Sunday, 28 August 2011

Wet, Wet, Wet..........

........ although not as wet as 'across the pond'.

Two posts today as I'm just trying to get up to date with stuff - so there may not be another for a few days.

Saturday 27th August

  Just as it was forecast, it has been a very wet and windy weekend here on Unst. It was a great shame as it was the annual Unst show here in Baltasound and a lot of time and effort had gone in to the event. My two had been planning for months what they wanted to enter in to the various competitions and as always, they left it until the last few days to actually do anything about it !

  The morning started off reasonable - drizzle and a force 4 or 5, however, by midday it was pretty horrible and I felt for the folk who were exhibiting livestock outside. I had 'volunteered' to do a stint on the burger stand (inside a largish covered trailer) for two hours but that was cut to one after I had been asked and then me offering, to stand in for the photographic competition judge who couldn't make it.

  I'm not sure of the number of entries for the photo comp, it must have been 70 or 80, so I take my hat off to those who judge 100s at a national level. The standard was quite high with all sorts of sizes, mounted and unmounted, colour and black and white entered in to the nine competition categories. Even though there were no names on the pictures obviously, I knew a number of the photographs from either the subjects ie their children or even one or two, by the style, so that didn't help either.By far the highest number of entrants was for the sea scape category with around 30 images.

A couple from a very wet Unst show

Sunday 28th August

  Another wet day with wind still in the north and is set to be so for most of the week, although the strength will die back. As it was the monthly Baltasound farmers market today, the kids were up early doing some baking to help Shalder House crèche as they were providing 'tea and fancies' (cakes etc) in the hall. As usual they were a bit behind with their timing so I went to set up the trail cam' down the field. I'd not had it set up for a few days due to the heavy rain as I tend to get too many false triggers from the rain in front of the motion sensor.

  Walking on along the shore, I reached the remains of the old wall which formed part of a shed by the noust (a cleared part of a beach where boats were hauled up). Suddenly I had a very strong smell of fish being wafted towards me by the north wind, carefully I looked over the 4-5ft wall and saw two otter cubs feeding below me in the seaweed with the female not far away on the slipway. I returned to the house to fetch the camera hoping they'd be still there when I returned - which thankfully they were. Taking a few pictures (and some video) I didn't want to be discovered as they've only recently started using this piece of coastline. As I watched, I suddenly realized that one of the cubs had come up on to the grassy bank just 10 ft away and was looking me in the eye. It turned in a flash and was back in the water, blast ! Fortunately it didn't spook the other two and was soon back by its brother or sister, then moving over to its mum to groom just beyond the sheep fence by the jetty.

  At that moment, my phone rang. Double blast ! At least the sound of a Great Northern Diver as a ring tone is less likely to spook them than a piece of pop music or similar. They carried on as before fortunately. Next I heard one of the kids calling from up the field, it was Sula and she was running down the field, triple blast! I managed to tell her (without me shouting) to be quiet and so she then had really good views of the family. as well. We left them to it and went to the farmers market...................

Feeding Otter cub

  Despite the weather, I didn't want to spend 2 hours at the market and as the girls were helping, I decided to go over to Skaw for a quick trip (15 minutes each way didn't give me long). On the way over, Mike P sent me a text to say he'd just had the Pallid Harrier at Northdale, which was good, so maybe one or two other folk may get to see it. Reaching Skaw, I walked over the bridge and up the hill past the croft, a Barred Warbler took off and circled around below me shortly followed by the Yellow Wagtail which I'd seen a couple of days ago. I then saw a very pale warbler fly off around the back, time to go and get the camera. A few minutes later and I'd 'nailed' the bird, but what was it ? I'd had to hand hold the long lens, so I hoped that it would be sharp enough for a semi decent picture considering the lighting etc. The bird turned out to be a Booted Warbler, almost certainly the pale bird that both Brydon and Mike had seen last week but didn't manage to pin down for a positive ID....................

Booted Warbler

  Booted Warblers breed from central Russia to western China and winters in the Indian subcontinent as far south as Sri Lanka, so it is quite a long way off course.


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