Friday, 21 October 2016

Unst, Shetland Islands Blog No.5

This is my 5th Blog on our month's trip to Unst, Shetland Islands.

27th September, 2016

An overcast cool morning with rain spreading in around 10.30 am. We decided to visit Skaw early morning and a pale Acro. came flying along the burn and landed in the vegetation in front of the car parking area. No further sign after some 20 minutes so we searched around the local area and had it again come flying past and dived into the same area. Luckily we manage to obtain some poor record shots and the back of the camera we were able to identify it as a Paddyfield Warbler. It proved to be extremely elusive during our stay but we quickly put the news out and a number of other observers including Rob Brooks, and Paul French connected with it, and with the onset of rain we left the other observers to it. It was present to about mid-day, but was not seen during the afternoon. A very exciting find by David and myself.
Also saw 1 Common Whitethroat and 1 Yellow-browed Warbler.


The elusive 1stW Paddyfield Warbler at Skaw

After lunch the wind had now increased to gale force and a Brambling was feeding in our garden at Millfield. In Norwick Bay we saw a single Arctic Tern (our first for the trip). We decided to visit Halligarth and we stopped briefly at Haroldswick and watched an Otter in the bay.
Halligarth was very windy and we had a Lesser Whitethroat and a Wood Warbler which quickly disappeared before I could photograph it. After doing some shopping, news broke of a Raddes Warbler at Valyie. It showed well a couple of times and we also saw the Red-breasted Flycatcher and we could also hear calling what sounded like a Blyth’s Reed Warbler.

Golden Plover at Haroldswick

Otter in Haroldswick Bay


Radde's Warbler seen during the evening at Valyie

26th September, 2016

Our usual early morning visit to Skaw but again not to many new birds seen which included 1 Whinchat, 1 Grey Wagtail (our first for the trip) and the usual moulting Chiffchaff. Onto North Dale where a Redwing, 40+ Skylarks, 47 Rock Doves and some fleeting views of what was probably the Blyth’s Reed Warbler. 2 Blackcaps were seen along the Holsens Road. The Yellow-browed was again in the roses at Millfield.

After breakfast we visited Haroldswick and went for a walk around the fields and gardens. Saw our first Fieldfare of the trip also a Redwing, Blackcap and Chiffchaff.
Then to the Setters Estate pines and David saw the Icterine again but little else. We then visited Clingara where 1 Yellow-browed, 2 Willow Warblers and 1 Chiffchaff were seen.

Just the odd Redwings and Fieldfare are now being seen

Setters Estate pines-a favorite site of ours

Still good numbers of Wheatears on the island.

Hooded Crows are common on Unst

This afternoon we first covered the gardens around Norwick but only the odd Blackcaps seen. We then visited Vaylie where the Red-breasted Flycatcher was again seen although it was more flighty today. Also 2 Yellow-broweds up to 6 Blackcaps and 1 Tree Pipit (the first for the trip). We then visited the School Clump where a Yellow-browed was chasing a Chiffchaff also 1 Blackcap. We then met up with Robbie who had just seen a very confiding Little Bunting at Lund so we quickly made our way there and had some stunning close views also 2 Willow Warblers.

Looking across from Valyie towards Millfield

Couple of fancy scarcrows at Norwick

Tree Pipit at Valyie

Red-breasted Flycatcher at Valyie taken in strong sunlight.

Twite at Valyie


Little Bunting at Lund virtually feeding at our feet and took no 
notice of us.

During the evening there was a superb showing of the Northern Lights. I took these pictures with my standard lens hand holding my camera on its usual settings.

Northern Lights from Millfield front garden

25th September, 2016

The strong wind had dropped although still breezy from the S. Otherwise an overcast morning but still very mild. Our Yellow-browed was still showing in our garden at Millfield. Early morning visit to Skaw produced the usual Chiffchaff and also a Willow Warbler. We then tried Haroldswick area but again just 1 Willow Warbler also 1 Grey Heron with 20 Snipe and 40 Rock Doves.

After breakfast, we first visited Valyie with 4 Blackcaps, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers and then onto Halligarth but just 1 Chiffchaff. Next stop was the school clump where 2 Willow Warblers were seen and the Setters Estate pines where the Icterine Warbler was seen but much more flighty and poorer views than yesterday.

Late afternoon news broke of another Blyth’s Reed Warbler this time at Houlland. We quickly made our way there and after 15 minutes located it. Just like the Uyesound bird it was extremely skulking and elusive. I manage one clear view and David managed one picture. We also saw yet another Yellow-browed and 1 Blackcap.

Female Blackcap at Valyie

Icterine Warbler at Setters Hill pines

Blyth's Reed Warbler at Houlland in the banana pose.

Just the odd Grey Herons were seen during our stay.

24th September, 2016
Rain during the night and had become very windy SW. The Yellow-browed was still showing in the garden at Millfield

Yellow-browed Warbler in David's garden and right next to
the small sycamore which we found growing in our Burgess
Hill garden and took up to Unst. 

We first visited Skaw which was nicely sheltered from the wind but just the Common Whitethroat and Chiffchaff were seen. We then visited North Dale but quite windy here and just the usual Rock Doves, Skylarks etc.

Skaw - the migrant trap

The road to North Dale

North Dale Farm

North Dale haystacks-old ways still practised on Unst.

North Dale croft which Doreen and myself rented in 2009.

Looking across the Norwick Meadows with Valyie the plot on the
After a late breakfast, the rain and wind had now worsened. We made our way to Clingera and in difficult windy conditions we saw 1-2 Yellow-browed Warblers and a Blackcap. Close by in a field were 30 Golden Plover and several Snipe of the Faroes race.

This afternoon, Rob phoned to inform us he had just found a showy Icterine Warbler in the Setters Hill pines so we quickly made our way there and it was showing very well on the sheltered side, but even so I found it difficult to keep the camera still in the strong wind, but an excellent looking bird.

We then visit the School clump but not a single migrant could be found here, so we moved onto Burrafirth and walked the ditch and the walled garden, but the only migrant seen was a Willow Warbler. On our drive back to Millfield, we stopped and birded the gardens at Norwick where a Willow Warbler and Blackcap were seen. On our arrival back at Millfield, the Yellow-browed was again seen.

Several of these large Snipe of the Faroes race were being seen

Icterine Warbler Setters Estate pines