Thursday, 1 September 2016

Late Spring and Summer 2016

Update Pt 2 - May/June/July

  May started off with up to 5 Common Seals hauling out on our little jetty for a while but unfortunately they only stayed for just over a week. On one occasion, a bull came and showed a lot of interest in the females, but when they rebuffed him, he went off out in to the sound showing off by leaping out of the water. Unfortunately the action caught me out as I'd been using a low ISO = slower shutter speed, so the action was blurred :( .........

  The following evening (May 2nd) was quite a pleasant one so I decided to spend it on Hermaness in the hope I might get some evening/night shots. Unfortunately as often happens, even though it was a clear evening in Baltasound, looking west from the cliffs at Hermaness, I could see a large dark bank of cloud coming in from the west :(

 Muckle Flugga lighthouse

  Over the next couple of days, it felt like spring could well be on the way as I had the first of a few summer migrants appear.....

 Pale phase Arctic Skua at Inner Skaw

Whimbrel on Lamba Ness  
Male Siskin at Vaylie

  A couple of days later, I had a cracking walk with Catriona and some friends from Skaw, via The Sands of Skaw to Lamba Ness and then on towards Norwick. I decided to just take my SLR with wide angle to keep the bag weight down as it was more about having a walk than taking taking pictures. It was a decision that I would later regret. 

 Looking south east towards Lamba Ness - with the Sands of Skaw in the middle distance.

 Looking back towards the Holm of Skaw

  This last picture is a very depressing one. Since the council made cut backs and took away the community skips, the Unst local council took the initiative and provided a monthly one for an annual fee. This particular rubbish was dumped near the time of the annual Voar Redd Up - a Shetland wide litter clean up initiative. Also, it was quite possible that the folk who dumped this maybe had children taking part cleaning up one of the beaches on north Unst....

  Anyway, back to the walk. As we approached Lamba Ness, I was thinking about Shore Larks again and that it was possibly too late in the Spring for one to turn up there. Suddenly as I looked up, there was one flitting away from me ! I was now regretting leaving the 500mm behind. Anyway, we carried on westwards back towards Norwick, but on reaching Saxa's Kettle, I turned north and headed back to my car at Skaw. Before long, I was back at Lamba Ness again and fired off a few 'record shots' before trying to get some closer ones......

The Shore Lark at Lamba Ness a few days later

  A few days later, with the fine weather continuing, I had a few early mornings and also late evenings out taking photographs.......

 Sunrise at Skaw

 Sunset at Hermaness


Hermaness 9pm 11th May 2016

  Early on May 13th, I got a call from Brydon to say that Mike (Pennington) had found a possible 2nd for Britain the evening before up at SHE (Setters Hill Estate) and that they were going to try and relocate it to get more images etc etc. So around 7.30am, I arrived at SHE to find Mike and Brydon already there and despite spending many hours searching the bird wasn't seen (Mike went to work at 9). Brydon and Dave (Cooper) spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon searching and finally the bird was relocated in the late afternoon at Haligarth. A full account of the bird can be found here on Birdguides. It was a great find by Mike and I can honestly say, if I'd seen the bird first, I'd have past it off as a Greenish........

 Green Warbler in Haligarth on 13th May 2016

.....and two images from SHE on the 14th after it had been caught and ringed..

  Green Warbler aside, it was still a pretty 'slow' Spring as far as migration went as the wind was blowing from the NW through to NE for most of the time with only the occasional, brief change of direction. We did get a few nice birds through though .......

 Summer plumaged Great Northern Diver

 Spotted Flycatcher

 This lovely male Bluethroat spent a few days at Haroldswick - even singing at times.

.... as did this male Sedge Warbler

  A week later, I had a late evening up (or down ? ) at the end of Saxa Vord at the north of Unst. Its an easy place to go to if time is short for a summer sunset behind Muckle Flugga as it doesn't involve a long trek. Its also good for pictures of Bonxies in the late evening light......

 The 'Ocean Nova' going past Flugga'

  Overall, weather wise, June was pretty good. We had several weeks without rain and many long sunny days and evenings. A the beginning of the month, I had an evening on Hermaness with Brydon and Josh which was a pleasant change from going up there on my own.....

  During the first part of June, there was a bit or ornithological 'excitement' in that firstly several female Ruff turned up at Haroldswick Pool, shortly followed by at least three males (unusual for Unst in the Spring). The birds stayed around for quite a while and the males displaying on numerous occasions, unfortunately, we will never know if they bred as apparently they can nest a long way from where they display........

  Here are several local scenes from the first two weeks of June......


 Looking west from Haroldswick

North from Lamba Ness


  Around the middle of June, I was on Hermaness guiding a photographer for Shetland Nature when I saw something I've not seen before, a Gannet chick in the process of hatching. It had obviously started some while before as the chick was quite dry.......

  Generally, June and July were pretty good months weather-wise with lots of fine weather and not much rain to speak of (unlike down south). So, I'll finish with a few pictures from during that period of nice weather........

 Easting beach

 A ewe taking some shade from the heat on Lamba Ness

 Moonrise over the Houb, Baltasound

 After sundown over Out Stack. Muckle Flugga


9.50pm 29th July from our house

 Burn of Skaw

 Sanderling at Easting beach

 Arctic Tern hunting for insects at sundown by the house


 Common Snipe in a rain shower (one of the few we had in early July)

Feeding Otter, north Unst

Bull Grey Seal, Lamba Ness