Monday, 10 May 2010

When WILL winter end ?

Way back in February when we had cold, snowy weather, it was rather nice. Seeing the landscape in a different light and texture was a delight. However, we are now into the 2nd week of May and are still having snow showers ! I have lost track now how long we have had northerly or north westerly winds for - far too long - although the winds did go easterly briefly towards the end of last week. By Friday, my health issues were starting subside a little (hopefully) and I was able to enjoy a few hours in the spring like sunshine and also see one or two migrants. 

The Sea Eagle from the previous day, was seen again on Saturday although I was 'down south' in Lerwick with the children and didn't see it again. While there, I had a call again from Brydon to say that there were two Common Cranes at Belmont on Unst, typical ! We returned mid afternoon and as we boarded the ferry, one of the ferrymen came over to tell me that the 'storks' were still there - maybe I'm still in luck ? As we approached the terminal at Belmont, he said ' they're still there look', looking in the direction he was looking, all I could find was a couple of bits of plastic 'resting' up against the wall ! Maybe they'll turn up again.

Sunday morning saw me working at Burrafirth shore station again and as I arrived I was greeted by the site of another cracking male Snow Bunting, this bird however was a little less obliging and didn't hang around.

After lunch, I stopped off at Haroldswick  by some bushes that seemed to be heaving with small warblers - it's funny that half a dozen small warblers moving around can seem like dozens. As it turned out, there were only 4 or 5 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and two Reed Buntings (one a male). It seemed as though they had come in over night on the front of fine weather despite the northerly air flow.

Willow Warbler

A short while later I was in the 'Final Checkout' and asked a crofter from the south of the island I knew if the cranes were still about and he said they had been around all day and gave me directions to where they had been feeding. I drew a blank and decided to check the spot where they'd been the day before, while on the way, I met the same chap coming the other way and as he stopped he had a big smile on his face and asked if I'd found them. Replying 'no', he laughed and said I should have looked over the wall. Driving back, with in moments of leaving the car, two large, long necked and long legged birds came around in a semi circle, legs down and gliding in to land but unfortunately it was out of sight. A short walk and using a dyke as cover and I could see the two birds (albeit a few hundred yards way) starting to feed in a grass field. I don't know why, but the last three good species I've seen in the last two weeks have all been in to the light when they've been closest. Actually, I do know why, it is time. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to spend to get around the subjects to get a better position - something that can and often does take an hour or more and then, something like a Bonxie flies over and spooks the subject and it flies off, oh such fun.

Common Cranes

I was back at Burrafirth again today for a few hours. I really thought I'd gone through a time machine of sorts - back to February ! Snow showers came through around every 15 minutes or so, sometimes obliterating the view across to Saxa Vord (not a bad thing if you could see what was on top - radar domes) Fortunately for us it doesn't settle for long before it melts or we would have 6 inches of snow by now.

This afternoon brightened up a bit - still rather cool though and I found the warblers again at Haroldswick darting out of cover to pick up a small insect and then retreating back to the shelter of the bushes afterwards. Up near the school, a light shape caught my eye moving in some conifers which turned out to be a lovely female Pied Flycatcher. I watched it for 15 minutes as it fed in the sunshine on the sheltered side of the bushes before I had to resume my 'school run duties'
Female Pied Fly'


1 comment:

Suze said...

Fantastic Robbie, glad you are feeling better, we will try and bring some warmer weather from the south with us when we come up. Hope we can get some images of more northern species.