Monday, 28 February 2022

28th February 2022 Unst SSW6 Overcast

High tide at Haroldswick didn't produce too much so I headed to Burrafirth where there was a family party of 4 Whooper Swans and the 4 Scaup. NorthDale added a mixed flock of c.20 Redwings and Fieldares flying from the bushes there. Skaw was playing host to a singing Skylark that was briefly pursued by a Merlin before it lost interest and 4 Snow Buntings. A walk to Valyie produced the Kestrel that was carrying prey - either a Starling or a Blackbird, 2 Woodcock, 7 Skylarks and 15 Redwings and 15 Fieldfare. 

Burrafirth: 4 Whooper Swans & 4 Scaup.

NorthDale: c.10 Redwing & c.10 Fieldfare. 

Skaw: 5 Red-throated Divers, Merlin, Skylark & 4 Snow Buntings.

Norwick: Merlin, Kestrel, 2 Woodcock, 7 Skylarks, 15 Redwing, 15 Fieldfare & Chaffinch.

Whooper Swans at Burrafirth

Sunday, 27 February 2022

27th February 2022 Unst SSW6 Overcast

A day spent mowing the lawn and gardening but a flock of 3 Skylarks is another sure sign of Spring! 

Saturday, 26 February 2022

26th February 2022 Unst SSW6 Overcast

A return to windy overcast conditions. There was a Puffin off Norwick where a first-cycle Iceland Gull arrived in off the sea late morning and the same or another was seen later at Burrafirth.

Norwick: Red-throated Diver, 2cy Iceland Gull, Puffin, 200 Starlings, 2 Fieldfare & 3 Redwing.

Haroldswick: 16 Fieldfare & a Redwing.

Burrafirth: 2cy Iceland Gull.

First-cycle Iceland Gull at Millfield

Friday, 25 February 2022

25th February 2022 Unst W2 Clear

Nice weather persisted for the whole day so we completed the monthly beached bird surveys and then checked a few sites around the island. A Water Rail scuttled along the margins of Haroldswick pool before climbing into the rosa, the 4 Scaup were again present at Loch of Cliff, the wintering Ruff was among a small flock of Redshank in fields at Mailand but our reward came mid-afternoon when a Black-throated Diver surfaced among the 6 Great Northern Divers and 2 Red-throated Divers off Uyeasound where a flock of 5 Common Scoter were also present.

Norwick: Red-throated Diver & 2 Long-tailed Duck.

Haroldswick: 2 Great Northern Divers, Water Rail & Moorhen.

Burrafirth: 4 Scaup.

Uyeasound: 6 Great Northern Divers, Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Divers & 5 Common Scoter.

Steep forehead with peaked forecrown. White 'face', foreneck with dark indentation at the base. When alert it appeared very long-necked.

Dagger-shaped pale, black-tipped bill held level. Steep forehead with smoothly-rounded hindcrown.

Hindneck viewed from behind lacking any visible white sides. Gleaming white rear-flank patch.

Grey crown, nape and hindneck with black border to neck-sides.

Dagger-shaped bill held level. Large gleaming white rear-flank patch.

A sharp contrast between its well-defined dark hind-neck and white cheeks and fore-neck.

Very black-and-white appearance. Isolated white rear-flank patch.

Black-throated Diver off Uyeasound
Foolishly I didn't have my digi-scope camera with me and being at a considerable distant it was almost too much of a reach for my DSLR albeit the final image above was obtained by Brenda holding her mobile phone to my scope.

2cy Great Northern Diver off Uyeasound

Drake Red-breasted Merganser off Uyeasound

Ruff at Mailand, Uyeasound

Monday, 21 February 2022

20th February 2022 Unst SE6 Rain

A drive through Haroldswick produced our first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year being an adult graellsii consorting with a small flock of gulls feeding along the tide line at high tide. One of the traditional early Spring migrants we've recorded our first of the year in February in three of the years that we've lived here, the other three years in March.

Friday, 18 February 2022

18th February 2022 Unst Calm & clear

As most of the country took a battering from Storm Eunice, for us it was the nicest day of the year so far being calm and sunny until mid-afternoon when some cloud rolled-in. We completed the monthly WeBS count for Norwick but the highlight was flushing a large heavily-streaked Redpoll from off the ground at Skaw being the first Northwestern Redpoll that I've seen outside of the autumn months.

Norwick: 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Long-tailed Duck, Song Thrush & 4 Chaffinches.

Skaw: Great Northern Diver, 2cy Glaucous Gull & Northwestern Redpoll.

Northwestern Redpoll at Skaw
A large, dark, heavily-streaked Redpoll with a beautifully orange-suffused face including its 'swollen' cheeks and strongly-marked flanks and undertail-coverts.

Northwestern Redpoll at Skaw
A deep-based, short bill with a concave-shaped upper-mandible. It appears plain-faced with warm-brown but heavily-streaked mantle and scapulars.

Northwestern Redpoll at Skaw
Ground colour of upper rump white whereas lower rump pink-suffused but streaked throughout. White central tramlines down its mantle.

Northwestern Redpoll at Skaw
Photographed looking directly into the sunlight radically changes its appearance in the resultant images with it appearing overall much paler with its face now appearing chamois-coloured and the ground-colour to its mantle a pale buff! Hence, suddenly far more at the 'islandica' end of the spectrum, whereas in life it appeared as in the upper three images, and hence, rostrata-like.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

16th February 2022 Unst N1 Clear

The Common Kestrel made another appearance outside our house and we later saw it flying purposefully high south over Clibberswick hill.

Common Kestrel at Millfield

Thursday, 10 February 2022

10th February 2022 Unst N3 Overcast

Awoke to a thin carpet of snow and much lighter winds so headed for Lamba Ness but a 45 minute seawatch proved very quiet. Then took a walk to the top of East Hill to enjoy the views albeit half-hoping for something with plumage to match the scenery but it wasn't to be.

Lamba Ness: blue Fulmar N & Purple Sandpiper.

Norwick: 3 Great Northern Divers, Merlin & 2cy Glaucous Gull.

East Hill

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

9th February 2022 Unst WSW7 Wintry showers

The stormy weather continues but the unseasonable Kestrel made a reappearance this time spooking waders feeding in the grassy fields in front of our house. I walked to Valyie and back in the hope of photographing it but failed to see it again but the burn produced 3 Woodcock and my first Song Thrush of the year. On arriving home, when indoors, the first bird that I saw was the Kestrel now perched on the sheep pens just outside but despite the strong wind it soon took flight off across the fields.

Norwick: Kestrel, Merlin, 2cy Iceland Gull, 3 Woodcock, Song Thrush, Robin & 2 Chaffinch.

Woodcock at Valyie
Poor light at 3pm as another squally wintry shower rattled through!

Common Kestrel at Millfield
checking out the Ringed Plovers

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

8th February 2022 Unst W6 Wintry showers

We took a drive around the island keeping the 'raptor a day' theme going by seeing our first Peregrine of the year.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver & Long-tailed Duck.

Westing: Merlin, Peregrine, 10 Purple Sandpipers & 2cy Glaucous Gull.

Uyeasound: 2 Whooper Swans & adult Glaucous Gull.

Haroldswick: Merlin & 3 Purple Sandpipers.

Common Snipe at Millfield

Monday, 7 February 2022

7th February 2022 Unst W3 Overcast

More signs of Spring with a Sparrowhawk seen at Skaw and hearing Black Guillemots whistling as they swam around the foot of the south cliffs of Lamba Ness where there was also a Puffin present. 

Skaw: Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver & Sparrowhawk.

Lamba Ness: Puffin, 2cy Glaucous Gull & Skylark.

Haroldswick: 3 Great Northern Divers, female Eider & 2 Purple Sandpipers.

Burrafirth: 2 Whooper Swans, 28 Goldeneye, Oystercatcher & 2 2cy Glaucous Gulls.

Puffin off Lamba Ness

Sunday, 6 February 2022

6th February 2022 Unst W4 Overcast

A brighter day and seeing 2 Oystercatchers in the fields from our house for the first time this year added to thoughts of Spring albeit the light dusting of snow suggested otherwise! A look around the northern sites produced a surprise in the form of a Kestrel - whilst Birds of Shetland notes there have been records in all months of the year my previous 'earliest' date was 18th April.

Norwick: Kestrel, 2cy Glaucous Gull & 10 Fieldfare.

Haroldswick: Purples Sandpiper, 40 Fieldfare & Chaffinch.

5th February 2022 Unst SW6 Rain arriving

An early morning visit to Burrafirth before the forecast rain duly arrived. 

Burrafirth: 2 Whooper Swans, 4 Scaup, 12 Goldeneye, 30 Golden Plover & 3 2cy Glaucous Gulls.

4th February 2022 Unst W7

Norwick: 2cy Glaucous Gull 

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

1st February 2022 Unst NW7 Squally showers

With a strong westerly I headed for Westing ahead of a mid-morning high tide but disappointingly very few Gulls were gathering there. Uyeasound was better with the highlight being a drake Goosander present on Dam Loch. Late afternoon, just as we were leaving home for the shop, Robbie refound the White-tailed Eagle that he'd previously seen at Burrafirth on the 3rd January - it's amazing how such a large raptor has gone undetected for so long! We joined him to enjoy distant views of it over Loch of Cliff and sat on the adjacent hillsides attracting an entourage of Ravens.

Uyeasound: 3 Whooper Swans, drake Goosander & 50 Golden Plover.

Burrafirth: 3 Whooper Swans & 2cy White-tailed Eagle.

Whooper Swan at Easter Loch

2cy White-tailed Eagle over Loch of Cliff

31st January 2022 Unst NW5 Overcast

A quiet final day of the month really only notable for the first obvious pulse of Common Gulls with birds seen feeding over a number of fields and a flock of 35 off Norwick late in the afternoon.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Divers, Long-tailed Duck & 35 Common Gulls.

Common Gull at Norwick