Friday, 30 March 2012

  Here we are at the end of March and a couple of days ago it really felt like spring was here.  Down south folk were sweltering in around 20 degrees, while the temperature here was around 12 degrees and I was outside in just a jumper - I know which I prefer. I've been pretty busy over the last two weeks with different things so getting out and doing any wildlife related stuff has been lower down the list of things to do. I continued with making around the base of the shed watertight which is now almost complete apart from a coat of bitumen paint and also started to fit the two new wooden windows I'd made in to the porch. I also had work in the cottage to do as we now have 'Dr Phil' staying in it for two weeks as he works up here as a locum at the surgery.

   On the subject of the cottage, I had yet another example of the postcode surcharge rip-off. I ordered some blinds online, paid for them and thought that was that. The following morning I got a call from the company down south saying there would be a surcharge to send the parcel to Shetland by courier. When I asked why it couldn't be sent by Parcel Force (the package would have been 3 ft x 6"x6" or there abouts) she said 'but we don't use that courier company', 'so what's the cost?' I asked, '£50' came the reply. When I told her to cancel the order, judging by the silence, I think she was quite surprised. The following day, I found another online store that on their 'home page', stated 'Free UK delivery', great I thought and placed an order. When I got to the point of clicking 'buy', it then came up with ' UK Mainland only', no surprise there then !

  Last weekend on the Saturday morning, I got a call from a friend of mine to say there was young seal (a last years pup) on the beach at Norwick with some fishing net around it's neck. Going over a short while later with 'Dr Phil', we found the seal on the beach not far from the tide-line. My immediate thought was that if we tried to approach it, it would shuffle straight back in the sea and that would be that. I decided to try again later as the tide was dropping and then maybe it would be further up the beach and I'd be able to get between it and the sea.

  On the way back later, I met someone who asked me if I knew what to do with a seal caught in a net, replying that I was on my way over there, she said her partner was still there and she'd follow me over. Arriving at the beach the seal was nowhere to be seen and on asking her partner where the seal was, he said that when he walked down on to the beach with their dogs, the seal went back in to the sea - who would have thought that would happen ! I decided to go back again later when things had quietened down a bit and so went to Lamba Ness for a walk.

  It was a lovely afternoon, sunny, fairly calm and a clear sky. Walking around the end of the headland, I heard the unmistakable call of an otter cub somewhere down off the end of a rocky outcrop. Shortly after, I saw a female climb out with a very large Lumpsucker fish, joined shortly after by a very large cub. The wind was blowing from me to them but I thought I'd be ok as I was quite some height above them on the cliffs and also around 100 yds away. I was wrong however and she was very uneasy and kept sniffing the air and after only a couple of minutes slipped back in to the sea followed by not one, but two large cubs. They swam below me in the relatively sheltered water and fortunately they now wouldn't catch my scent. Then I saw something I've never seen before (and had longed to see for years) and that was an otter swimming under water - and not one but three! In the calm, crystal clear water, I could see them swimming through the kelp looking for food, leaving a trail of rising bubbles behind them. It didn't last for long but will be a memory that will last for ever. I only had my camera phone with me but they were in the shadow of the cliffs anyway so I would have been disappointed with the results.............

The left side of the red line marks the spot where they were.

  Returning back to Norwick there was no sign of the seal, so I will check again in the morning.

Sun 25th March

  The clocks changed in the night so one hour less in bed. I headed off to Norwick at 7.30am (6.30 really ) Arriving at the beach, there was no sign so I headed off along the sandy beach to the east. In the distance at the far end, I could see a dark object lying up the beach - it looked like a seal. Five minutes later and I was approaching it and had come to the conclusion it was dead, then its flippers twitched. Quickly throwing my coat over it, I managed to keep it still by sitting on it and holding the back of its neck with one hand. Despite this it still managed to turn and try and take a bite but thankfully it missed. It only took 5 minutes to cut the piece of net away but it wasn't easy only being able to use one hand with the knife and then carefully pull away the cut nylon. The net had cut in to the neck quite a way but hopefully the salt water will help it heal up quickly. I thought that monofiliment nets had stopped being used a while ago, but I suppose it could have been floating around for ages. Everyday this past week, folk have been checking the beach there and there's been no sign of it so hopefully that's good news...........

 Those teeth look sharp!

 The wound

The cause

  Also last weekend was the Sport Relief Mile here on Unst. There were a variety of walkers, runners and 'novelty' participants who undertook the 1, 3 or 6 mile course in aid of charity. This year they raised around £1500 pounds............

  Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see something that possibly only a handful of people have seen (certainly here in the UK at any rate). It had been an idea that I thought of over fours years ago and finally the effort has paid off and I was rewarded with some close up moments. I'll keep you guessing for a bit longer as to what it was until I get some video - hopefully in the next week or so.


1 comment:

Graham said...

I was wondering when you were going to post again Robbie. The injury on the seal looks nasty - lets hope it heals.

I'm intrigued by your last comments, but I think I've worked it out.........;-)