Thursday, 31 May 2018

31st May 2018 Unst SE1 Clear

Another very enjoyable day's birding started at 4.30am when there was a male Common Redstart on our drive and then finding a Marsh Warbler, 2 Garden Warblers, a Willow Warbler and female Common Redstart at Skaw. Wilma very kindly alerted me to a songster in her garden that proved to be another Marsh Warbler and I also saw a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 2 Willow Warblers, a female Common Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Pied Flycatcher at Norwick. Millfield produced a male Ortolan on the walls of the cemetery and there was a singing Sedge Warbler in our rosa. We saw a Whinchat and Common Whitethroat at NorthDale, a Honey Buzzard over Nikka Vord but viewed at great range from Clibberswick but identified by Al watching it at much closer range from Boordanoost, Haroldswick. We then headed south seeing a Robin at Setters Hill and finding a Temminck's Stint on a small pool at the road junction to Westing.

Male Common Redstart at Millfield

Marsh Warbler at Skaw

Marsh Warbler at Norwick

Male Ortolan Bunting at Millfield

Very distant Honey Buzzard over Nikka Vord

Temminck's Stint at Westing

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

29th May 2018 Unst E2 Mist

Misty conditions persisted for most of the day with the wind freshening but still from the east. Almost every migrant seen was a Pied Flycatcher with us seeing birds at most sites visited totaling 10 all north of Baltasound. Yesterday's male Red-backed Shrike was still present at the start of the track to Lamba Ness. Whilst enjoying an evening walk around the Skaw headland we heard a familiar 'tuwee' call and picked out an American Golden Plover in flight over the sea. Thankfully it landed, albeit distantly, on the beach and promptly sat down. Whilst making our way towards it, but still at the other end of the beach, it suddenly took flight, called several times and flew high towards Burrafirth - exciting but a pity it didn't allow closer approach.

Male Pied Flycatcher at Norwick

Female Pied Flycatcher at Haroldswick

Male Pied Flycatcher at Ungirsta

Female Pied Flycatcher at Ungirsta

Female Pied Flycatcher at Feall

First-summer American Golden Plover at Skaw

Monday, 28 May 2018

28th May 2018 Unst E1 Clear

An evening visit to Lamba Ness was enlivened by finding a male Red-backed Shrike there and a quick look at Skaw then produced a Pied Flycatcher and Willow Warbler.

Male Red-backed Shrike at Lamba Ness

Pied Flycatcher and Willow Warbler at Skaw

Sunday, 27 May 2018

27th May 2018 Unst NNE1 Clear

There were very few migrants in evidence again so we were very fortunate to find a singing Marsh Warbler at the Shore Station at Burrafirth.

Singing Marsh Warbler at Burrafirth

Friday, 25 May 2018

24th May 2018 Unst S3

A Whimbrel feeding on our lawn at 5am was a good start to the day.

Whimbrel at Millfield

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

23rd May 2018 Unst NE1 Clear

A Whinchat at Millfield was my first of the year. Skaw produced a single Willow Warbler and a single Spotted Flycatcher.

Whinchat at Millfield

Spotted Flycatcher at Skaw

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

15th May 2018 Unst SE1

After a calm and clear night it was no surprise that unfortunately most of the migrants had moved-on. However, the male Bluethroat was still present on Norwick beach and a Spotted Flycatcher was seen nearby and there were 8 Tree Sparrows in our garden.

Male Bluethroat at Norwick

Monday, 14 May 2018

14th May 2018 Unst SW1 Clear

One of those unforgettable Shetland days... it started slowly for me with a Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler at Skaw and a Pied Flycatcher at Lamba Ness. We then saw a male Red-backed Shrike at Skeggie found by Mark Warren and obtained a series of brief views of a Marsh Warbler at Setters Hill found by Al Conlin but then we stumbled across.... the first Marmora's Warbler for Shetland at Baliasta that we initially only saw very briefly. Not having any literature other than the first edition Collin's Guide with us, a quick call to JFC helped remind me of the salient features of Marmora's Warbler, and nothing seemed amiss. We'd had to drive to Houlland to get a phone signal from where our initial 'back of camera' images circulated on the Shetland WhatsApp system generated so many calls and texts (thanks for all the kind words everyone) that my phone battery quickly died! We were soon joined by Brydon, Casey, Robbie & Al and thankfully the bird, whilst elusive, was still performing in the warm evening sunlight. I then failed to see the Black-faced Bunting at Norwick found by Mark Warren but did see a Bluethroat whilst trying. After a tense wait in the company of those arriving from elsewhere in Shetland, fortunately the Marmora's Warbler then performed well until dusk, enabling some travelling from as far afield as Sumburgh to successfully see it... and whom are now effectively stranded so are staying with us overnight!

Female Pied Flycatcher at Lamba Ness

Male Red-backed Shrike at Skeggie

Marsh Warbler at Setters Hill
The above image rather sums up my series of frustratingly brief views when I was unable to appreciate any critical detail. Fortunately Al Conlin had enjoyed much better views on finding it and had also heard it singing prior to me arriving on the scene.

First-summer male Marmora's Warbler at Baliasta
Whilst we didn't have any literature with us to eliminate the (unlikely) possibility of it being a Balearic Warbler a call to JFC quickly reassured us that its dark-throated appearance and small white malar was consistent with it being a Marmora's Warbler. I could recall that the St. Abbs individual shared similar brown edgings to its wing feathers that I seemed to recall aged it as a first-summer male. Brydon kindly brought along a copy of Helm's Sylvia Warblers that reinforced our views as to its identity. A short playback of the song of Marmora's Warbler generated what two highly-respected ex-members of BBRC were quick to consider was 'a clear response' - it immediately emerged onto the top of some vegetation looking at the assembled observers. As so often, very many thanks to JFC, PVH, RR & BHT for openly sharing their expert opinions with me.

First-summer male Marmora's Warbler at Skagen, Denmark June 2005 (Erik Kramshoj)

Sunday, 13 May 2018

13th May 2018 Unst SE2 Clear

Another very early start but the Bluethroat had departed overnight and a quick check of a few sites suggested there was very few newly-arrived migrants in evidence albeit 3 Willow Warblers is my maximum daily count so far this Spring(!) but it was ideal weather for continued survey efforts.

Sunrise over Lamba Ness at c.4.30am

Juvenile Iceland Gull at Baltasound

Arctic Skua
Work is all the more enjoyable now that I am seeing these on a daily basis

Saturday, 12 May 2018

12th May 2018 Unst SE3 Clear

The Bluethroat in our garden was singing from at least 5.20am and even briefly displaying dancing circling a dead stalk. A sound recording of the Bluethroat can be listened to here. A quick look around Norwick only produced 2 Tree Pipits and 2 Chiffchaffs. A juvenile Iceland Gull was present in Baltasound. On Yell the Snake's-head Frittilary was the highlight of checking the Windhouse bod garden. Back on Unst this evening the 3 Wood Sandpipers were still at Baltasound.

Male Bluethroat singing at Millfield

Tree Pipit at Norwick

Snake's-head Frittilary at the Windhouse bod, Yell