Monday 31 October 2022

31st October 2022 Unst S4 Clear

A beautiful clear sunny morning being calm at dawn although the wind picked-up around midday. I walked to Valyie seeing a number of the usual suspects but was pleased to find 2 Waxwings feeding in the garden there. Whilst photographing the Waxwings I saw a dingy 'Yellow-browed Warbler' in an elder... its sullied underparts and an indistinct median-covert bar had me immediately considering whether it was a Hume's. It flew to a barn covered in ivy where it landed head-height on a plinth and I quickly rattled off a couple of images before it all-too-quickly returned to the elder and promptly disappeared - it had remained silent throughout. Around 30 minutes later, whilst searching for it, I heard a Pallas's-like but slightly less-slurred call, given three times in succession from the small group of sycamores that sounded very much like a Hume's, but inexplicably and very frustratingly, I couldn't see it (or any Warbler). Robbie arrived and I told him my thoughts, showed him my images, but despite spending another 5 hours searching, it was nowhere to be seen or heard! I'll keep looking... and listening!!
Norwick: Long-tailed Duck, Robin, Song Thrush, 10 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, 5 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, Brambling, 2 Chaffinch & Snow Bunting.

Waxwing at Valyie

Goldfinch at Norwick

To my mind it appears a very close match to two different Hume's Leaf Warblers photographed in strong sunlight in Finland (from Tarsiger) in respect of its overall dinginess, colour of its upperparts, crown, strength of its eye-stripe, supercilium narrowing over its rear ear-coverts, its sullied underparts and dark bill with restricted orange base to its lower mandible. Whilst I'd've preferred its legs and feet to have appeared blacker they appear little different to the individual photographed at Parainen. I've also included a couple of images of a Yellow-browed Warbler photographed a month ago in similar strong sunlight showing the anticipated purer whiter underparts, broader supercilium etc.

Sunday 30 October 2022

30th October 2022 Unst S4 Overcast

The overcast dank conditions soon cleared into a nice bright day until heavy cloud rolled-in again around mid-afternoon. The overnight southeasterly wind was no doubt responsible for a few more late migrants appearing with our best being a couple of Long-eared Owls and an overflying Waxwing heading north. Mike's away enjoying a seabird bonanza so we covered his SOTEAG beached bird survey for Easting beach during the afternoon.

Norwick: Long-eared Owl, 4 Robin, Waxwing, Song Thrush, 10 Redwing, 3 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 7 Siskin, 3 Chaffinch, 10 Brambling & Snow Bunting.

Easter Loch: 15 Mute Swans, 27 Whooper Swans & 33 Goldeneye.

Easting Beach: 20 Redwing, 10 Fieldfare, Blackcap & 2 Brambling.

Baltasound: Long-eared Owl & Blackcap.

Siskin at Millfield

Waxwing flying north over Norwick

Saturday 29 October 2022

29th October 2022 Unst WSW5 Overcast

A grey windy start to the day that brightened along-with the wind easing around lunchtime with insects then on the wing and Starlings making aerial pursuits for them... but no Swifts! A few late Autumn surprises today with a Willow Warbler at Norwick, single Reed Buntings at both Norwick and Skaw and best of all a Common Nightingale at Burrafirth.

Norwick: Long-tailed Duck, 10 Redwing, Fieldfare, 3 Robin, Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, 10 Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting & 8 Snow Buntings.

Skaw: juvenile Glaucous Gull, 2 Blackcap, Siberian Chiffchaff & Reed Bunting.

Burrafirth: 2 Long-tailed Duck, Common Nightingale, 20 Redwing, Blackcap, Siberian Chiffchaff (calling) & Chaffinch.

Willow Warbler at Norwick

Siberian Chiffchaff at Skaw

Reed Bunting at Skaw

Blackcap at Skaw

Common Nightingale at Burrafirth

Friday 28 October 2022

28th October 2022 Unst S3 Low cloud

The cloud was so low that it was like birding in gloomy fog for most of the day but we did manage to complete the SOTEAG monthly Beached Bird Surveys for Norwick and Burrafirth. 

Norwick: 3 Long-tailed Duck, Woodcock, Pied/White Wagtail, 3 Robin, 5 Redwing, 3 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, Siberian Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, Chaffinch, 2 Brambling & Snow Bunting.

27th October 2022 Unst SW4 Overcast

I spent the day working on mainland that proved uneventful but on returning home a Peregrine was seen repeatedly but unsuccessfully trying to take a Lapwing off Norwick and there was a Robin and a Goldfinch in our garden.

26th October 2022 Yell SE4 Overcast

I spent the day working on mainland where there was an obvious arrival of large Gulls taking place with around 400 argentatus Herring Gulls and c.50 Great black-backed Gulls being seen.  A distinct lack of white-wingers was noticeable but that was put right on my journey home when a juvenile Glaucous Gull was seen patrolling the harbour wall at Gutcher.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

25th October 2022 Yell SW3 Overcast

I spent the day working on Yell where the highlights were a day-long trickle of Long-tailed Ducks flying south along Bluemull Sound and a Woodcock and Snow Bunting present on Cullivoe Ness.

Monday 24 October 2022

24th October 2022 Unst ESE5 Overcast

Norwick: juvenile Whooper Swan, 4 Long-tailed Duck, Sparrowhawk, 2 Woodcock, Robin, Song Thrush, 16 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Blackcap, Siberian Chiffchaff, 3 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 8 Greenland Redpoll, 4 Chaffinch & 20 Brambling.

Skaw: 35 Redwing, 20 Fieldfare, Goldcrest & 4 Snow Bunting.

Lesser Whitethroat at Norwick

Woodcock at Norwick

Sunday 23 October 2022

23rd October 2022 Yell & mainland Shetland ENE4 Overcast

I spent the day working on mainland where highlights were few and far between but included a flock of c.80 Fieldfare on Yell and a couple of flocks of c.40 Redwing on mainland.

Saturday 22 October 2022

22nd October 2022 Unst SE2 Overcast

Another day when the wind direction felt promising but it largely failed to deliver with a late Yellow Wagtail the highlight.

Norwick: Woodcock, Yellow Wagtail, Robin, 10 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler, 8 Goldcrest, 2 Chaffinch, & Snow Bunting.

NorthDale: Robin, 7 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, Blackcap & Greenland Redpoll, 

Burrafirth: Siberian Chiffchaff, Chiffchaff & 3 Greenland Redpoll.

Yellow Wagtail at Norwick
The brownish hue to the upperparts contrasting with a greyer rump is considered a good plumage character for Yellow Wagtail (Dutch Birding 2014).

Sonogram of Norwick Yellow Wagtail (top) compared to sonograms of Yellow Wagtail and Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Dutch Birding 2014).
The calls of the Norwick Yellow Wagtail appear a closer match to either flava or thunbergi than flavissima.

Friday 21 October 2022

21st October 2022 Unst E6 Overcast

A stiff easterly wind to contend with but there didn't seem too many new arrivals on offer although they included my first Woodcocks of the Autumn.

Norwick: Woodcock, Tree Pipit, 2 Robin, Song Thrush, 10 Redwing, 6 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, 8 Greenland Redpoll, 2 Chaffinch & 10 Brambling

Skaw: Woodcock, Robin & Wheatear.

Burrafirth: 10 Redwing, Siberian Chiffchaff & Chiffchaff.

Haroldswick: 12 Redwing & Blackcap.

Tree Pipit at Norwick

Wheatear at Skaw

Thursday 20 October 2022

20th October 2022 Unst SE2 Overcast

With the first south-easterlies for what feels like since early September hopes were running high. A walk around Norwick suggested little new had arrived with a Tree Sparrow the best. Burrafirth added a few oddities but nothing to set the pulse racing!

Norwick: Robin, 25 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 28 Fieldfare, 7 Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Tree Sparrow & 8 Greenland Redpoll.

NorthDale: 28 Redwing, Blackcap & Goldcrest.

Burrafirth: Peregrine, Grey Plover, Swallow, Chiffchaff & Siberian Chiffchaff.

Swallow at Burrafirth

Wednesday 19 October 2022

19th October 2022 Yell NW1 Overcast

A beautiful calm morning saw me head to Yell to commence a new inter-tidal survey contract overlooking Bluemull Sound. The start was time-sensitive being at 8.20am so with sunrise now 7.55am it only gave me time to check a single site. I chose the small plantation at Cullivoe. As I approached the willows I heard a familiar 'tack... tack... tack...' that I immediately hoped would prove to be a Dusky Warbler... it soon obliged... and sure enough... the first that I've found on Shetland. My camera was in my rucksack and I simply didn't have time to linger. Whilst surveying, I saw a single Snow Bunting fly north. I then had time to return to the plantation before dusk when I succeeded in obtaining a few images.

Dusky Warbler at Cullivoe
My parents found the first record for Lincs and JFC went on to find the first for Sussex. There can't be too many observers who have found the same species being the first record for each respective County!

Tuesday 18 October 2022

18th October 2022 Unst N4 Overcast

We said farewell to Rich and I dropped him at the bus stop so he could commence his long journey home. I headed for my usual circuit around Norwick where the Red-breasted Flycatcher was still is residence at Valyie and there was a late'ish Willow Warbler neaby.

Norwick: 4 Long-tailed Duck, 2 Robin, 3 Song Thrush, Redwing, 5 Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler, 3 Goldcrest, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Siskin, 8 Greenland Redpoll & 12 Brambling.

Red-breasted Flycatcher at Valyie

Monday 17 October 2022

17th October 2022 Unst ESE4 Overcast

A nice morning but the forecast rain arrived mid-afternoon and the wind increased. Fortunately our reward came early finding a smart male Red-breasted Flycatcher at Valyie. 

Norwick: juvenile Whooper Swan, 3 Long-tailed Duck, Tree Pipit, 2 Song Thrush, 6 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, Siberian Chiffchaff, male Red-breasted Flycatcher, Siskin heard, 8 Greenland Redpoll & 50 Brambling.

NorthDale: 2 Redwing & 5 Blackcap.

Male Red-breasted Flycatcher at Valyie

Sunday 16 October 2022

16th October 2022 Unst NW3 Overcast

A better day with highlights being a Yellow-browed Warbler being present in our garden for much of the day and another at Valyie, finding a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Burrafirth and 2 Parrot Crossbills at Ungirsta plantation.

Norwick: juvenile Whooper Swan, 2 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 5 Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, Goldfinch & 60 Brambling.

NorthDale: Song Thrush, 5 Redwing, 3 Blackcap & 4 Goldfinch.

Burrafirth: 6 Redwing, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll, Greenland Redpoll & 5 Goldfinch.

Haroldswick: Great Northern Diver, 25 Redwing, Wheatear, Barred Warbler, 4 Goldfinch, 15 Brambling & 2 Parrot Crossbill.

Goldfinch at Norwick

Yellow-browed Warbler at Millfield

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Burrafirth

Lesser Whitethroat at Burrafirth

Parrot Crossbills at Ungirsta

Fortunately there is an excellent website detailing the various calls of Crossbill call types in the western Palearctic here. From that website Parrot Crossbill call types N21 appears a close match to a sonogram (inset above) obtained from a recording made yesterday uploaded to xeno canto here.

The call type per the xeno canto sonogram (right) also appears a close match to a recording of a Parrot Crossbill recorded in the Netherlands on the 1st October (left)

Barred Warbler at Haroldswick