The end of the last week was fairly quiet with virtually no birds around. Both Ian (my father in law) and myself had gone down with a nasty stomach bug which curtailed our wanderings around the island somewhat. At the end of last week I did a day and a half's work and Ian left to travel back south. Even though he didn't get to visit either Hermaness, Fetlar or The Keen of Hamar, he was lucky to get seven otters at fairly close range (3+3+1) - which were more than I had seen recently !
On Sunday, I drove down to Sumburgh Airport to pick up my sister who was visiting for a week. The weather down there was rather changeable - sunshine and showers - but it didn't ruin my enjoyment of being there or stop photography. There were a few puffins coming in with fish for their young and there were also quite a few just sitting around in the rain showers.
The next few days were spent taking Carol around Unst and showing her some of my favourite places. The first evening we were lucky to see 3 otters from the house fishing in the bay - although they were distant.
The following day we walked to Hermaness to see the thousands of sea birds that nest there. The first part of the morning was slightly overcast (better light for photographing black and white seabirds) but after 'lunch' the cloud cleared it was actually quite warm. On the way back, we were again lucky to see otters but this time at close range as they fed along the shoreline. Returning home after the school run, I had a walk to one of my favourite spots, a place that I'd not been to for several months. The wind (and light) was wrong, but it is always a nice walk anyway. On the way back, I came across a very obliging Arctic Skua on one of the beaches which allowed me a fairly close approach and remained for quite a while until the light had dipped below a hillock and cast a shadow on the beach.
Wednesday morning was taken up with Rona's sports day at school, so we didn't get a walk until after lunch. Sometimes, spur of the moment decisions pay off; this time I thought we'd take a look at Westing before I did the afternoon school run. We stopped at the end of the road and as we chatted and put our boots on, I saw two otters fishing 100yds away along the shoreline. Fortunately for us, they were heading our way and so, grabbing the camera I made my way down the beach each time they dived . Much of the time, the 500 was too powerful unless it was a head shot as one of them ate its catch.
After what seemed like ages but was probably only 7 or 8 minutes, the otters swam back past me (around 20ft away) and then went up onto the beach, past my sister and on into a dense patch of freshwater vegetation. I'm sure that these were two of the three otters that we saw here last week.
For whatever reason I do not know, but when ever I go off of the island, something turns up. Recently it was the Little Ringed Plover at Skaw, this was then followed shortly after by the Black Stork at Burrafirth. As we drove over the top of Coldback Hill down into Baltasound this afternoon, I told my sister this, then shortly after I got a call from Brydon to say a Dotterel had been seen in Baltasound ! Unfortunately by the time that several of us had got to see it, the bird had moved from a roadside beach over to the Houb which is not so close. Hey ho, - a large crop of a lovely bird -
The day after yesterday(ish)
4 months ago