Friday, 17 September 2010

The morning after the night before.

  Well as you may have seen from yesterdays post, it was a bit wild here over the last 24 hrs. I was due to take the kids over to Yell after school yesterday, but decided against it due the prediction that the wind could go to severe gale force (I didn't want to get stuck on Yell) It turned out to be a good decision as an articulated lorry was blown over on the way to the ferry at Belmont and the road was closed for 3 hours from 5 - 8pm (no alternative route either)

  With this in mind regarding the overnight weather, after dropping off my daughters at school this morning, I made a slight deviation along the road to Westing. There was still quite a blow, but now at least, the rain showers were much further apart. On the way around the side of the bay, I came across an otter feeding in the water below me and seemed to be very successful at fishing as almost one in three dives it came up with a fish or small crab. I don't know why, but again today I didn't think I'd need the long lens and now regretted not carrying it with me. I would say that 95% of the time it's on the camera, so the last few days must have been the 5 % when it's not ! I had taken the 70-200 +1.4ex which did give me a little bit of 'reach' - but not really enough when the otter was out in the water. On one occasion it did come to shore with a crab, which enabled me to get a few shots 'for the record'. In this case, 'for the record' is to try and get shots showing under the chin as many otters have white spots which often help with identification of individual animals.

'A good scratch' 

  Unfortunately at this spot, the cliff edge is around 15ft and vertical, so I couldn't get down and get any closer. Heading on along to the end of the bay, there were at least 8 young gannets (guga) on the rocks either resting or trying to dry out their feathers in the wind.

'Air drier'

  As  I turned to return back, I saw a local guy I knew and went over for a chat.  He had been born at Westing and often went there for a walk and today he was looking for any storm blown timber etc. He asked me if I'd seen the live young seal on the beach, when I said I hadn't, he showed me where it was. Judging by the size and colour of it (off white and about 3ft long) I presumed it was a pup born this summer. It looked like it had either been in a fight or hit its head hard as there was a small cut on the back of its head. It was well up the beach and close up to a rock which would give it a lot of protection from the elements. I was advised by several people, that, due to the stress caused by moving them, it's often best to let nature its course - which is often easier to say than do...............

  Almost half way back to the car I saw an otter again, but this time it was a different one and then there was a second one. I think they were the immature ones I saw here a while ago, and now I was able to get down to the waters edge. I did take a few pictures (despite at times being too far way) and then thought of a post this morning by Dave Courtenay on his and Martin Dyer's blog here. You can read it for yourself but basically Dave says that sometimes it's best to just put the camera down and watch the subject and enjoy the moment and I totally agree, and this I did for half an hour.  Dave and Martin's blog is well worth following if you enjoy wildlife and use either Canon or Nikon gear. Their comments on gear is solely based on their own use - good or bad - and not on manufactures hype and is well worth a read.

  Dougie (from Yell) had asked me to let him know if the B t Diver was still around, so before I left the west side, I'd take a look at Lund. Unfortunately no diver, but I was saddened by the sight that greeted me on the beach there. Back up from the tide line were 23 juvenile gannets and a further 5 or 6 corpses and in close attendance were 8 or 9 Ravens. Out in the bay, there were at least a further 20 or more on the water. Hopefully, with the wind due to drop overnight, many of them will survive, I certainly hope so. 


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