Tuesday, 30 March 2021

30th March 2021 Unst Calm Overcast

It felt promising conditions today from the outset but they failed to deliver the hoped-for March Wheatear. The 4 Whooper Swans were still present at the Loch of Cliff and 2 Great Northern Divers were feeding close to the beach at Haroldswick. A walk around Norwick produced 2 Snipe, my second Woodpigeon of the year and a Redwing and there were 2 Redwings at Skaw. A few Auks and Kittiwakes were flying north past Lamba Ness and my first Bonxie of the year overflew also heading north.

Great Northern Diver off Haroldswick

Redwing at Skaw

Bonxie at Lamba Ness
the third year in a row that I've seen Bonxie before the end of March

Monday, 29 March 2021

29th March 2021 W7 clear

Beautifully clear blue skies but unfortunately it was very windy with it! The 2cy Iceland Gull was still off Norwick and a visit to Westing produced a 2cy Iceland Gull, a 2cy Glaucous Gull and 2 Purple Sandpipers. A tour of Uyeasound produced a Redwing and a Chaffinch. On returning home a female Merin was seen hunting around our house.

Gulls at Westing

2cy Glaucous Gull at Westing

Sunday, 28 March 2021

28th March 2021 Unst SW6 Clear

A cold strong wind persisted for most of the day. The 2 Blue Tits were still present in our garden early this morning but disappeared thereafter. I saw an Iceland Gull off Norwick from our kitchen window but by time I made my way there it had departed leaving 25 Black-headed Gulls feeding along the shoreline.

27th March 2021 Unst W4 Clear

We awoke to a thin covering of snow that was a surprise! There was no sign of the 3 Great Tits in our garden but they had been replaced by 2 Blue Tits. Skaw was playing host to a Great Northern Diver and the Long-tailed Duck. On a walk around Norwick there were 3 Meadow Pipits in the dunes including one displaying but otherwise I just saw the Collared Dove this time at Valyie, heard a Blue Tit in the pines and saw the Pied Wagtail. We headed to Burrafirth to complete the monthly beached bird survey seeing the Moorhen, Purple Sandpiper and 6 Rock Pipits en route at Haroldswick. Much to the consternation of the island's Geese, Gulls and Corvids a stratospheric Peregrine appeared over our house early afternoon drifting off towards Haroldswick.

Peregrine over Millfield

Friday, 26 March 2021

26th March 2021 Unst SW5 Showers

Our garden was still playing host to the 3 Great Tits that remained all day. The Collared Dove also made a brief visit but I also saw it at Leawart and Saxa Vord camp. At least one of the Blue Tits was still present in the pines at Norwick. A flock of 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were present on the beach at Burrafirth, 2 Meadow Pipits overflew Ungirsta and a Purple Sandpiper was present among the Turnstone on Haroldswick beach.

this proved to be a good flyer... Cat. C insurance?!

Thursday, 25 March 2021

25th March 2021 Unst WSW5 Clear

A much better than forecast morning initially being blue skies and relatively calm although all too soon it clouded over and the cold wind increased in strength. Two Blue Tits were on our feeders, there was a Long-tailed Duck off Skaw, a Meadow Pipit on Lamba Ness, 2 Pied Wagtails on Norwick beach, 2 Blue Tits in the same pines at Norwick as yesterday and a Collared Dove was present around Saxa Vord camp. Loch of Cliff was still playing host to 4 Whooper Swans and 2 Mute Swans and whilst the Shore Station proved quiet in the early morning shade producing just a single Redwing, just as I was about to leave, 3 Great Tits arrived from the north and flew through the garden only pausing briefly in the willows and then on the telegraph wires before continuing south. A quick look at Stove added a smart Snow Bunting. On arriving home the 2 Blue Tits had been replaced by 3 Great Tits that spent the remainder of the day in our garden. 

Snow Bunting at Stove

Great Tit at Millfield

Female Pied Wagtail at Norwick

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

24th March 2021 Unst WSW6 Blustery showers

Skaw was playing host to what is presumably the same Collared Dove today but we failed to see anything else of note there. A walk around Norwick produced a Merlin, 2 Moorhens, a Meadow Pipit (the first since one in January), 2 Blue Tits (the first since one seen on three dates in January) and a Snow Bunting. There were 4 Whooper Swans asleep at the north end of Loch of Cliff and the female Pintail was still present on the sea off Haroldswick.

Blue Tit at Norwick

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

23rd March 2021 Yell & Unst SW5 Overcast

A tour of Yell produced little more than the female Scaup at Kirk Loch, 3 Redwings and West Sandwick and 2 Fieldfares at Hamnavoe. Back home a Collared Dove arrived in our garden this evening.

Collared Dove at Millfield
The only previous March Collared Dove we have seen on Unst was on the 16th March last year.

19th March 2021 Unst NW3 Overcast

A very quiet spell since I last updated my blog with a bleached 2cy Iceland Gull making an appearance at Norwick most days and 2 Iceland Gulls (a different 2cy and a 3cy) and 2 Glaucous Gulls (a 2cy and 4cy) on the beach at Burrafirth this morning.

Friday, 12 March 2021

12th March 2021 Unst & Yell W6 Overcast

The wind had eased a little overnight and the sea swell had disappeared from Norwick as had virtually all of the Gulls although an adult Glaucous Gull flew ashore. Westing was playing host to a horde of Herring Gulls but surprisingly I could only see a single 2cy Iceland Gull among them and there were 2 Purple Sandpipers on the beach. A Scandinavian Rock Pipit attaining its summer plumage was feeding on beached seaweed at Uyeasound and on my return through Haroldswick the female Pintail and 3 2cy Iceland Gulls were feeding together along the shoreline. I then headed to work on Yell where the female Scaup was still present on Kirk Loch, Cullivoe and there was a flock of 7 Snow Buntings at Ulsta.

mainly Herring Gulls at North Booth, Westing

Iceland Gull at Haroldswick

Thursday, 11 March 2021

11th March 2021 Unst WSW5 Showers

Very similar weather to yesterday with a similar heavy swell on the sea saw me heading back to look through the flock of Gulls at Norwick that now included 4 (3 2cy & 3cy) Iceland Gulls and 2 2cy Glaucous Gulls. There were also 2 Great Northern Divers, a Teal, a Long-tailed Duck, a Guillemot and a few Razorbills on the sea. A look off Haroldswick revealed the continued presence of the female Pintail.

Iceland Gull at Norwick

Iceland & Glaucous Gull at Norwick

Two Iceland & a Glaucous Gull at Norwick

Three of the Iceland Gulls at Norwick

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

10th March 2021 Unst SW6 Overcast

After a stormy night there was a heavy swell and plenty of Gulls feeding along the beaches. Burrafirth produced an adult Glaucous Gull and Haroldswick an adult Iceland Gull, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and my first Pintail of the year - a female loosely associating with Mallard and the offshore flock of Gulls. Norwick was playing host to a 2cy Glaucous Gull, 3 2cy Iceland Gulls and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.

It looked like being a day looking through Gulls from the outset

Female Pintail at Haroldswick

2cy Glaucous Gull at Norwick

2cy Iceland Gull at Norwick

2cy Iceland Gull at Norwick

pale 2cy Herring Gull at Norwick

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

8th March 2021 Unst SE3 Overcast

With the wind from the south and overcast conditions I was hopeful that there'd be a few signs of Spring but it wasn't to be - Burrafirth produced a 2cy Iceland Gull and the male Merlin was still hunting around our house. However, all was not lost as Mike had seen Brydon's drake Green-winged Teal on Loch of Snarravoe early in the morning and Phil was soon there to confirm that it was still present. I joined Rob watching it, albeit rather distantly, and spent the next 90 minutes hoping that it would come closer. Despite making a few short flights it unfortunately seemed content to remain along the far bank of the loch.

Drake Green-winged Teal at Loch of Snarravoe
Digiscoped at c.400m it's impressive that the lower two images still convey not only the prominence of the vertical white stripes bordering the sides of its breast but also the indistinct pale borders to its green eye-surrounds in direct comparison to those shown by the drake Eurasian Teal alongside.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

7th March 2021 Unst SE2 Clear

Beautiful Spring weather but I'd seen little until late in the afternoon when a gathering of Gulls at Norwick included a 2cy Iceland Gull.

2cy Iceland Gull at Norwick

Saturday, 6 March 2021

6th March 2021 Unst W5 Overcast

On the beach at Burrafirth one of the 3cy Iceland Gulls had been joined by an adult. Very little else was seen apart from a Merlin again hunting around our house.

3cy Iceland Gull at Burrafirth

Adult winter Iceland Gull at Burrafirth

Friday, 5 March 2021

5th March 2021 Unst NW3 Overcast

A seawatch from Lamba Ness proved unproductive but the blue Fulmar was sat on a sheltered ledge in the same geo as last year. A 2cy Glaucous Gull appeared on the beach at Norwick late afternoon.

blue Fulmar at Lamba Ness

Thursday, 4 March 2021

4th March 2021 Unst NNE4 Overcast

A cold northerly wind dominated the day. The 2 Iceland Gulls at Burrafirth were accompanied by a Glaucous Gull this morning and a 2cy Glaucous Gull flew through Haroldswick. A cold hour spent seawatching from Lamba Ness produced a northerly movement of 330 Kittiwakes but otherwise a Merlin zipped through and just 20 Guillemots were seen of which somewhat unusually the majority were seen flying south.

Glaucous Gull at Burrafirth

Kittiwakes passing Lamba Ness
Many small flocks were seen passing numbering up to 25 comprised of a nice mix of ages.