Tuesday, 17 October 2017


Almost gale force SE wind made birding very difficult. On the drive over we flushed 2 Thrushes off the road.  At Skaw some brief views of the Reed Warbler, also Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Just checked the field at Norwick but the wind made it very difficult.

After breakfast, we visited Setters Hill pines but just 1 Siskin seen in the difficult conditions, and no sign of the Turtle Dove which had been seen earlier. Back to Skaw and on the drive 2 Bramblings were on the road at Skeggie, back at Skaw.where the Reed Warbler was seen again and also a Red-breasted Flycatcher although in the wind and rain it only showed briefly sat on a wall before disappearing, over the wall.

Streams flowing uphill in the wind today at Lamba Ness

Rough seas at Norwick.

Reed Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher at Skaw

Reed Warbler at Skaw
29th September, 2017 (Day 14) Overcast heavy squally showers SE gale force 9
An almost un-birdable morning. On the drive to Skaw we had a Song Thrush and Redstart on the road. Terrible conditions at Skaw but we did see the Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush and Blackcap, but then heavy rain sent us back to the car.
30th September, 2017 (Day 15) Fine clear and chiefly sunny Calm becoming SE 3-4
After 2 days of very poor weather we woke to a fine and calm morning. Our usual early morning visit to Skaw with a small fall of night migrants seen: 5 Song Thrushes, 1 Robin, 4 Chiffchaffs, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Kestrel, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Reed Bunting, and 1 Whinchat.
We then visited Norwick and Valyie ,2 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 1 Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Robins, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Brambling, 1 Redstart, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Yellow-browed Warbler.
After breakfast we stopped off at the Heritage Centre garden but just 1 Robin seen. Onto Burrenfirth and the walled garden produced 1 Whinchat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Redstart. At Setters Hill Pines fine views of a Wryneck, another Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Robins, 15 Bramblings, 2 Redpolls, 2 Blackcaps, and 2 Chiffchaffs.
At the Health Centre garden, we recorded another Kestrel, 6 Chiffchaffs, and 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Brambling, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Song Thrush and 1 Redwing. The School clump had 3 Redwings and 1 Robin.
News then broke of a Red-throated Pipit at Skaw so we quickly made our way there and obtained some superb views and I was also pleased to hear it calling. A call I hadn’t heard for over 20 years. We spent over an hour photographing at close range.  We then walked the Clibberswick field but no joy here and then visited the Feall pine plantation where 2 Merlins, and singles of Whinchat, Redstart and Chiffchaff were seen.
Kestrel at Baltasound.

Spotted Flycatcher at Burrafirth

Redstart at Norwick

Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat at Norwick


Whinchat at Burrafirth

Mealy Redpoll at Norwick.

Wryneck at Setters Hill Pines


Red-throated Pipit at Skaw

1st October, 2017 (Day 16 ) Cleat at first becoming overcast SE 5-6
Our early morning visit to Skaw in clear conditions we obtained good flight views of a Water Rail which was flushed from the marsh, also 1 Kestrel, 1 Common Redstart, 1 Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat, 1 BLackcap, 4 Chiffcaffs, the Reed Warbler, 1 Robin and the Red-throated Pipit was still present.
On the drive back we stopped off at Braeview where we saw 3 Reed Buntings, 1 Grass-hopper Warbler which we flushed on a couple of occasions to check the i/d, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Whinchat, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Song Thrushes and an Acro. Which we saw very briefly before it disappeared.
After a break, we checked around Norwick where we had 5 Willow Warblers, and 1 Robin. We then decided to walk the Haroldswick loop where we recorded 1 Common Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Song Thrushes and 1 Ruff.  We then moved on to Setters Hill pines where a Robin, Tree Pipit, and good views of a Little Bunting before it departed. School clump was very quiet with just 2 Mealy Redpolls.
Back to Millfield with rain virtually all afternoon.

Red-throated Pipit still at Skaw and still calling

Tree Pipit at Setters Hill Pines.

Reed Bunting at Braeview.
Several new arrivals seen today

A latish Willow Warbler at Braeview 

Common Redstart on the Haroldswick loop.

Little Bunting at Setters Hill Pines.

Early morning at Skaw produced 1 Brambling, 1 Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat, the usual Reed Warbler, 3 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Whinchat and 1 Little Bunting.
Stopped at Braeview where a Lapland Bunting showed very well on the road, also 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Goldcrest and 2 Redwings. We then visited Burrafirth with just 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Redstart and 1 Robin seen, with the odd Song Thrushes along the drive.
After breakfast we visited Clingara 1 Willow, 3 Chiffchaffs and 3 Redstarts. On the drive to Setters Hill Pines we had a brief view of a Quail on the side of the road, at the pines we saw 4 Parrot Crossbills which had already been found but it was now very windy with heavy rain showers and poor light. We now spent some time trying to photograph these Crossbills but had to give up due to poor weather. We returned later in the afternoon where 5 Parrot Crossbills were now present but the wind was now gale force so viewing was very difficult. We also had a party of 15 Pink-feet fly over going south.
Reed Warbler at Skaw

Lapland Bunting at Braeview

Parrot Crossbills at the Setters Hill pines. As my pictures show
these are very large and bulky birds appearing considerably
larger than a Crossbill with a very thick set head and neck.

3rd October, 2017 (Day 18) Overcast with heavy showers W force 9.
Very windy wet during the night and woke to a storm force 9. On our way to Skaw we had 3 Reed Buntings at Braeview but Skaw was very wet and windy and I nearly got blown over from a guest of wind. We could only cover a couple of sites before a heavy shower. We did flush a dark pipit which may have been the Red-throated. Back at Millfield, a Yellow-browed was in the garden.
After the rain had eased off, we went to Setters Hill pines and had 2 Parrot Crossbills as the other 3 had flown off just before our arrival. We then went for a drive along Ordaal road where we had 4 Bramblings on the road, also hundreds of Golden Plover and 5 Ruff, 2 Reed Buntings and a Spotted Flycatcher. We stopped off at Clingera but just 2 Chiffchaffs and 1 Redstart seen. Also a large female Merlin was also seen near Breydon’s garden.
Yellow-browed Warbler in our garden at Millfield.

Bramblings feeding along the Ordaal Road.

Female type Parrot Crossbill at Setters Hill Pines.

4th October, 2017 (Day 19) Another wet and windy morning. NW 6
Early morning rain and wind delayed our start. With news that Rob had seen an adult White-tailed Eagle in the Baltasound area we drove out to see if we could find it. As we were leaving Norwick a Little Bunting (our 4th for the trip) was seen feeding along the road side. No sign of the Eagle around Baltasound so we then visited Valyie and we recorded Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs and our first Dunnock. 
After a break we then went to Skaw and saw another Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaffs. Onto the Health Centre garden but only 1 Brambling seen. Back to Baltasound and after a few minutes the superb adult White-tailed Eagle came flying along the far side of a large valley and then settled on the ground on the far side. After spending some 20 minutes enjoying scope views, we decided to visit the Feall Plantation where we had 2 Parrot Crossbills, 2 Chiffchaffs 2 House Martins and 1 Redstart.


Little Bunting (our 4th for the trip) about 200 metres from David's garden.

A stunning distant adult White-tailed Eagle came flying along 
at the  Loch of Watlee, where it settled on a patch of barren
ground where it remained for at least 2 hours. At least 50% of
White-tailed Eagles seen in the Shetlands have been proven to
have migrated from Norway.

House Martin at Feall, David's first sighting this Autumn

A pair of Parrot Crossbills showing well in a small pine
plantation at Ungirsta and it was excellent to see them
in the sunshine.