Sunday, 30 January 2022

30th January 2022 Unst NNW1 Overcast

After a stormy night and an all-night power-cut it was nice to awaken to a calm morning albeit there was quite a swell off Skaw but the White-billed Diver was again present loosely associating with a Great Northern Diver and 4 Red-throated Divers. We then completed the monthly beached bird surveys for Norwick and Burrafirth before walking across the Heogs.

Skaw: w/p White-billed Diver, Great Northern Diver & 4 Red-throated Divers.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver & 2cy Iceland Gull.

Burrafirth: Great Northern Diver, 2 Whooper Swans & 20 Goldeneye.

Haroldswick: 3 Great Northern Divers & Grey Heron.

Gannet on Norwick beach
the only corpse that we found washed ashore at Norwick

First-cycle Iceland Gull at Norwick

Thursday, 27 January 2022

27th January 2022 Unst NW6 Wintry showers

After the more persistent rain gave way to wintry showers I seawatched for an hour from Lamba Ness where despite the wintry showers my first Skylark of the year suggests that it must be Spring! 

Haroldswick: Great Northern Diver & Oystercatcher.

Lamba Ness: Red-throated Diver S, 2cy Iceland Gull & Skylark.

Norwick: Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver & 2 Iceland Gulls (2cy & 3cy).

New neighbours!
presumably sheltering from the storm

First-cycle Iceland Gull at Lamba Ness
First-winter, juvenile, 2cy... first-cycle - the favoured ageing terminology for Gulls changes again!

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

26th January 2022 Unst W6 Overcast

We took a drive around the north but it proved very quiet.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Swan sp. flew north over the cliffs of Lamba Ness, Long-tailed Duck & Purple Sandpiper.

Burrafirth: Great Northern Diver & 2 Glaucous Gulls (2cy & ad).

Haroldswick: 2 Great Northern Divers.

Monday, 24 January 2022

24th January 2022 Unst W4 Overcast

Nice to spend most of the day out in the fresh air gardening that produced a surprise in the form of a Puffin on the sea just offshore that appeared healthy enough as it was continually diving.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, Puffin & 30 Twite.

Non-breeding-plumaged Puffin off Norwick
Only my second January Puffin the first being off Norwick on 22/1/17.

Non-breeding-plumaged Puffin off Norwick
... and now that Horned Puffin is on the cards, sadly this one didn't have a black throat!

Saturday, 22 January 2022

22nd January 2022 Unst WSW6 Showers

With a poorer weather forecast for tomorrow we decided to complete the monthly WeBS counts for north Unst. We then took a drive around Uyeasound.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, Moorhen, 3cy Glaucous Gull & 3 Chaffinch.

Burrafirth: 2 Whooper Swans, 24 Goldeneye & 2cy Iceland Gull.

Uyeasound: 2 Whooper Swans, 5 Mute Swans, 10 Goldeneye & Oystercatcher.

Friday, 21 January 2022

21st January 2022 Unst W6 Drizzle

Drizzly windy weather persisted pretty much all day so we didn't venture far.

Norwick: 2 2cy Glaucous Gulls & 17 Twite. 

Thursday, 20 January 2022

20th January 2022 Unst NNW5 Overcast

I followed a cold 40 minute seawatch from Lamba Ness with a prolonged visit to Skaw where I flushed 2 Woodcock. With the wind moderating we returned to Skaw this afternoon walking the headland.

Lamba Ness: blue Fulmar & 2 Glaucous Gulls (2cy & 3cy).

Skaw: 2 Great Northern Divers, 12 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Woodcock & 4 Glaucous Gulls (3 2cy & 3cy).

Norwick: 2 Great Northern Divers & 2cy Glaucous Gull.

Icicles at Lamba Ness

2cy Kittiwake passing Lamba Ness

2cy Glaucous Gull at Skaw

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

19th January 2022 Unst NNW5 Wintry showers

As I drove out to Lamba Ness a 2cy Glaucous Gull was patrolling the cliffs near the point. I sea-watched for 30 minutes but it proved very quiet  I’d seen very little so I returned to my car seeing a 2cy Iceland Gull sat alongside Loch of Lamba Ness. I then decided to head for Skaw and walked to the beach and checked the sea... the light was good, even with a little sun from the south… and as I scanned from the tideline, the first bird that I saw sat on the sea was a monstrous White-billed Diver with its large, uptilted pale-yellow bill gleaming in the strong sunlight! Superb! It was at quite a distance, but I quickly secured a few DSLR images and faffed around with my mobile phone to put the news out. The Diver had commenced diving, remaining underwater for long periods, had become a little more distant and appeared to be being taken by the current/tide towards Inner Skaw. I walked the clifftops to Inner Skaw but despite regularly scanning the sea I could find no sign of the Diver but there was a female Common Scoter on the sea off there. I found a sheltered spot, sat down and carefully scanned the sea only to see the White-billed Diver now sat alongside 2 Great Northern Divers just off the cliffs of the headland that runs out to the Holm of Skaw - I'd effectively walked in the wrong direction! Too distant to photograph I simply enjoyed watching it occasionally diving. I walked back to Skaw into the cold wind and a heavy snow shower, but by the time I arrived back, frustratingly I couldn't refind the Diver! As the individual seen at the same site on the 5th January 2021 was a large individual, given the loyal site-fidelity shown by some wintering individuals, it would seem most-likely that it is the same individual involved. On arriving home there was a 2cy Glaucous Gull flying back and forth along the shore.

Lamba Ness: female Common Scoter, 2cy Iceland Gull & 2cy Glaucous Gull.

Skaw: 2 Great Northern Diver, White-billed Diver, Redwing & 2 Fieldfare.

Holsen's road: Moorhen.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, Purple Sandpiper, 2cy Glaucous Gull, 2 Redwing & 3 Fieldfare.

2cy Iceland Gull at Lamba Ness

White-billed Diver off Skaw
An enormous looking individual being larger than both of the Great Northern Divers present. Large, uptilted, yellow-washed bill gleaming in the sunshine so immediately noticeable. Its pale face seen to encapsulate its eye, Crown and hindneck brown as was its large, deep half-collar at the base of its really thick, tubular neck. Breast gleamingly white and contrasting with its dark brown upperparts. 

White-billed Diver off Skaw
Its profile appears somewhat Goose-like in this image and its giant size didn’t too dissimilar either! Something of a forehead’ bump is just evident and there’s still no hiding its large, long, up-tilted ivory-coloured bill! Its dark eye is again set against its pale face, pale but patchy, dusky-looking brown head and neck-sides with its contrastingly darker, broad half-collar and upperparts contrasting strongly with its pure white breast.

White-billed Diver off Skaw
Despite its size it was surprising how it would all but ‘disappear’ into the troughs of the choppy sea. It’s just possible to discern how long-billed it appeared being palest towards its tip and duskier at its base. As so often described, at times its pale bill would almost ‘disappear’ against the background of ‘pale sea’.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

18th January 2022 Unst SW6 Overcast

A few species seen from home.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, 2cy & 3cy Glaucous Gulls, 5 Redwing & 6 Fieldfare.

Monday, 17 January 2022

17th January 2022 Unst WNW4 Mist clearing

A foggy start to the day gave way to drizzly, windy, overcast conditions. A check of Norwick beach produced a petite 2 cy Iceland Gull.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver & 2cy Iceland Gull.

2cy Iceland Gull at Norwick

Sunday, 16 January 2022

16th January 2022 Unst W5 Wintry showers

I sea-watched for an hour from 8.50am where the highlight was a 2cy Iceland Gull flying north.

Lamba Ness: Great Northern Diver N, blue Fulmar N, 2cy Iceland Gull N & 3 2cy Glaucous Gulls N.

Millfield: 2cy Glaucous Gull.

2cy Iceland Gull passing Lamba Ness

Friday, 14 January 2022

14th January 2022 Unst NW2 Overcast

A much nicer day with a small arrival of Fieldfare evident. After an entertaining seawatch for 90 minutes from Lamba Ness we headed for Burrafirth and then walked Loch of Cliff.

Lamba Ness: Red-throated Diver 1N, Guillemot 40N, blue Fulmar 10N, Black Guillemot 2N, Kittiwakes 40N, Iceland Gull 2cyN, Glaucous Gull 5ad & 2cy N, 6 Fieldfare & 5 Snow Buntings.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver & 40 Fieldfare.

Burrafirth: 4 Scaup, 35 Goldeneye & 12 Fieldfare.

Haroldswick: 3 Great Northern Diver.

2cy Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness

Near-adult Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness

blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness

Common Guillemots passing Lamba Ness

Snow Bunting at Lamba Ness

Thursday, 13 January 2022

13th January 2022 Unst WSW7 Rain

Another very stormy day where the only noteworthy sighting was again a Glaucous Gull battling in against the wind at Norwick - this time a 3cy.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

12th January 2022 Unst WSW7 Rain

The stormy conditions continue with just an adult Glaucous Gull seen battling its way ashore against the wind at Norwick. 

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

11th January 2022 Unst SW6 Showers

The beach at Norwick was playing host to a 2cy Glaucous Gull at dawn but soon lost its attraction to Gulls. At Burrafirth 3 Glaucous Gulls were seen flying to bathe on Loch of Cliff. The highlight of the day was provided by a Little Auk that surfaced next to a Razorbill on the sea off Norwick.

Burrafirth: Merlin & 3 Glaucous Gulls (2 ad & 2cy).

Norwick: 5 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great Northern Divers, Little Auk, Guillemot, Razorbill, 4 Black Guillemot & 2cy Glaucous Gull.

Monday, 10 January 2022

10th January 2022 Unst SSE7 Overcast

The continued strong winds and stormy conditions produced an increase in the number of Gulls feeding at Norwick beach with the highlight being an adult Iceland Gull.

Norwick: Purple Sandpiper, 2cy & adult Iceland Gulls, 2 2cy Glaucous Gulls & Chaffinch.

Haroldswick: Merlin. 

An increase in the number of Gulls at Norwick beach was a welcome sight 

2cy Glaucous Gull at Norwick beach

2cy Iceland Gull at Norwick beach

Adult Iceland Gull at Norwick beach

Adult Iceland Gull at 2cy Glaucous Gull at Norwick beach

Sunday, 9 January 2022

9th January 2022 Unst E7 Rain

Stormy condition persisted all day. On seeing a few Gulls feeding off Norwick early afternoon we took a look at the wick and tried Haroldswick as well but failed to see any white-wingers. Just prior to dusk we noticed a 2cy Glaucous Gull was feeding off the taing.

Norwick: 2cy Glaucous Gull.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

5th January 2022 Unst NNW6 Wintry showers

I waited for the wintry showers to ease somewhat and then headed to Lamba Ness where I endured the cold weather seawatching from 10.30am to 11.30am with the highlight being a Little Auk flying north. We then completed the monthly Beached Bird Surveys for Norwick and Burrafirth also seeing the 3 Scaup on Loch of Cliff and 4 Purple Sandpipers on Haroldswick beach.

Lamba Ness: Little Auk N, 20 Kittiwakes N & Glaucous Gull N.

Norwick: Red-throated Diver, 2 Wigeon & Red-breasted Merganser.

Burrafirth: Great Northern Diver, 3 Scaup & 19 Goldeneye.

Haroldswick: Great Northern Diver & 4 Purple Sandpipers.

The mouth of Norwick burn is currently failing to cut across the sandy beach causing the water to back-up and flood the mires. 

Little Auk passing Lamba Ness

A distant Glaucous Gull passing Lamba Ness

Great Northern Diver at Burrafirth