Sunday, 31 May 2020

31st May 2020 Unst SSE2 Clear

Wall to wall blue skies, warm sunshine and a gentle southeasterly breeze. Skaw produced 3 'Northern' Golden Plovers, a Chiffchaff and a Spotted Flycatcher. Norwick was quiet albeit the Common Crane had returned but otherwise I only saw a Lesser Whitethroat and a female Blackcap. Haroldswick was better seeing our first Short-eared Owl of the year and a Mealy Redpoll. Burrafirth was playing host to a Common Sandpiper, a Sand Martin, 2 House Martins and a few Swallows and a Spotted Flycatcher. As I stopped at Northdale, Mary stopped to share a few words - that must have brought me some good luck - as just after she left I scanned the fencelines and picked out a Lesser Grey Shrike - deja vu having found one with RJF at the very same site last Autumn! There was also a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Tree Sparrows present. 

Male 'Northern' Golden Plover at Skaw

Sedge Warbler in song at Haroldswick

Short-eared Owl at Haroldswick

Mealy Redpoll at Haroldswick

 Lesser Grey Shrike at NorthDale

Saturday, 30 May 2020

30th May 2020 Unst S2 Fog clearing

Thick fog hampered birding for a few hours from dawn but on clearing it left a bright sunny day. Skaw produced a Sand Martin, 2 House Martins, a Swallow and 2 Willow Warblers. The Sedge Warbler was still singing at Haroldswick and there was a male Linnet present. I arrived at Burrafirth just as the fog was lifting and finding a male Red-backed Shrike along the burn felt like a good omen for the rest of the day. On walking around Norwick I heard the Common Crane calling continuously and noticed it had walked up the side of the hill. Shortly afterwards it took flight still calling, circled the once, gained height and headed off north despite the very obvious fog bank clearly visible just a couple of miles offshore. Disappointingly migrants were virtually non-existent with just 3 House Martins and 2 Siskins seen. 

Male Red-backed Shrike at Burrafirth

Eider at Burrafirth

Common Crane over Norwick

Friday, 29 May 2020

29th May 2020 Unst S3 Clear

Less windy conditions and an obvious small arrival of around a dozen Swallows today. Skaw produced just a single Grey Wagtail and Haroldswick was still playing host to its singing Sedge Warbler. Our walk around Norwick produced a Great Northern Diver, the Common Crane, the 5 Tree Sparrows, our first Garden Warbler of the year, a Chiffchaff, 2 Siskins and a female Yellowhammer.

Female Grey Wagtail at Skaw

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

27th May 2020 Unst W5 Clear

The wind remained stronger than forecast and still from an unhelpful direction. The 4 Tree Sparrows (one bearing a BTO ring) revisited our garden and our walk to Valyie and back produced the Common Crane, 2 Swallows, the Tree Pipit, a singing male Blackcap and a Siskin.

Tree Sparrow at Millfield

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

26th May 2020 Unst W6 Overcast

With a strong westerly wind it was no surprise that it seemed to be the case of diminishing returns with our walk around Norwick producing a Great Northern Diver, the Common Crane, a Swallow, one of the Spotted Flycatchers, a Redwing, the Lesser Whitethroat and a female Blackcap.

'Polish' Mute Swan and some 'polish' cygnets

Monday, 25 May 2020

25th May 2020 Unst S4 Light cloud

It felt a warm wind for a change! On walking to Valyie at 10.15am I saw the 2 Cranes take flight, with one circling high calling loudly and departing to the north, whereas the 'original' bird landed. At 10.42am two Cranes were seen circling overhead before also departing to the north - I immediately scanned the mires and the 'original' bird was still present. Looking at my images the one that had departed was missing a secondary on its left wing and was therefore neither of the two subsequently seen circling, confirming that 4 different individuals were seen this morning. We also saw a 2cy Iceland Gull, 2 House Martins, a Tree Pipit, a singing Lesser Whitethroat, our first 2 Spotted Flycatchers of the year, our first 5 Tree Sparrows of the year, the male Snow Bunting and our first Yellowhammer of the year.

Common Crane at Norwick
about to depart north...

Common Cranes over Norwick
the subsequent duo also heading north

Common Crane at Norwick
and the one that decided to remain... and still present this evening

Knot at Norwick

2cy Iceland Gull at Norwick

Tree Pipit at Norwick

Spotted Flycatcher at Norwick

Female Yellowhammer at Norwick

Sunday, 24 May 2020

24th May 2020 Unst NW6 Overcast

I waited for the early morning rain to clear and then made the long trek out to Flubersgerdie arriving at 8.45am. Just 10 minutes later a stunning s/p White-billed Diver flew past at very close range - the only disappointment was that I'd not unpacked my camera from the rucksack and by the time I did, removed the lens cap and switched it on the Diver was flying directly away from me! It was soon followed by a blue Fulmar that was flying south and then a close Manx Shearwater that flew south at 9.36am and it or another flew north more distantly around an hour later. At 11.20am a rather distant Pomarine Skua flew north that was following by 2 Long-tailed Skuas at a similar range that flew north together at 12.15pm that were quickly followed by the only Arctic Skua that flew north at 12.23pm. I hoped the floodgates might be about to open, but sat there for just over another 2 hours, failing to see any more Skuas.

Guillemots and Razorbills passing Flubersgerdie
My earliest memory of Shetland from our family holiday back in May 1978 was being excited at seeing long lines of Auks as we looked out from the MV St. Clair as we sailed towards Shetland. Those numbers are gone now but it was good to see fair numbers of both species passing today.

Flock of Kittiwakes passing Flubersgerdie
It was good to see several flocks flying north today

White-billed Diver past Flubersgerdie
A stunning bird frustratingly photographed at what is probably its least identifiable angle! Oh what might have been - never forget to have your camera ready!

Pomarine Skua passing Flubersgerdie

Long-tailed Skuas passing Flubersgerdie

Saturday, 23 May 2020

23rd May 2020 Unst SW6 Rain

Freda and Magnus must have thought they were seeing double on drawing back their curtains this morning as 2 Cranes were present at Valyie this morning. They remained in place for our daily walk late afternoon after the worst of the weather had passed through when we also saw a Kestrel, the Sedge Warbler, a Willow Warbler and 6 Siskins.

Common Cranes at Norwick

Female Common Kestrel at Norwick

Newly-fledged Blackbird at Valyie

Siskin at Norwick

Friday, 22 May 2020

22nd May 2020 Unst SW4 Fog

The thick fog persisted overnight and remained for much of the morning until the wind increased and the forecast rain arrived. Fortunately the rain cleared and the wind eased late in the afternoon leaving a nice evening. A more productive day seeing a drake Goosander off Norwick, a Great Northern Diver, the lingering Common Crane, our first Wood Sandpiper of the year, 4 Sanderling, we caught-up with the Turtle Dove first seen yesterday by Freda & Magnus, the first 2 House Martins that we've seen on Unst this year, our first 2 Sedge Warblers of the year, a singing Willow Warbler and a male Snow Bunting.

Male Snow Bunting at Lamba Ness

Sanderling at Haroldswick

Turtle Dove at Valyie

Common Crane at Norwick

Drake Goosander from our kitchen window

Sedge Warbler at Skaw

House Martin at Skaw