A wee autumn update...It’s been a while since the last blog, but been kept busy with reserve work. Once the summer’s breeding data had been entered it was time to look at some practical management tasks, from planning boardwalks on Mousa and new pools at Spiggie to removing the old observation hut on Sumburgh Head, inbetween the end of season take-downs and tidy-ups on all three sites, which included a hairy removal of Sumburgh info boards in gale force winds with Jenny...phew. Most reserves would leave these large boards up all year round, but the winds here would probably fling them into the North or Atlantic Sea, depending on which direction it's blowing!
Pretty much battened down all the hatches for winter now, and not before time, with the first snowfall of the season on Friday, brrrr... Weather hasn’t been the only thing keeping things interesting locally of late, with two far flung rare migrants found by local birders, just minutes from the reserves. A Chestnut-eared Bunting from the far- east (second for Britain, third for Europe!) and from over the pond, a Bobolink. Check out pics of both on the excellent ‘nature in Shetland’ website and facebook pages, both great online resources for keeping up to date with Shetland's bird and wildlife sightings:
Having completed the annual Mousa Storm Petrel ringing expedition with the SRG in September, last week was time to visit Mousa (while weather permitted) to start the annual Grey Seal pup survey with SNH. Grey seals are born with a white fur coat which they shed over the first three weeks, before taking to the sea. On this visit 36 pups were counted in all, including some newly born, a fantastic sight. During the count, while heading up toward the old ruined homestead I was treated to a surprise close encounter with a Short-eared Owl, which took off in front of me, landed 100 yards away and was instantly mobbed by a Sparrowhawk! The seal in the first pic is starting to shed its white fur, revealing the dark velvety coat underneath. How many can you spot among the seaweed?
Finally, many visitors to Sumburgh Head during the summer ask what's it like during winter, so here's the view at the moment...
As the sun sets and the moon rises, was that a broomstick I saw flashing past the lighthouse? it must be the time of year....Happy Halloween!
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