Friday, 7 May 2010

What a week !

What a week indeed for more reasons than one. After the fantastic first sighting of the Snowy Owl up here on Unst for me, spirits were high that it might remain for a while. The following day, I went back there with my youngest daughter (7yrs) to have a good look around. Rona had asked a while ago to walk the ridge along, so I didn't need any further encouragement. It was a lovely day but bitterly cold and once up on the hill there was little in the way of cover (apart from the stone walls) to shelter from the wind. I reckon we walked for a least 4 if not 5 miles in total and although we didn't find the owl, we did see a cracking summer plumage Snow Bunting. The area is quite large and it is quite possible that the bird was hunkered down somewhere out of the wind and didn't see us either. 

Unfortunately, the sun was from behind the bird and getting into a better position was not really an option. 

The following day, a friend on mine also spent a lot of time there and also couldn't locate it. The bird is still probably around, but if you look at the map of Unst, there is quite a lot of open, hilly country for it to conceal itself. While my friend was looking for the owl, I was lucky to come across 3 Ring Ouzels which included a fine looking male. I only managed to get some long distance, large cropped pictures which are purely 'for the record'. It was about this time that I realized that all was not well with my lung problem as I was now getting severe chest pains when I inhaled - another trip to the doctors. It turned out that I now had a mild dose of pleurisy.

Things changed again today, the drugs were working and had alleviated the chest pain a little. As I was getting the kids ready to go school, I had a phone call from Brydon again. This time he was out with a client in the north of the island and had found a Hoopoe at Burrafirth. Surely this must be the most northerly record for the species in the UK? , I'd got to go there anyway this morning so it would be worth a look. Unfortunately, the bird didn't hang about, hey ho, next time. What I did see was a cracking male Pied Flycatcher feeding around the walled garden there. Finally at last, the spring migration of passerines seemed to be getting underway.

Pied Flycatcher male

As I travelled back, I saw another Pied Fly', a Blackcap several Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler. A bird that I certainly never thought I would see (I suppose the Snowy was the same), greeted me as I turned in to our driveway as I arrived back home. I looked ahead of me and saw a large number of large gulls, mobbing an even larger bird that was gliding straight over our bungalow - a Sea Eagle ! I knew that there had been one further south on Mainland which had come from the release program on the east coast of Scotland, but never in my wildest dreams, thought it would come this far north, let alone over the house! This bird had a green wing tag on with a No.8 on, which put it as a one year old male. I've seen Sea Eagles before but the size of them never fails to impress me. This bird, started to soar up on a thermal - yes thermal, here in Shetland ! It was a rather warm day with the temperature in the low double figures and it didn't take long for it to soar up to who knows what height - it became just a speck, it then changed course and started a long glide north. I phoned Brydon again who I knew was still on Hermaness and fortunately he saw it again several times. Strictly speaking, as the bird is from a release program, I shouldn't really put it on my garden list - this time I think I will make an exception.

I make no excuse for the quality of the pictures, the first two were almost into the sun and were also taken in a 'bit of a hurry'.

The funny thing is, that while I was at Burrafirth this morning, I was sitting having a cup of tea in the sun with a friend. As we talked, I looked across at the rugged cliffs below Saxavord and said to Tony, 'there should be Sea Eagles over there', well today there was - briefly.


1 comment:

WPATW said...

Hey Rob - sounds like a great week for you. Snowy also on Uists this week too. Martin