Monday, 30 April 2018

30th April 2018 Unst Calm then E1

Last year I saw White-billed Divers flying north past Flubersgerdie on the 28th April and 5th May and MSC saw one flying north past Esha Ness on 3rd May, so unsurprisingly, it seems fairly clear that the peak passage time for the species is mirroring that at Skogsoy in southwest Norway detailed here. With a light northeasterly wind forecast (both those I saw last Spring were on light northeasterlies) I made the walk out to Flubersgerdie despite awakening to what felt completely calm conditions and a thick frost. Whilst it seemed that little if anything was moving - perhaps becalmed - whilst scanning the surface of the sea my reward sailed into view at 8am - a superb s/p White-billed Diver. Initially distant, close to a flock of Fulmars, it preened and even went to sleep for a while. It then started to dive and began approaching the cliffs eventually being almost beneath my position. It then started to drift south towards the North Holms and I last saw it at 9.50am. The only other notable sighting was a blue Fulmar flying north among the usual suspects that included a Red-throated Diver, a pair of Eider, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers flying south, Fulmars, Gannets, Shags, Oystercatchers, Bonxies, Kittiwakes, Common Gulls, Guillemots, Razorbills, Black Guillemots and Puffins. A quick look at Norwick produced a couple of Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest and a Hawfinch.

Summer-plumaged White-billed Diver off Flubersgerdie
it showed a green sheen to its head that isn't as readily apparent in the above images

Puffins off Flubersgerdie

Looking towards Yell from Flubersgerdie

Quintessential Shetland - watching migrants along dry stone walls

Hawfinch at Norwick

Friday, 27 April 2018

27th April 2018 Unst NW1 Overcast

Made the most of another calm day conducting a moorland breeding bird survey that added two additions for the year being 2 Whimbrel and a Black-tailed Godwit.

Black-tailed Godwit at Norwick

26th April 2018 Unst SW2 Overcast

A 30 minute late evening seawatch from Lamba Ness produced a juvenile Iceland Gull, c.20 Kittiwakes, 2 Arctic Skuas, a couple of Black Guillemots and plenty of Puffins passing.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

24th April 2018 Unst W3 Light rain

Carried out a breeding bird survey centered upon Saxa Vord, NorthDale and Norwick that produced our first (migrant) Marsh Harrier of the year and our first Arctic Skua of the year being a dark-phase. My time was limit to checking just a single garden in Norwick where I inadvertently flushed a Long-eared Owl and saw a Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs and 6 Brambling.

Immature male Marsh Harrier at Norwick

Long-eared Owl at Norwick

22nd April 2018 Unst

Brenda added Collared Dove to our garden list today.

 Rock Dove and Collared Dove at Millfield

Saturday, 21 April 2018

21st April 2018 Unst SW1 Overcast clearing

A day spent on breeding bird surveys centered on Skaw and then Haroldswick produced our first Greenland-type Wheatear of the year and a well-timed lunch break saw the Common Crane fly west past our house almost immediately followed by a Whooper Swan flying in the opposite direction.

Great Northern Diver 1 ad s/p off Haroldswick
Whooper Swan 1 east over Millfield
Kestrel 1
Common Crane 1 west over Millfield
Goldcrest 2
Chiffchaff 4
Blackcap 3
Redwing 2
Robin 2
Greenland Wheatear 1 male
Wheatear 4
Dunnock 2
Chaffinch 1
Brambling 3

Greenland-type Wheatear at Haroldswick

Common Crane flying past Millfield

Whooper Swan flying past Millfield

Friday, 20 April 2018

20th April 2018 Unst W4 Clear

Robbie's purple patch continues as he saw a Common Crane landing in the field next to his house today. It subsequently flew north and Mike relocated it in the mires between Feall and NorthDale where we called in on our way home obtaining distant views of it. Here's wishing Al Redman a very Happy Birthday and an enjoyable weekend birding at Beachy...

Common Crane between Feall and NorthDale

Thursday, 19 April 2018

19th April 2018 Unst S1 Overcast clearing

The Goldfinch was still present in our garden at dawn but only 5 Brambling had remained. A walk along the north cliffs from Skaw produced a surprise 2 Rooks flying towards Lamba Ness being my first for the year. Otherwise 3 Wood Pigeons arrived from the north and a couple of Brambling. This evening a House Martin (another addition for the year), White Wagtail and Reed Bunting were present at Haroldswick and the number of Brambling in our garden had increased to 10 including one bearing a ring.

Muckle Flugga viewed 'through' the Noup

White Wagtail at Haroldswick

Brambling at Millfield
Knowing that Mike has been mist-netting some Brambling in Baltasound we rather assumed it would be one of his but that's not the case.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

18th April 2018 Unst SSE1 Clear

A Goldfinch present in our garden from dawn was a new addition for the year and was later briefly joined by a male Yellowhammer but both were eclipsed by finding a Long-eared Owl at Burrafirth.

Goldfinch at Millfield

Long-eared Owl at Burrafirth

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

17th April 2018 Unst SE5 Rain

Robbie found a Woodchat Shrike at Ordaal and he then checked an Egret at Burrafirth seen yesterday by Jane Gray that proved a Great White. I was literally just leaving for Sumburgh but very fortunately saw both in quick succession and still made the airport pick-up with 5 minutes to spare! We then saw the Pied-billed Grebe at Loch of Spiggie.

Adult Great White Egret at Burrafirth

Male Woodchat Shrike at Ordaal
With its extensive primary patch and white flanks, as it has unfortunately been found dead this evening, it will be interesting to take a look at the bases to its central tail feathers tomorrow to see if it's a niloticus or senator ...

Pied-billed Grebe at Spiggie

Monday, 16 April 2018

16th April 2018 Unst E3 Overcast

The Finch flock in our garden now numbers 30 Bramblings and 6 Siskins. Otherwise 2 juvenile Iceland Gulls were seen at Skaw shortly after dawn and a juvenile Glaucous Gull was on the beach at Haroldswick shortly before dusk!

 Bramblings and Siskins at Millfield

Male Brambling at Millfield

Sunday, 15 April 2018

15th April 2018 Unst SE2 Misty

Awoke to thick fog but I could see 5 Siskins in our garden. I headed to Skaw where a Brambling was present. Lamba Ness added 3 Great Northern Divers close offshore and a few Fieldfares. Norwick played host to a Green Sandpiper, a Ring Ouzel, the 2 female Hawfinches and 27 Brambling. Haroldswick provided my with my first Reed Bunting and Tree Pipit of the year but perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was a European White-fronted Goose accompanying the Greylags at Clibberswick. On seeing Mike he told me there were 6 Hawfinches at Setters Hill that proved too much to resist.

Great Northern Diver 5
Heron 4
European White-fronted Goose 1
Water Rail 2
Green Sandpiper 1
Swallow 2
Tree Pipit 1
White Wagtail 2
Pied Wagtail 6
Wheatear 8
Robin 24
Dunnock 5
Song Thrush 6
Mistle Thrush 1
Fieldfare 15
Ring Ouzel 1 male
Blackcap 1 male
Chiffchaff 10
Goldcrest 1
Siskin 5
Chaffinch 7
Brambling 61
Hawfinch 8
Reed Bunting 1

Siskin at Millfield

Great Northern Divers off Lamba Ness

Grey Heron roosting on the cliffs at Lamba Ness

White Wagtail at Lamba Ness

Mistle Thrush at Norwick

Ring Ouzel & Blackbird at Norwick

Brambling at Haroldswick

Swallows at Haroldswick

Tree Pipit at Haroldswick

Eurasian White-fronted Goose at Clibberswick

Saturday, 14 April 2018

14th April 2018 Unst SE2

A quick check of Norwick revealed the continued presence of 3 Ring Ouzels seen by Mike yesterday and the 2 female Hawfinches. This evening I saw the 2 Siskins that had arrived in our garden during the day.

Male Ring Ouzel at Norwick

Pair of Siskins at Millfield

13th April 2018 Unst ENE2

A quick look at Skaw early this morning produced a Black Redstart, 4 Wheatears and a few Chiffchaffs. With the onset of rain and a freshening wind late afternoon a few birds began arriving with a Black Redstart, a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest all appearing in our garden.

Black Redstart at Skaw

Black Redstart at Millfield

12th April 2018 Unst SE2 Clear

A beautiful Spring day with blue skies, warm sunshine and a light southeasterly breeze. I spent virtually the whole day in the field concentrating on Skaw, Lamba Ness, Norwick and Northdale. From first light Fieldfares were roaming the island in large flocks of 40 to 60 strong. At Skaw I saw my first Green Sandpiper of the year and along the cliffs at Lamba Ness a male and 2 female Wheatears, At Norwick I was pleased to see my first Swallow, Blackcap, Siskin and Linnet of the year as well as 2 female Hawfinches now flying around together. As I arrived at Northdale Willie Henderson very kindly stopped to tell me that his dog had put up a Long-eared Owl from the area behind his crofthouse in the morning. That didn't prepare me for walking a further 20m and finding it sat in the open on an elder - superb. On a late afternoon visit to the shop I saw my first Collared Dove of the year in Baltasound and a female Hawfinch was still present on the Boordanoost feeders. Thinking the day was over Bertie Priest then very kindly handed me a male Hawfinch that he'd heard crash against on of his windows at the Chalet in Norwick. A very sad end for a magnificent bird.

Water Rail 1
Sparrowhawk 1 female
Long-eared Owl 1
Collared Dove 1
Swallow 1
Grey Wagtail 1
Pied Wagtail 2
White Wagtail 3
Dunnock 3
Robin 10
Wheatear 3
Blackbird 25
Fieldfare 100+
Chiffchaff 2
Goldcrest 1
Linnet 1
Siskin 1
Brambling 2
Hawfinch 3 females, 1 male (dead)

Male Wheatear at Lamba Ness

Fieldfares flying over Lamba Ness

Adult female Sparrowhawk at Norwick

Swallow at Norwick

Male Blackcap at Norwick

Female Linnet at Norwick

Long-eared Owl at Northdale

Dead male Hawfinch at Norwick