Friday, 31 May 2019

31st May 2019 Unst SE1 Overcast

The Great Knot had remained overnight at Skaw and was performing well again on the beach along with several Turnstone, 5 Dunlin and a Sanderling. Otherwise I just saw 3 Swallows at Skaw and another along Holsens road. At Burrafirth there was a Common Sandpiper and a Spotted Flycatcher and at Norwick we saw a Sparrowhawk, a Robin, a female Common Redstart, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackcap, 4 Mealy Redpolls and a singing Chaffinch. A year ago today we found a Temminck's Stint on Small Waters and today Gavin Thomas did exactly the same! 

Great Knot at Skaw

Temminck's Stint at Small Waters

Thursday, 30 May 2019

30th May 2019 Unst NE3 Overcast

A year ago yesterday we'd seen an American Golden Plover fly in off the sea and land on the beach at Skaw. This morning there was just a pair of Oystercatchers and a Robin was the only migrant passerine I saw along the burn. I then saw another Robin and a Mealy Redpoll at Norwick, a Song Thrush at North Dale and a Willow Warbler at Burrafirth. I'd just started mowing our lawn when Brenda shouted at me to say that Allan Conlin and David Haigh had just seen a summer-plumaged Great Knot fly in off the sea and land on the beach at Skaw!! A quick dash to Skaw and thankfully it was still present giving sensational views feeding along the lines of seaweed and in the dry sand at the head of the beach. Superb. Very well done Al & David!

Great Knot at Skaw

Sunday, 26 May 2019

26th May 2019 Unst NE2 Overcast

I didn't spend much time looking for migrants today with just a White Wagtail, a Willow Warbler and a Reed Bunting seen at Burrafirth and the Cuckoo and 2 Blackcaps seen at Valyie.

Cuckoo at Valyie

Saturday, 25 May 2019

25th May 2019 Unst NW2 Drizzle

A look at Skaw failed to produce a single migrant and by the time I returned for breakfast I'd seen just a single Willow Warbler. I then didn't walk to Valyie until c.2.00pm with low expectations but the first migrant I heard and saw was a singing Icterine Warbler - superb! I also saw the Cuckoo, a Blackcap, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Chiffchaff, c.20 Tree Sparrows and a singing Mealy Redpoll there. The weather had transformed into blue skies and a check of Haroldswick and Burrafirth added 2 Swallows, a Robin and a couple each of Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler.

Icterine Warbler at Valyie
As noisy as they are a singing Icterine Warbler can still expertly conceal itself

Mealy Redpoll at Valyie

Continental Robin at Haroldswick

Friday, 24 May 2019

24th May 2019 Unst N2 Overcast

After a calm and clear night it was no real surprise that there were fewer migrants in evidence today. There was no sign of the Rustic Bunting in our garden or in the surrounding area with just 2 Tree Sparrows and a singing Chaffinch seen. Skaw played host to just a single Swallow and a single Willow Warbler and a quick look around Norwick produced the highlight of the day being a male Waxwing flycatching over the burn and being mobbed by Meadow Pipits. Otherwise I saw just a Lesser Whitethroat, a Willow Warbler and 32 Tree Sparrows.

Male Waxwing at Norwick

Thursday, 23 May 2019

23rd May 2019 Unst NE1 Rain

Rain and fog persisted for the first few hours during which I saw a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler at Skaw and a female Bluethroat and 2 Willow Warblers at Burrafirth. Whilst walking to Norwick we heard a ticking Bunting and picked out a Rustic Bunting flying past us that fortuitously landed on a fence for a few seconds before flying off high east. We had a good search for it but couldn't relocate it. Otherwise we saw a Collared Dove, a Cuckoo, 7 Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler, 21 Tree Sparrows and a Chaffinch around Norwick. NorthDale proved quiet with just a Lesser Whitethroat seen. Haroldswick also proved very quiet with just a Garden Warbler seen. Brydon had found a Waxwing at Setters Hill that we saw on our way to the shop but on a quick check of a couple of other sites at Baltasound all we saw was a Chiffchaff. We returned home and were delighted to find the Rustic Bunting waiting for us in our garden - our first BB rarity in our garden. Brydon, Mike and a visiting tour group successfully saw it before it flew off high to the south. An early evening drive saw us catch-up with a Short-eared Owl that Mike had seen earlier in the day at Quoys.

Female Bluethroat in the rain at Burrafirth

Rustic Bunting at Norwick

Male Waxwing at Setters Hill

Rustic Bunting at Millfield

Short-eared Owl at Quoys

Monday, 20 May 2019

20th May 2019 Unst S1 Overcast

An early morning visit to Skaw convinced me to save survey work for another day as there was a nice number of migrants present. We then covered, Norwick, Burrafirth and Haroldswick. Highlights were a singing male Red-backed Shrike at Burrafirth, a female Red-backed Shrike at Haroldswick and Common Rosefinches along Holsens road and at Norwick. Migrant totals today were 12 Swallows, 3 Sand Martins together, 7 House Martins together,  2 Cuckoos, a Collared Dove, 2 White Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail, a Song Thrush, a Redwing, 2 Robins, 3 Common Redstarts, 2 Whinchats, 3 Blackcaps, 4 Garden Warblers, 4 Common Whitethroats, 22 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Chiffchaffs, 9 Willow Warblers, a Wood Warbler, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 26+ Tree Sparrows and 2 Reed Buntings.

Male Pied Flycatcher at Skaw

Spotted Flycatcher at Skaw

Male Whinchat at Skaw

Great Black-backed Gulls flying north over Skaw

Common Cuckoo along Holsens road

Common Rosefinch along Holsens road

Garden Warblers at Norwick

Common Rosefinch at Norwick

Wood Warbler at Norwick

Male Pied Flycatcher at Norwick

Male Red-backed Shrike at Burrafirth

Female Red-backed Shrike at Haroldswick

Sunday, 19 May 2019

19th May 2019 Unst SE2 Overcast

Heavily overcast but virtually calm conditions at dawn produced a few migrants at Skaw including a Cuckoo, a Song Thrush, a Redwing, my first Garden Warbler of the year and 2 Willow Warblers. NorthDale proved quieter with just a single female Common Redstart seen. It was good to see Dave Pullan back on Unst and whilst chatting rain commenced. I returned home for a while but then set out around Norwick. Whilst getting slowly drenched I saw a Sparrowhawk, a Collared Dove, a Common Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warblers and the male Pied Flycatcher. After a change of clothes we headed for a change of scenery by heading to the south end of the island where the best we could muster was seeing a Pink-footed Goose, our first Greenshank of the year and another Garden Warbler. I then covered Haroldswick seeing a Common Swift, a House Martin, a Swallow, a White Wagtail, a female Common Redstart, 2 Common Whitethroats, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs. Dave Pullan then kindly let me know that he had found a female Red-backed Shrike at NorthDale (at exactly the place we'd been chatting in the morning!) that was convenient for us to see on our way home. On getting home there were 2 Lesser Whitethroats in our garden.

Female Red-backed Shrike at NorthDale

Saturday, 18 May 2019

18th May 2019 Unst NE4 Overcast

With dampness in the fresh wind it proved a cold early morning. After covering Skaw and NorthDale I hadn't seen a single migrant. Burrafirth produced just a single Lesser Whitethroat. Haroldswick was better adding our first Common Tern of the year, a Long-eared Owl, our first Cuckoo of the year, 4 Swallows, a male Common Redstart, a Robin, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Common Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps and a Reed Bunting. I returned home and without binoculars to hand flushed a female Bluethroat off our compost heap whilst attending our oil tank! It relocated to our rosa where it briefly performed before disappearing over our wall not to be seen again. Somewhat ironic to find our bird of the day the only time we weren't birding! Re-energised I took a walk around Norwick seeing a Sparrowhawk, a male Pied Flycatcher and our first Spotted Flycatcher of the year.

Female Bluethroat at Millfield

Common Tern at Haroldswick

Common Cuckoo at Haroldswick

Spotted and Pied Flycatchers at Norwick