Monday, 2 November 2009

Heading North for the Winter (September)

Dunnottar Castle, Stonhaven

At the start of the month me and a person i know called Gary arranged a trip to the most Northern isles of Britain in Orkney and Shetland. It was pritty much organising
as on the morning we set off John Milo was telling us to head south to east Anglia and Norfolk. The journey up to Aberdeen was pishing solid with rain the whole time as the wiper blades were doing overtime. we stopped at the Forth Estury to look for Sea Eagle but the visibility was so bad we were wasting our time. We haddent even booked our Ferry or accommadation so we made a few calls on our way up and got a B&B and booked the Ferry crossing. we were so relieved that we had booked the ferry and guaranteed our trip across the north sea up to Shetland tonight!

we arrived at my family town of Aberdeen a couple of hours early so we decided to go and look for Red Kites out to the west side of the city where they had been introduced in the summer of 2008. We thought it was a good idea at the time kill a bit of time and chance to see the superb raptor even though the weather was still crud. When we got to the area of Dunecht estate and Scotstown we spotted some roosting Buzzards but no sign of the Kites so we hung about for a bit then headed over to Westhill to leave my Ferrari and get the bus into town.

we made it to the bus stop to find out we missed the last bus by 2 min so had to wait another half hour for the next one. Last boarding for the ferry is half 5 and our bus leaves Westhill at 5 and it takes a good half hour to get to the city centre and then we need to find the harbour! haha!

we go the 5 oclock bus and crammed on struggling to find a seat as it was full of school kids. Arrived at the bus station at half 5! then bus driver directed us to the harbour which was not far from the bus station. We sprinted to the ferry terminal like something out of the first scene of the Titanic movie film and arrived to a milf locking the door and telling us were to late and we had missed the boat! I have to say Garys manners at time are bottom off the pecking order but he might have helped things this time "this is f**king rediculas this" "the Ferry is still right f**kin there" a terriable choice of colourful language by the geordie lad right infront of the staff members. They asked us inside to see what they could do but we were just expecting a booking for the following day and they offered us a cabin on a cargo ship leaving in 30 minutes so we took it having to pay about £20 extra, success in the end but it came at a price haha!

The Cargo ship was very rocky, leering side to side but it diddnt bother me and G as we had a 3 course meal, sky Tv and a sauna so all was gravy on the trip over after all!

Once we made it to the island we didnt research into how big the place was and with busses coming like once an hour i came up with a corking idea to get a hire car so we found a place that hired them in Lerwick and it was only 25 for a couple of days and whatever fuel we use on top of that so it was well worth doing especially since we got a 4x4 to use!

This is a picture of a Gannet, you cant make it out to well on the small picture but we got some great views of the wonderful birds on the crossing over and to our first port of call at Sumburgh head on the south point of the mainland which is an RSPB reserve and is a superb viewing point for sea watching as well as costal birds and scenery.

Great Skua (pictured above) were superb to see, again the photo hasent came out very good but still an amazing bird that is described as the pirate of the seas as it would happily snatch another birds meal and also tag smaller birds like puffins. They are not affraid of humans either as they would dive bomp them from above if the y get to close to their nesting site.

This was a pic I got from a short ferry trip we took to a samll island on the east coast called skerries. We were hoping for a sighting of a Minke Whale which is one of the main reasons why we travelled up here but we diddnt get any look with them. The captain of the ship said he had seen two the previous day but we diddnt hae much look as the seas were very choppy with plenty of white horses on show. we did get Porpoise from Sumbrugh head but that would be all in terms of Cetatian sightings for the trip.

A nice shot of a Fulmer but it does not display its characteristics very well with its flat stiff wings.

The Grey seal with its bulbas elephant head sticking out. They are plentiful on the east side south of Lerwick. We did not see any Common seal but there is a good population on the island.

My and my buddy old pal sitting on a section of a Sperm whale skull amazing what a size! the only whale we seen on the whole trip and got a great view! it still counts as a sighting. Speaking of Sperm whles look forward to my blog for next week...

We think this a sub-species wren unique to the island but we will have to look into it.....

we made the ferry on the trip back funnily enough! we were like the first people to board haha! it was like stepping on the RMS Titanic as it had movie theatre, restraunt, lounge area, toilets...but no sauna or sky TV! we were still determined as ever to see any type of Cetatian so we went straight on the top deck to brave the weather as it was blowing a 60 draft! gary thought he seen a dorsal fin breach but thats all we got again. We diddnt fail through lack of trying as we put some good long shifts in but i think we were to late in the year for Minke and also better hot spots for them are west coast in Mull, Skye and Gairloch which do boat tours specifiaclly for them.
We fell asleep in the seated area and woke in the morning to the boat arriving at my very own Aberdeen, Aberdeen is in my blood! I thought i had lost my cell phone in the morn and was going barmy but Good old reliable Gazza found it on one of the seats as I had moved sleeping position like 15 times during the night!

On the journey down the weather was a lot better and we stopped at the Firth Estury by Dundee in hope of eagles but we couldnt find a good enough viewing point. We did see a Marsh harrier though with a distinctive green wing tag as the chicks got tagged to be monitored in the area, so that was a plus point!

We then called to Vane Farm RSPB reserve and as usual a woman at the door harasing you to join, No deal mr banker all the best and see you later! The shop there was class and had some great books and dvds and also bird pin badges but again didnt part with my bunsen burner!

Overall a quality few days away and good to go to such a special remote location like the Shetland isles as it is closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to London!

Red Admiral, the strong flying migratory species Main food sourse in the UK is the common Nettle, Pellitory-of-the-wall and Hop.

The Peacock It's spectacular pattern of eye spots is highly recognisable and best known species.

Painted Lady & Peacock, Migrant butterfly and travel from north Africa to as far as Scandanavia in the space of 2 weeks!

Meadow Brown, Habitat include Grasslands, including downland, heathland, coastal dunes and undercliffs, hay meadows, roadside verges, hedgerows, woodland rides and clearings, and waste ground. Also occurs in parks, gardens, and cemeteries.

Small White, Briliant white wings with black forewing tips and one or two wing spots.

At the end of September I went up to Aberdeen to see family and called in to the Forth estury again for the chance of Raptors. We called in at Errol where we found a back road that would lead us to the estury and we found an opening to look out onto the water. I dragged my mum and brother with me but it was a splendid day so I think they enjoyed it. about 20 minutes in we got a huge treat when an Osprey flew 20 feet over our heads and we all got stunning views of the bird as it ended up joining 2 other Ospreys circling over the water. We also seen a Marsh Harrier in the reedbeds on the other side of the Estury.


Osprey circling over the Forth Estury

Wildlife Sightings for September: -
  • Osprey
  • 2 Marsh Harrier
  • 5 Peregrine Falcon
  • 5 Porpoise
  • 2 common Dolphin
  • 15 plus Red Kites
  • 5 Grey Seal

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