The weather had improved slightly but the gale was still howling. Still, the lack of rain was a bonus so we headed towards Hermaness National Nature Reserve. The reserve is the Northern most part of Britain meaning we were heading north once more. En route we stopped in some more sheltered areas to look in case there were migrants or rarities about. No rarities today but we did see a nice mix of birds and had some fantastic views!
More and more Redwing are appearing on Unst now with a couple of Fieldfares mixed in with them. There’s also quite a few Robins and Song Thrushes about too. We carefully checked all the pipits and wheatears in the hope of picking out a rarer species, but no such luck today. Another new bird for the week was a Tree Pipit though which was a bonus.
We checked a loch which revealed a group of Tufted Ducks, a Scaup, Mallards, Teal and a Grey Heron. Jack Snipe flew up from the field as we walked through, checking for migrants and edging slowly towards the loch. The beach on the other side of the road, close to our lodge, had a single Arctic Tern – my 200th species in Britain which was pleasing! There were also large numbers of Shags in the water and Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests on the cliffs.
Next stop was Hermaness itself. It’s a huge moorland reserve, full of breeding seabirds in the summer. It’s home to the 2nd largest colony of Great Skuas in the world (c800 breeding pairs)! As it’s now October most of the birds have dispersed but it was still great to visit. The cliffs still had some young Gannets on it which was fantastic – they’ve got a very long breeding season – and we had amazing views of Great Skua, including some that flew right over our heads and were close enough to touch!
We also had some more views of Snow Buntings which was good. As we headed back after checking the cliffs, a Short-eared Owl flew right in front of us, giving us great views. It was nice to see one during daylight hours!
This Rabbit was also perched rather close to the edge of the cliffs. I noticed there were quite a few Rabbits at Hermaness.