Sunday, 30 September 2018

30th September 2018 Unst W4 Overcast

The unhelpful winds continue so it was no real surprise that migration continues to feel at a complete standstill. I failed to see a single migrant at Skaw and Burrafirth. At Valyie I saw the Black Redstart, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and there was a Redpoll (presumably the Lesser) flying around calling. A look around Baltasound produced a Robin, a Pied Flycatcher, 3 Tree Sparrows and a Chaffinch.

Black Redstart and Starling at Valyie
Who would have thought that the Black Redstart that was first seen by Brenda & Hannah on the 18th would still be present at the month's end!

Saturday, 29 September 2018

29th September 2018 Unst WSW8 Rain clearing

A wet and windy morning with the rain finally clearing at lunchtime. A look around the northern sites wasn't easy in the storm-blown conditions and all I saw was a Blackcap at Skaw and a Pink-footed Goose, a Barred Warbler, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and a Lesser Redpoll at Norwick.

Lesser Redpoll at Norwick

Sunday, 23 September 2018

23rd September 2018 Unst NW2 Overcast

An early morning surprise came in the form of a Dark-bellied Brent Goose that flew past me at Skaw and then again at Norwick. Otherwise, in just an early morning circuit of the two sites, all I saw was the Whinchat and 2 Blackcaps at Skaw and a Redwing and 4 Blackcaps at Valyie.

I saw more birders than birds on my early morning circuit!

Dark-bellied Brent Goose at Skaw

Saturday, 22 September 2018

22nd September 2018 Unst NW5 Overcast with showers

Another blustery day with showers that produced a Whinchat and a Blackcap at Skaw, the Pied Flycatcher and a Common Rosefinch at NorthDale, the Black Redstart, a Chiffchaff, a Chaffinch and a Common Rosefinch at Norwick, 4 Whooper Swans, a Whinchat and 6 Chaffinches at Uyeasound and a Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat at Clingera.

Whinchat at Skaw

Common Rosefinch at Norwick

Whinchat at Uyeasound

Friday, 21 September 2018

21st September 2018 Unst N4-5 Showers

A dawn start at Skaw produced nothing more than a Siskin and a Willow Warbler nearby at Lamba Ness. NorthDale was playing host to the Pied Flycatcher, a Willow Warbler and 2 Common Rosefinches. A quick look at Haroldswick added a Barred Warbler.  I then spent a couple of hours seawatching from Lamba Ness seeing very little when Mike arrived and said he'd obtained some nice views of the Citrine Wagtail that had been found at Norwick. We joined Al there enjoying some nice views and hearing it calling whilst in flight. A look at Valyie then produced just 2 Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler.

Siskin at Skaw

First-winter Citrine Wagtail at Norwick

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

19th September 2018 Unst SSW5-6 Overcast

My early morning circuit had produced just a Chiffchaff and 4 Blackcaps some of which seemed to be struggling in the windy weather so receiving news of a Subalpine Warbler present at the Shore Station at Burrafirth came as a considerable surprise! Whilst I was present it was showing well on and off but remained silent and was becoming increasingly elusive as the wind increased. A Blackcap and 2 Siskin were also present. Robbie checked his phone to then see news of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Uyeasound, so I quickly popped home where my parents very kindly phoned with the news, before heading south where it was seen feeding alongside a Ruff in a field full of Golden Plover. We then visited Lund seeing a Little Bunting and a juvenile Shelduck on Small Waters. During an early evening respite from the storm a Sand Martin flew past our house.

Blackcaps at Valyie

Subalpine Warbler at Burrafirth
With reference to Shirihai & Svensson (2018) its greyish iris, orange-brown orbital ring and buff-fringed primary coverts presumably render it a first-winter female. It is difficult to be sure of its exact tail pattern (especially of T5) and anyway Svensson (BB Vol.106 p.651-668) details some of the extreme variation and problem birds in terms of tail-pattern character, so it would be nice if it starts to call! 

 Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Uyeasound

Little Bunting at Lund

Juvenile Shelduck at Small Waters

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

18th September 2018 Unst S1 Light rain

An early morning visit to Skaw produced a Yellow-browed Warbler and Lamba Ness added a Willow Warbler. Patrick & Hannah Lanaway then arrived and almost immediately Patrick picked out a Barred Warbler in our rosa - a proper welcome to Millfield! Undeterred by the light rain, fortunately it was virtually calm, we headed for Norwick beach where an Otter was watched feeding in the surf. It was soon apparent that birds were arriving with a smart acredula-type Willow Warbler and a Common Rosefinch both seen at Leawart and a Black Redstart, a Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Garden Warbler and 3 Blackcaps at Valyie. We moved on to NorthDale where we saw a Pied Flycatcher, a Blackcap, a Willow Warbler, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Tree Sparrow and 3 Common Rosefinches together. A stop at Haroldswick pools produced our first Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat of the autumn and our last port of call was Burrafirth where a Chiffchaff and Common Rosefinch were present along the burn. So, despite the weather, a very enjoyable day's birding.

Patrick & Hannah at Millfield

Pied Flycatcher at NorthDale

Common Rosefinch at NorthDale

Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat at Haroldswick

Monday, 17 September 2018

17th September 2018 Unst SW3

A Common Rosefinch was present briefly literally at dawn in our garden. As I drove through Norwick a flock of 17 Pinkfeet were present. A Blackcap was the only migrant I saw at Skaw and there was a Kestrel, 5 Blackcaps and 3 Willow Warblers seen on a quick look at Valyie. Late this afternoon a Yellow-browed Warbler and 2 Willow Warblers were seen at Uyeasound. 

Common Rosefinch at Millfield
Despite an ISO2000 setting the light was insufficient to obtain a sharp image

Part of the flock of Pink-footed Geese at Norwick
A few minutes later and a setting of ISO4000 wasn't much better!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

15th September 2018 Unst W4 Clear with showers

Another day of westerlies with birding restricted to a look around Norwick that produced just a Willow Warbler and the Yellow-browed Warbler. An evening drive along Lamba Ness produced a Ruff that given all the westerlies wasn't the wader that I was hoping for!

Yellow-browed Warbler at Norwick

Ruff at Lamba Ness

14th September 2018 Unst W3 Clear with showers

A Baird's Sandpiper seen independently on the houb by Brydon & Mike was unfortunately only present briefly on the rising tide before flying off inland. I only had a brief look at Norwick where a Barred Warbler and a Yellow-browed Warbler were the best that I could find.

Barred Warbler at Norwick

13th September 2018 Unst SW5 Clear with showers

Very little time spent birding today but with the westerly airstream continuing to dominate it was no great surprise that a quick look around Norwick produced nothing more than lingering single Garden, Willow and Yellow-browed Warblers.

Garden Warbler at Norwick

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

12th September 2018 Unst W5-6 Overcast

With strong westerly and squally showers I tried seawatching from Lamba Ness for an hour or so but just saw a constant procession of Fulmars and Gannets and the odd Bonxie and Kittiwake. Skaw failed to deliver a migrant but Norwick had held onto its Wood Warbler and a Garden Warbler as well as producing a surprise in the form of my first Tree Pipit of the Autumn. A walk across Clibberswick failed to produce anything among the Golden Plover flock there.

Tree Pipit at Norwick

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

11th September 2018 Unst W1 Drizzle

With the forecast heavy rain and strong winds arriving later than forecast I managed to visit Skaw and Norwick without getting too wet. Skaw played host to a Blackcap and a Garden Warbler. Norwick had held onto the male Common Redstart, a Blackcap, 2 Garden Warblers, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 2 Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff. The biggest surprise of the day was a colour-ringed Collared Dove arriving in our garden this afternoon. It was ringed by Ian Thompson & Yvonne Benting at Tohba Aisgeirnis, South Uist, Western Isles on the 30th June 2017 and today's sighting represents the scheme's first off-island re-sighting.

Colour-ringed Collared Dove at Millfield

Monday, 10 September 2018

10th September 2018 Unst SW4 Squally showers

Skaw proved disappointing as I failed to see a migrant there. Around Norwick we saw a Peregrine, a Kestrel, a Merlin, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, the Wood Warbler, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, 3 Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler, a Barred Warbler, the Blyth's Reed Warbler, the male Common Redstart and 3 Chaffinches.

Blyth's Reed Warbler at Valyie
Having failed to see or hear it the last two days it was a pleasant surprise to first hear and then eventually see it today.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

9th September 2018 Unst S2 Overcast

Another day spent birding with Pete with us trying to visit as many sites as possible before the onset of forecast heavy rain. NorthDale held a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Common Rosefinch. Skaw failed to deliver a single migrant but Norwick had retained its Wood Warbler and 2 Willow Warblers. Burrafirth and Haroldswick both proved very quiet and then the heavy rain commenced. We headed for Baltasound hoping it might be drier there, but if anything, the rain was heavier. A look at the School clump from the car revealed the continued presence of the Pied Flycatcher. We decided to head for home but thought the houb might be worth a look just in case the rain had grounded any Waders. As we drew up there was a small flock of c.10 Knot, and whilst I looked through them, Pete exclaimed 'Yellowlegs!'. I scanned to the left and sure enough, there was a Lesser Yellowlegs. With the advancing tide pushing off the Knot we left to tell Brydon, Mike & Robbie but were soon back at the houb and thankfully the Lesser Yellowlegs was still in situ. It flew off to the fields at Buness where we also saw a Ruff but it was back on the houb late afternoon. Re-enthused we headed south finding 2 Yellow-browed Warblers at Westing and a Willow Warbler at Lund.

Lesser Yellowlegs on the houb, Baltasound