The appearance of a female Linnet in our garden was a surprise. It joined a lingering Tree Sparrow that has made occasional appearances in recent days. A look around Norwick added the lingering Common Crane and 2 Mealy Redpolls.
A long day at work on Yell where I heard and saw the singing Marsh Warbler that Brydon found at Hamnavoe a couple of days ago. Even better was to follow as he then laid-on a female-type Golden Oriole at Halligarth that I saw, albeit only in flight, on my commute home!
I headed straight to Lamba Ness where the highlight was a pod of 9+ cetaceans seen moving north past the tip. Looking into the early morning sun initially their identification proved tricky but their size and headshape reminded me of Risso's Dolphins and Brydon confirmed the identity based on their dorsal fin shape - furthermore, as they approached and passed the point, some of my images reveal the 'scarring' to their fins. Later in the day a pair of Red-necked Phalaropes on the sea proved a treat but migrant passerines appeared to be in short supply with just 2 Garden Warblers, 3 Blackcaps and 2 Mealy Redpolls seen.
It's good to be working on Unst for a few days as it allows me to check a few sites for migrants before starting work for the day. A Willow Warbler in our garden was a promising start to the day. Skaw produced a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and a Spotted Flycatcher and Northdale added a Common Whitethroat. As I walked up the road to Valyie I could hear a singing Marsh Warbler that was showing on and off. I also saw the Common Crane in the nearby mires, a Song Thrush, a Blackcap, a Garden Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat.
With flat calm seas it was an even nicer day for a boat trip and the White-billed Diver was still present distantly on the sea off Burrafirth. A quick check for migrants around Norwick produced a Redwing, 2 Garden Warblers, a Chiffchaff and an acredula-type Willow Warbler.
Our skipper navigating a trip through the Hellier's cave was an added bonus!
A quick check for migrants produced just a late female Common Redstart - Brydon did rather better finding a Greenish Warbler at Halligarth that unfortunately I didn't have time to see as we had arranged a boat trip so we could visit and count the seabirds breeding along the north cliffs of Unst. However, we hadn't reckoned on chancing upon a near full summer-plumaged White-billed Diver off Burrafirth, that with some clever maneuvering of the boat by our skipper, we were able to approach quite closely - superb!
Female Common Redstart at Valyie
At the time I cursed that its tail wasn't blue. But with news of a Rufous Bushchat near Oslo the following day it wasn't its tail colour that was an issue after all!
blue Fulmar sat on the cliffs of Lamba Ness
leucistic Oystercatcher along the north cliffs of Saxa Vord
First seen on 13/5/17 and again last Spring at Skaw
Completing the Common Bird Census produced another unseasonable Pink-footed Goose with a flock of Greylag Geese at Millfield, a Great Northern Diver, the Common Crane and a Sanderling at Norwick and the 3 Sedge Warblers at Haroldswick.
A day at work on Yell when I became re-acquainted with a Pink-footed Goose that has been present at Ulsta since at least the 15th April and then a colour-ringed Herring Gull previously seen at Mid Yell on 28th June 2018 that was originally ringed at Pitsea on 12th March 2016.
With easterlies overnight and heavily overcast skies this morning it felt ideal conditions to produce a few late migrants. An early visit to Skaw produced a Lesser Whitethroat along Holsens road and 2 Barnacle Geese. Norwick added the lingering Common Crane, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, another Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Chiffchaffs. Haroldswick was playing host to a Great Northern Diver, a Water Rail and the pair of Sedge Warblers. Burrafirth and NorthDale both held single Spotted Flycatchers. A tour around Baltasound produced a flock of c.20 Golden Plover (thanks Dick), the lingering Common Cuckoo, a Common Whitethroat, a Blackcap and a Chiffcaff.
A more eventful day than expected suffering a flat tyre whilst at work on Yell requiring the wheel to be changed before returning to the garage on Unst. At least getting home early meant I had time to check a few sites seeing 4 Spotted Flycatchers at Norwick and the lingering Reed Warbler at Skaw.
Reed Warbler at Skaw
With a wing length of just 64mm and all other biometrics supporting its identification as a Reed Warbler its appearance remains strikingly pallid and open-faced and it's bill deformity resulting in it never being truly closed makes it appear short and thick - hence Marsh Warbler-like. In many respects - cold-toned appearance, pale edges to its tertials, secondaries and tertials, primary wear and colour of its rump - it appears similar to the genetically-confirmed (and slightly longer-winged) Reed Warbler trapped at Falsterbo, Sweden in June 2013 featured here.
An heavily overcast start to the day before light rain set in for a while. On clearing it remained cool and breezy. Skaw produced a Reed Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. Our walk around Norwick added the Common Crane, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Song Thrush and a Lesser Whitethroat.
Reed Warbler at Skaw
Another Spring encounter with an interesting sandy-coloured Reed Warbler that appears to have a bill deformity in that it was never truly closed and rather thick at its base enhancing its peculiar appearance. Whilst the dark shadow on the underside of its lower mandible, its pale lores, rather plain tertials, heavily worn primaries and tail, lack of warmth to its rump and round-winged and short-winged appearance all might have suggested that it might be something rarer, a close inspection of its wing formula in a range of images obtained, consistently revealed that just a single primary appeared emarginated with the emargination falling beyond the tip of its secondaries - consistent with it being just a Reed Warbler. Once permission was obtained, Mike efficiently trapped, ringed and released it.