Sunday, 22 July 2012

  Here we are in the 4th week of July and the weather has turned and we now have a strong wind blowing and driving rain. Earlier in the week we finally got LBC (listed building consent) for the slates which we are going to use on the east side of the roof. Its been an extremely frustrating time as it's taken 8 weeks or so for a decision as to whether they were the right shade of blue-grey ! In fact they are exactly the same colour (as pointed out by one person from the council) as the existing slates, but the council employee that deals with listed buildings, decided it needed to be submitted to the committee. Had that person been up here and seen the roof, it would have been done by now and we'd be able to move on so to speak. In this time of cut-backs etc, I reckon it would have been cheaper for said person to have come up to have a look,  rather than having a meeting with several others around a table in the office in town. The end result of all this means its now probably too risky to start the roof this (what is supposed to be) summer. It would be around three weeks from now before we could start, so that would be mid August. Given what the weather has been like so far this year as a whole, it would be being a bit hopefully to guarantee four or five weeks of no rain and wind - can we ever expect that ! In late Spring, you can normally expect the odd days of wind and rain knowing that it's not (hopefully) going to last for long. This time of the year however the reverse is generally true. When we arrived here at the end of July 2008, the sun shone until early September, how I wish I could predict that now.

 On a happier note, we've just had another two visitors for just under two weeks. Our friend Liz was here for one week and my sister Carol was here for just under a week . Fortunately for them (and us) the weather was generally fine with virtually no rain and a few days of nice sunshine. They managed to get to see most of what they wanted although the odds of finding Orcas were stacked against me (and we didn't see one) but Liz did see a distant Neesick from Lamba Ness. They also had very good views of an otter down at the shore feeding (pictures later).

  The week before last, Brydon asked me to lead a walk for him on Hermaness with a group of 8 Belgians. I was a little apprehensive to start with as I was told that their English wasn't too good and I obviously don't speak any Flemish. As it turned out I needn't have worried and things went very well apart from at the start of the walk - and until we got to the cliffs - as there was a lot of low cloud. How do you show people thousands of Gannets if you can't see them because of the fog ? Thankfully by the time we reached the cliffs the fog/low cloud had blown through and we had a really nice walk............

at least there were a few Puffins around

 Looking south from the northern end of Hermaness

Muckle Flugga

  The main event on Unst this past two weeks has been the now annual Unst Fest. Unst Fest is a mixture of live music, games, competitions, a sailing regatta, Yoal races, food & drink, a carnival, heritage and traditional activities and exhibitions etc. In fact, there is so much you'd need to look at the Unst Fest website for a much, much more detailed list of events. Below are just a few pictures from one or two of the events I went to.......

The 42ft long Canadian Canoe 'Spirit Dancer'

 136 people doing the 'Palais Glide' *

'Welly Wanging' competion

Yoal Racing

(* The world record for the number of folk doing the Palais Glide, was set on Unst in 2009 with 196 participants)

  Festivities apart, we did get to see a bit of wildlife around Unst. Along with Puffins and Gannets at Hermaness, Seals at Haroldswick we had a number of Otter sightings. I had a few minutes watching a male fishing at Haroldswick and I also saw one several times across the field from out house. The best view though was of one fishing and then eating its catch down at the shore. Despite the wind not being in our favour and it knowing we were somewhere up-wind of it, it carried on, although slightly wary. However, I managed to get downwind of it and got these pictures................


and the one at Haroldswick............


and one of a Gannet at Hermaness..............



 On Wednesday (18th) my sister Carol left for home from Sumburgh, so after dropping her off and saying our goodbyes, I went up to Sumburgh Head for an hour. Due to the ongoing building work for the new centre, half of the top of the head is closed off to the public. This has resctricted the options a bit for Puffin photographs as far as I'm concerned. For instance, when the wind is blowing from a certain direction, the birds fly in a particular way etc so, there is an option for more chance of success for getting say, birds in flight. On this occasion I spent most of the time just watching them, but I did see an immature bird (last years) and also several Pufflings at their burrow entrance.........

 A yearling Puffin

A Puffling which will leave very shortly

     Robbie

3 comments:

Barry Bishop said...

Great blog and photos.
Arriving on Unst on August 8th and hope to see lots of wildlife.
Barry Bishop

robbieb said...

Thanks Barry, when you're up, ask anyone around the village where we are and I'll say hello if you have time.

chris said...

Barry and I had a great week. If you wish to see my Unst diary go to chrisdownesbirds.com. Then go to recent pictures and then blog for the diary. Glaucous gull did look very gentle on garage roof at Uyeasound.