Thursday, 30 September 2021

30th September 2021 Unst SE1 Clear

After a clear night it was perhaps no surprise that there had been something of a clear out of migrants.

Norwick: Long-tailed Duck, Jack Snipe, House Martin, Swallow, Grey Wagtail, first-winter Citrine Wagtail, 2 Robin, 2 Song Thrush, 5 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, 2 Siskin, c.80 Brambling & c.50 Chaffinch.

Lamba Ness: Bar-tailed Godwit.

Skaw: Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap & Spotted Flycatcher.

Long-tailed Duck at Norwick

Citrine Wagtail at Norwick

House Martin at Norwick

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

29th September 2021 Unst SW2 Steady rain

Overcast skies all too soon produced steady rain that persisted for most of the day although at least it was virtually calm. 

Norwick: 7 Grey Herons flew over heading south, Kestrel, first-winter Citrine Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, Robin, Common Redstart, 5 Blackcaps, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, Common Whitethroat, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers,  4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, Pied Flycatcher, Common Rosefinch, Siskin h, 28 Brambling & Little Bunting. 

Skaw: Jack Snipe, Song Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat, 10 Siskin.

Haroldswick: Sparrowhawk, presumed first-winter Eastern Yellow Wagtail heard c.10 times but not sound-recorded, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler & c.50 Brambling.

Little Bunting at Valyie

Herons over Norwick

presumed Eastern Yellow Wagtail at Haroldswick

Eastern Yellow Wagtail on Out Skerries 10-14 Oct 2011 
(Michael McKee & Chris Turner)
By way of comparison hopefully Mike & Chris won't mind me posting their superbly annotated images here.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

28th September 2021 Unst S6 Clear

The wind remained persistently strong all day. Scott found a Booted Warbler at Skaw and Tim found a Citrine Wagtail on the beach at Norwick.

Norwick: Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, Robin, 2 Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, 3 Song Thrush, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaff, 5 Brambling & c.80 Chaffinches.

Haroldswick: Kestrel, Robin, 3 Song Thrush, Blackcap, Willow Warbler & c.30 Chaffinches.

Skaw: Kestrel, Grey Wagtail, Booted Warbler & Spotted Flycatcher.

Booted Warbler at Skaw

First-winter Citrine Wagtail at Norwick

Monday, 27 September 2021

27th September 2021 Unst SSE5 Overcast

Grim wet and windy conditions arrived early morning and persisted for the rest of the day. I didn't venture far!

Norwick: Robin, Blackcap, Yellow-browed Warbler, Chiffchaff & c.50 Chaffinch.

Baltasound: Brambling & 4 Chaffinches.

Yellow-browed Warbler at Valyie
... the only ray of sunshine all day!

Sunday, 26 September 2021

26th September 2021 Unst S4 Overcast

A prolonged visit to Valyie failed to produce any sign of the Grosbeak. Lamba Ness produced my first Glaucous Gull of the Autumn.

Norwick: Tree Pipit, 2 Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, c.50 Chaffinches, h Brambling, h Siskin.

Lamba Ness: Kestrel & juvenile Glaucous Gull

Juvenile Glaucous Gull at Lamba Ness

Saturday, 25 September 2021

25th September 2021 Unst S2 Clear

Today was pretty much all about finding my first American landbird in the UK at Valyie... the rest has pretty much been a blur!!

Norwick: Robin, Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler & first-winter male Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Skaw: Common Whitethroat.

my first views... and even cropped!

a little closer...


the first view for the assembled crowd

First-winter male Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Valyie

Friday, 24 September 2021

24th September 2021 Unst SW7 Overcast

Early morning rain soon cleared but the wind remained persistently strong all day so yet more very challenging weather to be out birding! I saw my first 'interesting' Common Redpoll of the Autumn being large, frosty with a heavily-streaked whitish rump - presumably a 'Northwestern'. Later, another 3 frosty Common Redpolls momentarily touched-down on our lawn before flying off into the strong wind - such feisty birds! With many thanks to Robbie for giving us a head's-up that Orcas were heading south from Skaw, we saw them hugging the south cliffs of Lamba Ness into Norwick until just off the Taing from where they passed us heading off towards Haroldswick.

Norwick: Sparrowhawk, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Song Thrush, c.35 Chaffinches, 2 Siskins & 4 Common Redpolls.

I think it's safe to say the drought is over!

bull Orca off Norwick

Thursday, 23 September 2021

23rd September 2021 Unst W7 Overcast with showers

A pre-dawn hailstorm and near-gale force winds set the scene for some atrocious weather today with the temperature failing to make double figures! Sea-watching seemed the only option but failing to see anything of interest at all from 7am to 8am was enough of that! The hostile weather persisted whilst I visited Skaw and Valyie but seemed to brighten almost as soon as I arrived home. A power cut this afternoon added to the gloom but the wind dropped late afternoon so I took a quick look around Norwick.

Lamba Ness: Common Rosefinch.

Skaw: Dunnock.

Holsens road: Kestrel.

Norwick: Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Robin, 2 Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Siskin, c.50 Chaffinches, Common Rosefinch & Reed Bunting.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

22nd September 2021 Unst SW5 Light rain

Yet another day of challenging weather conditions with a brief period of calmer weather and warm sunshine soon replaced by light rain and freshening winds from early in the morning. The only highlight was seeing my first Lapland Bunting of the Autumn at Skaw.

Skaw: Sparrowhawk, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat & Lapland Bunting.

Norwick: juvenile Little Stint, Robin, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, c.40 Chaffinch & Common Rosefinch.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

21st September 2021 Unst SW5 Overcast

A windy and overcast start to the day that only worsened after lunchtime - the 'equinox gales' are right on time!

Skaw: 2 Dunnocks, Common Whitethroat, 15 Siskin & Brambling.

Norwick: juvenile Little Stint, Song Thrush, 2 Chiffchaffs, Willow Warbler, Siskin, Brambling & c.50 Chaffinches.  

Burrafirth: Blackcap & Chaffinch.

Haroldswick: 7 Chaffinches.

Monday, 20 September 2021

20th September 2021 Unst S4 Clear

Clear at dawn but with a breeze soon picking up and by midday the forecast cloud arrived as did the strong southwesterly wind. The Little Stint was still on the beach and that set the scene for me seeing little in the way of new arrivals at Norwick with the exception of Duncan, Iain and friends that it was good to catch-up with. I saw pretty much exactly the same selection of species as in recent days too at Skaw and Lamba Ness albeit also my first Snow Bunting of the autumn. It was great to see the familiar face of Dave P among the gathering watching the Pectoral Sandpiper and enjoyable having a thought-provoking Gallinago discussion with him. During the afternoon the weather deteriorated so much that I had to abandon my attempt at mowing the lawn!

Norwick: Sparrowhawk, juvenile Little Stint, 2 Robins, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, c.6 Siskins, Brambling & c.50 Chaffinch

Skaw: 2 Kestrels, Dunnock, Whinchat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Common Whitethroat & 3 Siskin.

Lamba Ness: juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Willow Warbler, 5 Siskin & Snow Bunting.

Little Stint at Norwick

Waders at Norwick
Having been counting the Sanderling daily for over a month for Jeroen Reneerkens today produced my maximum daily count.

Kestrels at Skaw
Checking the wing formula of Kestrels always seems so much easier from photos than in the field and needless to say these two conformed to expectations. Whilst watching them, Dave Haigh enjoyed gripping me off with a Hobby that he'd seen sat around on telegraph poles at Skaw yesterday... I've seen more Sibe Thrushes than subbuteos on Unst, so gripping it was! But as my friend F said, it would have been so much more gripping had it been showing a pale cap...!

Willow Warbler at Lamba Ness
checking out the Sulphur-bellied Warbler habbo, or at least, as close to the habbo I've seen SbW in Rajasthan!

Snow Bunting at Lamba Ness

Sunday, 19 September 2021

19th September 2021 Unst SSE4 Overcast

The morning was more pleasant than forecast but drizzly rain persisted for much of the afternoon. A juvenile Little Stint on Norwick beach proved the early highlight of the day. My first flock of Pinkfeet of the Autumn flew south over Skaw quite early this morning so it was then a surprise that no more followed them.

Norwick: Kestrel, juvenile Little Stint, Robin, Willow Warbler, Common Rosefinch, Brambling & c.50 Chaffinch.

Skaw: 25 Pinkfeet, Swallow, Dunnock, Whinchat & Common Whitethroat.

Burrafirth: Garden Warbler & Blackcap.

Juvenile Little Stint at Norwick

Pinkfeet over Skaw

Saturday, 18 September 2021

18th September 2021 Unst SSW2 Overcast

This strangest of Autumn continues as overnight rain combined with a strong southeasterly airflow replaced by virtually calm dry conditions from dawn seemed about as good as you could possibly hope for... but, during a walk around Skaw and out to the headland I saw 2 Grey Herons arriving from the north and heard just a single overflying Siskin! Lamba Ness was still playing host to the juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper but otherwise I only saw 2 Siskins there. A return along Holsens road then produced a surprise flock of 11 Chaffinches - the first I've seen this Autumn. Valyie had retained its Yellow-browed Warbler and whilst walking out a flock of 27 Chaffinches appeared. Next stop was NorthDale that produced my first Dunnock of the Autumn and a flock of 40 Chaffinches. With the weather window for passerine migrants soon set to close for a while perhaps they'll all arrive - I have my doubts, but we'll see...!

Skaw: 2 Grey Heron & Siskin heard.

Lamba Ness: juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper & 2 Siskin.

Holsens road: 11 Chaffinches.

Norwick: Lesser Whitethroat, Yellow-browed Warbler, Willow Warbler, 27 Chaffinches & 3 Siskin.

NorthDale: Dunnock, Blackcap, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 40 Chaffinches & 4 Mealy Redpolls.

Burrafirth: Wigeon, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Chaffinches.

Haroldswick: Willow Warbler, 2 Chaffinches & Siskin.

Snipe sp. at Norwick
On flushing a Snipe at Norwick its flight call sounded significantly longer, purer and less grating than the typical abrupt flight call of a Common Snipe. I raised my bins but cognisant of recent events on North Ron quickly switched to the camera as it's underwings looked rather dark... The Snipe called another 10 times or so and the whole series of calls never varied. It flew c.500m crossed the deep wide burn and I decided not to go in pursuit. Looking at the resultant images (unaltered above) it's difficult to see any hint of a white trailing edge to its underwing and only narrow white tips to its greater underwing coverts. Identification of Wilson's and Common Snipe BB Vol 101 189-200 concluded there's no discernible difference in flight calls but the underwing pattern is intriguing...

Chaffinches at Norwick

Dunnock at NorthDale

Friday, 17 September 2021

17th September 2021 Unst SSE5 Overcast

A windy day made for challenging conditions at times. Given the wind direction it was disappointing the near-complete lack of common migrants continues with a Grey Plover, a Common Whitethroat and a Brambling the best.

Skaw: Siskin heard, Brambling.

Lamba Ness: juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper.

Holsen's road: Pied Flycatcher.

Norwick: Grey Plover, Common Whitethroat & Common Rosefinch.

Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at Lamba Ness

Grey Plover & Sanderling at Norwick beach

Common Whitethroat at Norwick