Thursday, 30 April 2020

30th April 2020 Unst SE2 Overcast

Whilst it started dry and virtually calm the forecast rain and wind soon arrived that was presumably responsible for grounding our first Wryneck of the year being seen late in the afternoon. Otherwise we saw 2 Great Northern Divers, one of the Slavonian Grebes, a male Sparrowhawk, a 2cy Iceland Gull, a Water Rail, a Collared Dove, 2 Robins, the Ring Ouzel, 3 Fieldfares, 6 Redwings, a Song Thrush, the Jackdaw, the Tree Pipit, 2 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Brambling and 4 Siskins.

No migrants in the local geos this morning but the Puffins were nice

Male Sparrowhawk at Norwick

Wryneck at Norwick

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

29th April 2020 Unst E2 Overcast

Much nicer weather today during which we saw 2 Slavonian Grebes, a male Ring Ouzel, the Tree Pipit, 4 Chiffchaffs, the Goldcrest and a Siskin.

Ring Ouzel at Norwick

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

28th April 2020 Unst NE5 Overcast

A cold windy morning that improved this afternoon with us then seeing 11 Pink-footed Geese, a Slavonian Grebe, 2 Robins, a Redwing, our first Tree Pipit of the year, 2 Willow Warblers, 7 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest and 7 Bramblings.

Tree Pipit at Norwick

Sunday, 26 April 2020

26th April 2020 Unst SE1 Light rain

The 3 Slavonian Grebes were still off Norwick. Our first Kestrel of the year was seen hovering over distant hillsides and our first Jackdaw of the year was flying around Norwick. Otherwise our first migrant summer-plumaged Dunlin of the year was with Turnstones on a local beach, both Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were grounded in good numbers and we saw a flock of 4 White Wagtails feeding on a beach. 

Jackdaw at Norwick

Saturday, 25 April 2020

25th April 2020 Unst SE1 Overcast

The Slavonian Grebe had been joined by a pair overnight. Otherwise we saw 4 Whimbrel and heard another, our first Sand Martin of the year flew past our garden and a single Willow Warbler.

Black Guillemots off Lamba Ness
It was good to see pre-breeding gatherings of Black Guillemots on the calm seas off the cliffs this morning this being a two parts of a gathering of 22

Slavonian Grebes off Norwick

Friday, 24 April 2020

24th April 2020 Unst & Yell NE2 Overcast

An early check off Norwick for the White-billed Divers drew a blank but a summer-plumaged Slavonian Grebe was a good start to the day. A flock of 4 Whooper Swans flew northwest. This afternoon I spent 3 hours overlooking the same area of sea south of West Sandwick but failed to see yesterday's White-billed Diver there either. 

Slavonian Grebe off Norwick

Whooper Swans

Out Skerries under leaden skies from Yell this morning

Thursday, 23 April 2020

23rd April 2020 Yell & Unst E2 Light cloud

A long day at work on Yell produced my first House Martin and Swallow of the year but the highlight was finding a White-billed Diver sat on the sea just south of West Sandwick. On my drive home a Swallow flew across the road in Baltasound and a scan from our house produced another White-billed Diver! Walking to the cliffs of Clibberswick to obtain images I was then rewarded with a second White-billed Diver alongside the other! A memorable day!

White-billed Diver off West Sandwick

White-billed Divers off Norwick

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

22nd April 2020 Unst SE1 Fog

The north of the island was shrouded in thick fog that rolled-out around 9am but persisted rolling-in and out off the sea throughout the day. We saw 29 Pink-footed Geese, 11 Barnacle Geese, the Glaucous Gull, a Song Thrush, our first Rook of the year, a singing male White Wagtail also being our first for the year, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Bramblings and a male Hawfinch.

Male Hawfinch

Male Blackcap

Male White Wagtail
singing at times

Red-throated Diver

Barnacle Geese

First-summer Rook

Glaucous Gull
Missing several primaries this bird has been struggling to fly and at some point today it has unfortunately damaged its right leg as it was limping badly this evening.

21st April 2020 Yell

An Arctic Skua flew in off the sea and past our house shortly after dawn. On my drive to the ferry a quick stop at Haroldswick produced my first Willow Warbler of the year. Whilst at work on Yell I saw a few migrants including a Whimbrel, a Robin, a Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrests, a Brambling and a Siskin.

Willow Warbler at Haroldswick

20th April 2020 Yell

On my return home from work I saw my first Arctic Skua of the year at Baltasound.

Out Skerries from east Yell

Arctic Skua at Baltasound

Sunday, 19 April 2020

19th April 2020 Unst SSE3 Clear

Another day of wall to wall Spring sunshine and just a light breeze. We saw a Great Northern Diver, 7 Pink-footed Geese, our first Knot of the year, the adult Glaucous Gull with damaged primaries, a Collared Dove, a Robin, 6 Wheatears, our first Ring Ouzel of the year, 5 Redwings, 5 Chiffchaffs, 11 Bramblings, our first Mealy Redpoll of the year, a Siskin and our first Red Admiral butterfly of the year.

Male Ring Ouzel

Male Mealy Redpoll

Saturday, 18 April 2020

18th April 2020 Unst NE2 Clear

A flyover Whimbrel is the first I've seen this year. Otherwise 6 Wheatears, 7 Redwings, a Chiffchaff, 2 Chaffinches and a Brambling is all we managed to see despite it being a warm sunny calm day.

Overflying Whimbrel

17th April 2020 Yell N1 Clear

Whilst working at Gossabrough on Yell a flock of 4 Barnacle Geese flew past me - the first I've seen this year. As I was driving home a Mistle Thrush flew across the road as it headed towards Camb.

my office at Gossabrough

Barnacle Geese at Gossabrough

16th April 2020 Yell NW2 Overcast

A busy week working on Yell but on checking a single garden for migrants at Camb I saw my first Blackcap of the year, a Goldcrest and a Brambling.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

11th April 2020 Unst S4 Rain

I'd thought the combination of a southerly wind and rain might produce a few new species of migrant but the species composition remained rather static with us seeing 2 Great Northern Divers, 7 Pink-footed Geese, the Robin, 50 Redwing, a Chiffchaff, a Chaffinch and 50 Brambling.


part of the flock of Brambling

Friday, 10 April 2020

10th April 2020 Unst S4 Overcast

An overcast morning but with the wind from the south. We saw our first 6 Puffins of the year and our first Wheatear of the year. Otherwise we saw 3 Pink-footed Geese, the adult Glaucous Gull, the Robin, 2 Chiffchaffs, 35 Redwings, a Carrion Crow, 2 Bramblings and the Linnet.

Our first Wheatear of the year at last - always a special moment!

9th April 2020 Unst N2 Overcast

The Greenland White-fronted Goose was still present near Gerratown.

8th April 2020 Unst W4 Overcast

The Greenland White-fronted Goose was present near Gerratown this morning and a/the flock of Pink-footed Geese were in the field in front of our house this evening.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

7th April 2020 Unst W6 Overcast

A windy morning from the outset. The Linnet and 2 Bramblings had remained overnight and were joined by another 3 Brambling late in the afternoon. Our short walk today produced the first Robin we've seen for 3 weeks, 2 Song Thrushes and 3 Goldcrests.

Our garden Finch flock was still present

Male Brambling eating sunflower seeds

Monday, 6 April 2020

6th April 2020 Unst S6 Rain clearing

A wet and windy start to the day was enlivened by a male Linnet in our garden - only the sixth we've seen on Unst and the first in our garden. It remained all day and was joined during the afternoon by 2 Bramblings. The weather suddenly cleared leaving a sunny if still windy afternoon. A Hawfinch flew over and whilst we hoped it had seen our feeders we never saw it again. We took an afternoon walk to NorthDale seeing a Greenland White-fronted Goose en route and then two male Marsh Harriers hunting over the mires.

Male Linnet at Millfield
Our previous earliest date was 12/4

Greenland White-fronted Goose at NorthDale
The only previous Greenland White-fronted Geese we have seen were the two Mike found at Hamar on exactly the same date last year!

Male Marsh Harriers at NorthDale
Only the sixth and seventh Marsh Harriers we've seen on Unst with our previous earliest date being the 24/4.