Wednesday, 27 March 2013

This latest post is partly an 'add on' from the last post and partly new post.

  The day after my walk up to Hermaness, we still had a covering of snow which, with the sun now shining on it, looked quite picturesque.  Virtually every morning during the winter period, when I look out of the bedroom window, there are always a number of Rock Doves waiting for me to put food out - and when there is snow there are usually even more; on this day there were over fifty. Usually as soon as I walk back from the feeder (which is for the sparrows and starlings), the doves take this as the signal that there is grain on the lawn and will then take off, circle once and land. I know I've said this before, but I really like the fact these are truly wild doves, not the 'winged rats' as some folk call the urban ones..........

Rock Dove

Hoodie Crow

   A few days later (18th) I went up to Skaw for a short walk. I'd been at home all weekend working stripping paint with a gas torch and wanted to get it 'out of my system' so to speak. I wasn't intending to be there long as I was very busy at home, so I walked down to the shore with just my bins' and no camera. I'd just reached the high tide mark, when I heard the alarm calls of several gulls coming from behind me to the north. Turning around, I saw the avian equivalent of a hang glider coming down the hill towards me - the Sea Eagle was back again ! Despite the fact I was feeling pretty ropey with a really bad cough and short of breath, I ran back to the car for the camera. Thankfully I'd got it set up on the seat and also the bird continued in my direction and came over very close to the car.

  I watched the bird soaring around for at least 15 minutes as it went back and forth around Skaw being continuously mobbed by gulls. Eventually the bird drifted south east over the hill towards Lamba Ness. With me following in the car, it drifted over Norwick and the hill of Clibberswick and along towards 'Saxavord Resort'. At times like these, it's often difficult to decide whether to follow, or just sit and watch and hope it comes back. I decided to follow because if I could get on to the other side of the valley, the sun would be behind me and it would also be (hopefully) at eye level. It was a bad decision, the bird soared around the valley and then right back past the spot where I'd just been parked - heyho. In all, I reckon I watched this magnificent bird for at least half an hour over north Unst  ................


   This is the same ringed Norwegian bird that has been around since late December. For more info on this bird take a look at Brydon's Shetland Nature webpage here and of another sighting some years ago here on Nature in Shetland.

  The following day I was off island but returned to Skaw at 9.30am on the 20th. I hadn't even got out of my drivers seat when I heard the tell-tale mobbing calls of large gulls and there it was again, several hundred feet up above me being mobbed by Black-backs'. This time the bird seemed to be on a mission as it was soaring up and up and eventually I could only just make it out with the naked eye. I watched it for over ten minutes and until finally it headed south in a long glide and out of sight. I'm not too good at estimating altitude, but comparing the size of the bird say to the distance to the end of Skaw, it must have been up several thousand feet.

  On the way back, I also did get a lovely view of one of our commoner waders - a Common Snipe - at Lamba Ness...

Common Snipe

  Also on the way home passing through Haroldswick, I had a very close view of a Grey Heron at Haroldswick Pools. Normally at any sign of anyone paying any attention to them, they are off like a shot before the vehicle has stopped. This one however, stood there for several minutes before flying to the other side of the pool......

...too close for the 500mm
  While most of the country has been either very cold, has had lots of snow, or both, Unst has had a few days of windless sunny weather. This picture below was from Skaw on Tuesday (26th). It was a beautiful windless day and I was the only one there :)


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