Sunday, 27 October 2013

Off to Unst (and Sand) 14th & 15th of October

So today Tommy and I went off to Unst in search of two birds, A Black-bellied Dipper and a Paddyfield Warbler.

Monday the 14th of October

After we got off the ferry we went to Halligarth in Baltasound where we found a Robin, several Blackbirds, A Grey Heron and a Blackcap or two.
So we then headed to Skaw in search of the Paddyfield Warbler.
On route we visited Haroldswick and we found several Snow Buntings, a Snipe and a Skylark and then we started heading north again to Skaw.

Snaa Fuls as we call them in Shetland

"Coming in for touchdown"

When we arrived in Skaw we found a Wheatear, we both thought it was a bit late for Wheatears but maybe it was a straggler so I took a few photos just in case.
Also in Skaw we found about 40 Redwings and at least 40 Snow Buntings (or Snaa Fuls) but there was no Paddyfield Warbler so we started to eat our packed lunch.

We found this couple on the way back from Skaw

So after enjoying our food we headed south to the Loch of Cliff.
There we found a mixed flock of 30 Redpolls, Twite and Snow Buntings, we then headed south to Baltasound.

 A Raven or Corbie

We couldn't find many birds so we went back to Halligarth where we met Brydon Thomason (one of the Unst birders) we spoke to him for a while and I then showed him a picture of "our" Wheatear and he said that it was one of the Greenland race birds, Tommy and I were quite happy because we hadn't expected it to be one of the Greenland race.
So several minutes later Brydon heard a Great-spotted Woodpecker in the trees and then he and Tommy spotted it but I couldn't see it from where I was and then it disappeared but it was nice to hear it call.
So we then said goodbye to Brydon and we went looking for the poor Common Crane which had been staying round Baltasound with a broken wing.
We found no sign of the Crane, it had either moved to another location or died.
We then got out of Baltasound and I spotted a Merlin on a fence post, Tommy halted on the brakes and I got out camera ready and I was chasing after the bird which had flown to a farther away fence post, I got a few pictures before it flew right onto a rock opposite Tommy! I got a few pics of it on the rock and then the Merlin (a female bird) flew in between to fences and where the fences met the bird just vanished, we checked the area but there was no sign of the bird at all.

 Not completely in focus but I was lucky to get this photo

 And this one of it in flight!

Just love this one

So we headed to Westing in search of some more birds.
At the Westing beach we found a flock of at least 130 Snow Buntings, 3 Long-tailed Ducks and several Seals.
We then moved on to Uyeasound where we found 5 Whooper Swans, 27 Mallards, 38 Tufted Ducks and a Goldeneye.
And to finally end the day we got on the ferry at Belmont and went home.

Tuesday the 15th of October

This morning I went down to Lerwick with some of my family to get our photos taken and afterwards I went birding with Mairi's dad, Stewart who had come out of Fair Isle.
We had gone for something to eat on the "street" in Lerwick and on the way back from our meal I spotted a "ringed" Starling on the path in front of us, sadly the Starling flew off and its origin with it.
We then headed over to the Clickimin Loch to find the male Pochard which I spotted on the weekend.
Within five minutes we spotted the Pochard among the usual flock of Tufted Ducks and then we went off to Sand to see the Wilson's Phalarope.
At Sand we spoke to two birders who were leaving and we asked them if the bird was still there, they said it had just disappeared into the reeds on the marsh, so we thanked them and we went to find it ourselves. 
We waited half an hour and there was no sign of the bird but we did see a beautiful male Long-tailed Duck (Calloo) and a Red-breasted Merganser (Herald Deuk) and so we left Sand.
So Stewart and I headed south to Channerwick to see Mairi's brother, Ewen.
At Channerwick we saw 8 Redpolls, Redwings and a possible Minke Whale.
So we spoke to Ewen and then we headed back north to Lerwick.

This is my last blog post before my trip to Fair Isle on the 16th

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