Archive for July, 2010

Face to face with a frog

18 July, 2010

The plan was to visit various places and people in Northmavine and walk over to the Grind o Da Navir. But the speed at which you make progress is inversely proportional to the number of folk participating and there were 4 of us so we didn’t get it all done but along the way we stopped to check on some Oysterplant, which was still in bloom and had a lovely time visiting Fiona at the Oily Muggie craft shop in Hillswick. After that we admired the view of the Drongs as we had lunch at Breiwick Cafe and then went to the Tangwick Haa Museum. Soon after leaving we happened upon this Lapwing chick, which was causing its parents some concern and then we saw a pair of Whimbrel, which was great.

Much later than planned we parked up at Eshaness lighthouse and set out for a shortish walk over to the broch and Hols o’ Scraada, where a cave collapse has left a chasm linked to the open sea by a 100-metre subterranean passage and there is a nice little waterfall at the other end below some long-abandoned clack mills. At one of the geos was a sizeable patch of Scot’s Lovage but the best part of the day was finding a little frog. At one point I came face to face with him, admittedly through my camera lens!

12 Swans-a-swimming

16 July, 2010

OK, I know there are only 7 in the Christmas carol but I needed a catchy title and the post is about a dozen swans that flew in to Clickimin Loch for a visit in mid-Summer.

So there I was, clearing the dishes away after dinner and looking forward to a quiet evening and thinking that I would have liked to have gone to Fetlar Foy but had been unable to because I had a stall on Victoria Pier for the weekend of the Flavour of Shetland. Suddenly, my attention was drawn to a large group of large white birds flying over the loch, initially in my peripheral vision through the kitchen window. As I focussed on it, I clearly identified it as a group of swans, possibly 10 or 12. I got the bins and went to another window for a better view; the bevy had landed on the water by this time and were at the far end of the loch but I could easily see they were mute swans, mostly immature.

large groups of mute swans together may be common enough in other places but it’s quite an unusual sight on Clickimin Loch; a dozen or more whooper swans often gather in winter but I couldn’t recall having seen that many mute swans together in one place in Shetland so I headed out for some photos.

As I got closer to the loch I counted 11 swans but they were swimming across the middle of the loch by this time. Then I noticed another swan on its own in the distance; it was smaller and a long way behind the others, almost as if if was struggling to keep up. I took a closer look through the telephoto lens and saw that it was a whooper swan. “That’s funny”, I thought, I don’t remember there being any whooper swans on the loch – they left weeks earlier. Then it became clear, the whooper swan was part of the group of mute swans, making 12 altogether.

As they swam around the whooper swan was sometimes left behind by the much more powerful mute swans, other times it just mingled with them, presumably thinking it was one of them. The mute swans, for their part, tolerated their companion, mostly just ignoring it and getting on with the business of feeding on the plentiful weed in the loch. I watched the swans for about half an hour that evening and on and off over the next few weeks until they left, sometime in the first few days of July I think. Of the mute swans there was 1 adult cob, 1 adult pen and 9 immature swans of which I think 5 were male.

(Updated 18 July) No sooner did I post this than 10 of the swans re-appeared; the cob mute swan and the whooper swan were the only 2 I couldn’t see.

Noss in Shetland – what a view!

11 July, 2010

I go to the small island of  Noss as often as possible and have already had a few trips over this year. But as you can see from the photos below, on one day I had spectacular weather to complete the amazing avian spectacle! If I can be forgiven the tiniest of gripes, it’s that digital cameras have difficulty dealing with the extreme contrast brought about by such intense brightness – but, having said that, it’s a challenge I’m more than happy to rise to – any time!

This was a day in late May or early June and I took an easy stroll up the Noup, stopping to see and photograph a few birds on the way. Two shots I had wanted for a while were one of me watching puffins and a classic shot of the Noup with an azure sky behind; this was my lucky day and I got both. I also got a fair shot of a puffin in flight but that remains on my list to get a better one – maybe next time.

I’ve been to Noss twice since then and hope to be back some more times over the summer. I’ve posted a gallery with other images of Noss over at Austin Taylor Photography