Saturday, 31 August 2019

31st August 2019 Unst NE2 Rain

Steady rain persisted for much of the day. Skaw produced nothing more than a Willow Warbler but a look at Norwick produced a Whinchat, the Pied Flycatcher, the Wood Warbler and 3 Common Rosefinches. Late afternoon a Willow Warbler appeared in our garden.

Common Rosefinch at Norwick

Willow Warbler at Millfield

Friday, 30 August 2019

30th August 2019 Unst SW5 Overcast

A windy morning when it was evident that there were a good number of alba Wagtails on the island from the outset with 5 in our garden, and 8 on the drive to Skaw. Skaw was still playing host to the 2 Whinchats, the Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler and there was a Common Swift over the tip of Lamba Ness but a seawatch proved uneventful apart from a Whimbrel arriving in off the sea. The cut hay fields at Uyeasound held 10 Ruff and 8 Knot. A walk along Easting beach produced 10 Sanderling and 10 alba Wagtails and there were 8 Sanderling on Burrafirth beach and 15 on Norwick beach that were accompanied by 2 Knot.

Whinchats at Skaw

Juvenile Whimbrel at Lamba Ness

Thursday, 29 August 2019

29th August 2019 Unst S3 Clear

A bright clear morning but it soon felt that most migrants had remained on the island overnight as the Common Whitethroat was still present in our garden, the Willow Warbler along Holsen's road, the Grey Wagtail,  2 Whinchats, the Garden Warbler and 2 Willow Warbers at Skaw. Lamba Ness proved quiet with just a single Willow Warbler seen. Valyie produced my first Kestrel of the Autumn, the Pied Flycatcher and a Willow Warbler. North Dale was still playing host to the Wryneck but there was also a showy Wood Warbler present. A walk around Norwick added another Wood Warbler and a brief encounter with 2 Common Rosefinches that all too soon flew off high towards North Dale.

Kestrel pursued by Merlin at Valyie

Wood Warbler at North Dale

Common Rosefinches at Norwick

Wood Warbler at Norwick

Peacock at Norwick

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

28th August 2019 Unst S2 Rain

It was raining pretty much from dawn right through the morning but suddenly brightened into a sunny afternoon. At first it felt pretty much as yesterday with a Willow Warbler seen along Holsen's road, 9 Sanderling, the Grey Wagtail, the Garden Warbler and 3 Willow Warblers at Skaw, 10 Sanderling, the Garden Warbler, a Willow Warbler and the Pied Flycatcher at Norwick but at North Dale I glimpsed a Barred Warbler on a couple of occasions and then found a Wryneck sheltering from the now more persistent rain by clinging to a wall of the deserted croft. Late in the afternoon Brydon found an adult Dotterel among a flock of Golden Plovers in Baltasound. On returning home a Common Whitethroat had found our garden.

Wryneck at NorthDale
In a nice piece of symmetry my parents were finding one at Beachy at around the same time!

Dotterel at Baltasound

Common Whitethroat at Millfield

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

27th August 2019 Unst Calm Foggy

Thick fog rolled in and out for most of the day finally clearing late in the afternoon. I saw my first returning Whinchat of the Autumn, 4 Wheatears and a Willow Warbler whilst driving along Holsen's road. Skaw was then disappointingly quiet with just a Dunlin, 8 Sanderling, 5 Wheatears, a Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler being seen. Northdale added 10 Wheatears and a single Willow Warbler. A walk around Norwick suggested there was little change from yesterday with 9 Sanderling, the Pied Flycatcher, the Garden Warbler, a Willow Warbler and 2 Chiffchaffs all present. On arriving at Burrafirth Al Conlin was present who immediately picked out a Common Swift that made a couple of circuits of the shore station building and there was a Willow Warbler present in the garden. A visit to the shop coincided with low tide on the houb with just 4 Knot being seen. As we arrived home there was a commotion among the Common Gulls and 2 juvenile Arctic Skuas powered in off the sea.

Common Swift over the Shore Station

Juvenile dark phase Arctic Skuas at Millfield

Monday, 26 August 2019

26th August 2019 Unst W2 Overcast

A touch of overnight south-easterly clearly did the trick and produced a few migrants. A Fieldfare in our garden was an early morning surprise. Whilst I failed to find any migrants at Skaw, Brenda saw and photographed a Wood Warbler in our garden that disappeared just before I arrived home! A walk around Norwick produced a Swallow, a Pied Flycatcher, the Garden Warbler still at Valyie, the Chiffchaff and 2 Willow Warblers. North Dale added 2 Willow Warblers and Haroldswick played host to 2 Grey Herons, a Garden Warbler and 7 Willow Warblers. Burrafirth produced my final Willow Warbler of the day.

Wood Warbler at Millfield

Pied Flycatcher at Norwick

Sunday, 25 August 2019

25th August 2019 Unst W1 Overcast

In an overcast and virtually calm early morning I saw just a single Willow Warbler at Skaw, 2 Teal and 2 Knot at Lamba Ness and a Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler at Norwick. Once the sun came out and it warmed up I saw 3 Willow Warblers at Burrafirth, 3 at Haroldswick.

Garden Warbler at Norwick

Saturday, 24 August 2019

24th August 2019 Unst S2 Overcast

A murky start to the day but it brightened into a warm and sunny afternoon. Bird of the day was a rather exquisite-looking third-summer Arctic Skua that flew past our garden. A look around most of the north Unst sites had resulted in seeing just single Willow Warblers at Haroldswick and Norwick. Robbie was faring better checking cut hay fields that then produced my first long-overdue 3 Black-tailed Godwits of the year, 20 Ruff, a Knot and 200 Golden Plover. 

Arctic Skua
Aged by the pale barring on its median underwing coverts and barring on its flanks.

Willow Warbler at Norwick

23rd August 2019 Unst WSW4 Overcast

A Garden Warbler appeared in our garden early afternoon that prompted me to walk the Valyie where I also saw a single Garden Warbler. Late afternoon a flock of 5 Whimbrel arrived in off the sea at Norwick.

Garden Warbler at Valyie

22nd August 2019 Unst SW3 Clear

A look around most of the usual sites in north Unst resulted in seeing 5 Willow Warblers.

Juvenile Wheatear at Skaw
not too many sporting this plumage now

21st August 2019 Unst S3 Overcast

It could only be Shetland having seen Blyth's Reed, Great Reed and Marsh Warblers this year before finally seeing a Reed Warbler today - at Valyie.

19th August 2019 Unst W4 Drizzle

We saw around 15 Ruff in the field opposite the garage on our return from the shop.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

18th August 2019 Unst SSW3 Overcast

Not much time spent birding today as I failed to see a migrant at Skaw although the 2 juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes were still present on Lamba Ness.

Juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes at Lamba Ness

Saturday, 17 August 2019

17th August 2019 Unst SE1 Fog clearing

Thick fog soon cleared when I headed to Skaw seeing 7 Sanderling, a Knot and a Garden Warbler there. Lamba Ness was still playing host to the 2 juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes. On walking to Valyie it started to thunder and rain but I managed to see a flock of 12 Teal, a Knot and the Pied Flycatcher. After a paucity of Swallows all Summer it was good to see a pair at the Brewery and a flock of 6 at Voesgarth. A look at Burrafirth produced the Icterine Warbler. 

Icterine Warbler at Burrafirth

Friday, 16 August 2019

16th August 2019 Unst S4 Light Rain

Steady light rain and a fresh southerly persisted all day. There were again good numbers of Meadow Pipits, alba Wagtails and Wheatears at every site visited. There was a single Knot on the beach at Skaw and 3 at Norwick where the Pied Flycatcher and Willow Warbler remained at Valyie. The Shore Station at Burrafirth proved quiet so it was a nice surprise when an Icterine Warbler flew from cover onto the fence along the burn. A walk around Haroldswick added 25 Snipe on the beach and revealed the continued presence of the juvenile Stonechat at the pool and there was a Willow Warbler at NorthDale. An afternoon visit to Lamba Ness confirmed that both Red-necked Phalaropes had also remained in situ.

Meadow Pipits along the fence-line at Burrafirth

Icterine Warbler at Burrafirth

Common Snipes on Haroldswick beach

Juvenile Stonechat at Haroldswick

Thursday, 15 August 2019

15th August 2019 Unst SE4 Rain

With southeasterly winds and rain I headed to Skaw full of optimism, but disappointingly, left without seeing a migrant and the same was then true for Norwick. I sat out the worst of the rain that passed through during the next 3 hours until it suddenly cleared when I walked to Valyie where it was nice to find my first Pied Flycatcher of the Autumn. I returned to Skaw that again failed to deliver a single migrant, and with the wind now increasing from the west, I tried sea-watching from Lamba Ness albeit the highlight was now two juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes together on the pools there.

Pied Flycatcher at Valyie

Juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes at Lamba Ness

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

14th August 2019 Unst SW3 Clear

A nice sunrise with plenty of Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and alba Wagtails lining the road to Lamba Ness where it was nice to find a few waders on the pools near the tip that included a Greenshank and a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope. A walk around Norwick added just a single Willow Warbler.

Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope at Lamba Ness

Juvenile intermediate phase Arctic Skua

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

13th August 2019 Unst SW1 Clear

After a cooler night the air felt noticeably fresher and more autumnal this morning. As I drove to Skaw I was pleased to find a juvenile Spotted Redshank on one of the roadside pools at Swartling, Lamba Ness. Skaw played host to a single Knot on the beach and a Willow Warbler. Burrafirth added another Willow Warbler as did Valyie. There was a juvenile Stonechat and a Common Whitethroat at Haroldswick where Mike kindly stopped to show us a Convolvulus Hawk-Moth that he'd retrieved from a poly-tunnel. This afternoon the Houb produced the lingering adult Grey Plover and 19 Knot and there was a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver on the sound.

Juvenile Spotted Redshank at Swartling

12th August 2019 Unst NNW2 Overcast

Single Willow Warblers were seen at Haroldswick and Norwick.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

11th August 2019 Unst N5 Overcast

I waited for the rain to ease before venturing out to Lamba Ness at 10am where I sea-watched until midday. An exhilarating seawatch with literally thousands of Gannets and Fulmars and hundreds of Puffins all flying north. Highlight of the morning was an aberrant extra-pale Fulmar that flew north at  10.45am. Variety was provided by a single Manx Shearwater flying north at 11.10am, a Curlew, a few Bonxies, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, several Kittiwakes and 2 Arctic Terns. A look at Norwick during the afternoon produced 2 juvenile Sanderling on the beach and a single Willow Warbler.

Aberrant extra-pale Fulmar passing Lamba Ness
Considered rare in the North Atlantic by Flood & van Grouw (BB June'15). They include an image of a similar individual photographed in Norway that they caption 'the light grey of the primaries indicates a quantitative pigment reduction, or dilution - which results in a lighter shade of grey.

Puffins passing Lamba Ness

Curlew passing Lamba Ness

Kittiwake and Gannet passing Lamba Ness

Willow Warbler at Norwick