Tuesday, 31 July 2018

31st July 2018 Unst S4 Overcast

A wet and breezy start to the day that made looking for migrants tricky although I did see 2 Willow Warblers at Skaw. A quick look at Norwick this evening produced 4 Common Swifts being my first for the year, a Sand Martin and the continued presence of the 2 Pied Flycatchers.

Common Swift over Norwick

Pied Flycatchers at Norwick

Monday, 30 July 2018

30th July 2018 Unst SSE3 Overcast

Rain that commenced yesterday evening persisted for most of the night but cleared away early this morning. It was therefore no great surprise that the Icterine Warbler had remained at Skaw where it was seen alongside the Marsh Warbler, the Common Whitethroat but today there were 3 Willow Warblers and 2 Swallows flew south. Baliasta added another Willow Warbler and a Sand Martin that was presumably then present at the School that also provided the oddity of the day as a Hawfinch flew from the clump towards the Leisure Center. There were another 2 Willow Warblers at Setters Hill and a Green Sandpiper flew south over Clingera. At Norwick we saw 2 Pied Flycatchers and a juvenile Black Redstart and there were 4 Willow Warblers at Burrafirth. Whilst out in our garden this evening a Wood Sandpiper flew around calling.

Willow Warblers at Skaw

Willow Warbler and Icterine Warbler at Skaw

Icterine, Willow & Marsh Warblers at Skaw

Marsh Warbler at Skaw

Sand Martin at Baliasta

Juvenile Black Redstart at Norwick

Adult Arctic Tern at Norwick

Juvenile Arctic Tern at Norwick

Wood Sandpiper at Millfield

Sunday, 29 July 2018

29th July 2018 Unst SSE4 Overcast

Despite a subtle shift to a more southerly airstream the trickle of early Autumn migrants continued albeit the strengthening wind made looking for passerine migrants increasingly difficult. At Skaw the Icterine Warbler had remained overnight, the Common Whitethroat was still present and they had been joined by a Willow Warbler. A Peregrine overflew Norwick being mobbed by a Raven. The Ungirsta plantation produced my first Cuckoo of the year and my first Garden Warbler of the Autumn. A tour of the Baltasound sites added a Pied Flycatcher at Hillsgarth and a Sand Martin over the fields at Clingera.

Icterine Warbler at Skaw
Its worn remiges age it as an adult

Juvenile Cuckoo at Ungirsta

Garden Warbler at Ungirsta

Pied Flycatcher at Hillsgarth

Sand Martin at Clingera

Saturday, 28 July 2018

28th July 2018 Unst SE2 Overcast

With the wind sweeping across the North Sea the conditions felt promising. On arriving at Skaw I saw a Warbler sat on a fence, that on hastily stopping the car, proved to be an Icterine Warbler - brilliant! A juvenile Black Redstart briefly joined the Warbler on the fenceline and the Common Whitethroat was still present. NorthDale played host to a surprise in the form of a juvenile Reed Bunting that are not known to breed on Shetland. Norwick added a Pied Flycatcher and the School a nice fresh Willow Warbler being our first of the Autumn. Mike then found a Marsh Warbler present alongside the Icterine Warbler so we gave it a try obtaining some nice views, and just as we were leaving, we noticed a pod of Killer Whales hugging the north coast of Lamba Ness! A very enjoyable day in the continuing warm weather.

Icterine Warbler at Skaw

Juvenile Black Redstart at Skaw

Red Admiral at Millfield

Juvenile Reed Bunting at NorthDale

Pied Flycatcher at Norwick

Willow Warbler at the School

Marsh Warbler at Skaw

Killer Whales off Lamba Ness

27th July 2018 Unst SE2 Overcast

On leaving Millfield early in the morning alba Wagtails were lining the roads and I suspected that both Pied and White wagtails were present. A Sand Martin that zipped past me whilst at Skaw was my first of the Autumn and the Common Whitethroat was still present. A party of 10 Sanderling were present on Norwick beach.

Alba Wagtails at Millfield

Sanderling at Norwick

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

25th July 2018 Unst S2 Overcast

A Black redstart was briefly on the roof of our house before moving to the planticrubs on Clibberswick hill.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

22nd July 2018 Unst SW5

A single House Martin was present at Skaw.

House Martin at Skaw

Saturday, 21 July 2018

21st July 2018 Yell W2

A third-summer, pale morph Arctic Skua was seen alongside a few non-breeding adults.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

19th July 2018 Unst W2

A scruffy Kestrel was seen briefly at Norwick in the late afternoon.

Kestrel at Norwick

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

18th July 2018 Yell SW2 Showers

A Hobby that flew across the road and continued east at the Windhouse bod was the first I've seen on Shetland. A flock of 30 adult Dunlin on the beach at Gutcher are the first sizeable flock I've seen this Autumn and were accompanied by a Turnstone. As I arrived home a vocal trio of Whimbrel flew in high off the sea and continued on their way south.

Juvenile Ringed Plover

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

17th July 2018 Unst SE1 Overcast

A misty start to the day was presumably responsible for grounding a Black-tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper on Lamba Ness. I later saw the 5 Common Crossbills at Setters Hill found by Connel yesterday.

Adult Black-tailed Godwit at Lamba Ness

Green Sandpiper at Lamba Ness

Bonxie at Lamba Ness
about as pale as they come

Sonogram of Common Crossbills at Setters Hill
Sonograms reveal an identical match to 'Glip' Common Crossbill that Martin Garner states is the commonest vocal type in the UK 

Monday, 16 July 2018

16th July 2018 Unst Calm

As I walked out of the door at 6am this morning I heard and then quickly saw a Sandwich Tern over the sea at Norwick. I managed to obtain a few photos and still made my ferry on time! It is only the second Sandwich Tern that I've seen this year with the first being found in similar circumstances!

Sandwich Tern at Norwick

Saturday, 14 July 2018

14th July 2018 Unst S3 Drizzle

I drove to Belmont where the low cloud and drizzle made a visit to Yell look unpromising so I returned north checking a few wader sites to no avail. The drizzle stopped for a couple of hours mid-afternoon when a Common Whitethroat at Skaw proved a surprise!

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at Millfield
This eye-catching individual was also present last Summer

Common Whitethroat at Skaw

Friday, 13 July 2018

10th July 2018 Skaw, Whalsay Calm and sunny

With news of five Long-tailed Skuas present on Whalsay yesterday, including a near-mythical adult dark morph, it proved too difficult a temptation to resist. I met Larry Dalziel on my arrival at Skaw and he told me the good news that at least some of the Long-tailed Skuas were still present. Almost immediately, a pack of six Skuas flew low across the hillside on the far side of the loch that clearly included some Long-tailed Skuas - a close examination of the images obtained revealed the presence of the adult dark morph, the two adult pale morphs, the first-summer pale morph, the first-summer dark morph but also a third-summer pale morph. They all quickly gained height, thermaled-up to join around the same number of Arctic Skuas, and disappeared in different directions. The two adult pale morphs were then seen on and off for most of my visit with the first-summer pale morph also subsequently making a few appearances. The most exquisite of the pale morph adults put on the best performance with it even hovering over the moorland on several occasions. A Red Grouse was also seen at Skaw on Whalsay. A thoroughly enjoyable and instructional day shared with John Lowire Irvine, George Petrie and Roger Riddington.

Long-tailed Skuas at Skaw, Whalsay
click on image to enlarge

Adult, dark morph Long-tailed Skua at Skaw, Whalsay
for a selection of far superior images by the finder John Lowrie Irvine here

Adult, pale and dark morph Long-tailed Skuas at Skaw, Whalsay

Adult, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas at Skaw, Whalsay

Adult, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas at Skaw, Whalsay

Third-summer (left) and two adult, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas

Adult (left and third-summer, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas

Third-summer, pale morph Long-tailed Skua at Skaw, Whalsay
Whilst adult-like in respect of the contrast between its greyish upperparts and blackish flight feathers and in having long tail-streamers it shows both a greyish breast band and a paler belly as described by Olsen & Larsson (1997).

Third-summer (left) and first-summer, pale morph Long-tailed Skuas

First-summer, pale morph Long-tailed Skua at Skaw, Whalsay
Showing a nice combination of an overall cold appearance, pale collar and head-sides, broad dark breast-band, retained juvenile primaries and white underparts.

First-summer, pale and dark morph Long-tailed Skuas