Thursday, 20 October 2016

Unst, Shetland Islands Blog 4

This is my 4th Blog on our months visit to Unst

2nd October, 2016
A stunning sunny calm morning, with the first Autumnal frost. Our usual early morning visit to Skaw and Lamba Ness produced just the usual Chiffchaff, 1 Redwing and around 5 Wheatears. Small flock of 12 Twite on Lamba Ness but no Bonxies seen and Meadow Pipit numbers much reduced. A Blyth’s type Lesser Whitethroat briefly in our garden at Millfield.
After our late breakfast, we first visited Valyie and had 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Blackcaps and our first Robin of the trip. We then visited Burrafirth and walked the burn and also visited the walled garden. The highlight was finding a Little Bunting, also saw the Tufted Duck and 4 Goldfinches (first for the trip) The walled garden held 3 Siberian type Chiffchaffs also 1 Yellow-browed. We then drove to Houlland which produced another Yellow-browed as well as 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Bramblings and 1 Blackcap and a flyby Merlin. We then moved onto the school clump which held 2 Goldcrests and a nearby garden held another Yellow-browed. At Clingera the ringed Willow Warbler was still present with 3 Blackcaps, 3 Yellow-browed. Returned to Millfield for a cuppa and received a text from Mike who had just found the Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll at Hamar, Baltasound. We quickly drove there and as we arrived the Redpoll flew off calling giving prolong flight views. In flight it looked like a real stunning bird.

Looking from Lamba Ness across the bay to Norwick

Looking towards Out Skerries-my old birding site

Looking north from Millfield's garden 

Looking from Millfield to Lamba Ness

Doreen leaving Millfield

Bunch of Autumn crocus in Valyie copse.
Exactly in the same place as where we found them in 2009

David birding the gully at Valyie

Doreen checking her tablet

Evening at Baltasound



 Three Yellow-browed Warblers were showing very well in the light 
winds and sunny weather at Valyie

Another Little Bunting which we found this time at Burrafirth

An eastern type considered to be Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat in 
the garden showing almost wholly white outer-tails typical of Blyth's

 Three Siberian Chiffchaffs in the walled garden at Burrafirth
(Seven were seen today at Fair Isle)

Start of a small influx of Goldcrests

The ringed Willow Warbler still present at Clingera

Yet another Yellow-browed at Clingera, we saw a total of
ten today at just the sites we visited.

1st October, 2016

Woke to a beautiful calm morning with a very light NE-SE breeze. A perfect morning for birding. We made our usual early morning visit to Skaw also the upper portion of Lamba Ness and the crofting fields around Valyie. Just a Chiffchaff at Skaw, Yellow-browed, Willow Warbler, Whinchat, 4 Blackcaps, Red-breasted Flycatcher and David had the Rosefinch. Also 20 Twite but still no sign of the Arctic Redpoll.
After breakfast we walked around the Norwick but very quiet, we then walked around the fields and gardens at Haroldswick and had some distant views of a Bluethroat, 4 Yellow-browed Warblers, 1 Willow Warbler 1 Blyth’s type Lesser Whitethroat and several Blackcaps. We then visited the school clump and a nearby garden and 2 more Yellow-broweds and 2 Goldcrests and then onto Clingara and yet a further Yellow-browed and 1 Chiffchaff.

After a short break we returned to Haroldswick and had some better views of the Bluethroat and we next visited North Dale but little seen so we moved onto Norwick Bay where the Osprey was sitting on the cliff towards Lamba Ness and a Long-tailed Duck was close in, David had an immature Glaucous Gull fly over whilst I was photographing the Long-tailed Duck also 4 Harbour Porpoises were in the bay. We walked down to Valyie and at least 3 more Yellow-broweds (making a total of 10 for the day) and 4 Blackcaps, also 40 Twite were now feeding in the fields.

Sunrise over Skaw beach

Millfield taken from Lamba Ness

Bluethroat at Haroldswick

Whinchat at Valyie

Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat type at Haroldswick

Long-tailed Duck feeding close to the shore in Norwick bay.

Common Porpoise in Norwick Bay

30th September, 2016

Another wet and windy night but soon improved becoming sunny but with a cold W wind. We first visited Skaw but very few birds seen other than a couple of Wheatears on the drive over. We decided to pay an early visit to Burrafirth but the walled garden was quiet and we then walked the burn with a surprise a female Tufted Duck (a Unst tick for us) and 1 Whinchat. So back for breakfast.

After breakfast we visited Valyie and had the Red-breasted Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat and 2 Blackcaps but no sign of any Yellow-browed Warblers. About 20 Twite were feeding in the crop field and on the walk back to the car a Osprey flew over heading towards Haroldswick.

After a short break we headed out again first called into Setters Hill pines where the Icterine was again showing very well also 1 Blackcap and 1 Goldcrest. We then went out to Baliasta area and visited Houlland and again saw the Blyth’s Reed Warbler which showed fairly well although always at a distance, also 1 Common Whitethroat, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap. We then visited the ruined church and had an interesting Lesser Whitethroat. We then drove around the area. The school clump was unproductive and news then broke of a Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll briefly at Valyie. We checked out Valyie and saw a Common Rosefinch, flushed a Little Bunting and about 30 Twite but no sign of the Arctic Redpoll. While we were looking for the Redpoll we saw Paul French and his colleagues waving to us from Norwick. They had just found yet another pale acro. warbler which they had photographed. We quickly saw the warbler and managed some pics. which proved to be a Paddyfield Warbler, although from its appearace it was a different bird to the one we found at Skaw.

Red-breasted Flycatcher at Valyie

Osprey over Norwick

Icterine Warbler at Setters Hill pines.
Not often you get the chance to photograph one in flight.

Banana posture

Blyth's Reed Warbler at Houlland

Shetland Wren-Common on Unst


Adult Paddyfield Warbler taken in evening sunlight at a distance.
Long debate over this warbler between a Blyth's Reed and a 
Paddyfield although both David and myself argued the case for a 
Paddyfield. It was referred to the author who wrote the book on 
these warblers and he stated it was an adult Paddyfield.

29th September, 2016

Wet and windy night and cleared for 3 hours giving us time to check out Skaw where we had 1 Little Bunting, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Common Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap and our first Song Thrush of the trip. We then picked up Doreen and Brenda and visited Valyie where we had up to 5 Yellow-browed Warblers, 6 Blackcaps, 1 Red-breasted Flycatcher and 1 Common Rosefinch. The wind suddenly picked up from the west and heavy drizzle started so back to Millfield for a late breakfast.

Heavy rain and gale force winds prevented us going out until mid-afternoon and we  mainly drove around the area checking for waders with the Golden Plover parties. We did visit Halligarth also Clingara and Setters Hill pines where 1 Yellow-browed, 1 Blackcap and 2 Song Thrushes were seen during this period.

Little Bunting at Skaw

The long staying Chiffchaff at Skaw which is regrowing its tail and 
strangely has yellowish legs

Common Rosefinch at Valyie

Rainbows taken from the Setters Hill estate

28th September, 2016

Our usual early morning visit to Skaw produced a distant view of an Osprey, 25 Pink-feet flew over high S, 1 Yellow-browed, 1 Common Whitethroat, 1 Chiffchaff, and 1 Whinchat. Drove down Lamba Ness where 2 Lapland Buntings, 1 Pintail, 2 Knot and a short sea-watch produced 2 Puffins (first for the trip).

After breakfast we birded around Norwick and had 4 Blackcaps and also the Brambling which showed well in our garden. We then headed to Burrafirth where we had 10 Whooper Swans and some poor views of a Dusky Warbler. We then headed to Clingara but little of interest was seen and onto Setters Hill pines but again very little seen. We stopped at Halligarth and had 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, 1 Wood Warbler, several Blackcaps and the Icterine Warbler. We decided another visit to Burrafirth and obtain better views and some pics of the Dusky Warbler and 1 Whinchat and on our way home a Short-eared Owl was seen from the car.

Osprey being mobbed by a Raven over Skaw

Pink-feet going south over Skaw

Knot on Lamba Ness

Brambling at Millfield

Male Blackcap at Norwick

Whooper Swan with a ring

Ringed in Denmark

Whooper Swans near Burrafirth

 Dusky Warbler at Burrafirth

Wood Warbler at Hallagarth