Friday 24 August 2012

Waders and Whales

  Yesterday (18th Aug) I had a trip off island, firstly to pick up the Audi from the garage after a service (and even more work and an even bigger bill to come) and also to take my Subaru exhaust to the garage to be sent back to the suppliers as one of the baffles has broken down. As we waited at Ulsta for the ferry to leave, I had an email come to my phone from Birdguides with a notification regarding a picture I'd posted. 'Ah' I thought, 'must be a comment for the recent Gannet pic I posted taken at Hermaness'. Wrong ! It was a citation from the admin at Birdguides, saying that the picture of the Gannets over Muckle Flugga I had taken had been chosen as the Photo of the Week - blimey.
Here's the pic again .....

  Over the last week or so, the fields around the house - and village - have been cut for silage which has given rise to large numbers of birds (Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing, gulls and Starlings) coming down to feed. Amongst these birds have been one or two less common ones such as Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff. There were up to 12 Ruff feeding around Ordaal for a few days and the Black-wit' was a garden tick - No 108. Amongst the numerous Willow Warblers that past through the garden last week was a cracking Wood Warbler which was also a new one for the garden - No 109.

 Black-tailed Godwit



Wood Warbler

  I mentioned in the last post about looking for Minke Whales off of Lamba Ness as we have had a period of little or no wind. Well, I was over there again several times in the last week and have seen them (up to three) on every occasion apart from today (24th Aug). As it's been so still, the sound of the blow as it surfaces has carried for a long way and is easily heard from the clifftop over the noise of the waves on the rocks below. On occasions I had them pass within 100yds of the end of the low rocky headland where I go to try and get pictures. The problem is judging when and where they are going to surface, as a dive can sometimes last for ten minutes or more. It's fairly easy to get shots of the back and dorsal fin out of the water, but I struggle with getting the head. It is only visible for around a second or so and in that time I have to find it in the view finder, having the lens on the tripod does help though. It seems to me, the area they feed in depends on the state of the tide race coming around Skaw and Lamba Ness. If its a slack tide they seem to go further out, if the tide is running fast, they seem to feed either in it, or closer to the headland. I can only assume it's because the fish are also affected by the tide (I'm sure someone will tell me). Another good sign is of fishing Gannets, the other day there were hundreds of them just off shore and right amongst them were the Minkes.....

  With all of this fish around, it also attracts other predators such as Grey Seals and Bonxies. The seals can be quite inquisitive if they see someone on the rocks, but make a sudden movement and they dive like a shot; as for the Bonxies ? - they do what Bonxies do and that is harass the Gannets for food...



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