Saturday, 27 November 2010

Winter's here

  Winter has set in here with vengeance over the last few days - not quite as much as on mainland Scotland and England, but none the less with the wind chill it is quite cold.  The snow has settled right down to sea level, so if it lasts for long, a lot of birds will move on south. Taking Sula to school on Thursday, I mentioned to her that I wouldn't be surprised to find a Water Rail or two now the cold has set in. Going over to Skaw later, sure enough, there was a Water Rail feeding in the burn there, they're usually pretty nervous and will head for cover as soon as they're disturbed - as this one did. I went and fetched the camera gear from the car and sat down on the bridge using the rails and posts as a bit of cover. It was only a couple of minutes before the bird came out and started feeding again. Despite the fact the weather was quite good, the burn at Skaw doesn't get any direct sunshine at this time of year so it was a case of high ISO again in order to try and freeze any movement by the bird.

Water Rail at Skaw

  For what ever reason, the seals at Haroldswick have changed the area where they haul out and some are even hauling out on the seaweed on the roadside. This has made it a lot easier to get closer - although would be difficult to get eye level to them.

  With the snow and cold weather, thoughts of wildlife from the far, far north come to mind again; especially after last winter with the Bearded Seal on Yell and then a Snowy Owl turning up here on Unst. Last week we heard of one of these turning up here - a probable male Snowy Owl. Unfortunately we didn't hear about it until the following night and by then it was too late to get out. Yesterday (Friday 26th) I took a walk over the hills with a joint idea in mind - a slim chance of finding the bird and to have a good walk. To be quite honest, I didn't think I would see it as it was like looking for a very small needle in a very large haystack - and a white one at that ! Despite this, it was a really good three hours walking in an area I'd not visited before.

 Somewhere out there ............?
  Today (Sat 27th) has so far been a day of bright periods followed by near 'white-out' blizzard conditions. Ideal weather for atmospheric photographs but as my 'Suby' currently has a worn wheel bearing I've not ventured out too far today (also my youngest wasn't very keen on going out for a walk). The car is going in to the garage next week while I'm down south, so hopefully (if the forecasters are right) there maybe some snow around when I get back - assuming I get away that is !

 Looking SE towards home at 11.45am



Dougie Preston said...

Nice shots of the Water Rail mate. I didn't think it was worth looking for a White Owl in the snow, but well done for giving it a go... "He who dares"

robbieb said...

Well as I said I do like a good hill walk, it's probably the only thing I miss from way down south - the lack of decent big hills up here.


MarkW said...

What lens did you use for the water rail?
The light on the second seal picture is gorgeous, even a twinkle in the eye!

robbieb said...

Hi Mark, thanks. I used my EF500+1.4 for all of the shots. It was a pity about the light levels and having to use such a high ISO. Basically it's my 'standard' lens unless I'm doing landscapes or stuff like Puffins on the cliffs etc when I use the 70-200. So much so, I'm going to sell the 300 to fund getting a 7D body.