Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Unst, Shetland Islands Blog No.3

My 3rd Blog on the Unst trip

6th October, 2016

A fine almost calm morning with just a light SE breeze. First visited Skaw a  Little Bunting showed well also 3 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Redwing 5 Goldfinches and 2 Bramblings, onto North Dale where a Yellow-browed was showing well, but no sign of the Blyth’s Reed Warbler. 2 Goldcrests in our garden.

After breakfast we had superb views of a Bluethroat at Norwick. We then visited Burrafirth and walked the burn and the walled garden but the area was quiet. Then  we then went to Houlland Goldcrest2, Redwing 3, Blackcap 1 and Swallow 1, Song Thrush 1.

We then visited Uyeasound and saw Pintail 1, Scaup 1, Whooper Swan 10, of which 2 were displaying and calling giving a superb performance, something which I have never seen before, Chiffchaff 1, Blackcap 1 and Yellow-browed 1, 32 Tufted Duck. Late afternoon we called into Clingera and saw 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Yellow-broweds, 4 Goldcrests and the Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll showed for about 3 minutes. News then broke of a 1stW male Siberian Thrush at Uyeasound, so we quickly drove back there and after some 20 minutes it suddenly flew out of the garden and past us at close range clearly showing its superb underwing. It landed down by the harbour and Doreen and Brenda had reasonable views of it on the ground but David and myself were in a different place. It then flew back to the garden but would only show occasionally. I saw it twice briefly out on the lawn, but no further views and the light went. Also saw 2 more Yellow-broweds.

Views taken around Uyeasound

1stW Bluethroat at Norwick

Whooper Swans displaying at Uyeasound

Female Pintail at Uyeasound


Scaup with 3 Tufted Ducks at Uyeasound

Female Blackcap at Uyeasound

5th October, 2016

Another fine sunny morning with a strong SE wind which made birding difficult in the bushes. Our usual early morning visit to Skaw, also North Dale and Valyie. Increase in the numbers of finches seen today and David had a Siskin and a dull looking Redpoll atValyie. Very little seen at Skaw, with just a single Blackcap. and North Dale although a number of Brambling flew out of the crop at North Dale, at Valyie I again saw the Red-breasted Flycatcher and 3 Goldcrests, whilst David had a Little Bunting, with the odd Redwings were seen on the drive.

After breakfast we first visited Setters Hill pines but just 1 Blackcap, and the odd Redwings. We then visited Houlland and once again had several views of the Blyth’s Reed Warbler along the burn and several more Redwings. Five Whooper Swans were on Loch of Cliff. Very little seen at Clingera apart for the ringed Willow Warbler although the wind was very blustery making birding now very difficult. As we past Haroldswick Bay an Arctic Tern was present.

Most of the afternoon was spent looking for a Great Snipe in the Norwick meadows. Unfortunately, no sign of this but we did see plenty of Common Snipe and 2 Jack Snipe (our first for the trip) also a male Merlin flew past. A quick visit near Halligarth produced a third Jack Snipe for the day and at the school clump another Redwing and our first Yellow-browed for the day was seen. We must hope that the wind decreases overnight.

On Skaw beach when the tide comes in

Blyth's Reed Warbler flying past us up the burn at Houlland

Jack Snipe flushed from the Norwick meadows

4th October, 2016

A bright morning with a strong SE but not as cold as yesterday, and as we were leaving Millfield a flock of 35 Barnacle Geese flew over calling. Usual early morning visits to Skaw and North Dale.  Some new arrivals at Skaw where a Goldcrest appeared to come in off the sea, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Redwing, a Little Bunting flushed from behind the compound and seen briefly on top of a hut, and a Stonechat (first for the trip) showed well. Onto North Dale where the usual flock of Rock Doves, 1 Blackcap and the surprise was the Blyth’ Reed Warbler was still in situa in the bushes. Back at Millfield a further flock of 66 Barnacles came flying over moving S.
After breakfast we decided to visit Lund and Westing with c15 Redwings on the drive out and we walked the thistle patch at Lund but only a few Blackbirds seen. We then drove to Westing beach but no Otters seen but we did have a 1stW Curlew Sandpiper feeding with a few Ringed Plovers. On the drive back a second flock of 20 Redwings were seen.
During the afternoon a party of 32 Woodpigeons flew over Millfield, we then visited Setters Hill pines but little of interest, we moved on to Clingera and saw 2 Goldcrests, the ringed Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaffs one of which was a Siberian Chiffchaff but the highlight was a superb Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll which showed well for 5 minutes before departing.

Flock of Barnacles going south over Millfield at dawn

Second stage of Haystacks at North Dale

Westing Beach-said to be good for Otters, but not for us.

An interesting Stonechat at Skaw showing a narrow white collar
with a slight whitish brow above the eye, a whitish stripe along
the edge of the wing and a pale panel in the wing. 

More Barnacles moving south

Curlew Sandpiper at Westing

Siberian Chiffchaff at Clingera

David and myself were delighted to re-find this beauty an adult
male Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Clingera which we missed
when it was at Norwick several days ago. It stayed here for 10
minutes before flying off, and proved to be one of the highlights.

3rd October, 2016

Another fine calm morning, just wonder how long this Indian summer will last for. Early morning visit to Skaw was somewhat disappointing with just a Blackcap and the usual Chiffchaff. 2 Bonxies were also seen. We next visited Burrafirth burn and 1 Yellow-browed and sadly we found a Short-eared Owl which was caught up on the wire fence but otherwise very quiet.

Short-eared Owl impaled on this barbwired fence

After breakfast we checked the Arctic Redpoll site at Hamar, Baltasound but sadly no sign of it. We then went to Halligarth and again had the Wood Warbler, also a party of 17 Redwings arrived whilst we were there, also 1 Blackcap, 2 Yellow-broweds, and 1 Goldcrest. At Setters Hill pines just a Goldcrest. Back to Norwick 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Yellow-browed. 
During the afternoon, we walked the fields and gardens around Haroldswick and also walked the beach area. We saw 2 Bramlings with a party of Twite and 1 Willow Warbler. Then drove out to Burrafirth walled garden but no sign of any migrants and then back to Norwick but other than the odd Chiffchaff little was seen. The wind had become quite strong SE and a lot cooler.

Wood Warbler at Halligarth