Sunday, 6 November 2011

Whooper Swans

  Now we've reached November autumn migration season is now all over bar the shouting so to speak. There has been one or two scare birds around down on Mainland and up here on Unst; this week I had a late Wheatear and for me at least, a very late House Martin at Skaw. In all my years of living down south, I have never had a November House Martin while living in the Cotswolds - even a Swallow was a rare sight. So as far as wildlife here, I'll now be looking for the winter visitors (still with a hope something else may arrive).

  One of the most obvious winter visitors has to to be the Whooper Swans which arrive at Easter Loch down in Uyeasound. While there aren't huge numbers- the numbers peak in the mid thirties -  they are still a pleasure to see - and hear. Once the cold weather sets in and the loch starts to freeze for any length of time, the birds will then move off south with only one or two remaining. It is one of the pleasures of doing the school run there for the last couple of winters and seeing them every day. Sula now makes it her daily routine of counting the birds as we drive past, with the numbers rising and falling as the birds move around the freshwater lochs to feed. I spent a few hours at the weekend and also at the beginning of the week watching and photographing them as the light was quite good. Again this year, a pair of Mute Swans have returned and often have mild disagreements with the Whoopers over the best places to feed. Here below are a few from Easter Loch........

 Mute Swan

 Whooper Swans

  I don't know why, but I often seem to see Otters most often when the weather is foul, such as in  bad light, howling wind or driving rain  (or even all of these put together) - like on one day this last week. We were having driving rain from the south east that was almost horizontal so I decided to have a clear out of one of the sheds. As there was plenty of space in one of the Councils community skips over at Haroldswick I thought it would be a good use of the available time. We're very lucky here in that (like most of Shetland) there are skips for house and domestic rubbish - ie diy waste, old sofas etc etc - which are paid for out the council tax. While there may  be old rusting machinery etc around the crofts etc, there is very little rubbish dumped on the side of the roads - on Unst at any rate.

  Anyway, as I was on one of the numerous journeys along the shore road, I spotted three otters in the water not too far from the road. It was a mother and two very large cubs and the cubs seemed to be having a great time fightings and chasing one another in and out of the water. After a short while, the mum went off to fish and the kids carried on playing, mum then returning after about 5 minutes with a fish. I had a great time watching them and despite the fact she obviously knew I was there - or should I say could see the car - I had around half an hour watching them. The rain was coming in horizontally  through the passenger window, but thankfully it was slightly from the side so nothing got on to the front of the lens.....................

 Mum and cubs

One of the cubs having a feed from mum

Contentment ?

Waiting for scraps

  It would be nice to think that this family are the ones from across the sound who visit our shore and have been reunited with the lost cub. Without any obvious markings it would be difficult to tell, if I'd got some pictures of the chin spots - as in the 3rd picture - then it might be possible. Speaking to Brydon, he's says that there could easily be two families, with one either side of the sound (our shore is only  half a mile away ) I had mum and a cub through the trail cam a couple of weeks ago, so I've put it out again to see what I get, it would be nice if there were three again.

  I was intending to include what we've been up to over the weekend but the PC is not behaving and takes forever to load pictures, hopefully I can do it tomorrow after giving the computer a bit of a clean out.


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