It's been a busy week or so again with both friends and visitors coming around and also staying. I had a slightly unusual photo assignment last week which was very weather dependent. I had been asked to photograph the runway lights (or rather the illumination) of the now semi redundant Baltasound airport. The suggestion had been made by some folk from way down south that they possibly weren't bright enough for a helicopter to land at night. Only had a week to do it and for most of it it was either raining or blowing a right hoolie - or both. Fortunately there was one evening where the wind dropped down below F5 and it wasn't raining! The best view would obviously be from an elevated position but obviously there aren't many of those directly inline with a runway - and as a helicopter wasn't available, I had to make do with standing on the roof of my car.
Despite the good weather down south, summer seems to be over here with the departure of many of the summer breeders. Most of the terns, Arctic Skuas, Whimbrels and Red-throated Divers seem to have gone, Fulmar chicks have left their nests and also quite a few young Gannets (Gugas) can be seen around the place. Last week we had two friends from the Cotswolds were staying for two nights. One one of the better days we took a walk to Hermaness and on the way up, we came across a young Gannet flapping around in one of the Bonxie breeding areas - quite a long way from the sea and gannet cliffs.If we left it, it would soon tire and become Bonxie food and as it seemed OK I decided to catch it and take it to the cliffs at the top of the board walk. It had probably come down in the previous nights gale (F8-9) and as it was in heather, it probably found it difficult to take off. Despite its protest (and trying to peck me - but keeping its beak well away from my face and eyes) I carried it up to the cliffs. Laying the bird down on the grass, it perked up and after a brief look around, flapped off the edge and joined the hundreds of others soaring around in the strong westerly wind..............
Finally last week I managed to catch up with the pale (leucistic) Starling down at Lamba Ness. It's not a particularly rare plumage type, but for me I think it's a lovely bird. Starlings are normally quite approachable but for some reason this flock have been particularly flighty.
One evening just over a week ago, my girls had friends around and had been having a water fight outside (in the rain!), they hadn't been in long when they started running around the house shouting 'otter, otter'. As it turned out, they had seen one come up the field close to the garden wall to the west side of the house. It climbed over the wall into the pony field (the ponies then made it clear they didn't want it in their field) so it climbed over the wall and on to the lawn. It then disappeared for awhile into the Rosa bushes before emerging by the bird table. At first I thought it was eating something but then realized it was just lying in the grass - which it did for 6 or 7 minutes. Then, to my surprise, another otter appeared coming up the field following the same route as the first one. The second animal was a lot smaller and slimmer than the first and was obviously following the scent of the first one. As the 2nd one climbed over onto the lawn, the other one disappeared from view, we saw them a short time later going across a field to the east, the slimmer one some distance behind the first. Now had the 2nd one been bigger than the first, you'd have said it was a male on the scent of a female 'in season'. However, it could have been a big female and a small male - we'll probably never know.
It's a bit of a short blog this week as I've been WORKING for a change over a Burrafirth and also as the weather hasn't been particularly good (wind in the wrong direction etc) there hasn't been too many birds around. Probably the best during the last week was a Peregrine over Baltasound.
We did have a nice family walk on Sunday along the coast south of Skaw to Inner Skaw. The most notable photograph of the day has to be this one ...........
(I don't know what's going on with the formatting on Blogger tonight, but it's acting strange)
The day after yesterday(ish)
5 months ago