Monday, 30 September 2019

30th September 2019 Unst N4 Clear

With a cold northerly wind blowing I headed for Lamba Ness where 2 blue Fulmars flying north were the only birds of note seen during a brief seawatch. A Snow Bunting had kept me company and a flock of 10 were seen in flight as I left the Ness. Otherwise there was a grounded Whimbrel and a few Blackbirds and Redwings were evident. The cold wind hampered birding during a walk around Norwick where I saw 2 Swallows, a Tree Pipit, a Robin, a Redstart, 2 Whinchats, 2 Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler. Haroldswick added 2 Wheatears, a Redstart, 2 Song Thrushes and a male Ring Ouzel.

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Whimbrel on Lamba Ness

Ring Ouzel at Haroldswick

Sunday, 29 September 2019

29th September 2019 Unst N2 Overcast

After it being clear and calm yesterday evening it was perhaps a surprise that so many of the lingering migrants were still present. Skaw had held onto the Iceland Gull, a Redstart and the Lesser Whitethroat. A circuit around Norwick produced a Swallow, 2 Pied Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, 2 Whinchats, 3 Robins, a Redstart, 10 Blackcaps, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 4 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, 4 Tree Sparrows, 3 Siskins, 4 Bramblings and 20 Chaffinches. A visit to the Farmer's Market in Baltasound gave me time to check a couple of sites where I saw the Pale-bellied Brent Goose, a Robin, 2 Redstarts, 1 Blackcap, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Chiffchaff. Burrafirth produced 3 Song Thrushes and a Snow Bunting. A look at Haroldswick added a Grey Heron, 2 Merlins, a Water Rail, 2 Redwings, 3 Song Thrushes, a Robin, a Redstart, a Whinchat and a Yellow-browed Warbler.

20 minutes after sunrise and Valyie is busy with birders

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat at Norwick

Saturday, 28 September 2019

28th September 2019 Unst NE3 Misty

Skaw was still playing host to a few migrants although most were lingering from previous days with 2 Redstarts, a Robin, a Whinchat, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff being seen. A walk along the north cliffs only produced a single Robin. A circuit around Norwick not including Valyie was hampered by thick fog and only produced 6 Swallows, a Blackcap, 4 Willow Warblers and a Brambling. Hearing it was sunny in Baltasound we headed there seeing Robbie's Slavonian Grebe, a Redstart, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, a Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, the Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Brambling. Finally, during a walk around Haroldswick we saw 10 Song Thrushes, 2 Redwings, 2 Redstarts, a Whinchat, 2 Blackcaps, a Willow Warbler and a Siskin.

Brambling in Norwick

Friday, 27 September 2019

27th September 2019 Unst SE2 Low Cloud

A murky misty dawn but with a light southeasterly wind. I saw the Iceland Gull as I approached Skaw where there was also a Kestrel, 21 Snipe, 2 Swallows, 3 Robins, 2 Redstarts, a Whinchat, a Blackcap and a Fieldfare present. I walked out to the headland where there was a Snow Bunting accompanying a flock of Turnstone. A check of a couple of geos drew a blank but whilst walking to the next I noticed an Alpine Swift around 150m offshore flying towards me - brilliant! It changed track and flew parallel to the cliffs around 100m offshore heading west before then heading for the cliff and flying low over the cliff edge and over the brow heading inland towards Saxa Vord dome. Once I reached the brow there was no sign of the Swift and the dome was shrouded in low cloud. Lamba Ness produced a flock of 6 Snipe, 16 Ringed Plover, the Short-toed Lark, a Robin, a Redstart, 3 Wheatears, 9 Song Thrushes, a Redwing, a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Chaffinches, 13 Lapland Buntings and a Siskin. A walk to Valyie and back added a Jack Snipe, 6 Snipe, 2 Pied Wagtails, 2 Tree Pipits, 10 Swallows, 3 Song Thrushes, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 12 Chaffinches and a Tree Sparrow. A quick look around Haroldswick produced a Sparrowhawk, a Dunnock, a Wheatear, 4 Redstarts, 2 Redwings, a Song Thrush, 2 Blackcaps and 2 Chiffchaffs, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Goldcrest.

Snow Bunting at Skaw

Alpine Swift along the cliffs north of Skaw
The third record for Unst after singles over Hermaness in June 1962 & May 2014

Spotted Flycatcher at Lamba Ness

Lapland Bunting at Lamba Ness

Tree Pipit at Norwick

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

25th September 2019 Unst SE4 Overcast

A Robin was still present in our garden but I only saw a single Redwing on the drive to Skaw today. It then soon felt it was very much the case of some of yesterday's migrants still being present as I saw 2 Robins, 2 Whinchats, 2 Redstarts and a Common Whitethroat. Forn Geo was still playing host to a Redstart and the Red-breasted Flycatcher. Lamba Ness was still productive with the Short-toed Lark, a Robin, 5 Wheatears, a Redstart, 10 Redwings, 15 Song Thrushes, a Snow Bunting and 12 Lapland Buntings being seen. A walk around Norwick but not including Valyie produced 2 Blackcaps, 2 Garden Warblers, 6 Willow Warblers and 2 Yellow-browed Warblers. 

Short-toed Lark at Lamba Ness

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

24th September 2019 Unst SE4 Low cloud

Despite a foggy start to the day it was immediately apparent that birds had arrived overnight on the island as there was a Willow Warbler in our garden and  20+ Redwings and a Wheatear along Holsens road. As I arrived at Skaw a Redstart flicked across the burn to join another on the fenceline and I also saw a Whinchat, 2 Wheatears, a Robin, a Blackcap and a Goldcrest. A walk across the headland at Skaw proved birdless until I arrived at Forn Geo and immediately heard and then saw a Red-breasted Flycatcher that was occasionally being chased by a couple of Redstarts that were also present. A check of another four geos then drew a complete blank although at least 5 Lapland Buntings were seen along the clifftops. As I was about to leave Skaw the Iceland Gull was bathing in the burn. On arriving home there was now a Wheatear and 2 Robins in our garden and 2 Grey Herons and 13 Barnacle Geese flew over soon to be lost from sight in the fog. A check of a geo on Clibberswick Hill provided the unlikely sight of 4 Grey Herons resting on the cliff although they quickly took flight. A modified circuit around Norwick that didn't include Valyie produced a Redstart, a Garden Warbler, 5 Blackcaps, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers and a Willow Warbler. A visit to the shop neatly coincided with Tony Davison and friends relocating a Pale-bellied Brent at Clingera that Mike P had previously seen disappearing into the fog! Whilst in Baltasound I also saw a Pied Flycatcher, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers and a Brambling. As we drove back through Haroldswick there was a flock of 7 Pinkfeet near the Heritage Centre.

Red-breasted Flycatcher in Forn Geo, Skaw

Garden Warbler at Norwick

Robbie sporting an Angle Shades in Norwick

 First-winter Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Clingera

Monday, 23 September 2019

23rd September 2019 Unst SE4 Overcast

I saw the Iceland Gull as I approached Skaw and then a Wheatear, a Blackcap and 2 Yellow-browed Warblers at Skaw itself. A circuit around Norwick produced an incoming Grey Heron, a flock of 35 Barnacle Geese flying south, a Pied Wagtail, 4 Redwings, 3 Blackcaps, the eastern Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, 2 Goldcrests and a Chaffinch. Best was saved to last when Paul Eele very kindly let me know that Chris Beach had found a Short-toed Lark on the track at Lamba Ness that I eventually saw in failing light in wet and windy weather! There were also 2 Lapland Buntings present.

Yellow-browed Warbler at Skaw

Barnacle Geese over Millfield

Short-toed Lark at Lamba Ness

Sunday, 22 September 2019

22nd September 2019 Unst SSE3 Overcast

Low cloud and a fresh southeasterly that eased somewhat during the day. I saw just a single Wheatear along Holsen's road and it was disappointing to fail to find a single migrant at Skaw. A circuit around Norwick produced a Grey Heron arriving high in the sky, 2 Pied Wagtails, a Blackcap, the Eastern Lesser Whitethroat, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 4 Tree Sparrows and a Chaffinch. A circuit around Haroldswick was most notable for a flock of 11 Blackbirds with otherwise just a single Willow Warbler seen. On returning home this evening there was a Blackcap in our garden.

Yellow-browed Warbler at Norwick

Yellow-browed Warbler at Burrafirth

Saturday, 21 September 2019

21st September 2019 Unst S3 Clear

A calm clear sunrise but the wind had picked up by the time I arrived at Skaw where a Wheatear and  a Whinchat were all that  I could find. Inner Skaw was playing host to at least 7 Lapland Buntings but they were flighty and mobile. A walk around Norwick added a Swallow, an eastern Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and the Pied Flycatcher. North Dale proved quiet with just 2 Swallows.

Male Wheatear at Skaw

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat at Norwick

Pied Flycatcher at Norwick

Friday, 20 September 2019

20th September 2019 Unst SW4 Overcast

With a fresh southwesterly I headed for Lamba Ness where in 3 hours I saw a Sooty Shearwater, an Arctic Skua and 20 blue Fulmars fly north. A mobile flock of 12 Lapland Buntings at the point were joined by another 3 and a Snow Bunting that were seen to arrive together from well out over the sea. A late afternoon walk to Valyie and back produced a secretive Barred Warbler, a Blackcap, a Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff and my first Goldcrest of the Autumn.

Lapland Bunting at Lamba Ness

Sooty Shearwater passing Lamba Ness

Goldcrest at Norwick

Barred Warbler at Norwick

Thursday, 19 September 2019

19th September 2019 Unst SSW4 Heavy drizzle

Unfortunately a return to wet and windy conditions from dawn with the wind veering westerly by midday. Skaw produced nothing more than a single Whimbrel and a circuit around Norwick added just a single Willow Warbler. Whilst looking out of our kitchen window hoping for an improvement in the weather a movement in our rosa caught my eye and it proved to be our first Yellow-browed Warbler of the Autumn. Unfortunately it disappeared all too soon before I could obtain any decent images. With renewed enthusiasm I headed out in full waterproofs but on checking a few sites I saw 2 Merlins together but failed to see a single passerine migrant.

Yellow-browed Warbler at Millfield

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

18th September 2019 Unst N1 Overcast

A walk around Norwick produced 3 Swallows, the Pied Flycatcher, a Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaffs, the 5 Tree Sparrows and a flyover Lapland Bunting that was flying east. North Dale added my first Lesser Whitethroat of the Autumn and 2 Willow Warblers and Haroldswick a Ruff. I spent the afternoon walking from the north end of the Loch of Cliff to North Water and out to the west coast, south to Flubersgerdie and returning to Houlland. The highlight was 5 Lapland Buntings flying west over Libbers Hill.

 Lesser Whitethroat at North Dale
being so sandy in appearance presumably of an eastern flavour

Tonga as viewed from the south

Wood Wick as viewed from Flubersgerdie

Wood Wick living up to its name

Baltasound viewed from the west

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

17th September 2019 Unst NW4 Rain clearing

Another cold windy morning so I headed for Lamba Ness where a Basking Shark was the only highlight. Skaw held 15 Skylarks and a walk around Norwick produced just 4 Swallows, the Pied Flycatcher, a Blackcap and 5 Tree Sparrows. Haroldswick added a Whinchat and a Willow Warbler. Clive then sent me a message to say he'd relocated his American Golden Plover at Uyeasound than needless to say proved the highlight of the day - many thanks Clive.

 Adult American Golden Plover at Uyeasound