foyster, R.M.R. James et al.).

This year's trio include the two earliest Autumn records ever with find dates now as follows:

21/7  //  25/7  //  26/7  //  26/7  //  27/7  //  29/7  //  30/7  //  5/8  //  6/8  //  10/8  //  4/9  //  20/9

26th July 2017 Unst SE2 Overcast with some drizzle

On looking out of the window this morning the first bird seen was a new migrant in the form of a juvenile Grey Heron stood in the cut hay field being dive-bombed by Common Gulls and Arctic Terns. It later moved to the marsh at Norwick. Whilst I've seen a couple on Yell recently it's the first I've seen on Unst since the Spring. Unfortunately other sites checked didn't reveal the presence of any other new migrants although at Setters Hill both the Two-barred Crossbills were still busily feeding in front of their admirers and the Willow Warbler was still occasionally singing.

Juvenile Grey Heron at Norwick
Grey Herons don't breed on Shetland so any juvenile is an immigrant. BoS states the majority of Shetland birds originate from the migratory Scandinavian population as indicated by six recoveries of birds ringed as chicks in Norway and two others ringed in Shetland that have been found in Norway.

Juvenile Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill

 First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

25th July 2017 Unst SE1 Overcast

Whilst Brydon was checking Setters Hill this morning he picked out a juvenile Two-barred Crossbill flying over the houses that dropped into the pines and quickly joined the first-summer female again present there. They were both then seen at the School pines. I saw them both feeding together at Setters Hill showing well this afternoon in the calm sunny weather.

 Juvenile Wheatear on Yell
Seeing lots of these at the moment including three in our garden

Arctic Skua on Yell

Juvenile Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill

First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill

Monday, 24 July 2017

24th July 2017 Unst N4 Overcast

No sign of the Two-barred Crossbill today but the Willow Warbler was still present. An hour's seawatch from Lamba Ness this evening produced just the usual suspects.

Part of a flock of 70 Lapwings being a sure sign of Autumn!

Gannets passing Lamba Ness

Fulmar and Puffin passing Lamba Ness

Puffin with dinner passing Lamba Ness

Guillemot and 2 Puffins passing Lamba Ness

Bridled Guillemots passing Lamba Ness

Razorbill passing Lamba Ness

Black Guillemot passing Lamba Ness

Shag passing Lamba Ness

Twite at Skaw

Saturday, 22 July 2017

22nd July 2017 Unst SE2 Clear

A nice morning trying various areas that produced a presumably leucistic Fulmar sat on the cliffs at Skaw and a few Sanderling on the beach there, 2 Garden Warblers together at Norwick and the first-summer female Two-barred Crossbill still present at Setters Hill.

First-summer female Two-barred Crossbill at Setters Hill 
In BW22:8:331-332 Deryk Shaw documented a first-summer male Two-barred Crossbill on Fair Isle in July 2009 that as with the current Unst bird lacked any white tertial tips suggesting they were not replaced at the same time as its inner greater coverts. The Unst bird was very vocal today regularly switching between its so-called 'flight calls' and its (superb)  diagnostic 'trumpet calls' that I managed to record here. Its then interesting to compare the close similarity in the resulting sonograms as follows:

Unst trumpet, flight, flight, trumpet, flight

Sweden flight, trumpet

Sweden flight

Fulmar at Skaw
presumably a leucistic individual

Sanderling at Skaw

Garden Warbler at Norwick