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.