Thursday, 24 December 2020

24th December 2020 Unst N4 Overcast

A light dusting of snow on the higher ground combined with a northerly wind saw me head to Lamba Ness for another early morning seawatch but it proved much quieter today with 40 minutes producing 300 Fulmars, 5 Gannets, a drake Red-breasted Merganser, an adult Glaucous Gull and 2 Guillemots all flying north.

Drake Red-breasted Merganser passing Lamba Ness

With temperatures forecast to rise overnight this will be as close as we'll get to a white Christmas at Millfield this year - Happy Christmas everyone...!

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

23rd December 2020 Unst N4 Overcast

I headed back to Lamba Ness for another seawatch where an hour sat in much colder temperatures today produced a Great Northern Diver, 4,000 Fulmars, a blue Fulmar, 6 Gannets, 2 argentatus Herring Gulls, 5 Great Black-backed Gulls, 12 Guillemots, a Black Guillemot and a Little Auk all flying north. 

Great Northern Diver passing Lamba Ness

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

22nd December 2020 Unst NW5 Wintry showers

With the wind swinging northwesterly in what feels like the first time in weeks I gave Lamba Ness a try where there was a Fieldfare and a Snow Bunting along the track and a 40 minute seawatch produced 500 Fulmars, 80 Gannets, a Common Gull, 5 argentatus Herring Gulls, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 8 Kittiwakes, 30 Guillemots, a Razorbill and a Little Auk (at 10.25) all flying north. I saw the Moorhen and one of the Reed Buntings whilst returning along Holsens Road and on arriving home there were 5 Redwings and a Chaffinch around our house. The north end of Loch of Cliff was playing host to 2 female-type Velvet Scoter, 10 Goldeneye and a Jack Snipe.

Velvet Scoters on Loch of Cliff

21st December 2020 Unst SW4 Overcast

The Common Redpoll made another brief visit to our garden.

18th December 2020 Unst S3 Overcast

Whilst a walk around Skaw proved quiet our return journey along Holsens road produced a Moorhen, 2 Blue Tits and 3 Reed Buntings. An adult Peregrine was seen hunting over Norwick beach where a puff of white feathers indicated it had made a strike but whatever it had attempted to take appeared to have taken shelter on the taing as the Peregrine flew back and forth over it before eventually being chased off by a Herring Gull.

Reed Buntings along Holsens Road

Blue Tit bearing a ring along Holsens Road

Peregrine at Norwick

Thursday, 17 December 2020

17th December 2020 Unst SW5 Heavy Showers

A Common Redpoll made a welcome but all too brief visit to seed scattered on the ground in our garden.

Common Redpoll at Millfield

16th December 2020 Unst S2 Overcast

One of Mike's Velvet Scoters - a female-type - was seen off Skibhoul Stores in Baltasound.

15th December 2020 Yell SW1 Overcast

A day spent on Yell where we saw 3 Blue Tits but a young Otter plucking up the courage to run past us was the most memorable encounter.

Otter on Yell

13th December 2020 Unst W4 Overcast

A walk around Norwick revealed the continued presence of 2 Reed Buntings and 8 Chaffinches.

Pair of Reed Buntings at Norwick
the female is bearing a ring so presumably the same individual seen on the 11/11 here

Friday, 11 December 2020

11th December 2020 Unst SE7 Overcast

A storm was raging for most of the night and there were some impressive seascapes throughout the day. Despite it being a southeasterly gale there was a welcome upturn in the number of Gulls present along the shorelines mainly comprised of Common Gulls, argentatus Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls but also with 2 Iceland Gulls and a Glaucous Gull at Norwick and an adult Glaucous Gull flew east over the Final Checkout.

Juvenile Glaucous & Iceland Gulls at Norwick

Juvenile Iceland Gull and Scandinavian Herring Gull

Juvenile Iceland Gull at Norwick
A beautifully pale individual with virtually plain scapulars

Juvenile Iceland Gull at Norwick

Juvenile Glaucous Gull at Norwick

Second-winter Scandinavian Herring Gull at Norwick
I was perplexed by this rather pale-looking Gull and considered its Glaucous-like bill with no black bleeding along its cutting edges and lack of a dark secondary bar suggested Glaucous Gull in its ancestry albeit had some concerns about its size (comparable to argentatus), long wings at rest and tail pattern and its overall similarity to some argentatus here. Jamie has helpfully commented as follows 'it's definitely a 2nd winter (pale iris and second generation wing coverts) and certainly a northern born bird with the delayed moult and no 3rd gen grey scaps at this age. I can't see anything in the plumage that suggests a hybrid but the bill is obviously glauc like. I think personally I'd put it down as a northern argentatus rather than a hybrid.' 

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

9th December 2020 Unst SE5 Clear

With poor weather forecast for the weekend I completed the monthly WeBS counts early and whilst doing so saw an Oystercatcher and a bundle of Goose Barnacles washed up on the shoreline at Skaw, a Moorhen, a male Stonechat and 5 Reed Buntings at Norwick, a female Stonechat at Ungirsta mires and a Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and a Pink-footed Goose at Burrafirth. 

Goose Barnacles at Skaw
Lepas anatifera has a cosmopolitan distribution and is found in tropical and subtropical seas worldwide. Because it is often attached to objects carried into colder seas by currents, such as the North Atlantic Drift, it is often found well away from its place of origin and in waters too cold for it to reproduce. In this way it has been recorded from Norway, the Shetland Islands, the Faeroe IslandsIceland and Spitsbergen.

Male Stonechat at Norwick
After a good Autumn for the species it appears that at least a couple are attempting to winter...

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

1st December 2020 Unst SW2 Clear

A quick look at Norwick produced a surprise 2 Reed Buntings. At Haroldswick the Glossy Ibis was still at the old church and the Moorhen was still on the pool. The Black-throated Diver and 17 Common Scoter were still off Uyeasound and there were 2 Purple Sandpipers present. A Sparrowhawk was seen chasing a Blackbird at Ungirsta.

Reed Buntings at Norwick

Glossy Ibis in the early morning sunshine at Haroldswick

First-winter Black-throated Diver off Uyeasound

Monday, 30 November 2020

30th November 2020 Unst NW2 Overcast

Whilst walking the burn at Skaw I flushed 4 or 5 Woodcock and I saw a Great Northern Diver, 25 Redwings and 10 Chaffinches at Norwick and 77 Teal and a Glaucous Gull at Burrafirth.

Woodcock at Skaw