Friday, 6 July 2018

Orcas in Shetland

One ticked off the 'bucket list'. I have always wanted to see wild Orcas. To the best of my knowledge they first became semi-regular in Shetland in the 2000's. Since then I have been longing to see them in Britain. In the past ten years they have become so regular individuals have became recognisable and last year, whilst in deepest Scotland with Pop's, we hatched a plan. The plan was to go and see Orca's in Shetland in June 2018. 

In reality, July is the best time. Indeed now, they are being seen daily and multiple pods and multiple sites at that. Early June however offers the chance of late migrants and great breeding birds as well, so early June was the chosen time. 

This year, prior to our arrival, they hadn't been seen regularly since early May, so I was far from hopeful. But we were lucky. How that luck came about was due to a bunch of boring circumstances which meant instead of seeing a Walrus which had been lost on the Out Skerries, we could be over-looking the Sound of Yell at 9am on Monday the 4th June and watching 'Busta' and 64's pod and indeed continued to watch this pod for nearly 6 hours, from land and sea in the Sound. The levels of luck are several especially since usually they don't go up and down the same stretch of coast like they did that day. As I say we were lucky. 

My father described it as 'almost emotional'. I described it as being deeply addictive. Every time they disappeared round a headland, you found yourself willing them to re-appear and could sense everyone else that joined us doing the same. Unforgettable and the photos don't do them justice. 

Bearded Seal Part 2- there is something your beard


In October, whilst watching Black Guillemots in Lerwick, I noticed they often made a rather adorable squeaking noise. These birds on Mousa Island were making the same noise. Fantastic Auks- seemingly quite fearless of man.

Famous Grouse

This drake Red Grouse was very protective over it's family we came across on west Mainland Shetland in early June. At one point it ran at me with wings dragging head and tail raised, calling. Never been attacked by a Red Grouse before- was reminiscent of the Capercaillie a few years ago. Stunning birds. Whilst watching this bird I heard a Wood Sandpiper displaying.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Bearded Seal Part 1

Some of the first shots I took of the Bearded Seal in Lerwick Harbour. Great animal- only 30 records ever in Britain of this Arctic Seal. Very cute and clearly has no fear of humanoids. 

Puffins on Shetland

Just got back from a week long trip to Shetland. By the looks of this blog, I only take photos on Shetland these days. Anyway, here are some Puffins from Sumburgh Head. The main problems with photographing them here was the wind and the lack of birds most days, however on the second evening we were lucky with some great close birds. Most were muddy from digging their burrows but these birds were fine and I am happy I have finally got shots of Puffin in Thrift.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Black Guillemot

Long-tailed Skua

According to the local golfers, this juvenile Long-tailed Skua has been hanging about the Golf course at Goswick for ages and was nice compensation for the Scop's Owl having done one a few days before. It was outrageously fearless, allowing golfers to take photos with their phones within a few feet.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Shetland

There was quite a surge in records of Buff-bellied Pipits a few years ago, after one was found at Frampton Marsh RSPB. Indeed, this was the first one I saw in 2005. It wasn't an easy individual to catch up and many people dipped. This bird found at Grutness was very obliging for the gathered crowd but didn't hang around for long before it flew off and wasn't relocated by dusk.

More Parrots

Twitched two 'red' Parrot Crossbills in Lerwick today which were reasonably obliging, even coming to puddles by the crowd at one point. Whilst there another one flew over west and we also had another two flying over near Helendale Drive again.