Thursday, 29 October 2015

Up To Unst - 28.9.15

Weird Sunset Cloud Over Yell
After the 3 of us got our first tick of the trip we headed up to the most northerly isle of Unst to try for the Pallid Harrier that had been coming into roost for a few nights as Steve needed it for his list. We headed off north towards the ferry terminal but on the way we stopped off at the SW end of Dales Voe as there looked to be a few birds on show. On stepping out the car I heard a Yellow-Browed Warbler calling from the trees in the garden. After a few minutes it was apparent that there were 2 birds! On the water was a summer plumaged Red-Throated Diver, 55+ Black Guillemot, 40+ Red-Breasted Merganser. A quick scan of the waters edge produced Snipe, Wigeon and a few Ringed Plover. Joining the 2 YBW in the garden was a Willow Warbler and a Goldcrest. Once we had set off again a Red Grouse flew over the car and a Mountain Hare shot off to safety.

With news of an Eastern Subalpine Warbler just down the road from the ferry terminal we stopped off in Mossbank but it soon proved to be a wasted journey as there were lots of gardens it could be in and with no other details apart from it being in a garden in Mossbank we quickly chose to carry on our journey! We caught the ferry over which for a car and 3 passengers was very cheap. The drive through the island of Yell was a quick one and on arrival at the next ferry terminal at Gutcher we had a bit of a wait so to pass the time we had a scan for Otters and any birds around. 6 Great Skua, 2 Snipe, 4 Fulmar and 2 Black Guillemot were seen as was my first ever Shetland race Wren. Being slightly bigger and darker with a different song. No Otters were seen though.

We got the ferry over and had arrived on Unst. Our first stop was Baltasound where a quick loo and tea stop livened us up! The first Redwing of the trip was heard as it flew over but not seen in the mist and murk. After a few wrong turns we eventually found Northdale where the harrier roosted. The other guys had already visited as they had got an earlier ferry and in the middle of nowhere were 3 small pine trees and in those they had found a Barred Warbler! We quickly re-found it and it became my 200th species of the year. In the hours we stuck around the area we had another Yellow-Browed Warbler, 2 Song Thrush drop out of the sky and a moment of excitement when some birders who were staying there flushed a Sylvia warbler out of a potato crop. After 5 minutes or so we pinned it down and ID'd it as a Lesser Whitethroat! Great Skuas flew over and looked out of place and a Wheatear was seen briefly. News broke while we were there of a Grey-Cheeked Thrush back on mainland at Ollaberry so we all hoped that'd stick till the morning. As it turned out the Pallid Harrier decided that after days of coming in to roost it wouldn't do so today!

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