Thursday, 14 July 2011

   Before I went to Orkney, I'd heard a number of people say (and read it in books) that Shetland was known for its wildlife and Orkney was known for its archeology. Well I think think that both places has plenty of both. I've never really been in to archeology, most likely because I could never 'get my head around it' so to speak - or to be more precise, understand it. I suppose it is a bit like wildlife in that it takes time and lorry loads of patience to learn and understand how it all works and pieces together - maybe I don't have quite enough patience for archeology ? Saying that though, I do appreciate it and also the work that goes in to it by both amateurs and professionals alike. 

  As I mentioned previously, we stayed at Skail House and only a few hundreds yards away was the site of Skara Brae. Being rather lazy,  there's a link to it here which will give far more detail than I can put up here. However, here a a couple of pics below from around the grounds..........

 Skara Brae (with Skail House in the background)

Skail House

  Unlike, Shetland - (well at least Unst, as Mainland has Mountain Hares) Orkney has a large number of Brown Hares so it was a common site to see them out in the freshly cut silage fields. Despite them being common, it didn't make it any easier to get close to so when I slowly rolled up in the car, often as not they would hurry away. The one below was one of the very few more obliging ones..................

Brown Hare

  At one of the regular places I'd stop to look for SEO's, I would see a number of Swallows, flying around or perched on a fence. The behaviour was if they were nesting but the only structure was man-made and was a sort of small bunker covered in grass on the roadside. It turned out that they (there were two nests) had built under a small overhang above a doorway that obviously suited their needs.........................

  One sad piece of information I got from Orkney, was that there also, seabirds are doing very badly again this year - especially Arctic Terns -and it is the same here on Shetland. Earlier this week I was down at Sumburgh Head with Rona for a few hours and was talking to a guy who is doing a long term study of the auks there. He said that Puffins, Guillimots, Kittiwakes and nearby terns had had a terrible breeding season with scores either failing (loosing eggs or chicks) or not breeding at all due to the low numbers of Sand Eels - how long can this go on ?

  With being way on Orkney last week and in Lerwick most of this week (and next) I've not spent much time around the house and surroundings. Sula is taking part in the opening ceremony of the Tall Ships visit to Lerwick next week and so we have to be down there every day for rehearsals. This has meant leaving here at 6.15am and not getting back until just before 7pm and with Rona as well it's a long day. Even though I'm not here, the 'trailcam' still is and I've been getting some more footage of a variety of subjects. I've now had the camera triggered by - Otter, Hedgehog, Rat, Rabbit, Cat, Hooded Crow, Starling, Wheatear and a Peacock Butterfly - and off course, hundreds of shots of the wind blowing the grass! The butterfly just shows how sensitive the camera can be - although the sensitivity can be adjusted to suit what ever you need.............


  Once it rains again, the pool will fill up and the number of rabbit 'triggers' will decrease as at the moment they use it to feed on the grass shoots coming up through the mud.

  One problem I have found with the camera, is that if it is placed too close to a background, then the resulting image is 'blown'  and so I'm now wondering if I can reduce the output of the infra red light by using a Ngrad filter or similar taped on the outside of the camera................

The 'action' happens around 16 seconds

  And one final piece from last week while we were away.....................


  As you'll have seen that most of the otter vids are of it sprainting, for the time being this is the easiest way of getting any vids. Later on in the year once the grass dies back, I'll be able to move the camera to another location and hopefully get something different.


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