Monday, 17 October 2016

Doreen and myself have just returned from a month on Unst, Shetland Islands, staying with David and Brenda at Millfield the property they purchased earlier this year.During the next few days I will be posting our records and just some of the many photographs that we took. To keep the dates in order, I have started with the last date first.

15th October, 2016
Time to leave Millfield and we all drove out to Baltasound to have a quick look for a Hawfinch, but no sign of it this morning. It was now time for Doreen and myself to go for the 9.30 ferry and sadly we said our goodbyes to both Brenda and David.

We arrived onto Yell and then had the usual drive across Yell seeing some Whooper Swans and we connected with the second ferry to Mainland. News of a Pied Wheatear on the beach near Sumburgh airport so we had an hours drive and arrived and quickly parked the car. Met up with David Brittain who quickly pointed me in the right direction and I headed off along the beach. Had only gone a couple of minutes when I picked out two close Great-northern Divers, one of which was still in almost full summer plumage, so I spent sometime photographing these. Carried on along the beach for about 200 yards, and I then picked out the Pied Wheatear which was showing very well in good light. Whilst I was photographing this firstly a party of 6 White-fronted Geese flew over heading south and then a large flock of Barnacles approx 250 flew past Sumburgh Head. Time was now pressing so I returned to Doreen and the car in the hope of going to see the Black-faced Bunting on Bressay but unfortunately we just missed the ferry and next one was an hour later and the weather had now become very windy with rain so we had leave to catch the main ferry back to Aberdeen and the long drive home tomorrow, but even so a good ending to a wonderful month’s birding on Unst.


Female Pied Wheatear on the beach at Scatness

Six White-fronted Geese going south over Scatness

Part of a large flock of Barnacle Geese heading past Sumburgh

14th October, 2016

Our final full day as we leave tomorrow on the 9.30 ferry with a day on mainland, and what a month it has been for birding and the weather. Overcast this early morning with an E-SE breeze and a short period of light drizzle which soon cleared. On the drive we had reasonable numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares. We first drove Lamba Ness to the end but just a few Golden Plovers. The drizzle had now stopped so onto Skaw. Few more thrushes at Skaw otherwise I flushed a Woodcock and the Osprey flew over also 1 Brambling and 1 Blackcap.

After breakfast, we first visited Setters Hill pines and saw a late Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackcap and 2 Goldcrests. Onto Clingera but very quiet with just a Robin and then onto School clump with nice views of the Wood Sandpiper also 2 Goldcrests, 1 Blackcap and 1 Chiffchaff. Also nearby a recent report of a Hawfinch but no sign when we stopped off. During lunch we had a Long-tailed Duck fly into Norwick harbour and seen from Millfield.

In the afternoon we again visited Skaw and many Redwings and Fieldfares were present in the fields and some flying over. The long staying Chiffchaff was also seen and Doreen and Brenda went beach combing. We again drove down Lamba Ness but strangely virtually no thrushes seen there and we finished off at Norwick and Valyie where 2 Little Buntings, 40 Bramblings 2 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps, and both the Red-breasted Flycatcher and Red-backed Shrikes gave good views which was a nice end to our 4 week trip. Fingers crossed for Mainland Shetland tomorrow before we catch the overnight ferry to Aberdeen.
Just to say a big thank you to David and Brenda for a superb 4 weeks.

Wood Sandpiper at school clump pool

Looking down to Skaw where we found the White's Thrush and
the Paddyfield Warbler 

Millfield-David and Brenda's new home

Cloud formation over Millfield

Brambling at Valyie

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Red-backed Shrike still at Vaylie

13th October, 2016

Overcast cool morning with a SE 3-4 breeze. We visited Skaw but just several Redwings, 1 Fieldfare, 3 Chiffchaffs. We then drove down Lamba Ness and walked around the headland. A small flock of Twite and 1 Waxwing feeding on thrift seeds. 
Two Bonxies, most have now gone and no Meadow Pipits, a couple of weeks ago probably 1,000 were on the island.

After breakfast we visited North Dale but just the odd Redwing seen, we then went onto Burrafirth and had 18 Fieldfares going south, a Slavonian Grebe on the Loch of Cliff and found a Little Bunting along the burn. No sign of any migrants in the walled garden. We then walked the Haroldswick loop but other than Redwings 1 Blackcap and 2 Wheatears little else seen. On the way home we had a Yellow-browed at Skeggie.

This afternoon we first visited Uyeasound and looked at the eastern loch. About 10 Whooper Swans with c40 Tufted Duck 3 Scaup including 1 drake, c20 Goldeneye and 1 duck Common Scoter (first for the trip). All the duck seemed very uneasy and flew off several times only to return. We then stopped off at Lund, good numbers of Redwings are now on the island with also a number of Fieldfares. Lund was quiet with just 1 Blackcap plus Redwings and Blackbirds. Next stop was Setters Hill pines, no sign of yesterday Red-breasted Flycatcher and just 1 Robin seen. Our final stop of the day was the school clump where we flushed a Jack Snipe from the edge of the pool It seems like the weather is now on the change as it is noticeably colder this afternoon.

Slavonian Grebe on Loch of Cliff

Little Bunting at Burrafirth

12th October, 2016

An overcast morning, and was still mild and very calm. Our usual early morning visit to Skaw but generally very quiet with 1 Fieldfare 6 Redwings the usual Chiffchaff and we flushed a Jack Snipe. Onto Valyie where we had 1-2 Red-backed Shrikes, 4 Fieldfares, 10 Redwings, 1 Little Bunting, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 30 Bramblings  2 Goldcrests 1 Robin and 2 Siskins.

After breakfast we visited the Setters Hill pines and found a new Red-breasted Flycatcher also 1 Blackcap, 1 Robin 2 Goldcrests and 2 Chiffchaffs. We then moved onto the school clump and had 1 Waxwing and then onto the Health Centre Garden where we saw an Arctic Warbler and a Yellow-browed. The Arctic Warbler was quite elusive but we managed some photographs. It had quite a yellow face and throat.

In the afternoon, we first visited Houlland and walked the burn but just the odd Chiffchaff and Blackcap with a few Redwings, 4 Fieldfares and 4 Whooper Swans. As the light had now improved with long sunny periods we decided to have further views of the Arctic Warbler in the Health Clinic garden. It showed very well in the sunshine and was often seen fly-catching. A final visit to the school clump produced 2 Goldcrests, 10 Bramblings and a Wood Sandpiper flew in calling to the pool.


Arctic Warbler in the Health Centre garden

11th October, 2016

Yet another beautiful clear sunny morning with virtually no breeze and quite a heavy early morning frost. Pre breakfast vist to Skaw which was quiet with just singles of Goldcrest, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, 3 Bramblings and several Redstarts. Onto Valyie and checked both fields with 2 nice Little Buntings showing well, both the Red-backed Shrike and Red-breasted Flycatcher were seen, 30 Bramblings 6 Redwings, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs. We also had 2 Woodcocks and 1 Hedge Accentor (after yesterday’s mega).

After breakfast, we covered Burrafirth and the walled garden but little seen of note and we  then walked the Haroldswick loop and saw 2 Yellow-broweds, 2 Chiffchaffs, 6 Redwings, 1 Goldcrest. A Red-throated Diver was in Norwick bay. In the afternoon we drove to Uyeasound and walked several stubble fields but strangely very little seen, we then went to the causeway lochs and had 7 Whooper Swans the usual 25 Tufted Ducks and 8 Goldeneye (our first for the trip). Returning we first stopped off at the school clump where an adult Bluethroat (with a blue throat) was seen briefly, also 1 Yellow-browed and 6 Mealy Redpolls. We then looked at the bushes behing the post office where 1 Siberian Chiffchaff and 1 ordinary Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcaps were seen. Our final stop-off for today was at Clingera where 1 Yellow-browed was seen.

Siberian Chiffchaff at Haroldswick