I went back to Westing to check if the Phalarope was still there, fortunately it was. The breakers coming in were throwing it around all over the place, but obviously due to the birds life style the bird took it all in its stride. The light was pretty good so I spent quite a lot of time sitting amongst the kelp (and getting funny looks from the sheep that were feeding on it) watching the bird feeding and taking lots of pictures. Below are a couple of my favourites from the morning that I think helps to create an impression of the conditions in which it feeds..........
Also along with the ever present Starlings were numerous Rock Pipits that seemed to be quite comfortable with me sitting there.
Friday 5th November
The strong winds of the last few days have dropped off quite a lot, which is probably why the phalarope had gone from Westing. However, checking at Haroldswick later, I was surprised to see the other bird back there again. The sea was calm and the tide was out so I didn't stop to take any pictures. Going over to Skaw for the first time in over a week, I was really saddened to see a dead owl hanging from one of the electricity pylons. Taking a few pictures for ID purposes, it turned out to be a Short-eared Owl - which saddened me even more as I don't have one on my Shetland list ! On the way back, I went to check a location that has been a roost for a Long-eared Owl in the past (the last two autumns at least). No L-e-O, but there was a cracking Merlin sitting in the lower branches less than 20ft away from the roadside. I drove past, turned around and got the camera ready. Rolling back down the road, the bird was still there but I couldn't get the angle from the car window. The bird didn't hang around and flew off along a ditch and landed on a fence post. Nonetheless, a favourite bird of mine and it was worth just sitting and watching it for a while.
Saturday 6th November
I returned to Westing again this morning (no Phal) and headed off for a walk along the coast. It was quite a cold morning with occasional sleet/hail showers which really stung my face. When the sun did try and break through the light was really nice - but it didn't last for long until the next shower came through. An hour later on the way back, I spotted an otter fishing just off shore in some pretty wild water. I was sufficiently far enough away not to have been seen so, between dives, I moved down the cliff and also down wind of it. Not long after I got in to position and got a couple of pictures, it caught a crab and came out of the water but out of sight. Several minutes later, it climbed up to the top of the bank to where I'd past about 10 minutes previously. It had'nt even reached the top when it lifted its head and scented the air - I'd been rumbled. Once it had put its head over the top of the bank, it didn't stay long before quickly re-entering the water.
Heading off back to Baltasound I had a brief view on the way back of an immature Peregrine - a scarce bird in these parts. Later I had a look up north and saw two Snow Buntings at Lamba Ness, two Chiffchaffs at Baltasound and a Shore Lark and a Lapland Bunting at Haroldswick.
Snow BuntingLater in the afternoon, I took a walk along the end of the road from our house just as the light was starting to go (4pm). Here I saw two otters together and a third one out in the sound. Even though I was down wind of the two otters, I was rumbled as they saw my outline and departed pretty quickly - I hadn't seen them emerged from the water to my right.