It only seems a few days ago that the temperature had risen suddenly and the snow had gone and here we are again with blizzards and during the night we had gales of force 8-9. Off the north and west coast over night, it has had a swell prediction of 25-30ft - which is quite impressive - if you are on shore that is !
Most of this week it's been pretty dire here weather-wise, grey, overcast and often wet. I was really keen to try the new camera body but I didn't really want to 'test' it by having to use it in less than ideal conditions. I know that is probably the time to try it, but I'd rather get to know its settings and controls and automatically operate them, than fumbling around in the wind and rain.
On Monday (13th Dec) I headed north to Skaw and Lamba Ness to have a look around. The light was pretty bad but, 'if you don't look, you don't find'. On the road down to Lamab Ness I came across a lovely little 'brown' Merlin on a gate post, the angle wasn't brilliant but I took a couple of shots anyway......
............a large crop and 2000 ISO
Heading back to Norwick, I found a Little Auk 50 yds or so from the beach but by the time I'd got sorted the bird had paddled out a bit further. As the tide was out, I managed to get out on to the small island there and get ahead of the bird as it moved further out, fishing as it went. It was now 11.30 or there abouts and so the light was as good as it was going to get - pretty poor.
Little Auk at Norwick
The following day looked promising with a little bit of sun showing at sunrise around 9am, that was short lived however as a large bank of cloud moved in from the west. Over at Haroldswick, the number of seals hauling out had risen to 21, but on this occasion due to the viewpoint (from this location you look south) everything was in sillouette.
Over at Skaw, there were only a few Turnstones on the beach. But those that were there, were very confiding, passing only 6ft away from my feet as I sat in the sand.
This morning after slow start (kids off school due to the weather) we headed off up to Norwick. It has to be said it was wild - and very cold. Sula and I had a very short walk on the beach before being driven back to the car by the needle like stinging of the snow on our faces. One of these days I'll get around to using the ND filters etc to control the sky brightness a bit....
Winter 'sunshine' at Norwick
Stopping off at the 'Final Checkout' for a toastie, within minutes, we couldn't see across the car park due to a blizzard. It only last for 10 minutes or so, but on top of the already icy road, I had to drive with extra care when we left. Despite the fact the light was going, we headed off down to Westing as due to the wind strength and direction, I thought the west side would look impressive - and so it did. Out beyond the two small islands in the bay, there were some big breakers coming in, I would certainly have said they were 25 - 30ft at times comparing them to the nearby small islands. Parking at the road end at around 1.15pm, I was very pleased to see an otter feeding in the water below us. I see them there fairly regularly but as I had my girls with me it was even better. They could sit in the car and watch it, while I went the short distance down on to the beach and try for some pictures. I got down to the waters edge (I had waves breaking over my boots as I sat amongst the seaweed) and within minutes I looked like a green and white snowman due to the blizzard. I'm still amazed even after seeing scores of feeding otters in the last couple of years, how they cope with such conditions. The truth of the matter is they don't for long, I believe a 4 or 5 year old otter is considered to be quite old. Also the amount of food they need to consume daily in order to survive is significantly more than their counterparts in the rivers further south. I knew too well that taking any pictures wouldn't result in any quality pictures but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. I was pleasantly surprised how the 7D kept focus on the otter in the rapidly rising and falling of the breakers - I don't think the 40D would have. All of the pictures were shot at 4000 ISO, 1/1250 sec @ F4, using the 500mm and 7D, tripod mounted........................
Finally, where this all took place and the conditions the otter and 'southern softie' had to 'endure'
Westing (no apologies for the quality)