Monday, 28 October 2019

28th October 2019 Unst N3 Overcast

Another morning with a northerly breeze so I headed for Lamba Ness seeing 3 Redwings and 6 Snow Buntings along Holsens road. There was a Chiffchaff on the track on the approach to the tip of the Ness where in an hour I saw 28 blue Fulmars, a Long-tailed Duck, 2 Bonxies, 4 Kittiwakes and 3 Little Auks all fly north. Skaw was quiet with just 10 Redwings seen. A walk around Norwick produced a male Merlin, a Song Thrush, 2 Blackcaps and a Siberian Chiffchaff.

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Sunday, 27 October 2019

27th October 2019 Unst N3 Overcast

I seawatched from 8am until 9am when rain commenced. The highlights were a Great Northern Diver, a blue Fulmar and 2 Little Auks all flying north and a Snow Bunting along the track and 2 Mealy Redpolls at the causeway. There was a juvenile Glaucous Gull at Norwick.

Great Northern Diver passing Lamba Ness

Saturday, 26 October 2019

26th October 2019 Unst SW5 Rain clearing

Another wet and windy day although the rain cleared mid-afternoon so we walked both Burrafirth and Norwick beaches for the monthly beached bird survey. Whilst at Norwick 2 adult Whooper Swans flew in off the sea and the Velvet Scoter and 2 Long-tailed Ducks were sat offshore. Our garden was visited by a single Blackcap and a single Chiffchaff.

Friday, 25 October 2019

25th October 2019 Unst SW8 Rain

A wet and windy day when a flock of 12 Mealy Redpolls briefly visited our garden that was a surprise given the wind direction and strength.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

24th October 2019 Unst SW4 Rain clearing

A Blackcap and 3 Bramblings were in our garden. Lamba Ness produced just a single Snow Bunting. Around Norwick I saw the Long-tailed Duck, a Kestrel, a Robin, a Goldcrest and c.10 Bramblings. A visit to Easting beach produced the Black-throated Diver, the Glaucous Gull, the first-winter Little Gull and a Siskin. Easter Loch was still playing host to the Scaup.

First-winter Little Gull at Easting beach

Glaucous Gull at Easting beach

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

23rd October 2019 Unst SW4 Light rain

A look at Skaw produced nothing more than a Robin, 20 Redwings, a Chiffchaff and 2 Bramblings. Lamba Ness added just a single Snow Bunting. Rain hampered our visit to Valyie where we saw a Goldcrest and c.15 Bramblings. It was then time to say farewell to Richard...
RJF on Lamba Ness with Skaw in the background

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

22nd October 2019 Unst NW2 Overcast

After an overnight southwesterly gale the wind switched to a light northwesterly just prior to dawn. In 3 hours from 8.15am at Lamba Ness we saw a Red-throated Diver, 94 blue Fulmars, a Sooty Shearwater, a drake Long-tailed Duck, a Wigeon, 13 Bonxies, a juvenile Glaucous Gull, a Black Guillemot, 19 Little Auks, c.15 Guillemots and a Puffin all flying north and 5 Snow Buntings that arrived in off the sea. We saw 2 Goldcrests and c.20 Brambling at Valyie, a female Common Redstart at Haroldswick and a Lapland Bunting at Skaw.

Little Auks passing Lamba Ness

Juvenile Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness

Female Common Redstart at Haroldswick

Lapland Bunting at Skaw

Monday, 21 October 2019

21st October 2019 Unst SW3 Overcast

At Skaw we saw a Robin, 3 Song Thrushes, 5 Redwings, a Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest and 2 Bramblings. At Norwick we saw the Long-tailed Duck, the Velvet Scoter, 3 Robins, a Blackcap, 10 Mealy Redpolls and 5 Bramblings. As we drove towards Burrafirth a flock of c.45 Snow Buntings flew across the road and there was a juvenile Glaucous Gull on the beach. At Haroldswick we saw a Chiffchaff, a Siberian Chiffchaff and 15 Bramblings.

Siberian Chiffchaff at Haroldswick

Sunday, 20 October 2019

20th October 2019 Unst NNE4 Overcast

We seawatched from Lamba Ness for a couple of hours seeing 3 blue Fulmars, 2 Long-tailed Ducks and a juvenile Glaucous Gull all flying north. At Skaw we saw 3 Robins, a single Chiffchaff and 5 Bramblings. A look at Valyie produced a Woodcock, 4 Robins, 6 Goldcrests, 3 Chaffinches and 30 Bramblings. NorthDale added 2 Robins, a Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrests and a Mealy Redpoll. At Haroldswick there was a flock of 9 Brambling and 2 Mealy Redpolls. 

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Saturday, 19 October 2019

19th October 2019 Unst NE4 Overcast

We first visited NorthDale where unfortunately there was no sign of the Lesser Grey Shrike. We did see 2 Robins, 2 Fieldfares, 2 Song Thrushes, 30 Redwings and a Chiffchaff. We then tried Skaw where all we saw was 3 Robins, 40 Redwings, a Chiffchaff, 10 Bramblings. Norwick proved quiet too with us only seeing the Swallow, 3 Robins, a Blackcap, 2 Goldcrests, 40 Bramblings. Brydon and Mike did much better finding an Olive-backed Pipit in Baltasound. We were soon on the scene and whilst it was initially flighty we did eventually obtain some nice views despite the increasingly windy weather - superb! After enjoying a coffee with Robbie he showed us a Long-tailed Duck sat on a grassy bank of the houb. On returning home a juvenile Glaucous Gull seen from our kitchen window was Richard's 100th species seen on Unst since being here. We then headed for Lamba Ness where there was a juvenile and near-adult Glaucous Gull among a flock of mainly argentatus Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls and a Bonxie flew north. A look in Haroldswick revealed the continued presence of the Black-throated Diver.

Olive-backed Pipit in Baltasound

near-adult Glaucous Gull at Lamba Ness

Juvenile Glaucous and argentatus Herring Gull on Lamba Ness

Friday, 18 October 2019

18th October 2019 Unst SE2 Clear

A beautiful calm day. A Blackcap and 5 Bramblings were present in our garden at dawn. A walk around Skaw produced a Wood Pigeon, 3 Robins, 5 Song Thrushes, 60 Redwings, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Siskin, 2 Mealy Redpolls, 15 Bramblings and 11 Snow Buntings. Swartling was playing host to 2 Mistle Thrushes and 6 Mealy Redpolls. Lamba Ness added 3 Mistle Thrushes, 3 Song Thrushes, 15 Redwings, a Siskin, 3 Mealy Redpolls present at the tip (but unfortunately no sign of the Hornemann's) and 8 Snow Buntings. Our daily circuit around Norwick produced the Long-tailed Duck, a Velvet Scoter, a Swallow, 10 Robins, 70 Redwings, 10 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, a Mealy Redpoll, 2 Chaffinches and 100 Bramblings. A walk around Haroldswick produced a Long-tailed Duck, we were kindly shown an unfortunate Short-eared Owl that had been hit by a car, a Black Redstart, 3 Robins, a Chiffchaff, a Siskin, a Chaffinch and 15 Bramblings. Burrafirth was very quiet with just a Siskin seen. A last-minute decision to visit NorthDale in fading light paid dividends as there was a Waxwing atop a pine and we then found a first-winter Lesser Grey Shrike - brilliant!

Mistle Thrushes at Swartling

Mistle Thrush at Lamba Ness

Black Redstart at Haroldswick

First-winter Lesser Grey Shrike at NorthDale

Thursday, 17 October 2019

17th October 2019 Unst NW3 Drizzle clearing

A walk around Skaw and the north cliffs produced 2 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Robins, a Fieldfare, 50 Redwings, 6 Song Thrushes, 15 Blackbirds, a Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs, 6 Goldcrests, 7 Bramblings and 4 Mealy Redpolls. A circuit around Norwick added the Long-tailed Duck, 5 Robins, a Fieldfare, 50 Redwings, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 5 Goldcrests, 40 Bramblings, 3 Chaffinches and 13 Snow Buntings. We then walked Inner Skaw and the cliffs of Lamba Ness seeing a Bonxie, 12 Robins, 3 Ring Ouzels, 3 Fieldfares, 25 Redwings, 12 Song Thrushes, my first Mistle Thrush of the year, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 9 Goldcrests, a Reed Bunting, a Lapland Bunting, 26 Snow Buntings, 2 Siskins but best was saved to last when we found a rather mobile Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll that initially was accompanying a flock of Snow Buntings before briefly joining 2 Siskins.

 Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Lamba Ness
Whilst smaller than the accompanying Snow Buntings it literally dwarfed the Siskins when seen alongside them and always looked hefty and large all the more so when seen in flight. Furthermore, we quickly considered that its strong, deep-based triangular bill and  clear-cut chamois-leather coloured face contrasting strongly with its white body and large fluffy white trousers identified it as a hornemanni. It was initially giving a short rolling buzzing call, that on speaking to Brydon, he told us that he'd only heard made by Hornemann's Arctic Redpolls. Reviewing online images of Hornemann's Arctic Redpolls and speaking to Brydon only reinforced our identification.

Reed Bunting at Lamba Ness

Lapland Bunting at Lamba Ness

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

16th October 2019 Fetlar & Unst SE3 Rain clearing

In three hours at Tresta on Fetlar we saw a Waxwing, a Ring Ouzel, a Goldcrest and a Hawfinch. On returning to Unst we tried Lund that was disappointingly quiet with just a few Redwings, Fieldfares, Blackbirds and a Chaffinch seen. A flock of 50 Fieldfares flew over at the garage and 3 Bramblings were seen at Haroldswick, A circuit around Norwick produced the Long-tailed Duck, a Kestrel, 3 Robins, 7 Fieldfares, 7 Song Thrushes, 10 Redwings, 4 Ring Ouzels, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, a Mealy Redpoll and 60 Bramblings. A quick look at Skaw in what remained of the daylight added 9 Mealy Redpolls and 11 Bramblings.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

15th October 2019 Unst SE2 Clear

In what felt ideal conditions it was disappointing that Skaw only produced 5 Mealy Redpolls. A circuit around Norwick added 5 Robins, a Song Thrush, 6 Blackcaps, 10 Goldcrests, 3 Mealy Redpolls, a Siskin, a Chaffinch and 11 Bramblings. NorthDale was quiet too with just a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and 2 Robins seen. At Haroldswick we saw the Velvet Scoter, 3 Robins, a Redwing and 3 Bramblings. Best was saved until last as a walk over Clibberswick Hill produced a blizzard of c.150 Snow Buntings.

Snow Buntings at Clibberswick Hill

Monday, 14 October 2019

14th October 2019 Unst N1 Clear

We failed to see a single migrant at Skaw this morning! A walk around Norwick produced 2 Robins, a Redwing, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Goldcrest, 3 Mealy Redpolls, 2 Chaffinches and a Brambling. Baltasound proved better as we saw 4 Robins, a Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, 3 Redwings, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Siberian Chiffchaffs, a Chiffchaff, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers and 5 Bramblings. A walk around Haroldswick added the Velvet Scoter, an Eastern Lesser Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff.

Yellow-browed Warbler at Norwick

 Siberian Chiffchaff at Baltasound

Sunday, 13 October 2019

13th October 2019 Unst N1 Clear

Skaw and the north cliffs proved disappointingly quiet with just a Whinchat, a Robin, a Fieldfare, 10 Redwings, 5 Song Thrushes and a Snow Bunting seen. Lamba Ness added just 7 Mealy Redpolls. A circuit around Norwick produced 2 Swallows, the Whinchat, the Redstart, 3 Robins, 3 Blackcaps, the Yellow-browed Warbler, 2 Goldcrests, a Greenland Redpoll, c.15 Mealy Redpolls, a Siskin and 4 Tree Sparrows. Haroldswick still held the Black-throated Diver, a Little Auk, a Velvet Scoter, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff.

Greenland Redpoll at Norwick

Saturday, 12 October 2019

12th October 2019 Unst N1 Overcast

Burrafirth was playing host to a Grey Heron, a Long-tailed Duck, a Water Rail, a Wheatear, a Robin, 6 Fieldfares, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Goldcrest, 7 Mealy Redpolls and a Chaffinch. Haroldswick added a Wheatear, a Robin, 2 Fieldfares and 10 Goldcrests. On returning home there was a Blackcap and 7 Mealy Redpolls feeding in our garden. A circuit around Norwick produced the Stock Dove, 3 Robins, the Whinchat, the Redstart, a Fieldfare, 10 Redwings, 5 Song Thrushes, 4 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, 3 Goldcrests, the Reed Bunting, 3 Bramblings and 5 Chaffinches. It was good to see Kristofer late in the afternoon at Haroldwick where the Black-throated Diver was showing well and I obtained brief views of 2 Little Auks albeit they rather distantly sat on the sea.

Mealy Redpoll in our garden

Yellow-browed Warbler at Valyie