Monday 27 February 2023

27th February 2023 Unst N2 Overcast

An early start hoping to see an Owl or two quartering the north Unst mires but I failed to see any but there was a female Common Scoter off Burrafirth. We then headed south where there was our first Pintail of the year and an Iceland Gull on Dam Loch and what appeared to be the Kumlien's/Thayer's Gull on Easter Loch... before a van appeared behind us, meaning that we had to move as we were blocking the road, with the Gull having frustratingly vanished by the time we returned! We walked out to Heogland where there was no sign of the Green-winged Teal but the White-billed Diver was again off the Holm, where there was also a couple of Great Northern Divers, c.40 Red-throated Divers, a flock of 26 Common Scoter (with another off Uyeasound), several hundred Long-tailed Duck but disappointingly only a few Eider. Uyeasound marina was playing host to a flock of 11 Snow Buntings. On returning home there was an Iceland Gull off Norwick beach.

Burrafirth: Great Northern Diver, 2 Whooper Swans, Common Scoter & 10 displaying Goldeneye. 

Uyeasound: White-billed Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver, 40 Red-throated Divers, 6 Mute Swans, 27 Common Scoter, c.250 Long-tailed Duck, Pintail, Iceland Gull, Kumlien's/Thayer's Gull & 11 Snow Buntings.

Norwick: Iceland Gull.

Kumlien's/Thayer's Gull at Easter Loch

Female Pintail on Dam Loch

Sunday 26 February 2023

26th February 2023 Unst W3 Drizzle

Drizzle persisted on and off for much of the morning but it became drier in the afternoon so we took a look at a few sites that produced our first Long-eared Owl and Siskins for the year.

Norwick: Great Northern Diver, Sparrowhawk, Merlin & Stock Dove.

Haroldswick: 7 European White-fronted Geese, 2 Woodcock, Long-eared Owl & 3 Siskin.

Long-eared Owl at Haroldswick

Male Siskin at Haroldswick

25th February 2023 Unst N4 Overcast

We completed the monthly SOTEAG beached bird surveys for Norwick and Burrafirth.

Norwick: Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, 2 Whooper Swans, Stock Dove, 2 Woodpigeon, Woodcock & Meadow Pipit.

Haroldswick: 7 European White-fronted Geese.

2cy Great Northern Diver off Norwick

Ringed Plovers at Norwick
nice to see some Spring antagonistic behavior

Turnstone at Norwick

Norwick Up Helly Aa

Wednesday 22 February 2023

22nd February 2023 Unst NW3 Overcast

Not much time spent birding today but the first-cycle Iceland Gull remains at Norwick.

First-cycle Iceland Gull at Norwick

21st February 2023 Unst SSW2 Overcast

As the day dawned calm we spent a couple of hours walking the coastline at Muness where seeing 33 Great Northern Divers proved the highlight being my record site count. We then drove to Westing where a roadside flock of 21 Snow Buntings kept flying up onto overhead wires but no Gulls had gathered. As the forecast rain hadn't arrived I then took a walk around Norwick.

Muness: 33 Great Northern Divers, Pink-footed Goose & 8 Long-tailed Duck.

Westing: 21 Snow Buntings.

Norwick: Iceland Gull, Woodcock, Stock Dove & Wood Pigeon.

Great Northern Diver off Muness

Snow Buntings at Westing

Monday 20 February 2023

20th February 2023 Unst W9 Showers

With a westerly gale battering the island I headed to Westing soon being joined by Robbie. 

Westing: Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull & Viking Gull.

Norwick: Iceland Gull & Glaucous Gull.

Iceland Gull at Westing

Second-cycle Glaucous Gull at Westing

Viking Gull at Westing

Long-tailed Duck at Easter Loch

Saturday 18 February 2023

18th February 2023 Unst NW2 Wintry showers

Being a calm dry morning we were just ready to head out when a hailstorm arrived to be followed by light snow that was enough to lay as a dusting. Replaced by blue skies we headed to Uyeasound and started to walk the coast south. A search through plenty of Eider and Long-tailed Ducks failed to produce anything else when another hailstorm arrived that soon became heavy rain so it was beginning to feel a mistake! Undeterred, after the shower had passed through, we continued towards Belmont. A scan across Loch of Heogland produced a few Teal, Wigeon and Goldeneye so it seemed worthy to take a look through the scope. Among the first Teal I looked through and there was a vertical white stripe I've been hoping to see for years - of a drake Green-winged Teal - a long overdue find tick! Whilst we enjoyed views of it through the scope and obtaining a few distant record shots, for no apparent reason, it suddenly took flight alongside a pair of Teal and flew off high towards Fetlar until we lost the trio from view. A scan of the bays beyond the loch produced 23 Red-throted Divers and then a huge White-billed Diver. Whilst we both enjoyed some nice scope views it was really too far to photograph so as it was low tide I scrambled across the seaweed-covered tombolo and onto the Holm of Heogland. Whilst closer, I was now looking into the sun and it soon put some distance between us heading south in the direction of Linga.

Heogland: 23 Red-throated Divers, Great Northern Diver, White-billed Diver, Green-winged Teal, 250 Eider. 350 Long-tailed Duck & 8 Goldeneye.

Drake Green-winged Teal at Heogland

White-billed Diver off Heogland
These images don't do justice to this huge beast of a White-billed Diver but the distance and light conspired against me obtaining anything better.

Shetland Seabird Tours
You have to be quick off the mark to become the County year-list record holder but we didn't expect Phil to arrive quite so quickly on the scene today!!