Saturday, 22 October 2011

Bad news, good news

  Well firstly I'll start with some sad (but unfortunately expected - as far as I'm concerned) news. After months and months of consultations and waiting, the Scottish Minister for Education has agreed with the Shetland council that the school in Uyeasound should close. My thoughts are that it had nothing to do with the supposed saving of £100,00 pounds per year (it would most likely have been a lot less than that), but probably more to do with politics - which I prefer to keep away from. However, I still think that the shear amount of time and effort that has been put in by parents,staff and many many other folk was still worth the fight. Despite the result, I personally think it has highlighted how disorganized and (in some cases) badly run the council is - the 12 months to repair the Uyeasound bridge being a good example. The consultation paper seemed to have more holes in it that a well used sieve - they probably spend even more on council meeting lunches and dinners etc. So I was told, there was supposed to have been a risk assessment for the routes that the children would have to walk (or be driven) in order to get the Baltasound school bus (ie pass the loch, sea etc etc) but, so I was told, it was done from a desk in Lerwick ! It  will be great loss to the village, which no longer has either a shop or post office and now after Christmas will have no school. It is a ridiculous situation that, even though the school will not be open, it will still have to be maintained etc. Last year when the council produced the blueprint for education, they said that in the event of the school closing, they would then employ a development officer to try and encourage job opportunities and growth in the village - without the school the village is not going to grow ! What a mad world we live in !

  Last week, the kids were off school (two and half weeks school holiday) and also Catriona was away in Ethiopia again. The weather forecast didn't look too good for the week so we made the best we could of whatever it threw at us. So while the kids were making their own mini broch on the beach at Norwick, I got to look around Valyie and the surroundings. We had several trips over to Burrafirth and on one occasion I found three Goldfinches feeding alongside the burn there. Coming from down south where I used to have over forty feeding in the garden, to them being an Unst scarce bird is taking some getting used to. In fact, there are certainly many more Barred Warblers, Yellowbrowed Warblers and the like on Unst each year than Goldfinches so to have a flock of three is a a red letter day..................

Goldfinch at Burrafirth

  While at home on Wednesday evening (19th Oct), I was running the bath for Rona and while it was filling, I had a look one of the daily bird sightings webs sites. When it loaded, I couldn't believe my eyes - 'male Siberian Rubythroat at Gulberwick, Mainland' . Blinking heck, that was one bird that I (along with probably hundreds of other folk) have always dreamt of seeing. Fortunately, it just so happened, that I was going to Mainland with the kids to meet up with Catriona the next day. Time to change our plans slightly. Returning to the bathroom, the water had now run cold - one wasted bath :(

  Fortunately the following morning the bird was still there. So instead of staying in Lerwick, we took the bus down to the airport, 'borrowed' Catriona's car (she wasn't due back until 3.15pm) and went and saw the rubythroat'. Despite the fact for most of the time the bird (when it did show) was several hundred yards away in someones rather large garden, it was well worth it. It was just stunning in the midday sunshine. On the whole, everyone was generally well behaved and just enjoyed seeing the bird; apart from one occasion when it appeared close by, when it became a bit of a scrum as folk serged forward to get the 'shot of a lifetime' - and we were at the wrong end ! The two pictures below don't do the bird justice really. As it was so far away, I stacked both the 1.4 and the 2x on the 500 in order to get a record shot, resulting in very low quality pictures......................


.......a quality bird if not quality pictures, male Siberian Rubythroat

  After staying for a couple of hours we heading down to the airport to meet Catriona. As we left, I saw three guys (who were obviously birders and were travelling light) hiring a car. It wasn't long after, that they sped past us and 4 or 5 other cars through a village - with a 50mph speed limit - driving like idiots. Sula wanted to go back and have another look at the bird and as we arrived, the folk from the car had not long got there also. Later that evening, I looked on the birding forum and one of these guys had made a comment about  the bird not being seen and the situation not being helped by 'noisy local photographers' (not us I hasten to add). I made a comment regarding the driving and the reply was - "time was of the essence dear chap its called twitching don't you know" . Trouble is with this sort of attitude is we, (resident birders here) have to then repair the 'damage' caused by it. Also, the only 'dear' bit is the cost of them getting up here at short notice. I saw on the forum that some folk had been quoted from between £600 and £1300 pounds - just to come for one or two nights, each to their own I suppose. The other thing here is that if it hadn't been for possibly one of the 'noisy local photographers' they'd not have had a bird to come up and see ! End of rant ...............................   :)

  On a much more pleasing note, last week I opened the October issue of 'Birdwatch' magazine to discover that my picture of the Pallid Harrier here on Unst had made ' Rarity Photo of the Month'. I knew it was going to be in there but that was a bonus.............

Pallid Harrier at Nordale

                      Robbie

5 comments:

tommyart said...

It's the best Pallid Harrier photo I've seen. With all the sightings this year... that's really saying something!

Graham said...

Well done for seeing the Ruby Throat Robbie - I saw the news on Autumn Watch and said to Jayne 'I bet Robbie's gone for a look !'.

Dougie Preston said...

Very good shot of the 'Pallid' and concidering the distance of the 'Ruby' the photos ain't bad either!..... A bit jelouse of the Goldfinch though, as I've still not managed to find one in Shetland yet, lol.....

MarkW said...

The harrier picture is a superb one; but I have to say that your picture of the goldfinch is gorgeous. The whole effect of the pose, light etc. is brilliant & I would hang one like that on the wall, wow!

robbieb said...

Thanks for the comments guys, they are much appreciated.

Robbie