Sunday, 12 September 2010

A wind of change

Well some say 'what a difference a day can make' and that has certainly been true this weekend here on Unst. Yesterday, I headed out at 6.30am full of anticipation that some birds will have dropped in overnight after wind and rain of the previous  24 hours. As always, I started at Skaw and found several Willow Warblers, Garden Warbler, Dunnock, Redstart, Whinchat and a juvenile Common Rosefinch. 'Onwards and upwards' as the saying goes,  I headed for Lamba Ness. Just as you turn on to the Lamba Ness road, there is a large patch of thistles that I have checked so many times for a migrant and so many times there has been nothing in them, I wondered if today would be any different ? Surprise, surprise there was, two Willow Warblers and a female Blackcap. In this large expanse of peat bog and grassland, this patch of thistles must seem like an oasis to a tired and hungry warbler. Also near by were two Whinchats.

Lamba Ness 7am

Down at Lamba Ness, the Green Sandpiper was showing again on the small loch and despite the distance between us, it is always very flighty - often caused by the even more flighty Redshanks !

Green Sandpiper

On the return from Lamba Ness I met Rory who suggested we check out Valyie. There seemed to be birds every where, Spot Fly', Pied Fly, Blackcap, Willow, Garden and Reed Warblers ( the last one causing an id headache as they only gave very brief views as they moved around in the undergrowth) Moving on to Northdale, it got even worse. In the tattie crop, there must have been at least 6 Willows and two Garden Warblers giving split second views as they moved around in the foliage. Up around the croft there was both Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and presumably the same Dunnock as yesterday was there.

Time was marching on and I had to head home. Sula my eldest had a birthday sleepover of one of her friends at our house last night and so it was now time to start the big clean up ! They were all due to go roller blading in the afternoon so maybe I could get out to 'play' again later ?

Well, yes I did ! In the mid afternoon, I headed back over to Northdale as the birds had been showing quite well in the morning and I now had my photography 'hat' on so to speak. Well most of the warblers seemed have moved on, but the Spot Fly' was still around and was being quite obliging at times.

Spotted Flycatcher

I only had an hour left so it was back to Valyie. Quite often, things tend to quieten down in the afternoon and this was the case here. The Pied Flycatcher was still feeding under the canopy of the small wood and the occasional Willow Warbler called and that was about it. The only photograph I took was of the Collard Dove below - not a scarce bird, but none the less quite attractive.
Collard Dove at Valyie

Back home again, this time it was the turn of our youngest to have a friend for a sleepover - are we glad birthdays only happen once a year ? Now, we have a fairly small bungalow (not as small as our previous one, which was 8 x 10 meters! ) and to have two single mattresses in the living room doesn't leave much space, this meant we were told to leave at 9pm by two 8 year olds - whose in charge of who !

Sunday 12th Sept
This morning, I was up and out again by just after six, but the weather had changed again. The wind had lessened and gone more westerly, it just felt - different. Over at Skaw, all I found was two Garden Warblers and a Willow Warbler, things had moved on. At Lamba Ness, even the Green Sandpiper wasn't showing. 

As it was Sula's 10th birthday today, I thought it best to get back home for just after 9am. Just as I was about to take one of my daughters friends back home around 10am, I got a call from Wendy to say there was a Canada Goose with Greylags over at Haroldswick. A Canada Goose here could be one of the rarer ones, so as it was in the general direction I was going I'd have to take a look, wouldn't I ? Unfortunately the bird was about a mile away and it was spitting with rain, so no chance really of even a record shot to see if it was anything other than one of the common races. 

Back home again and later another phone call. This time it was of a possible American Golden Plover. I saw two (probably the same bird) here in Baltasound two years ago, but this one was still showing signs of breeding plumage - it must be worth a look. Later while I was out looking for both the goose and the plover, I got yet another call, this time from Rory. He had found a Black-throated Diver down at Lund on the south west corner of the island and I was up in the north east - oh well suppose it's only about 12 miles. Lund is a lovely secluded spot, the real pain  if you on your own is there are 4 gates to open and close - a lot easier if there is a small child in the back seat to do the opening and closing. After a search, I did see the bird, but it was a long way away. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to id it at that distance. Lets hope its there again tomorrow.

What bird ?
That little white dot is a Bt Diver, and this was taken with the 500+1.4ex !


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