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

29th November 2020 Unst S3 Clear

A single Grey Plover was seen in fields at Uyeasound and a flock of 5 Blue Tits were at Buness.

Friday, 27 November 2020

27th November 2020 Unst NW1 Overcast

A beautifully calm morning. As I headed to Burrafirth I saw the Glossy Ibis still in a field near the old kirk in Haroldswick but couldn't stop as I had a car on my tail - there were 10 Goldeneye on the loch and 2 Glaucous Gulls on the beach. We then drove south to Uyeasound where the calm seas were playing host to 9 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver, 10 Great Northern Divers, 18 Common Scoter and 710 Long-tailed Ducks.

Common Scoter off Uyeasound
Since living on Shetland my previous largest flock of the species was just 4 so 18 this afternoon was a surprise! All were juveniles or females.

Black-throated Diver off Uyeasound
My digiscoping camera's battery died on firing it up - no surprise having not recharged it since last Winter. But, it's amazing what detail a DSLR can capture even at great range. Note the bill shape, foreneck/hindneck contrast, blackness of its upperparts and white flank patch.

Great Northern Diver(s) & Black-throated Diver off Uyeasound

Thursday, 26 November 2020

26th November 2020 Unst Overcast SW1

A walk round Skaw produced a Long-tailed Duck, a Purple Sandpiper, a Woodcock, a juvenile Glaucous Gull and a Fieldfare. A walk round Norwick added a Long-tailed Duck, a Merlin, c.30 Snipe,  a Woodcock, 3 Robins, 2 Redwings, a Blue Tit and 5 Chaffinches. We met Mike at Burrafirth subsequently seeing his 2w and adult Glaucous Gulls there.

Second-winter Glaucous Gull at Burrafirth

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

25th November 2020 Unst Calm & overcast

Brydon re-found the Glossy Ibis that he'd found yesterday morning shortly after I'd disembarked from the ferry at Gutcher! It showed well foraging beside a stream adjacent to Clingera. 

Glossy Ibis at Clingera
the first that I've seen on Unst

24th November 2020 Unst SW2 Overcast

Ten days ago Mike saw some hybrid Geese way in the distance on the far side of Loch of Snarravoe. Whilst driving past Belmont dashing for the ferry to Yell there was a roadside flock of Greylags and a quick scan revealed the presence of a Barnacle Goose and 3 hybrids. Only having a bridge camera at my disposal I quickly rattled off a few images and successfully caught the ferry!

Barnacle Goose, Greylag Geese and 2 hybrid presumed Barnacle x Greylags
The left hybrid almost resembled a Cackling/Canada x Barnacle hybrid but showed some pale pink on its bill and legs. The right hybrid was larger showed far more pink on its bill and very pale ivory-coloured legs closer to the anticipated appearance of a Barnacle x Greylag hybrid being closer in resemblance to a Canada x Greylag hybrids.

Barnacle Goose, Greylag Geese and hybrid presumed Barnacle x Greylag
The 'left hybrid' from the previous image that superficially resembles a 'small' Canada being not much larger than the accompanying Barnacle Goose but note its white forehead and dark breast signalling Barnacle Goose being one of its parents. 

Barnacle Goose, Greylag Geese and 2 hybrid presumed Barnacle x Greylag
The 'left hybrid' from the previous images showing its extensive black breast to better effect. I found a hybrid Cackling/Canada x Barnacle Goose hybrid in the Cuckmere many years ago that was similar in both size and appearance although it showed an all-black bill and black legs.

Barnacle Goose, Greylag Geese and 2 hybrid presumed Barnacle x Greylag
The somehow 'far less pleasing hybrids' in appearance being similar to many online images of Barnacle x Greylag hybrids being far closer to the all-too-familiar Canada x Greylag hybrids.

Monday, 23 November 2020

23rd November 2020 Unst SW3 Overcast

Another day where a scan of the wick from our kitchen paid dividends as the closest bird was a Black-throated Diver being the first we have seen this year and the fourth species of Diver seen from our kitchen this year - I fear that the fifth might take a little longer!

Black-throated Diver off Millfield

Sunday, 22 November 2020

22nd November 2020 Unst W6 Overcast

The gales subsided and whilst scanning from our kitchen window it was nice to see a first-winter Little Gull feeding among the Kittiwakes. A drive around the island this afternoon added the Pink-footed Goose and the 5 Shelducks in Baltasound.

First-winter Little Gull off Norwick

Shelduck on the houb
the first we've seen this year

Thursday, 19 November 2020

19th November 2020 Unst NNW5 Light snow showers

Awoke to a light dusting of snow and a bitterly cold northerly wind. On stepping out of the door a juvenile Glaucous Gull overflying in the half-light of dawn seemed to bode well for the seawatch ahead. Driving down Lamba Ness in the snow I flushed 2 Jack Snipe, a Skylark and 15 Fieldfare. Considering the conditions a 45 minute seawatch was a total disappointment seeing just a single blue Fulmar flying north. Driving back along the track I flushed a showy Jack Snipe and Skaw was playing host to a juvenile Glaucous Gull.

Jack Snipe at Lamba Ness

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

18th November 2020 Unst W6

Heavy rain from the outset and an increasingly strong wind. Robbie braved the conditions and was rewarded by finding a juvenile Iceland Gull at Norwick that proved too tempting to ignore.

Juvenile Iceland Gull at Norwick

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

17th November 2020 Unst W2 Overcast

Some light drizzle soon faded out leaving an unexpectedly calm dry day. Our garden was playing host to a Blackcap and 2 Blue Tits but there was no sign of yesterday's Water Rail. A walk around Norwick added 3 Great Northern Divers, a Sparrowhawk, 35 Redwings, 6 Fieldfare, 2 Stonechats, a Blackcap, a Common Chiffchaff, 2 Siberian Chiffchaffs and 5 Chaffinches. Skaw added 5 Long-tailed Ducks, a Purple Sandpiper and the Black Redstart. Haroldswick proved quiet although I inadvertently flushed a Woodcock. The Shore Station was still playing host to a Blue Tit and the best was saved to last as I saw my first Iceland Gull of the Autumn.

Water Rail at Millfield yesterday

Great Northern Divers off Norwick

Siberian Chiffchaffs at Norwick

Iceland Gull at Burrafirth
Virtually at dusk I stumbled across this interesting individual. Whilst its tail pattern makes it a candidate kumlieni it would be nice had it been showing the hoped-for contrasting darker outer primaries. Very many thanks to Jamie Partridge for kindly taking a look at my grainy images and sharing his knowledge.

Sunday, 15 November 2020

15th November 2020 Unst SW5 Overcast

The run of mild southerly winds continue and are presumably encouraging a few late migrants to linger as the Robin and Siberian Chiffchaff remain in our garden and a walk around Norwick produced a Great Northern Diver, a Robin, 3 Stonechats, a male Blackcap, 2 Siberian Chiffchaffs, the Goldcrest, the Blue Tit and 5 Chaffinches. Burrafirth added 4 Long-tailed Duck.

Siberian Chiffchaff at Norwick

Saturday, 14 November 2020

14th November 2020 Unst SW4 Overcast

A breezy morning with occasional light rain. We completed our WeBS counts for our two sites in north Unst with highlights being 4 Great Northern Divers, 6 Long-tailed Ducks, 30 Fieldfares, 25 Redwings and 5 Snow Buntings.

Long-tailed Ducks off Skaw

Friday, 13 November 2020

13th November 2020 Unst S5 Rain clearing

Rain persisted for the morning where a look off Norwick produced 2 Great Northern Divers, a Red-throated Diver, a Long-tailed Duck and a Guillemot. A Siberian Chiffchaff and a Tree Sparrow were in our garden and after the rain finally stopped a walk around Norwick added a Blue Tit, a Skylark, a Common Chiffchaff, 3 Siberian Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, 15 Redwings and 3 Chaffinches.

Tree Sparrow at Millfield