Wednesday, 31 October 2018

31st October 2018 Unst NW2 Clear

Another nice day to be out birding and from the outset Snipe were flushing from just about everywhere today. A flock of 11 Mallard arrived in off the sea as I walked towards Norwick where I saw a juvenile Glaucous Gull, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Robins, a Whinchat, 5 Redwing, a Goldcrest, 3 Chaffinch and 2 Common Redpolls. I decided to head to the south end of the island today and took a long walk along the coast north from Westing hoping for a rare Wheatear but where just 10 Chaffinch were seen. Next stop was Lund where I finally flushed a migrant that I've been hoping to find in similar circumstances for about as long as I can remember - a Corncrake - brilliant and completely unexpected given the late date! A few paces further and a Woodcock flushed. I'd just arrived at Uyeasound when Brydon kindly phoned to say he'd found a Red-breasted Flycatcher along the burn at Norwick, that by the time I arrived, it had found Valyie where I only managed a few brief flight views. There were now c.6 Robins present, and right on dusk, a flock of 11 Redpolls.

Mallard arriving in off the sea at Norwick

Whinchat at Norwick

Juvenile Glaucous Gull at Norwick

Corncrake at Lund

Whooper Swans at Easter Loch

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

30th October 2018 Unst SE3 Clear

A very promising wind direction and the wind soon calmed so very nice weather to be out birding but most sites proved eerily quiet. At Burrafirth I saw a Long-tailed Duck, a Moorhen, a Robin, 5 Redwings, 8 Fieldfares and 3 Common Redpolls. At Haroldswick I saw my first Jack Snipe of the Autumn, a Whinchat, a Fieldfare, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 3 Brambling and 7 Chaffinches. I met Brydon at Norwick but a Robin and a single Common Redpoll was all that we could find.

Common Redpoll at Burrafirth

Yellow-browed Warbler at the Heritage Centre

Whinchat at Haroldswick

Monday, 29 October 2018

29th October 2018 Unst SSE6 Clear

A very enjoyable morning spent birding with Brydon and Mike. The theme for the day was set early with a brief encounter with 3 Mealy Redpolls at Kirkaton. At Valyie we saw a Woodcock, a few Redwings, a Fieldfare, a Robin, a dead Blackcap and obtained tantalising views of a 'white' Redpoll that flew off towards Skaw. We headed for Lamba Ness and whilst driving along the headland found a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll feeding around the sheep feeders showing down to a few feet. A juvenile Glaucous Gull flew south and near the point there was a flock of c.25 Snow Buntings. We headed for Skaw but saw just a couple of Redwings there. As we drove back through Kirkaton a flock of now 7 Redpolls included a Coues's Arctic Redpoll.

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Lamba Ness

Me watching the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll (Mike Pennington)

Coues's Arctic Redpoll with Mealy Redpolls at Kirkaton

Sunday, 28 October 2018

28th October 2018 Unst NE1 Clear

A frosty start to a beautiful calm sunny day. At Valyie there were 2 Waxwings, a Blackcap, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Goldfinch. At Skaw I saw a Water Rail, a Purple Sandpiper, 3 Redwings and a Robin. At NorthDale just a 3 Redwings, a Robin, a single Chaffinch and a Brambling. At Burrafirth a Long-tailed Duck, a Glaucous Gull and a Snow Bunting. I returned home for brunch seeing a juvenile Glaucous Gull from the kitchen window. At Haroldswick I heard a Water Rail and saw a Song Thrush, 3 Chaffinch and 5 Brambling.

Waxwing at Valyie

Yellow-browed Warbler at Valyie

Goldfinch at Valyie

Purple Sandpiper at Skaw

Snow Bunting at Burrafirth

Saturday, 27 October 2018

27th October 2018 Unst N5 Showers

Spent most of the morning seawatching with Brydon at Lamba Ness from 8.30am to 11.30am. I concentrated looking through the close line of Fulmars with Brydon concentrating looking further out when visibility allowed. A very similar mix of species seen as yesterday with 37 blue Fulmars, 1 Goldeneye, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers flew south, 1 Wigeon, 12 Glaucous Gulls (including a couple of adults the rest appearing an equal split between juveniles and second-winters), 81 Kittiwakes, 1 Little Auk (BHT), 52 Guillemots, several Redwings and a Snow Bunting. Whilst driving away from Lamba Ness there was a Glaucous Gull among a loafing flock of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. Valyie produced just a single Goldcrest.

Adult Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness

Juvenile Glaucous Gull at Lamba Ness

Friday, 26 October 2018

26th October 2018 Unst N5 Hail showers

The first true Arctic blast delivered an enjoyable morning seawatch from 8.30am to 11.30am, so much so, I returned this afternoon from 1.00pm to 2.30pm. Totals moving north unless otherwise stated were a Great Northern Diver, 21 blue Fulmars, several thousand Fulmars, c.200 Gannets, 1 Scoter that flew south, 5 Long-tailed Duck, 2 Goldeneye, 9 Black-headed Gulls, 20 Kittiwakes, a Glaucous Gull, 3 Black Guillemots and 70 Guillemots. I also saw another Glaucous Gull among a flock of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, a few Redwings and 2 Snow Buntings on Lamba Ness, the Whinchat was still present at Braeview and I checked Valyie late this afternoon that unsurprisingly proved very quiet although I did see a single Long-eared Owl.

Great Northern Diver passing Lamba Ness

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Goldeneye passing Lamba Ness

Long-tailed Ducks passing Lamba Ness

Black-headed Gulls passing Lamba Ness

Kittiwake passing Lamba Ness

some mean-looking argentatus Herring Gulls passing

Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness

Appropriately named shipping passing Lamba Ness

Second-winter Glaucous Gull at Loch of Lamba Ness

Thursday, 25 October 2018

25th October 2018 Unst NW3 Clear

With the forecast colder air duly arriving it was difficult to decide whether to seawatch or walk to Valyie but with the wind slackening I tried the latter seeing 3 Long-eared Owls, 4 Robins, 3 Song Thrushes, 5 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare, 15 Blackbirds, a dead Blackcap, 2 Goldcrests, 9 Brambling and 2 Chaffinches. Haroldswick added a Water Rail, 10 Redwings, a Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs, 10 Brambling and 5 Chaffinches. Another Water Rail was all I saw at Burrafirth but NorthDale proved more productive with a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Chiffchaff, a Tree Sparrow, 10 Brambling and 5 Chaffinches present. Skaw was my final port of call where a juvenile Glaucous Gull that flew along the beach and north around the headland was my first white-winger of the season and a reminder of where today's wind was originating!

Long-eared Owl at Norwick

Seals at Haroldswick

Twite at Burrafirth

Yellow-browed Warbler at NorthDale

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

23rd October 2018 Unst NW5 Overcast clearing

A 3 hour seawatch from Lamba Ness produced a Storm Petrel flying north at 10.20am, a Bonxie, 30 Guillemots and a single blue Fulmar among the several thousand Fulmars that flew north this morning. A party of 7 Snow Buntings were on the headland, several Redwings were seen at Skaw and a Whinchat was present at Braeview. An afternoon walk to Valyie added a Long-eared Owl and a single Chiffchaff.

Snow Buntings at Lamba Ness

Bonxie passing Lamba Ness

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Redwing at Skaw