Monday 28 November 2022

28th November 2022 Unst SSE4 Clear

I returned to Uyeasound where yesterday's Gull put in a brief appearance patrolling the beach at 9.30am but not thereafter. I was joined by Dougie and whilst we obtained a couple of distant views of it a fair way to the west our searches of that area failed to produce the hoped-for better views although an Iceland Gull was nice.

Uyeasound: 3 Bewick's Swans, Iceland Gull, c.75 Long-tailed Duck & Tree Sparrow.

only seen briefly in flight this morning

Iceland Gull at Uyeasound

Sunday 27 November 2022

27th November 2022 Unst SW5 Clear

We chose the complete the annual Icelandic Goose census with the Greylag Geese totaling 431 for north Unst today. The only 'more interesting' Goose seen was a European White-front with the Greylags at Norwick. Just as we'd finished walking Burrafirth beach for the monthly SOTEAG survey Mike sent a message to say he'd just seen a very dark Kumlien's or potential Thayer's Gull patrolling the beach at Uyeasound that he'd seen in poor light shortly after arriving back on Unst yesterday. We headed straight to Uyeasound and joined Robbie there but the Gull didn't put in an appearance until mid-afternoon but we then enjoyed some nice albeit all-too-brief views of it mainly in flight but in good light.

Skaw: 2 Fieldfare.

Norwick: European White-fronted Goose, Common Scoter & Mistle Thrush.

Burrafirth: Peregrine, Mistle Thrush & 12 Snow Bunting.

Baltasound: Barnacle Goose

Caldback: 30 Snow Buntings.

Uyeasound: 2 Bewick's Swans, 53 Long-tailed Ducks & Pochard.  

Mistle Thrush at Norwick

Pro-Thayer's features include its dark secondaries, dark outer webs of its outer primaries contrasting with the pale inner webs giving the so-called 'venetian blind' appearance.

Pro-Thayer's features include its dark tail band, outer-tail feathers are finely barred at the base, narrow pale tips to its tail feathers, extensively barred uppertail-coverts and narrow pale tips to its secondaries.
The couple of views on the ground were always brief, the first head-on so no view of its scapulars and the second too distant and scaps blowing in the wind. Hence, it's left to this image to hint at some dark-centred, pale-fringed scapulars. Likewise, unfortunately I never obtained any useful views of its tertials.

Pro-Thayer's features include the pale inner webs of the outer primaries, the pale inner primaries and predominantly dark tail-band.

Pro-Thayer's features include its uniform brown underwing-coverts, silvery undersides to particularly its outer primaries and smooth brown belly and boldly-barred undertail-coverts. Whilst its bill often looked predominantly black, in the strong light, its basal two-thirds appeared (vaguely pinkish-) greyish typical of the 'Iceland Gull' complex. 
Of concern for Thayer's would be the lack of a dark trailing edge to the underside of its outer primaries.

Pro-Thayer's features include its pear-shaped head, outer primaries with narrow white fringes lacking any suggestion of subterminal arrowhead markings.
Of concern for Thayer's the pigmentation of its primaries look rather ashy-grey rather than truly blackish.

Whilst clearly not as dark as the Lincs Thayer's Gull or a couple I've seen in Japan the variability of both juvenile Thayer's Gull and Kumlien's Gull is well-known and has caused plenty of discussion perhaps summed up nicely here. And with Gulls it always pays to keep an open mind as there are lookalike hybrids to consider (one of the BW articles points to rather plain-centred greater coverts as being one such trait). Anyway, well done to Mike for finding such a challenging and thought-provoking Gull that will hopefully still be present tomorrow so that I can obtain improved views/images of it...

Friday 25 November 2022

25th November 2022 Unst S5 Clear

Norwick: Dunlin, 2 Oystercatcher, 4 Woodcock, Stock Dove, 2 Skylark, Black Redstart, 5 Robin, 25 Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, 3 Fieldfare, 4 Chaffinch, Brambling & Snow Bunting.

Snow Bunting at Millfield

Stock Dove at Norwick

Thursday 24 November 2022

24th November 2022 mainland Shetland SSE3 Clear

Much nicer weather today so I spent the day working on mainland where the highlight were the Red Grouse calling and chasing each other around, c.50 Fieldfare and c.30 Redwing.

Red Grouse on mainland

Monday 21 November 2022

21st November 2022 Unst SE3 Overcast

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, 2 Long-tailed Duck, juvenile Whooper Swan, 2 Woodcock, Dunlin, Stock Dove, 5 Robin, Skylark, 2 Song Thrush, 20 Redwing, 4 Fieldfare, Chiffchaff, 20 Chaffinch & a  Brambling.

Skaw: 2 Woodcock, 10 Redwing, 5 Fieldfare & 4 Snow Bunting.

Dunlin at Norwick

Stock Dove at Norwick

Brambling at Norwick

Twite at Norwick

Sunday 20 November 2022

20th November 2022 Unst SE6 Overcast

Norwick: Stock Dove & Black Redstart.

Hamar: Snow Bunting.

Saturday 19 November 2022

19th November 2022 Unst SE6 Overcast

The day started well with a Waxwing briefly in our garden. A tour of the island then produced similar results to yesterday including relocating the Norwick Bewick's Swan now present on a roadside pool just south of Watlee.

Norwick: Skylark & Waxwing.

Burrafirth: 4 Whooper Swan.

Haroldswick: dead adult Whooper Swan on beach, 4 European White-fronted Geese, Mistle Thrush, Carrion Crow & 4 Snow Bunting.

Uyeasound: Bewick's Swan, Pink-footed Goose, drake Pochard & 2 Common Scoter.

Bewick's Swan at Watlee

Drake Pochard with Tufted Duck on Easter Loch

Friday 18 November 2022

18th November 2022 Unst SE7 Overcast

The ongoing strong southeasterlies have displaced some Swans and Geese and today Unst started to benefit. Adrian gave a head's-up that the 2 Bewick's Swans he'd found in north Yell yesterday had been seeing flying northeast so we decided to tour the island. We drove down to Norwick and saw 4 Swans asleep out on the mires. They appeared to comprise two adult Whoopers, their offspring and interestingly a smaller adult. It eventually awoke and bingo, an adult Bewick's. The first I've found on and in fact seen on Shetland. Whilst subsequently scanning some Geese the four Swans flew past us heading south towards NorthDale. We headed for Burrafirth and whilst watching 2 adult Whoopers and their 2 offspring showing some concern at a nearby Otter we were joined by Robbie. Whilst chatting a flock of 5 European White-fronted Geese overflew and appeared to land on the beach. We made our way there and found them drinking for around 10 minutes from the freshwater burn with another 5 European White-fronted Geese grazing nearby. Another pair then flew-in and commenced drinking too. We headed for Hamar where there were another 6 European White-fronted Geese that flew towards Baltasound. We continued south to Uyeasound where there were 63 Whooper Swans and 18 Mute Swans and 2 Pochard on Easter Loch, a Barnacle Goose at Mailland and another 2 adult Bewick's Swans grazing in a field next to the galley shed.

Norwick: 3 Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Long-tailed Duck, Bewick's Swan, 3 Whooper Swans (1 juv), Robin, Fieldfare & 3 Chaffinch.

Burrafirth: 4 Whooper Swans (2 juv), 12 European White-fronted Geese & 4 Mistle Thrush.

Haroldswick: juv Whooper Swan.

Baltasound: 6 European White-fronted Geese.

Uyeasound: 63 Whooper Swans, 2 Bewick's Swans, 18 Mute Swans, Barnacle Goose, Common Scoter & 2 Pochard.

Bewick's Swan & Whooper Swan at Norwick

Bewick's Swan at Norwick

Whooper Swans and the Bewick's Swan at Norwick
Robbie found a Bewick's Swan at NorthDale in 2012 but the previous published record for Unst was in 1947.

Whooper Swans keeping an eye on an Otter at Burrafirth

European White-fronted Geese at Burrafirth
thirsty after their sea crossing

Bewick's Swans at Uyeasound