Saturday, 17 December 2011

Waterfalls and a Wheatear

  Its been a fairly quiet week this week - apart from the weather that is, but I won't do yet another post on the weather !

 I've been doing some work on the fireplace in our living room which is an ideal job when its foul outside. Its an old Victorian one with a cast iron surround and a vertical row of 6" tiles either side. Originally it had a cast iron built in-grate and fire back with a damper (a lid at the top) but that was removed by one of the previous occupants (and not very carefully at that). This was all replaced by 3 fire-brick panels which had now come to the end of their days in that they were cracked and had started to break up. On removing the panels - and around 7 buckets of soot and dust - I discovered that there was quite a lot of space behind and that it had been used as a fireplace before the cast one had been installed. The tiles had been set on cast frames which were now totally rusted and rotten which meant new ones would have to be made at some stage. On cleaning it all out, I decide not to reinstate the tiles for the time being, but to use the by now, much larger fireplace. I found three 10x10x6 inch pieces of cut stone outside which I manged to cut and to make in to six 10x10x3 inch pieces to use as a new hearth. I then re-pointed the stonework and all I have to do now is to wait for a new cast iron fire basket to arrive.

  With all of the wind (sorry I won't talk about it for long) birding folk are now looking to the far north for any wanderers. Over in North America, there has been a large movement of Snowy Owls (over 100 in one State alone) which bodes well for the possibility of one turning up here, probably not from North America, but most likely from northern Scandinavia or similar. I came across this image from a link on the Birdforum - looks like noise reduction software used on it but I'd be glad to see them, somehow it seems almost too good to be true. Earlier in the week between breaks in the weather, I took a walk up Crussa Field where the Snowy was a couple of years back - here. Its a large area to try and cover in a short space of time (2hrs) but it was good to get a hillwalk in, something I've not done for quite a while. Sadly no Snowy (I wasn't expecting one really, but if you don't look, you don't find) All I saw were a few Hoodies, Ravens and a Snipe...........

Crussa Field looking north to Saxavord and Norwick

  Returning back home, the two Bean Geese were still around Ordaal, which was  nice change from the ever present Greylags...........

'Tundra' Bean Goose

 The following day (13th Dec), was pretty dull so as I needed to go over to Norwick, I took a look first at Skaw. The Woodlark was still present yesterday, but today it was being elusive as usual. I decided to take a walk up the burn (something I don't do enough) with the thought of a possible migrant Dipper. If there's anywhere on Unst one could turn up, it would be here. Only taking the camera with the 24-105 lens (plus binoculars), I set off. There was quite a lot of water around so I hoped that I could possibly get some shots of some of the very few proper (although smallish) waterfalls on Unst. Using the 'live view' function on the camera, I rested the camera on the bank to get some 'slow-mo' shots of the water. Looking back now, I should have taken the tripod, remote lease, filters etc etc but I did want to travel light.................



 Walking on up the stream, I then noticed an Otter heading down the edge of the burn straight for me around 50 yards away. The wind was good and it hadn't seen me so I instantly lay down in the extremely wet, sponge like grass. It crossed the stream and came right past me, totally unaware of my presence. As it moved downstream, it constantly checked rabbit holes and also sniffed the air. It always surprises me when I come across an otter away from the sea, yet they often venture a long way in land. Only recently a friend came across an occupied holt on the top of one of Unst's highest hills which is almost two miles from the sea............


  I headed on up stream a little further to the 'largest' waterfall to take a few pics before heading back to the car - just as large sleet/hail shower past through.......


  Just after 1pm the sun came out for a while, so, timing it for a school run, I drove up to Valla Field. My thoughts were to possibly a Rough-leg' Buzzard, but instead got both a fly-over and perched immature Peregrine - still a good bird, but I've had more sightings of R-l Buzzards (not individuals however) than Peregrine on Unst. It wasn't very close but still nice to see however.........


Imm' Peregrine at Valla Field

 Wednesday, was to be a trip down to the bright lights of Lerwick, what a treat! There was method in my madness to go however, as in Breiwick on the south side of town, there was a Desert Wheatear (a lifer for me) which had been around for a few days. I certainly wouldn't have gone and twitched it but as I needed to go in to town I thought it was ok. Unfortunately the weather was pretty grim - a splash of sun would have been nice - so I made the best of it as I could. Desert Wheatear's are traditionally late migrants when they do turn up but it did seem a little out of place on a cold winters day.................

1/100 sec @ f5.6, ISO 1250, full frame

The arrow marks the bird

  I mentioned in the last post about the fence down at the jetty, well the picture below is the result. It was the shear weight of seaweed on the wire that caused it to collapse and I've since been told by a crofter, that many folk will remove the wire at the end of a summers grazing to avoid this happening - time for a re-think................


 I'm not sure what's happened to the formatting today as the spacing the text/pictures seem a little out. I'll try and sort it for the next post.

  Robbie

2 comments:

MarkW said...

I like those slo-mo water ones; something I have never tried but perhaps I should!
& to you & the family, have a great Christmas & good New Year.

robbieb said...

Thanks Mark, I should put a bit more time and care in to landscape stuff really as there's a lot of it here. Have a good Christmas etc also from us up here.

Robbie