Friday, 8 December 2017

Not a white-winged around 25/10/17

So after having been on Fair Isle for the last 6 days (19th-24th), (it was meant to be 5 days but weather kept me in, I didn't complain I got a Treecreeper!) It was time for another adventure.

After having missed the White-winged Scoter on Yell/Unst last week, I wanted to head up and give it another shot (even though it hadn't been reported for 3 days), so on Wednesday 25th October I headed up to hunt for it with James Bloor, who had also been on Fair Isle during my stay.

Meeting at Ulsta at 0930 we headed up to north Yell to look at the duck's original site, a quick look at Basta Voe on the way for the Eider flock produced no Eider or ducks of any sort and at Sand Water there was only a few Tufteds.
We decided to give Cullivoe a try but there was no Scoter-type duck on any of the lochs up that way so it was off to Unst.  The sea around Belmont produced no Scoter, but there was a few Dunter, the Loch of Belmont too produced no Scoter, but some Long-tailed Duck were present. Hope was getting pretty lost by this point and Uyeasound/Easting was our last remaining hope for the bird.
The seas at Uyeasound were too choppy to get a good look at anything in the water but Easter Loch was teeming with duck and swan so we spent a good few minutes scanning through them.
It was time for Easting after that, once home of the Surf Scoter than has been hanging around Unst for at least 4 years now, arriving on site it looked good, the bay was sheltered and there seemed to be a lot of birds in the water.
With the scope I began scanning the sea, Scarf (Shag) was quickly picked up as they were in good supply, and Tystie, Dunter (Eider) and Calloo (Long-tailed Duck) being found as well, with some RB Merg being highlights.
By now we'd completely given up on the Scoter, for all we knew it was in the Bluemull Triangle or gone off south to join the large Scoter flocks of Aberdeenshire so instead we went north to Skaw for Sibe Chiffy.
Arriving at Skaw it seemed pretty quiet, we managed to produce two Robin and for a while that seemed like it until a small bird flew out of a patch of thistles just on the edge of the compound, I managed to get my eyes on the bird and it turned out to be a Goldcrest.
We followed the bird and soon we found another, and another, and another, by the end of it we'd found around 10 birds, a brief Chiffy (possibly the Siberian) and a Lesser Whitethroat all in a peerie fenced in piece of park. Though after a few minutes the birds were all gone and we couldn't locate them anywhere around the croft house.

Time was getting on so we headed back south again and stopped off in Baltasound for a bite to eat before we headed off to the ferry and ended our trip in Unst.

Sadly we never managed to get the Scoter, hopefully its somewhere in Shetland just waiting to be found this winter, still it was a great day out and a worthwhile trip to Unst.

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