Monday 22 March 2010

Spring has arrived ............................and has gone again!

I recently recalled working on St Kilda many years ago and what a wonderful place it was to work (you payed for the privilege to go and work there) well, I was working on Saturday at a place that was very close to working 'on the edge of the world' - a phrase often used to describe the islands of St Kilda ( I was over at the Shore Station at Burrafirth and despite the gale that was blowing, it was fantastic. The 'Shore Station' is a large white building that used to be used as accommodation for the lighthouse keepers and their families when the keepers were on leave from the Muckle Flugga lighthouse which is just over 3 miles north of there.

Burra Firth and the Shore Station

When the lighthouse became automatic some years ago, the Shore Station was sold and is now used as 4 private dwellings.During the summer months, the firth becomes alive with feeding Gannets, Fulmars, Auks and Puffins. When I was there on Saturday, scores of Fulmar were resting on the water and several Red-throated Divers fished alongside dozens of Shag. During calm weather, porpoise are often seen and on several occasions last summer, Orca came around the coast - I arrived too late sadly.

Muckle Flugga lighthouse is often incorrectly referred to, as Britains most northerly point; this is not the case however, as it is a small rocky outcrop called Out Stack. Out Stack is just beyond Muckle Flugga and is also often referred to as Britain's 'full stop'. This photograph was obviously not taken on Saturday, but was taken last July.

Muckle Flugga

The wind and rain fortunately passed through quickly overnight and so Sunday morning was beautiful - clear sky, no wind and warm - yes warm! I sat in the sun on the south side of our house and the heat from the sun was really surprising, I didn't check the temperature but it would certainly have been in double figures ! Despite the Mediterranean weather, I didn't have time to go out and about as today many of the good folk of Unst were taking part in 'Sport Relief'. Amazingly, for an island of around 700, just over 200 people took part in a three stage walk around the centre of Unst. The length of the walks were 1, 3 and 6 miles and most folk either walked or ran but one person did most of it on a pair of stilts. I did the 6 miles along with another birder (Mike Pennington) and 'birdwatched' around the route. Mike was hoping for 30 species but we managed 32 including 3 Slavonian Grebes, one of which was in breeding plumage. Birding as we walked had its price and that was being amongst the last dozen to finish - but it was worth it as the whole event raised just over £1000.

Today, spring had gone again and we were back to wind and rain again by midday. Hey ho.


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