Tuesday, 31 October 2017

31st October 2017 Unst SW3

With North Ronaldsay scoring 2 Fea's Petrels yesterday another sea-watch felt in order from Lamba Ness this time with Al and Brydon from 7.45am to 9.20am seeing 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 12 Little Auks, c.200 Kittiwakes and 2 Glaucous Gulls that arrived in off the sea. A journey to an appointment at Hillswick was enlivened by a late Whinchat seen sat on a fence just north of Burravoe on Yell.

Glaucous Gull arriving in off the sea at Lamba Ness (Al Conlin)

Whinchat just north of Burravoe, Yell

Sunday, 29 October 2017

29th October 2017 Unst NNW6 Occasional heavy showers

A seawatch from Lamba Ness seemed worth a try and from 7.45am to 9am I saw a Merlin arrive in off the sea, 9 blue Fulmars, 5 Little Auks, 30 Guillemots and a juvenile Glaucous Gull all flying north.

Heavy seas off Lamba Ness

Little Auks passing Lamba Ness

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

24th October 2017 Unst S2 Overcast

The forecast was pretty dire for today for after the first couple of hours of daylight but in fact the weather, whilst raining at times, never stopped us birding today. Whilst walking to Norwick a Sparrowhawk was seen sat on a gate and then I found a Reed Warbler with a deformed bill - not what anyone hopes to find on Shetland in late October! A couple of flocks of Teal arrived in off the sea there. Robbie then kindly gave me a lift home to avoid the worst of the first downpour of the day. Two Long-eared Owls were then found rooting together sharing the garden with 2 Ring Ouzels. Skaw produced a Lesser Whitethroat, a Siberian Chiffchaff and a Little Bunting. A tour of the Baltasound sites resulting in flushing a Woodcock at both Clingera and Setters Hill where we chanced upon a flock of 6 Redpolls tantalizingly high in the pines that all appeared to be Arctic Redpolls before they flew off towards the Post Office where a Wheatear was present and the Surf Scoter remained offshore.

Reed Warbler with deformed bill at Norwick

Ring Ouzel at Norwick

Bramblings at Norwick

Juvenile Surf Scoter off Balatasound

Arctic Redpolls at Setters Hill

23rd October 2017 Unst SE5 Overcast

Another day and found another Great Grey Shrike this time in Haroldswick.

Great Grey Shrike at Haroldswick (Allan Conlin)
Showing an extensive area of white in its secondaries visible both at rest and in flight being a character associated with homeyeri  or homeyeri integrades

Sunday, 22 October 2017

22nd October 2017 Yell SE3 Overcast

Working on Yell on a Sunday was rewarded with finding a Hawfinch at Mid Yell and a Great Grey Shrike at Gutcher on my commute home.

Hawfinch at Mid Yell

Friday, 20 October 2017

20th October 2017 Unst SE4 Overcast

A gloomy drizzly and windy start to the day but good numbers of Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Redwings, Fieldfares and Brambling were immediately evident. A Hawfinch was found feeding on rose-hips at Norwick and whilst watching it a Little Bunting flew down to and briefly landed on the road! I then met Al and saw a male Ring Ouzel he'd just seen and then another along Holsen's road. A quick look at Halligarth produced a couple of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests and the same was true of Hillsgarth and Setters Hill. Clingera produced a Yellow-browed Warbler and a drive along the foreshore at Buness resulted in distant views of Brydon's first-winter Surf Scoter alongside 2 Common Scoter and several Long-tailed Ducks.

Hawfinch at Norwick

First-winter Surf Scoter off Buness

Thursday, 19 October 2017

19th October 2017 Unst SE3 Overcast

After a late evening dash to Belmont loch yesterday courtesy of Brydon very kindly phoning to say that he was watching the White-winged Scoter photographed at Sand Water on Yell by Dougie Preston earlier in the day I was pleased to be enjoying far better views of it in much better light this morning. Thereafter, 2 Goldcrests and a Robin in our garden were a sign of things to come as good numbers of Robins, Redwings, Fieldfares, Chiffchaffs (including one Siberian at Hagdale), Goldcrests, Chaffinches and Bramblings were seen at virtually every site visited.

First-winter White-winged Scoter at Belmont loch

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

11th October 2017 Unst SW3 Rain clearing

A wet dawn at Skaw produced the lingering Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat. Swiftly moving onto Norwick produced a Blackcap, a Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 6 Brambling and more prolonged views of the Coue's Arctic Redpoll among a flock of 10 Mealy Redpolls. The evening produced a nice showing of both an aurora and the milky way.

Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Norwick (lowest image JFC)

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

10th October 2017 Unst SW4 Rain clearing

It was raining on our way to Skaw but 4 Redwings seen along the Holsen's road and another 2 as we arrived at Skaw gave us some encouragement. The Lesser Whitethroat was still present at Skaw and a flock of 6 Brambling overflew. A Snow Bunting was seen along Holson's road on our return and there was a Siberian Chiffchaff in our garden. Walking around Haroldswick added another 12 Brambling flying over and a Chiffchaff. A few more Brambling were seen around Baltasound before the rain set in. After the rain cleared we tried Norwick seeing 70 Redwing, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 30 Brambling, 5 Mealy Redpolls and a Common Rosefinch.

Snow Bunting along the road to Skaw

Siberian Chiffchaff at Millfield

Common Rosefinch at Norwick

Monday, 9 October 2017

9th October 2017 Unst S2 Rain clearing

It was raining whilst we were at Skaw with a selection of sodden migrants seen including the Whinchat, theTree Pipit, the Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff and a Mealy Redpoll. Norwick added an overflying Grey Wagtail, 4 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, a Yellow-browed Warbler and the Coue's Arctic Redpoll and Mealy Redpoll. The School produced a surprise in the form of a Blue Tit and as we were driving through Haroldswick Al flagged us down to see a Bluethroat performing along the tide line. A Bat sp. flying around Millfield at dusk was the first we've seen since living on Shetland.

Mealy Redpoll at Skaw

Lesser Whitethroat at Skaw

Mealy (left) and Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Norwick

 Bluethroat at Haroldswick (JFC)

Sunday, 8 October 2017

8th October 2017 Unst Calm Overcast

A nice calm overcast dawn so we headed to Norwick where it proved incredibly quiet with us seeing just 2 Blackcaps and a Reed Bunting until an Arctic Redpoll briefly popped-up into view alongside a Mealy Redpoll. We then tried Skaw where the Red-throated Pipit, Tree Pipit, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were all still present. Burrafirth failed to produce any migrants but at Houlland we found our first Siberian Chiffchaff of the Autumn and a Brambling. Lund added a single drake Long-tailed Duck, a Chiffchaff and 4 or 5 Harbour Porpoises in the bay. North Dale added a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler.

Arctic Redpoll at Norwick
The pager reported a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll present at Norwick yesterday but based on brief views of the above bird seen alongside a Mealy Redpoll and then Twite it appeared to lack the size, bulk, shape and jizz of that form. Based on our brief views and the number of Hornemann's being seen after the northwesterly winds we were reticent to consider it a Coue's. However, Brydon, Micky and Mike found a Coue's in Baltasound and Brydon kindly took a look at the above images and pointing to its size and clean face considered it a Coue's. A quick internet search reveals a rather similar-looking Coue's here:

Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Kelling, Norfolk February 2012 (Kevin Elsby)

Siberian Chiffchaff at Houlland

Saturday, 7 October 2017

7th October 2017 Unst E3 Overcast

An early morning visit to Skaw produced the Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Lesser Whitethroat and flight views of 3 Redpolls flying high east that included the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll. Northdale added a Dunnock and Yellow-browed Warbler. As we drove through Haroldswick a large female Peregrine was seen hunting. Halligarth produced a Spotted Flycatcher, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 3 Chiffchaffs and flight views of 6 Redpolls flying to Setters Hill. A single Yellow-browed Warbler was seen at Setters Hill and a Redwing was seen at the School. On leaving Millfield we noticed an Iceland Gull feeding with Common Gulls. News of an Olive-backed Pipit at Uyeasound saw us heading there late afternoon where nice views were obtained at the exact location of one seen last Autumn!

Spotted Flycatcher at Halligarth

Iceland Gull at Norwick

Olive-backed Pipit at Uyeasound School