Wednesday, 15 February 2012

  Saturday morning (11th Feb) was a cracking morning again - it won't last - so after a quick look around the pier (still a couple of Iceland's around) I headed back home to see if the family wanted to go for a walk. I'd already thought that a walk to Hermaness would be nice, but would the others agree?, thankfully they did.

  To be honest I wasn't really expecting much to be around, apart from a lot of Fulmars on the cliffs. It was a pleasant walk up the walkway to the clifftop however and despite what some may say about the new 'plastic path', it certainly makes it much easier and quicker now you don't have to 'bog trot'. It's made from recycled plastic and will last for many many years, whereas the old wooden one didn't have a long lifespan due to the local environment. Up at the cliffs, there were scores of Fulmars, both on the cliffs and soaring around them and a little further on, I could also see a number of Gannets. Also much lower down on the cliffs were scores of Guillimots on ledges. As I'd not been to the cliffs in February before, I had no idea if any Gannets would be back or in what numbers. Moving on again to the Gannets main nesting area, I was really surprised by how many were actually on the cliffs as well as the numbers that were soaring around; I can only guess as to the numbers, but it certainly ran in to the high hundreds..........

 A tiny part of the normally very large colony (Rona took this shot)

  Despite the sun shining, there was a cool breeze now coming in off of the sea, Rona had now started to get a bit chilled and also a little fed up with me watching the wheeling Gannets (Catriona and Sula had gone off earlier) so we started to head back. We hadn't gone far when I looked up and saw two birds in the sky some distance away, one mobbing the other. Raising the bins, I could see one was a Hoodie and the other was buzzard-like, then seeing the white on the inner tail  feathers I knew straight away it was a Rough-leg', great stuff. Despite the distance I took a few shots and fortunately for us, the bird came back in our direction - but quite high. It was possibly the bird Brydon had seen over at Caldbeck at the end of last year. The two that were here last winter would often go 'missing' for days without being seen and then show up again. The north west corner of Unst is, although not a huge area, quite difficult to just have a quick look as it's a several hour round trip walk to check it out, so it's almost certainly where the birds were going to last winter..................

Rough-leg' Buzzard

  Back at home, I was greeted by the familiar chuckling of Fulmars that had returned to our chimney pots. Last year, we had a number on a daily basis that would sit up there, calling and displaying for around a month before they disappeared off somewhere to breed. Another sign that winter is starting to give way to another season (but I'm not sure which one it could be) and that is there are flocks of returning Lapwings in the grass fields. During the last two nights, there has been a faint aurora but due to the strong northerly wind and some low cloud in the north I didn't spend too long looking. Looking at the forecast, we are now due wind and rain again well in to next week - like I said earlier, the sunshine wouldn't last. I suppose it's only weather and if time allows, it creates opportunities for pictures.........


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