Monday, 20 October 2014

Unst & more

It was good to get back up to Unst recently, the weather was good and both crossings produced Long Tailed Ducks. A flock flew along side the ferry going across to Unst with  a larger flock of 38 birds including some superb males just behind the first party. Gannets plunged into the sea and one gannet in particular got attacked by two Gt Skuas and was forced to crash land into the sea.

Whooper swans and a couple of Goldeneye was found at Uyeasound and on the way up to Baltasound many Greylag could be seen feeding beside the roadside. We did not see the Rustic Bunting or any other birders at Uyeasound so it must have moved on.

Coming into Baltasound a flock of Teal flew in and landed close to the shop. Also 33 Rock Dove fed along the shoreline, while  12 Red Breasted Merganser came into the bay. Turnstone, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Snipe and Curlew could also be seen here.

We Moved onto the gardens hoping to find Bluethroat and Little bunting which had been present for sometime. To start with a flock of 12 Brambling flew in a perched in a nearby tree, they appeared very nervous and kept flying off. A couple of male Blackcap joined two other female Blackcap's on a lawn, while a couple of Chaffinch kept appearing in and out of a hedge.

I followed the track up to Halligarth plantation, passing deserted buildings, one from WW2 which had held the Bluethroat earlier in the morning. No sign now but in the next garden a Siberian Chiff chaff put on a good show.

On past a house where a Reed Bunting showed well and then into the garden at Halligarth, one of the few woods in Shetland. On the edge of the wood a Yellow Browed Warbler fluttered through the branches then disappeared over the old house, then a female Blackcap and another Siberian Chiff chaff showed. A Redwing appeared on the wires then it came down to the edge of the wood but little else could be found, only a couple of Robin and three blackbirds inside the wood.

A walk down to the coast only produced Twite (18) Lapwing (22) Greylag (54), Pinkfoot (1) Red Breasted Merganser (2) Raven and Hoddie. I started walking back to the car stopping at the last garden for a look when first a Goldcrest, then a Common Chiff Chaff and another Blackcap showed. Then the best, twenty yards from the car a Bluethroat appeared dropping down out of a hedge, it stayed a few moments before flying up into the garden, what a superb bird.

The day after with the weather still excellent, we headed for Sumburgh and the lighthouse. Again no one around but a few birds showed The Snow bunting was allowing a close approach as did the Brambling's although fewer than a few days ago. A Redwing fed on the rose hips as did a few Blackbirds and one song Thrush.

 At Hillswick four Fieldfare fed beside the roadside, winter is on its way. Making my way over to the beach I flushed a flock of 16 Snipe, 36 Lapwing and many Starling. On The beach Ringed Plover (8) and Turnstone (16) fed near a stream that ran into the sea. On the way back a couple of Grey Heron at Urrafirth and Voe stood motionless beside the sea.

Today started wet and breezy but we traveled down to the south mainland where two House Martin flew over the airport. At Grutness, a Goldcrest and a male Chaffinch showed well in the garden. On the beach a Knot, Sanderling (22) Turnstone (26) Redshank (6) and Wheatear (4) fed amongst the seaweed.

A flock of Long Tailed Duck (9) including 4 superb males flew into the bay just as it started raining heavy, pity as it was a good photo opportunity.

Not much at Sumburgh Head except a flock of Twite (18) Redwing (4) Blackbird (10) while 129 Shag stood on the rocks below the cliff.

The remains of the Hurricane should hit Shetland later today with winds of 70 mph expected so it should blow a flew birds in.

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