Thursday, 19 October 2017

UNST, SHETLAND ISLES. AUTUMN 2017

16th September, 2017 (Day 1) Wind N 4-5

The start of our 28 day trip to Unst where we stayed with David and Brenda at Millfield
Arrived on the overnight ferry from Aberdeen and met up with David and Brenda mid-morning at Millfield. After unpacking our car etc., we ventured out early afternoon when the weather had improved.  We first visited Norwick where the fine adult male Ortolan Bunting showed well. After enjoying some good views we then moved onto Valyie where a Merlin showed well but virtually no migrants seen.  We walked back to Norwick and a Pink-foot flew over our heads.

After a break we checked the fields above Millfield where 14 Ruff were showing well. Onto North Dale but just a single Willow Warbler was seen. We finally again visited Norwick and the Ortolan was feeding along the sides of the road.


Adult male Ortolan Bunting at Norwick

Pink-foot overhead at Norwick



Ruff at Norwick

17th September, 2017 (Day 2) Wind light NE 
Out by 7.00 am and first visited Skaw. Soon located a Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat which had a distinctive sandy brown back and wings and good whiter outer tails. Very shy and unable to photograph it.  Three Ruff were flying around but little else seen.
We then visited Burrafirth where we covered the walled garden and the burn. Garden was quiet and the burn produced singles Blackcap and Willow Warbler. Four Herons arrived high up from the North and departed still high going South.  On the drive to Burrafirth, a party of about 12 ducks chiefly Mallards but also 3 Pintail and 3 Wigeon.
After a coffee break, we than walked around Norwick to Valyie. Another Grey Heron flew over with the highlight being a Yellow-browed Warbler at Valyie but showed poorly. Also singles of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, and a Garden Warbler.
During the afternoon, we first visited Setters Hill Pines where another Yellow-browed Warbler was seen, and 150 Golden Plover flew over, onto the Health Centre Garden where a juvenile Cuckoo showed well and yet another Yellow-browed showed poorly. The School clump was quiet and our last visit was to Clingera with a further 2 Yellow-browed’s showed reasonably well
A total of 5 Yellow-browed's seen today.
(DC)
Pintail near Burrafirth


Juvenile Cuckoo at the Health Centre Garden

Yellow-browed Warbler at Clingera

(DC)
Yellow-browed Warbler at North Dale.

18th September, 2017 (Day 3) Early morning drizzle, Wind NE 3 veering N1
We waited for the drizzle to stop and the visited Skaw. On the way a Whinchat was seen from the car. The Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat was showing well this morning allowing us to photograph it, but otherwise Skaw was very quiet.  We next visited Vaylie but just singles of Blackcap and Willow Warbler were the only migrants seen. At North Dale a Yellow-browed showed nicely and 7 Twite were also seen.  We checked Burrafirth walled garden, before checking a new field at Clibberswick which just produced a number of Meadow Pipits, but did look very promising.

Showing the extensive white outer tails.


Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat at Skaw



Yellow-browed Warbler at North Dale.

Shags at Haroldswick.

19TH September, 2017 (Day 4) NW 3had a good view of the
Our early morning visit to Skaw with the Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat still present, but little else seen. Drove down to Lamba Ness again very quiet with 10 Ruff and a Blue Fulmar moving past with hundreds of Gannets and Fulmars. Also 2 Ruff at Millfield with one walking around David’s lawn. The single Pink-foot had now joined some of the local Grey-lags behind Millfield.

(DC)
Blue Fulmar passing Lamba Ness
(DC)
Ruff on the lawn at Millfield.

(DC)
White Wagtail in the garden at Millfield.


20th September, 2017 (Day 5) Misty mild and very calm.


Early morning visit to Skaw in very calm quiet conditions. The only migrant seen was the Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat which showed very well and was flycatching most of the time. Onto Burrafirth and checked the walled garden but no migrants. We then walked the burn and again no migrants seen but a juvenile Gannet stood on the side of the burn which is only about 10 ft. wide. An otter was seen on the loch behind carrying a fish.


After a coffee break we headed out and checked the Heritage Centre but no joy. We stopped briefly at Buness where we saw a Yellow-browed Warbler and then visited Lund and Westing but just a Blackcap, and a juv. Red-throated Diver.


News then broke that Bryden had found a female Siberian Thrush at Ordaal. No sign when we arrived but it then showed briefly in flight before diving into a thick bush. After a few minutes it flew out and showed well in flight and we had a good view of its under-wings, but it was very difficult to see in the bushes with just poor views of it moving in the middle of the bush. Also seen were 2-3 Yellow-broweds and 1 Redpoll.


Late afternoon, went back to Ordaal and had a few more flight views of the female Siberian Thrush and just one 2 second view of it on the ground. Also visited Clingera but just 4 Redpolls.


Female Siberian Thrush at Ordaal taken by the finder

Brydon Thomason






A stranded juvenile Gannet on Burrafirth burn.

21st September, 2017 (Day 6) Drizzle on and off all day, SE veering to SW 1.
Usual early morning visit to Skaw and on the way a Mealy Redpoll was by the side of the road. Skaw produced 2 Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroats and 6 Ruff flew over. At Burranfirth, the Gannet was still on the burn, and 2 Yellow-broweds were in the walled garden.
After a coffee break, we walked Norwick to Valyie and back and had 5 Yellow Broweds at Valyie and 2 at Norwick, also at Valyie a 1stW Common Rosefinch, Spotted Flycatcher, yet another Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat and a Mealy Redpoll.
We then visited Houlland unfortunately in the rain and also walked the long ditch but just I Chiffchaff and 1 Yellow-browed seen.
Spotted Flycatchert at Valyie

(DC)
Common Rosefinch at Valyie.

22ndSeptember, 2017 (Day 7) Fine sunny calm becoming SW 2-4.
Beautiful warm calm morning. Usual early morning visit to Skaw where the Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat was still present and a Pied Flycatcher was also seen. Onto North Dale where we located a second Pied Flycatcher, Garden Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler and a shy Barred Warbler.
After breakfast, we made our way to Valyie where 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers and yesterdays Spotted Flycatcher and Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat were seen. At Norwick a Goldcrest, Blackcap, another Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat (our 4th so far for this trip), and 1 Yellow-browed Warbler. A look at the fields at Clibberswick produced yet another Yellow-browed, and a visit to the garden at the Health Centre produced 2 more Yellow-broweds, 1 Willow Warbler and 2 Chiffchaffs.
No sign of yesterday’s Bluethroat at Houlland, but a Whinchat and 1 Yellow-browed, and our last visit for the day to Clingera where 2 more Yellow-browed’s and nice views of 8 Mealy Redpolls.
Yellow-browed Warbler 11 (with 25 so far on the trip)
Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat taken in strong sunlight at Skaw

Pied Flycatcher at Skaw


Barred Warbler at North Dale

Spotted Flycatcher at Valyie

Yellow-browed Warbler in the Health Centre garden.


Mealy Redpolls at Clingera

23rd September, 2017 (Day 8) Overcast cool SE 3-4 increasing to 5.
First visited Skaw but we were unable to find a single migrant, a party of 15 Twite flew over but other than good numbers of Ravens little else of interest seen. Onto Burrafirth and again just a single Wheatear otherwise 2 Peregrines tussling with 12 Ravens little was seen in either the walled garden and along the burn. A party of 9 Twite flew over here.
After breakfast, we drove up to Valyie, but by now the wind had increased to force 5 and made birding difficult. We failed to find or hear any migrants here.
After lunch, we went for a drive around the South of the Island. Up to 400 Golden Plovers near Uyeasound with 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 6 Ruff feeding with the plovers. 2 Whooper Swans were with 30 Wigeon on the small lochs, and a 1stW Glaucous Gull near the ferry terminal at Belmont. An Otter was seen at Skeotaing. Arriving back at Millfield 8 Ruff flew over and 6 Twite.
David working the ditches at Skaw hoping for a Lancey.

Ravens, good numbers seen virtually all over Unst.

First Whoopers of the Autumn were on Loch Easter

(DC)
1stW Glaucous Gull at Belmont.
24th September, 2017 (Day 9) Overcast dry SE 5-6
Our usual early morning visit to Skaw and we then moved onto North Dale and the Heritage Centre Garden. Unfortunately, not a single migrant seen. After breakfast, we visited Vaylie where 1 Willow Warbler and a Blyths Lesser Whitethroat was present and at Norwick where a Brambling flew over Millfield and another Willow Warbler was seen. 
After a break, we then visited a number of sites including Clingera, where we had 5 Mealy Redpolls, School Clump, the Pines where David had 1 Yellow-browed and 1 Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat and the Health Centre Garden but the strong winds again made birding very difficult.
Doreen and Brenda on the walk back from Valyie battling the strong SE wind'

My annual photo of the Autumn crocuses at Valyie

Shetland Bee at Valyie.

25th September, 2017 (Day 10) Overcast becoming misty and rain. SE 3 to 5.
Very little at Skaw other than a few new Blackbirds and 4 Ruff flew over. Check of Norwick beach produced out first Purple Sandpiper. Onto Vaylie where a Yellow-browed was calling at least 15 Blackbirds and the Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat.
After breakfast, we first visited a small quarry near Burrafirth where a male Snow Bunting showed well and then onto the burn at Burrafirth where just a single Yellow-browed which also showed well.
News then broke of an American Wigeon on Easter loch at Uyeasound. We made our way there and soon located the drake American Wigeon which was coming out of eclipse plumage. It was with a small flock of European Wigeon and once or twice it flew around the loch. The light was now very poor for photography. There was also a Little Bunting nearby and we also had good views of this in the rain.
With rain now settling in we returned to Millfield where a Robin was present the first for the Autumn.


Purple Sandpiper on Norwick beach.


Snow Bunting in a quarry near Burrafirth

Yellow-browed Warbler at Burrafirth



Drake American Wigeon on Loch Easter, Uyeasound.

Drake American Wigeon in flight showing the white auxiliaries.




Little Bunting at Uyeasound in the rain.

Another strong SE wind, we did our early morning visit to Skaw where a single Blackcap was present, but little else. Onto Vaylie where several new migrants were seen but in difficult conditions with the wind. Migrants seen and heard were Redstart 1, Yellow-browed Warbler 2+, Goldcrest 2+ Willow Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, and 1 male Chaffinch.   On Norwick beach, the Purple Sandpiper was still present and was joined by a Dunlin.
After breakfast a visit to Setters Hill pines where 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Tree Pipit and 1 Robin were present. Also visited School Clump but no migrants seen here other than a Robin.
Probably 30 Yellow-browed Warblers for the trip so far.

Sunrise over Skaw, the last of the sun we saw today.

(DC)
Blackcap in our garden at Millfield.


Another very windy day and we made our usual early morning visit to Skaw where migrants seen included Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and brief views of a Reed Warbler before it departed. Onto Valyie where we had a number of new migrants including both single Redwing, Robin and Song Thrush, 4 Chaffinches, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Blackcap and the highlight was a superb Long-eared Owl which flew out of the Gully and showed well in the main clump.
After breakfast, we visited Setters Hill Pines where the Tree Pipit showed well, also singles of Siskin, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and Song Thrush. At the Health Centre garden just 2 Bramblings flew over, and at Clingera singles of Yellow-browed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffchaff were seen. We then went to Hagdale Quarry where a 1stW Bluethroat had been reported. After searching for around 40 minutes we had distant views as it seemed to be covering a large area. Also 2w Grey Wagtails flew over calling.





Long-eared Owl at Valyie

Garden Warbler at Setters Hill Pines

Siskin at Setters Hill Pines

(DC)
Tree Pipit at Setters Hill Pines
 
(DC)

 
(DC)
Bluethroat at Hagdale Quarry. 


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

(DC)
Reed Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher at Skaw

(DC)
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.
(DC)
Kestrel at Baltasound

(DC)
Spotted Flycatcher at Burrafirth

Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat at Norwick

Redstart at Norwick


Whinchat at Burrafirth

(DC)
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.
                                                                                            


(DC)
Red-throated still present at Skaw and still calling.
'psiiiiiiiiiiii'!!

(DC)
Tree Pipit at Setters Hill pines.

Reed Bunting at Braeview-several new arrivals seen today.

Willow Warbler at Braeview.



Common Redstart on the Haroldswick loop.


Little Bunting at the 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.

(DC)
Reed Warbler at Skaw





Lapland Bunting at Braeview









Parrot Crossbills at 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.



Bramblings feeding along the Ordaal Road.

Female type Parrot Crossbill at Setters Hill pines.

(DC)
Yellow-browed Warbler in our garden at Millfield.
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

(DC)
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.

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

(DC)

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

5th October, 2017 (Day 20)  wet and windy morning. NW 6-7
Another late start due to heavy rain. Very little seen at Skaw with 3 Chiffchaffs and 1 male Blackcap. We then drove slowly down Lamba Ness headland but virtually nothing seen from the car.
After breakfast we visited Lund and Westing but just a Whinchat and Chiffchaff seen. We then visited Easter Loch where 6 Whooper Swans, 3 Goldeneye and a female or juvenile Ring-necked Duck was present with a party of Tufted Ducks in very rough conditions. A single pink-foot flew over with 5 Grey-lags.
Our final visit was to Valyie where a Mealy Redpoll and Little Bunting were seen.
(DC)

(DC)


Female / juvenile Ring-necked Duck at Easter Loch.
In very difficult conditions with the duck sheltering along the far
bank in gale force winds with frequent heavy squally showers.

6th October, 2017 (Day 21)  windy morning with showers. NW 5
Our usual early morning visit to Skaw where the Red-throated Pipit and a Tree Pipit were seen, also Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat. We then went and walked the field at Clibberswick where we had a Whinchat, 3 Bramblings, 3 Chaffinches and a Wood Pigeon.
After breakfast, we visited Setters Hill Pines where a Parrot Crossbill flew over. We then drove to Houlland but just a Robin seen. With news of a Hornemann’s Redpoll now at Skaw, we quickly drove there and had some close views of this superb snowball male Hornemann’s. which we watched for some time. Also 1 Kestrel seen.

As the light had now improved and the wind had dropped we decided to have another attempt to photograph the Ring-necked Duck at Easter Loch. Luckily the Tufted flock was now nearer us and the Ring-necked Duck was still present, also 7 Whooper Swans.
Early morning rainbow over Haroldswick.


(DC)




Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll showing well at Skaw.
What a stunner and for me bird of the trip.



(DC)
Female/Juvenile Ring-necked Duck on Loch Easter

7th October, 2017 (Day 22) Early morning light drizzle becoming fine and sunny E 3
Early morning visit to Skaw but already a number of birders present and some of them must have been there in the dark. We only bothered to cover part of the site and saw the Tree Pipit and probably flushed the Red-throated, also 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whinchat, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Redpolls flew out and away. On our way back from Skaw a Merlin flew past the car.  We then visited North Dale, where a Yellow-browed was briefly seen, also a Dunnock and Reed Bunting.
After a break, we then walked 2 fields but other than the odd Brambling not a lot seen. As we drove through Haroldswick a large female Peregrine flew over the bay.  Onto Halligarth where a Spot Fly, 2 Chiffchaffs and another Yellow-browed were all seen and 5 Redpolls flew out and away. Onto Setters Hill Pines where another Yellow-browed showed very well, but little else seen. The School Clump was very quiet.
Back at Millfield we had a 1stW Iceland Gull performing in Norwick Bay. We then decided to go to Uyeasound to try to see the Olive-backed Pipit which had been seen earlier. As we arrived one other observer was already watching it so we managed some satisfactory views although at times it would disappear in the long grass.
Spotted Flycatcher at Halligarth



1stW Iceland Gull in Norwick Bay

(DC)
(DC)
Olive-bellied Pipit at Uyeasound
It was in exactly the same site as the one we saw last year.
8th October, 2017 (Day 23 ) Fine calm morning becoming overcast later  N 1
Early morning visit to Valyie but generally quiet. We also covered the field at Norwick. Male Coue’s Arctic Redpoll  showed briefly sat with a Mealy Redpoll, also seen 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Reed Bunting, and 2 Blackcaps. We then visited Skaw where the Red-throated Pipit showed in the long grass also the Tree Pipit, 2 Chiffchaffs, and 1 Blackcap.
After breakfast, we visited Burrafirth but the burn was very quiet. Onto Houlland where 1 Brambling and a fine Tristis Chiffchaff showed very well in the garden. We next visited Lund where an adult male winter plumage Long-tailed Duck on the loch but otherwise just 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Whinchat seen. Also 4 Harbour Porpoises. On the drive back, a fine male Marlin sat on a wall close to the road.
Finally, a visit to North Dale produced a late Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap.

Doreen enjoying her walk at Burrafirth

Harbour Porpoise off Lund.

Twite at Norwick

Female Blackcap at Valyie

(DC)
Coue's Arctic Redpoll with a Mealy Redpoll at Valyie.



Siberian Chiffchaff at Houlland

Winter plumage drake Long-tailed Duck off Lund

Female type Merlin close to the road.

9th October, 2017 (Day 24 ) Overcast misty with drizzle becoming fine later. SW 1 to 3
Very dull wet morning but at least very calm morning. We first visited Skaw, but just the usual migrants, 1 Tree Pipit  1 Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whinchat, 1 very wet Mealy Redpoll, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff. Onto Valyie area 4 Blackcaps the Coue’s Redpoll had joined the Twite flock otherwise just the odd Chiffchaff.
After breakfast, we visited a number of sites around Baltasound but these were very quiet although a surprise find was a Blue Tit at the School clump (a Shetland tick for me). As we were passing Haroldswick we met Al. who had seen a Bluethroat on the beach and we quickly walked the beach area and soon located it.

During the afternoon with the weather turning fine we walked around Norwick and Valyie and DC had a Yellow-browed at Valyie. During the evening a Bat was flying around Millfield.

(DC)
Mealy Redpoll and Coue's Arctic Redpoll in flight at Maylie




 


Male Bluethroat feeding amongst the sea-weed on Haroldswick beach.

10th October, 2017 (Day 25 ) Early morning rain clearing with heavy showers SW4-6
Another wet early morning, so different to this time last year. Our usual early morning visit to Skaw but just a couple of Redwings, the Blyth’s Lesser Whitethroat and a Blackcap. On the drive back from Skaw we had a Snow Bunting close to the road. Little seen at North Dale other than a Blackcap. Back at Millfield, there was a Siberian Chiffchaff in our garden.
After breakfast we walked the Haroldswick loop but other than the odd Blackcap and Chiffchaff with 2 parties of Bramblings flying over little else was seen. The School Clump was quiet. With heavy rain,  we stopped briefly at Houlland where 2 Ruff were seen before we returned to Millfield for lunch.

After lunch, we visited Valyie in the strong wind. Around 70 Redwings flew out of the bushes, also 30 Bramblings in the fields and 1 Common Rosefinch. also 1 Yellow-browed Warbler showed nicely in the plantation.
Shags resting on top of the cliffs at Skaw

Blyth's Lesser Whitethroat still present at Skaw

(DC)
1stW Common Rosefinch found in the weedy fiew at Valyie.


Snow Bunting found along the road from Skaw.

(DC)
Siberian Chiffchaff taken in the shade at Millfield. 


The same Siberian Chiffchaff taken in sunlight at Millfield.

Redwing at Norwick

11th October,2017 (Day 27) Early rain clearing to a fine day with showers. SW 4-6.
Our last full day, early morning visit to Skaw but fairly quiet with singles of Blyths Lesser Whitethroat and Whinchat, 2 Bramblings. Onto Norwick and Valyie with 12 Mealy Redpolls, 1 Coue’s Arctic Redpoll, 6 Bramblings, 1 Blackcap, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff.
We then went looking for a Blyth’s Reed Warbler at Helligarth but no joy, although a Merlin briefly seen and the odd Chiffchaffs. After lunch we decided to twitch the Thrush Nightingale on Mainland but again no joy.
During the evening a good showing on the Northern Lights, and the Milky Way.
Mealy Redpoll with Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Norwick.



Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Norwick.

Under-tail coverts of Coue's showing just one black stripe.

Mealy Redpoll which was with the Coue's at Norwick for comparison.

   12th October,2017 (Day 28 our last morning) Early rain clearing to a fine day with showers. SW 4-6.
We leave this morning on the evening ferry from Lerwick. With rain during the early morning, we decided not to visit Skaw and we departed Unst on the 9.45 ferry to Yell. Before leaving a Common Snipe put on a fine display in our garden. Whilst waiting for the Yell ferry, Doreen picked out an Otter fishing and we were able to watch this for around 10 minutes during that time it caught several fish.
After arriving at Yell, we drove across Yell to catch the ferry to Mainland, and saw 7 Whooper Swans on the journey. We stopped off a Sandgarth on Mainland in the hope of seeing the Thrush Nightingale which has been present for several days in the grounds of a private nature reserve owned by Beth and Tony. The Thrush Nightingale showed well for a couple of minutes along a muddy footpath in poor light which made photography very difficult. Also seen 1 Mealy Redpoll.
We boarded the Lerwick ferry around 5.00 pm to arrive at Aberdeen at 07.00 am the following morning.
Both Doreen and myself would like to add a huge THANK YOU to both David and Brenda for making us very welcome and comfortable at their home at Millfield and for the effort they both made in order that we should have a very restful and enjoyable holiday.

David and Brenda out side Millfield.


 



Thrush Nightingale at Sandgarth, just about make out
the 1st primary.