Sunday, 11 December 2011

And the gales continue.........

  Well earlier on in the week it was one of the rare occasions that the Met Office local forecast was wrong. I usually only use the main BBC forecast (also from the Met Office) as a general idea what might happen - unless there is a wide front moving across the UK. So often here, the forecast has said it was going to rain and it was fine and vice versa. Some days it has been fine all day on Unst and wet all day down in Lerwick - 50 miles away - and also the other way around. The app on my Ipod, is set for Baltasound and more often than not its spot on with the timings and weather conditions. On Monday and Tuesday however they got it wrong; it was supposed to be two days of brighter, drier weather.  On Monday we had about an hour of slightly brighter weather and Tuesday was wet and windy again, hey ho. Returning back from the school run on Monday, I was delighted to see 11 Jackdaws in the garden, even though the light was rubbish I grabbed a few pictures from the car. Returning back home again a little later, the number had now risen to 16 (26 the following day). Positioning the car at an angle so that only the lens hood was showing through the open car window, the birds soon got used to the car and started to come back. Just like any corvid however, they still didn't relax too much, constantly darting in and out to pick up bits of food from around the feeder. They also soon cottoned on to where the seed was dropping from and even tried (not very successfully) to hover in front of the feeder and peck out the food from the feeder ports. There is the saying about 'living and learning' etc, well I certainly still do and even more so about many of the birds I see up here; the jackdaw picture below is a good example. From reading the article on Jackdaw identification which I mentioned here , I learnt that young Jackdaws have a browner plumage, especially their wings. When I saw this bird, it threw me completely (obviously I knew it was a Jackdaw) and got me wondering where it had originated from etc. The reason for the very poor pic below is that it was taken through the closed car window and it didn't show up again...............

 An immature Jackdaw - it should have moulted the wing feathers out by now.



  The pale collar varied in width, length and brightness amongst the jackdaw flock, sometimes being just a pale spot.

  During the first part of the week, I didn't do much in the way of picture taking - partly due to the weather, partly due to doing some work at home, so apart from the jackdaws the only other bird I photographed was this Purple Sandpiper at Westing. For me, I think the stalks of Kelp on a beach, are one of the most distracting backgrounds there is.......................

 Purple Sandpiper

  There probably isn't anyone this week in the UK that has missed the gale warnings issued by the Met Office. I heard folk a number of times on the radio,  commenting on them saying, 'What's the issue ? we have weather like this on and off all winter in Shetland' etc etc. I think they (the Met Office) must have heard the comments too; as on one report, I heard a spokesman acknowledge that Shetland did indeed often have gales like these, but the reason for the 'red alert' was that these gales would travel right through the central belt, where it was much more likely to cause damage. It was really eerie yesterday, in the morning we had a very strong wind, then for a few hours either side of lunch time it went perfectly still. In the mid afternoon, it picked up again (from a different direction) and blew a right hoolie for a while and gusting to Force 11.

  Early this morning (Fri 9th), it kicked off again when I got a text message telling me both the Yell and Bluemull Sound ferries were cancelled due to the weather - when they stop running, you know its rough ! So, after dropping Sula off for the last time at Uyeasound School (sort of an 'end of an era' for me) I took a look a Westing, all I could say was WOW ! Just as I turned off the engine at the end, an otter trotted past the front of the car carrying a fish heading inland a short way looking for some shelter for it to eat its catch. The funny thing was when it returned to the top of the shingle bank it paused, looked at the sea, then back to where it had come from and returned to the relative shelter of the marsh. I think I'd have done the same. As the light was rubbish, I decided to go home, do some work at the house and return at lunchtime.


Westing
  And here is a rather shaky 24 sec vid from Lamba Ness - I was using the car as a wind break but even that wasn't enough.........

video
At the mid point along the cliffs, its between 10 and 15 metres high so that will give you an idea of the wave height.

  By early on Saturday morning, the storm had gone through and every thing was looking fine. Our house was intact (apart from an ingress of horizontally driven rain) the sheds were also still in one piece although the shear ferocity of the wind had driven water through the joints of the ship-lap boarding. The only options for that is to have either double boarding or a membrane behind the boards - that is now usually done as standard practice. Down at the shore, the fencing I put up to stop the neighbours sheep coming along the shoreline had been almost flattened by the battering from the sea. Not so much the wave action but more to do with the weight of seaweed being thrown against it. When I was doing it in the spring, the crofter that had sheep here, told me not to spend too much time on it as if we were lucky it would only last 2 or 3 years. The main straining post (5'6" of old telegraph pole) was pulled out of the rocks and that had been dug down almost 3ft.

  As most will know, there was a lunar eclipse on Saturday afternoon. Due to the timing, Shetland was going to be the best place in the UK to see it - weather permitting. I headed off up to Lamba Ness with a hope that at around 3pm when the moon was due to rise, there might be a break in the cloud. Arriving at 2.30pm, I was disappointed to see there was a long band of cloud almost all the way across the eastern horizon. As the cloud was moving south, (but not as quick as last night !) I thought I'd wait awhile - just in case. Finally after several tantalizing minutes just before 4pm, the moon finally showed and with it the last few minutes of the eclipse - oh how I wished it had been clear................

Lunar Eclipse, Lamba Ness
     Robbie

5 comments:

MarkW said...

You may have seen on his blog that Alastair is now an Uncle; Bee has a daughter, Mair, & mother & daughter are doing well. Grandparents fine too!
To hear Shetland mentioned on the BBC weather forecast is a rarity, but it means batten down the hatches I think!

robbieb said...

Hi Mark, congrats to all from us up here. It was pretty wild I can tell you. The otter I mentioned in the blog was blown slightly sideways by it ! Take a look at Magic Seaweed to see what's on the way !!!!!

Graham said...

Those waves look huge in the video - having walked around that headland with you i know just how big they are. Must be awesome to watch.

Stuart Larson said...

G'day from NZ. I was searching google for a solution to a bug in my Met Office iPod App. When I'm home in the UK, it follows my location without too much bother. However, when I'm home in NZ, it defaults to Baltasound. By the power of google, you are the solution! I must come and see Shetland now, especially after discovering your blog. Cheers. Stu Larson, Ohoka, NZ

Stuart Larson said...

G'day from NZ. I was searching google for a solution to a bug in my Met Office iPod App. When I'm home in the UK, it follows my location without too much bother. However, when I'm home in NZ, it defaults to Baltasound. By the power of google, you are the solution! I must come and see Shetland now, especially after discovering your blog. Cheers. Stu Larson, Ohoka, NZ