Thursday 29 June 2023

30th June 2023 Unst SW4 Overcast

A day spent guiding for Shetland Nature with a male Red-necked Phalarope proving the highlight.

Saturday 24 June 2023

24th June 2023 Unst S3 Clear

Another day and another Acro found singing whilst on my way to work, this time a Marsh Warbler at Kirkaton. I've still only seen two species of Acro this year - Blyth's Reed & Marsh - only on Shetland! I failed to obtain an image but have uploaded a recording of it singing here. I also enjoyed hearing a Lesser Whitethroat singing at Valyie.

Friday 23 June 2023

23rd June 2023 Firth, Mossbank SE2 Clear

After a couple of nights spent in an excellent wigwam at Brae completing early/late surveys, I was making my way to the survey site when I pulled-up alongside a mature garden at Firth that always looks the part and lowered the passenger car window for a listen. Bingo! I was greeted by a very loud Warbler song that immediately had me scrambling out of my car. I quickly sound-recorded the song that contained plenty of frequently-repeated mimicry sounding very different to the recently heard Marsh Warblers on Unst, before it repeated seven or eight times the diagnostic 'tea-for-two' phrase, that seems so apt for Blyth's Reed Warbler, as the vast majority winter in India. It's taken its time being the first Spring singing BRW that I've found in the UK! It worked its way virtually unseen along the back edge of the garden before reaching the closest willow where I obtained some nice views and a few images before it flew into some tall sycamores. I then had to leave to complete my survey but there was no sign or sound of it when we returned a few hours later. Late evening back on Unst, the day wasn't quite over as thanks to a tip-off from Mike we visited Francis Wilson to see her release a Bedstraw Hawk-Moth that she'd found in her conservatory.

Blyth's Reed Warbler at Firth, Mossbank
I've added a couple of recordings of its song here & here

Sonogram from recording of the Blyth's Reed Warbler at Firth (upper) detailing part of a long series of two note whistles interspersed with (vertical) tak notes, matched to a sonogram of a Blyth's Reed Warbler (lower) to the supremely useful The Sound Approach article here

Sonogram from recording of Blyth’s Reed Warbler at Firth (left) frequently repeating the same cycles separated by (vertical) tak notes, matched to cycles contained within a sonogram of a Blyth’s Reed Warbler (right) here:

Sonogram from recording of Blyth’s Reed Warbler at Firth (left) frequently repeating the same cycles separated by (vertical) tak notes, matched to cycles contained within a sonogram of a Blyth’s Reed Warbler (right) here:

Sonogram from recording of Blyth's Reed Warbler at Firth delivering a convincing mimicry of Chaffinch calls (left) matched by a Blyth’s Reed Warbler doing likewise recorded in the Netherlands (right) here:

Bedstraw Hawkmoth at Westing
only the second that we've seen - upon release at c.10pm it flew off strongly south

Tuesday 20 June 2023

20th June 2023 Unst SE4 Low cloud becoming hazy sunshine

Whilst I walked around Skaw this morning, Brydon had seen a Honey Buzzard fly high east over Halligarth. Cursing that I'd either missed it or it hadn't come my way, just as I was returning towards Norwick, I heard Oystercatchers alarming behind me and turned to see a superb male Honey Buzzard flying in my direction! It overflew and began circling low over Norwick and then circled south slowly gaining height. Fast forward to late-afternoon, I was inputting survey data on the computer when I heard a commotion including both Oystercatchers and Gulls, so I dashed outside, to this time see a female Honey Buzzard overfly our house heading south.

Male Honey Buzzard over Norwick
On circulating a single image by Whatsapp, JFC replied by return sexing it as a male and Pete C eliminated the outside chance of it being an Oriental Honey Buzzard!

Female Honey Buzzard over Millfield

Saturday 17 June 2023

17th June 2023 Unst NE3 Overcast

Norwick: Sanderling & Chiffchaff.

Skaw: 2 Swallows & Blackcap.

16th June 2023 Unst NE3 Clear

Another pre-work stop at the Haroldswick pool rosa confirmed the continued presence of the Marsh Warbler that was again singing and occasionally showing.

Marsh Warbler at Haroldswick
A quick look at its left tertials, or lack of them, nicely link this to being the same individual present at NorthDale on the 12th.

Friday 16 June 2023

15th June 2023 Unst S3 Clear

As we drove to the first ferry of the morning to leave Unst we stopped briefly alongside the rosa at Haroldswick pools and could hear a Marsh Warbler singing. We didn't have long to linger so failed to see it but others were subsequently more fortunate. On arriving home after a long day on mainland there was no sign of it but a Mealy Redpoll in our garden. However, on receiving the news that the Quail was again showing well at Buness House this evening we joined Mike there and were treated to some nice views of it vocalising and walking around.

Common Quail at Buness House, Baltasound
I've not seen too many Quail but was a little perplexed by its face pattern. Doing a little research suggests that it's a 'dark morph' that have so far primarily been seen in southern Europe per this paper:
 I've not yet had the time to look through other images obtained the UK...

14th June 2023 Unst S3 Clear

A walk around Norwick and Skaw produced nothing more than a Kestrel, 5 Collared Doves and a Swallow.

13th June 2023 Unst S2 Clear

Another very enjoyable day spent guiding for Shetland Nature with highlights being an Otter, c.13 Risso's Dolphins moving north off the west cliffs of Hermaness, the Osprey at Uyeasound and 3 Red-necked Phalaropes.

Monday 12 June 2023

12th June 2023 Unst SE1 Haar clearing

I spent my birthday guiding four visitors from Melbourne, Australia with the highlight being finding a Marsh Warbler at the Shore Station although it proved skulking and silent. Mark Finn then found an interesting Warbler at NorthDale so we made a visit to see if we could refind it. Fortunately it was still in the same area and in the few brief glimpses it afforded it did look unusual by virtue of missing all of its tertials on its left wing but it soon started singing leaving no doubt as to its identity - another Marsh Warbler. Chris had found another Marsh Warbler at Uyeasound early this morning so there were at least 3 present on Unst today.

Marsh Warbler at NorthDale
I managed a minute's recording of the song but I'll upload that another time as I've another early start in the morning...

11th June 2023 Unst SE6 Clear

We returned home to find a few migrants in our garden that appropriately enough included our first Garden Warbler of the year but also 2 Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler. A Sparrowhawk was seen over the surrounding fields as were a few Swallows.

Saturday 10 June 2023

10th June 2023 Unst SE3 Overcast

With a southeasterly airflow at last I covered most of the north Unst sites seeing, almost unbelievably, my first Pied and Spotted Flycatchers of the year... but it wasn't quite Foula!!

Norwick: Kestrel, 12 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, Cuckoo, 3 Swallow & Blackcap.

Northdale: 20 Woodpigeon & Pied Flycatcher.

Haroldswick: 2 Shelduck, Chiffchaff & male Common Rosefinch.

Burrafirth: Spotted Flycatcher.

Pied Flycatcher at NorthDale

Shelduck at Haroldswick

Male Common Rosefinch at Norwick yesterday (left) and Haroldswick (right)

Friday 9 June 2023

9th June 2023 Unst NE2 Overcast

A look around produced a singing male Common Rosefinch.

Norwick: 2 Collared Dove, 6 Swallows & male Common Rosefinch.

Singing male Common Rosefinch at Norwick

7th June 2023 Unst SW2 partly overcast

A quick look at Norwick produced my first Cuckoo of the year. We then completed our first boat-based survey of the seabirds along the north cliffs of Unst that resulted in us circumnavigating the isle.

Norwick: 7 Sanderling, Collared Dove, Cuckoo & Chiffchaff.

Cuckoo at Norwick

Kittiwakes and Guillemots on cliffs

Millfield from the sea

Iceland Gull at Skaw
A white-winged Gull flying along the coast was too distant to identify confidently from a moving small boat but looks an Iceland in the above surprisingly sharp cropped image.

A very memorable boat trip passing Muckle Flugga

5th June 2023 Unst NW3 partly overcast

Working pretty much flat out so not much time spent looking for migrants and even less updating my blog.

Norwick: Sanderling, Collared Dove & Chiffchaff.

Sunday 4 June 2023

4th June 2023 Unst NW2 Overcast clearing

I completed a circuit around Norwick seeing just a Sparrowhawk, a Collared Dove, a Chiffchaff and a Tree Sparrow. However Chris Ridgard let me know that he'd found a singing Warbler at Halligarth delivering a torrent of mimicry. I joined him there and along with Robbie, Glen and Gina I was treated to listening to a Marsh Warbler singing its repertoire from the depths of the rosa. Despite spending an enjoyable couple of hours listening to it I only managed a single glimpse. I've uploaded a sound-recording of it to xeno-canto here.

Friday 2 June 2023

2nd June 2023 Unst N1 Clear

A beautiful day with wall to wall sunshine. A House Martin and 3 Swallows flew north past our garden that was also playing host to a Willow Warbler this evening. Mike Gee did somewhat better in his garden at Northdale finding a Red-rumped Swallow sat on the washing line!

Red-rumped Swallow at NorthDale
the first that I've seen on Unst