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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Unst day 6

It's been a very busy last couple of days on Unst and Fetlar.
It's been a super trip and I have enjoyed it even more than I did last year. I'm on my way back home now so with plenty of time to kill at Sumburgh and then Edinburgh airports, it's time to catch up on my blog.
Day 5 was a hit and miss day - a bit of a hit for me, but alas a bit of a miss of Suze. The weather was forecast to be fantastic, and I awoke at 6 to glorious sunshine.
Suze decided to try for flowers and Curlew on Baltasound Sound airstrip and I headed back to Saxa Vord to try to catch a final session photographing the Golden Plover on the morning light.
The Plover was most obliging and by staying in the car, I was able to sit quiet, let the bird relax and wait for it to come closer to the car which it did. Success one for the day.
After a quick breakfast at Ordaal it was off to the Otter site just up the road.

Ordaal House



The sun was shining and the light was getting a bit harsh, but I'm not going to complain as sitting in position with the water lapping, a slight breeze blowing and a few Arctic Terns for company.
There were two problems though - the first was that the tide was only just turning but worse than that, the couple we'd seen earlier in the week were just setting off from their car. Today the lady was not only sporting a bright red coat, but also white trousers.



Hubby then proceeded to wander across all of the high points along the walk which the ever wary otters would spot from a mile away.
Eventually however they moved off and Suze and I decided to swap places on either side of the bay from previous days. As I headed back to my spot I noticed a small movement out of the corner of my eye and there, by the waters edge was a lone otter making for the safety of an old sea wall. He'd spotted me of course before I had an opportunity to duck down.
With the whole bay in view however, I got into position all the while keeping an eye out for the otter to reappear. As Robbie says however, otters are like mercury and this one just vanished.
And hour of a half of watching and he didn't reappear.
What did show up though was a Red Throated Diver. A fantastic looking bird - especially in sunlight. The diver was quartering the bay so I decided to try get into position.
Divers spend a degree of their time face down in the sea looking for fish, so along with their frequent dives, a bit of uncomfortable crawling over sharp rocks got me into position, low down in the weeds at the waters edge.
Sure enough, the diver eventually swum close by and I got my shots. Beautiful birds with fantastic coloration and a striking red eye.



Unfortunately, Suze didn't get to see any otters, but we'd booked a ferry for Fetlar and had to leave.
Fetlar is a 20 minute ferry ride from Unst, or longer if you have to do the leg to Yell first before the ferry goes on to Fetlar.
One of the reasons to visit Fetlar is to visit an RSPB reserve called Loch Funzie (pronounced 'Finny') where the very rare Red Necked Phalarope breeds and feeds. The nest sites are actually in the near by mires, but the birds are supposed to feed on the Loch, which is fairly small and shallow.
This was my third visit in 2 years and Suze' third in as many years. Suze has seen one Phal, and I've not seen them at all.
Today was to prove no different. I fact, the loch was very quiet indeed with very little life evident aside from a few terns and gulls.
We sat for a couple of hours and nothing appeared, and so we are beginning to suspect that something has changed at the site which means that the Phals have moved elsewhere on the island.
Numbers have been very low with very few sightings in the past few years, which is a great shame as a lot of visitors come to see these diminutive waders, and this must create a lot of extra income for Fetlar.
Having given up on the Phals we moved to another spot where Great Skuas regularly bathe.
This was much more successful as in the evening light, the water spray and running take off's towards the camera where great.



Another late finish to the day, but 3 successful sessions with different species which will hopefully produce some great results which I post when I have some time for processing.

Graham Goddard ARPS

1 comment:

Suze said...

Well hopefully I will get them when I go to the Rogue River in August, fourteen days to try! Got Curlew last year but otter keeps eluding me. Looking forward to seeing that one image you got with the salmon head, hope it came out.
Suze