Friday, 30 July 2021

30th July 2021 Unst NNE3 Overcast

A 30 minute seawatch from Lamba Ness went unrewarded as did a visit to Skaw so I decided to continue painting the exterior of our house. Mike called-in to empty the moth trap and in among the usual suspects was a Dark Spinach - a new species for Mike, the first record for Unst and only the fifth for Shetland! Brydon, Casey and Corey visited later with the albino Great Northern Diver and Bonaparte's Gull both seen from our garden.

Dark Spinach at Millfield

Thursday, 29 July 2021

29th July 2021 Unst NE3 Fog

Thick fog persisted for much of the day. A walk around Norwick produced the albino Great Northern Diver, the Bonaparte's Gull, 3 Swallows and the Chiffchaff. Tony then kindly stopped me in my tracks to say he'd found an unseasonable Long-eared Owl whilst gardening! He gave me precise directions of where to look for it and sure enough it was still present in one of the willows that Tony's recently coppiced - many thanks Tony!

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

28th July 2021 Unst NE3 Fog clearing

I spent most of the day working but did manage a pre-work visit to Norwick beach seeing the albino Great Northern Diver and the Bonaparte's Gull and squeezed in a seawatch from Lamba Ness from 10.15am - 11am seeing a single Manx Shearwater and a single Sooty Shearwater fly north and c.3 Common/White-sided Dolphins moving south. 

Albino Great Northern Diver off Norwick

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

27th July 2021 Unst W4 Fog clearing

A foggy start to the day although it had partially cleared by 8am. A walk around Norwick produced the Bonaparte's Gull, 6 Snipe, 3 Swallows, my first 2 Sand Martins of the Autumn and the Chiffchaff. Haroldswick added a Merlin. I'd just returned home for lunch when Robbie chanced upon a female Honey Buzzard sat on a roadside fencepost!! It had subsequently flown c.100m towards the Heogs but had landed on the ground. We soon joined Rob where we were treated to views of it sat on the ground and in flight - many thanks Robbie! On seeing the missing tail feather I wondered if it might be the female that has recently spent around a fortnight on Fair Isle and a quick check of some online images confirmed it. It transpired that it had been seen yesterday by a resident of Baliasta sat in a field near to their house.

Sand Martin at Norwick

Female Honey Buzzard at Hagdale

Monday, 26 July 2021

26th July 2021 Unst NE4 Overcast with heavy showers

The first rain in a while with increasingly heavy showers throughout the day. Skaw was again playing host to the albino Great Northern Diver. A look around Norwick added the Bonaparte's Gull, 4 Swallows and the Chiffchaff. Whilst at home a Heron leisurely flew over our house heading for the shoreline and called as it did so. I then noticed a Bonxie in pursuit that attacked the Heron and brought it down on the sea. A protracted struggle ensued resulting in the Bonxie drowning the Heron. I spent the afternoon with Phil failing to relocate Brydon's American Golden Plover present yesterday evening in Baltasound.

Albino Great Northern Diver off Skaw

Bonxie drowning a Grey Heron off Millfield

Sunday, 25 July 2021

25th July 2021 Unst SE2 Overcast

A walk around Norwick produced a Great Northern Diver, the Bonaparte's Gull, the colour-flagged Sanderling, a Knot, 5 Swallows, a Marsh Warbler, a Chiffchaff and a Mealy Redpoll. A leucistic Starling was present in the cut hayfields at Millfield. Burrafirth added 3 Great Northern Divers and 2 Swallows.

Marsh Warbler at Norwick

Mealy Redpoll at Norwick

leucistic Starling at Millfield

Pelican of London passing Lamba Ness
Built in 1948 in Le Havre, France, Pelican was originally a double-beam Arctic fishing trawlerIn 2021 the ship embarked upon a thirteen-week research cruise organised by charity City to Sea and environmental research group Darwin200 to survey the extent of plastic pollution in UK coastal waters.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

24th July 2021 Unst NE3 Overcast and misty

The day started early as we were kindly invited to attend a Storm Petrel ringing session at Lamba Ness so joined Phil, Glen, Gina, Kristofer, Mike & Margaret with the first Stormie being trapped at a minute after midnight! It was a very enjoyable session albeit it never got truly dark and the breeze persisted stronger than forecast. A total of 18 Stormies were ringed with plenty more seen through Phil's infra-red scope but a couple of vocal Leach's evaded capture. After a few hours sleep a visit to Skaw proved fruitless but a sea-watch from Lamba Ness from 8.30am - 9.30am in misty conditions produced a single Manx Shearwater and 2 Storm Petrels all flying north. A visit to Norwick beach produced the lingering colour-flagged Sanderling but there was no sign of the Bonaparte's Gull - presumably attracted to the nearby cut hay fields along with the majority of other Gulls.

Mike and Storm Petrel at Lamba Ness

Arctic Skua passing Lamba Ness

Friday, 23 July 2021

23rd July 2021 Unst N1 Overcast

I seawatched from Lamba Ness for 90 minutes from 7.00am again being joined by Kristofer. We saw a Sooty Shearwater, 7 Manx Shearwaters (6N & 1S) and a pod of c.14 Risso's Dolphins. Mike P then treated us to a masterclass in moth identification with a nice selection of resident species trapped in our garden overnight. A walk around Norwick produced the Bonaparte's Gull, a colour-flagged Sanderling, a Robin, a Common Whitethroat, a Chiffchaff and 2 Mealy Redpolls.

Manx Shearwaters passing Lamba Ness

Risso's Dolphins off Lamba Ness

Colour-ringed Sanderling at Norwick

Thursday, 22 July 2021

22nd July 2021 Unst NW3 Overcast

I spent and enjoyable 2.5 hours from 7am with Kristofer Wilson seawatching from Lamba Ness seeing 6 Manx Shearwaters and a steady trickle of Arctic Terns all flying north as well as a pod of c.8 Risso's Dolphins heading south.

Beluga passing Lamba Ness on 20th July (Kristofer Wilson)
Kristofer was quick of the mark on receiving my news on Tuesday evening and was rewarded by obtaining these superb images as the Beluga literally swam past him making its way east along the south cliffs of Lamba Ness.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

20th July 2021 Unst NW2 Overcast

An hour seawatching at Lamba Ness produced a single Manx Shearwater flying north. The albino Great Northern Diver and Bonaparte's Gull were still at Norwick. Whilst on the phone chatting to my Dad this evening I saw what appeared to be a Beluga surface around 5 times below the south cliffs of Lamba Ness! I explained that I'd better cut our conversation short because of what I thought I'd seen and he replied somewhat incredulously 'what the white one?!'... I ran to the next room for my bins, camera and to tell Brenda and we dashed outside to see it surface another five times... and then another five times... it seemed completely unbelievable but I couldn't think of what else it could be - an albino Seal crossed my mind - especially being in the same view as the albino Great Northern Diver at one time! I put the news out and thankfully it proved to be a Beluga and a few others managed to reach Lamba Ness in time to see it round the tip and head north rounding the Holm of Skaw. Here's hoping that it resurfaces tomorrow...

Beluga off Lamba Ness

Sunday, 18 July 2021

18th July 2021 Unst NW3 Overcast

An hour seawatching from Lamba Ness from 7.45am produced a single Sooty Shearwater and a single Manx Shearwater both flying north and a small pod of c.6 Dolphins moving south but everything proved rather distant. The albino Great Northern Diver and Bonaparte's Gull were both still present at Norwick.

Dolphins off Lamba Ness
I couldn't identify them but based on a poor quality 'back-of-the camera' image sent by Whatsapp a couple of more knowledgeable friends independently both provisionally considered them most-likely White-beaked Dolphins - thanks both.

2cy Bonaparte's Gull at Norwick

Saturday, 17 July 2021

17th July 2021 Unst WSW6 Overcast

I was heading for Lamba Ness when I saw the ghostly vision of the albino Great Northern Diver close off Norwick beach where the Bonaparte's Gull was also still present and 2 Sanderling and 9 Turnstone. Phil H scored two species of Shearwater from Esha Ness so I again headed for Lamba Ness where I sea-watched from 8.45am to 9.45am seeing plenty of the usual suspects including plenty of Auks carrying prey but a single blue Fulmar flying north was all that was really noteworthy. The visibility closed-in so I called it a day and a quick check of Skaw proved unproductive in the windy conditions.

Albino 2cy Great Northern Diver off Norwick
As GND's take two years to reach maturity and this individual has seemed content to spend the Summer off Unst it's been widely assumed to be a 2cy bird. The state of its flight feathers now confirm its age as adults undergo a pre-breeding simultaneous moult of their primaries in February to April whereas first-summers simultaneously moult their juvenile flight-feathers in the summer of the second calendar year (BWP).

Friday, 16 July 2021

16th July 2021 Unst SW6 Overcast

Another visit to Norwick beach over low tide produced the 2cy Bonaparte's Gull, a 2cy Arctic Tern and a Sanderling.

2cy Bonaparte's Gull at Norwick

2cy Arctic Tern at Norwick