Thursday, 31 August 2017

31st August 2017 Unst NW2 Showers

A mid-afternoon seawatch failed to produce anything of interest but Brydon subsequently saw some Sooty Shearwaters and a pod of White-beaked Dolphins. I returned seeing a single Sooty and 3 Dolphins jumping clear of the water but rather distant offshore but probably White-beaked.

30th August 2017 Unst W4 Overcast

A good showing by the Northern Lights was followed by a blustery morning with just a Garden Warbler and 2 Willow Warblers seen.

Monday, 28 August 2017

28th August 2017 Unst SSW5 Rain clearing

Just time to walk the headlands at Skaw and then Clibberswick this evening with the Red-backed Shrike still being present at Skaw.

Common Frog on Yell


Sunday, 27 August 2017

27th August 2017 Unst Calm and clear

After a night of clear skies with the Milky Way seen well it was a surprise that the Red-backed Shrike was still at Skaw and the Wood Warbler was still at Norwick along with the 2 Reed Warblers there. Sadly, any new migrants seemed very thin on the ground and we only saw 2 Willow Warblers today.

Wood Warbler at Norwick

Reed Warbler at Norwick

Saturday, 26 August 2017

26th August 2017 Unst E2 Clear

It's a small World when the first birder of the day that you meet was last watching Bonxies passing Birling Gap earlier this year with my parents! A walk around Norwick produced a Pied Flycatcher, a Wood Warbler, 5 Willow Warblers and 2 Reed Warblers. The Red-backed Shrike had remained at Skaw. Baltasound played host to a Pied Flycatcher, c.5 Willow Warblers and a Mealy Redpoll. Burrafirth added another 3 Willow Warblers.

Wood Warbler at Norwick

Reed Warbler at Norwick

Red-backed Shrike at Skaw

Pied Flycatcher at Baltasound

Friday, 25 August 2017

25th August 2017 Unst E2 Overcast

Teamed-up with Brydon to cover Skaw, Lamba Ness and Norwick together. Only two migrants seen at Skaw being a Reed Warbler and a Red-backed Shrike. At Lamba Ness a Grey Wagtail was present. Norwick added another Reed Warbler and c.5 Willow Warblers. I then headed for Haroldswick where I misjudged my landing on jumping a ditch resulting it pulling a hamstring! Leg elevated with an ice pack for a few hours but hobbled out to cover the Baltasound sites in the late afternoon sunshine seeing another c.5 Willow Warblers and 2 Mealy Redpolls.

Red-backed Shrike at Skaw

Thursday, 24 August 2017

24th August 2017 Unst E3 Rain

A wet and windy start to the day proved frustratingly slow to clear. A couple of visits to Skaw in the rain surprisingly failed to produce a migrant other than plenty of grounded Meadow Pipits. After lunchtime the wind began to drop and with just light rain falling it suddenly felt classic conditions. However, a tour of the Baltasound sites produced just 5 Willow Warblers and a flock of 4 Mealy Redpolls. Visiting both Burrafirth and Norwick this evening resulted in just a bedraggled Chiffchaff being seen! On arriving home there was a flock of 29 Black-tailed Godwits in a nearby field.

Willow Warbler at Baltasound

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

23rd August 2017 Unst E2-3 Clear

Another morning that felt ideal conditions to produce a few migrants. Just as I was leaving Skaw without having seen a migrant I noticed a hirundine hawking for insects being the first I've seen at Skaw since the Spring. Initially thinking it a Swallow, a look through bins suggested it would prove a House Martin but as it flew past me I could see both a deeply forked long tail and a narrow smudgy whitish rump and the penny dropped - a hybrid Swallow x House Martin! It disappeared off towards the outer headland. I waited a few minutes and it suddenly reappeared flying down the burn and off towards Lamba Ness but then didn't return. Norwick only added a couple of White Wagtails. Baltasound added just 2 Ruff and there were 5 Ruff near Uyeasound. Lund was playing host to a single Willow Warbler.

Hybrid Swallow x House Martin at Skaw

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

22nd August 2017 Unst E1 Clear

A light easterly with clear skies felt nice conditions to be out early birding. On driving the first mile to Skaw I counted 120 Meadow Pipits but was then disappointed to find just a single Willow Warbler at Skaw. A single Ruff was at Loch of Cliff as were a number of fledged Fulmars. A walk around Norwick added just another single Willow Warbler and a few Pied and White Wagtails on the beach. The meagre highlight of the day was a flock of 9 Black-tailed Godwits flying past whilst I was cutting the grass this afternoon!

Meadow Pipits on the drive to Skaw

 Merlins are conspicuous presumably enjoying the Meadow Pipit passage 

Ruff at Loch of Cliff

Sunday, 20 August 2017

20th August 2017 Unst NW4 rain clearing

An hour sea-watching at Lamba Ness produced 80 Puffins, 10 Bonxies and 2 Kittiwakes. A late afternoon walk around Norwick revealed the presence of 11 Mallard, 9 Teal, my first Common Whitethroat of the Autumn, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Reed Warbler, a Chiffchaff and 2 Willow Warblers.

Willow Warbler at Norwick

Saturday, 19 August 2017

19th August 2017 Unst E1 Clear

With the weather forecast to quickly deteriorate today I made an early start heading to Skaw for dawn with the road covered in Meadow Pipits in places and c.15 White Wagtails seen too. Nice calm sunny conditions at Skaw revealed the presence of 2 Reed Warblers, a Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler. Burrafirth and Haroldswick both added single Willow Warblers and Norwick produced my first Lesser Whitethroat of the Autumn, another Reed Warbler and another Willow Warbler. Whilst walking back the heavy rain duly arrived and the wind increased.

Reed Warbler at Skaw

Willow Warbler at Norwick

Lesser Whitethroat at Norwick

Lamba Ness waterfalls this afternoon viewed from Millfield

Friday, 18 August 2017

18th August 2017 Unst SE1 Rain clearing

Early morning rain soon cleared to leave an overcast and virtually calm morning. Unfortunately it started raining soon after lunchtime that became heavier and more persistent. Skaw played host to a Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler and a Willow Warbler. At Lamba Ness a Greenshank was touring the various pools but despite a huge flock of Gannets attracted to a large Whalsay trawler just offshore there appeared nothing more exciting than a few Bonxies among them. At Norwick we saw a Sanderling, a White Wagtail and a Willow Warbler. Rain pretty much then stopped play.

Garden Warbler at Skaw

First-winter White Wagtail at Norwick

Thursday, 17 August 2017

17th August 2017 Unst S2 Rain clearing

Heavy rain and mist at dawn suddenly cleared at c.9.30am to blue skies with the heavy cloud associated with the front seen disappearing to the northeast. Skaw produced 2 Willow Warblers and a Reed Warbler so it felt that Autumn Warbler passage was at last underway! Norwick added a further 2 Willow Warblers and Setters Hill was playing host to 2 Mealy Redpolls.

 Willow Warbler at Skaw

Reed Warbler at Skaw

leucistic Bonxie at Norwick
rather bizarrely the entire upper surface of its hand of its left wing appeared bleached

Merlin at Baltasound

Mealy Redpoll at Setters Hill

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

16th August 2017 Unst SW4 Overcast

Opened the bedroom curtains at 5am to the sight of 22 Black-tailed Godwits in the field behind the house. Spent most of the day on Yell but on returning home there are now 27 Black-tailed Godwits and a Knot was present on Clibberswick.

Juvenile Black-tailed Godwits and Oystercatchers at Millfield

Merlin at Norwick

Al working Norwick beach
looking for his second Nearctic wader find of the year

Black-tailed Godwits at Millfield

Knot on Clibberswick

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

15th August 2017 Unst SSE4 Rain

Heavy rain at first didn't make for easy birding and all I could find at Lamba Ness were a Dunlin and the first 2 Teal of the Autumn and nothing at all at Skaw. Rain then stopped play but an afternoon drive to the Houb was uneventful as was an hour's seawatch from Lamba Ness once the rain had stopped.

Dunlin and 2 Teal at Lamba Ness

Otter risking all in the heavy seas 

Millfield in evening sunshine

Saturday, 12 August 2017

12th August 2017 Unst NW2 Clear

A seawatch from Lamba Ness produced my first Sooty Shearwater of the year flying north at 6.40am and a light northerly movement of Kittiwakes. There was also a Merlin chasing the Starlings on the headland but apart from a handful of Dunlin all of the rest of yesterday's Waders had moved-on.

Sooty Shearwater passing Lamba Ness

Merlin at Lamba Ness

Dunlin at Skaw

Friday, 11 August 2017

11th August 2017 Unst SSW6 Overcast

A lengthy seawatch from Lamba Ness produced nothing more exciting than a single Arctic Skua flying north but there were 25 Dunlin grounded there and I saw a Whimbrel and a couple of Turnstone arrive from the north. Haroldswick beach added 12 Sanderling and 12 Dunlin. It was then no great surprise that news of the 'bird of the day' should involve a Wader in the form of a dispersing/migrant juvenile Red-necked Phalarope at Skaw that showed well at point blank range busily feeding.

 Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope at Skaw