Wednesday 13 October 2010

A sack full of Vagrants!

SHETLAND : UNST 2nd - 9th October 2010
The island of Unst, is the most northerly isle in Britain and an amazing place both for birds and scenery. I have always been a staunch fan of the Scillies in autumn since my first visit in 1989 and I have usually made at least one visit in Spring or Autumn every year since. However, with the seemingly recent northerly shift in our more exciting weather systems, I decided to head north with two mates and throw the rarity dice!

We arrived at Lerwick after 12hrs of pain on the ship from Aberdeen in a force 8 South-Easterly, to the news that Britain's 2nd Rufous-tailed Robin had been found on North Ronladsay, but unfortunately dead. It was surely going to be a good week?

Well, the list was impressive and included many minor scarcities and major rarities as well as a few finds for our team too including 4+ YBWs, 2 Little Buntings, a Pallas's Warbler and a Dusky Warbler.

Scilly has received a bashing for its lack of rare birds in recent years, but it is a place that will always produce rarities despite what others might say and it is a place I shall certainly return to - but shall I return to Unst? See the week's tally below and I'll let you decide.........

Lapland Bunting - 10 - 50 daily
Snow Bunting - 100+
Greenland White-fronted Goose - 2
Barnacle Goose
Long-tailed Duck
Whooper Swan
Little Gull
Bluethroat - 1
Common Rosefinch - 1
Yellow-browed Warbler - 9+
Little Bunting - 3
Black Tern -
a rare bird in Shetland and despite checking for American Black Tern, we had to settle for the commoner!
Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll - 1

Buff-bellied Pipit - 1
Buff-breasted Sandpiper - 1
Sykes's Warbler -
down to 3 metres!
Blyth's Reed Warbler - 1 finally seen well
Warbler -1

Pallas's Warbler -1
Lanceolated Warbler -1 watched with just 4 other people!
Otter - 1

Some highlights below - Thanks to Mr Stanbury for letting me use his cracking photos of Lancy,Pallas's warblers and Lapland Bunting.

Lamba Ness looking towards Norwick

Literally scores of Lapland Buntings

The most comfortable Bus Shelter!

The Team

The Stanbury's Pallas's Warbler

SKAW: Lancy habitat!
The Fetlar Sykes's Warbler showing to 3 metres!

A fantastically obliging "Lancy"

Or in your face!


  1. Great photos, sorry mate but another cracker of Russ!! I must use this one !!

  2. No problem Steve - I thought it would be too hard for you to resist!