Monday, 7 January 2013

A good start to the New Year

  Firstly a big Happy New Year to everyone and I hope this coming year is as good you want it to be.

  Christmas here was really nice - no gales to take out the electric like last year. The weather wasn't brilliant, but who cares when there is a nice open fire burning in the living room. The final bird for the garden list for 2012 was a Mute Swan on Baltasound - I wonder what 2013 will bring?

  I also got around to planting 68 Sycamore 'whips' in various places around garden and in fenced of areas of the field - complete with small stakes and rabbit guards. The guards have another function apart from keeping rabbits from gnawing the saplings in that I can use the strimmer around them without the fear of cutting through the 'whips. Also by putting layers of seaweed around them, this will help to keep the grass at bay.

  We had several really high tides again, but I think it would be a good few years of global warming before the house would be threatened (I don't think I'll live to see it)........

Looking east at high tide (camera phone)

  On New Years Day Brydon gave me a call to ask if I fancied a walk somewhere. Thinking this was good idea, half an hour later he'd picked me up and we were heading up to Valla Field which for him, is an almost annual new year walk.  Parking half way along the ridge, we headed north chatting as we went. Suddenly Brydon got a very brief view of the Sea Eagle disappearing out of sight over the hillside in front of us. It really was a briefly sighting, if he'd been looking in another direction for a split second, he'd not have seen it. Forgetting all about what time it may have been etc, we hastily headed for the point where he saw the bird disappear (the bird had its legs down so maybe it was landing?) After what seemed like some distance, we reached the spot where it had vanished - nothing.

  We sat down on the hillside and looked at the wild open moorland and coast stretching for miles ahead of us and agreed it could be on its way to Hermaness by now. Then as I was watching two Ravens flying north as though they were 'on a mission', Brydon picked up the eagle someway north, soaring around and soon after it was being mobbed by the Ravens. Not believing our luck to see the bird, we then had a bit of extra luck as it turned and started to soar and glide in our direction. I'd already taken the camera out some while ago - just in case - so now it was just a case of fingers crossed it would come reasonably close. We were lucky and the bird did fly along the hillside towards us and gave us some memorable views of such an iconic bird. However, I did see a comment on the web regarding the size of the bird in the frame etc, which basically came down to a 'mine's bigger and better than yours' type of comment. As far as I'm concerned, the person needs to get a life and grow up and then they might be able to appreciate the bird for what it is - and not how many megabytes the image file is. It's one thing to go to Norway or the west of Scotland and throw fish out of the back of a boat and get pictures of them, but this bird was doing its own thing and on 'our' local patch. I can honestly say, I'd have been happy to have watched the bird without having a camera with me, but I did have it and because of that, others have been able to see it through the pictures..........

Sea Eagle and Ravens at Valla Field Unst, Jan 1st 2013

  In several of the pictures leg rings could be seen and as there were no wing tags, it was possible that this bird was a vagrant from Norway. Later in the day after I'd cropped some pictures, Brydon contacted someone in Scandinavia and had it confirmed that this bird had indeed been ringed in Norway in 2011.

  On the 3rd, we headed off island for a few days to stay at Eshaness lighthouse over in the north west of Mainland. Eshaness is on a headland that projects westwards in to the Atlantic and consequently gets westerly storms head-on so to speak. On two of the days, despite the fact that the subsiding storm had been generally south westerly, there was still quite  swell coming in to the cliffs. We reckoned that the swell was still rising up the cliffs to around 40 to 50ft. While we were there I got chatting to a man who lived there for 12 years who told me that regularly due a violent storm, sea water would run past the lighthouse front door - and the lighthouse was on the 50 meter contour !

  Most of the time during our stay, it was rather damp and grey and at times, windy. Sula wanted me to take some pictures of her playing her fiddle and suggested taking them in black & white. I'd forgotten how much I like b&w and will probably do a bit more from now on - in better weather. Below are a few from our time there......



Barry Bishop said...

A happy new year to you and to Unst.There is nothing like seeing a special bird on your own patch. Ignore the critics, keep up the good work.

hugh nankivell said...

Hi Robbie
We met briefly in December when you dropped off your daughters at my icy music workshop. I was sorry not to see them last week, but as you now their trip to Lerwick was sadly cancelled due to the death of the head-teacher. However, it would still be great to involve them if they'd like to be involved and I'd lke an email address to keep in contact with you. Great pictures.
Best wishes
Hugh Nankivell