Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Getting my hands dirty

I went out today to fix a rotten stile that had been reported. Being in an out the way location and only needing a step board replacing it seemed a waste to go through the hassle of contracts so off I set in my little Yaris. Soon I was wishing it was a 4x4 or quad though, so it was on shanks's pony from here on...


Me and my friend Woody on our way to meet his stile-ish mates near Royal Field...


After crossing a few bogs we were soon there...


All ready to go. Thankfully no one up here uses ring-nails or it would have been a pain to get the old nails out...


And all done. Woody seemed to fit in nicely with his new friends... 


I even managed to get back to the road with out getting stuck or leaving any car parts behind...


Later I was out at Burwick Ness, a lovely spot over the hill from Scalloway with views of the 'Scalloway Ilses'...


This used to be a fishing station and after speaking to the landowner I found out that there's a link with home. Jack Lammiman, a salty sea dog from Whitby of some notoriety stayed here from time to time with the Helga Maria and even took stones from here to build a memorial  to  another local boy and arctic explorer, William Scoresby, when doing the north-west passage.

The Helga Maria complete with crow's nest and pirate flag...



He may even have stayed here...


Give it a sweep out and I'd live there!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Wester Wick and The Nev

The coast around Westerwick and Silwick is one of my favourite stretches in Shetland. A few years ago I kayaked and explored some of it's hidden gems, something I hope to do again, but the other day I was on top of the cliffs along a short route that leads from Westerwick to a headland called The Nev. 

Looking south-east across Wester Wick...


I find the stacks, ridges and little coves on this bit of coast fantastic. Some of the coves you can get down to if you've very careful and possibly a bit daft too.


The Nev is the high cliff in the centre of this photo with Giltarump being the holm just off it. A deep geo runs inland that you can get down into if you wanted to...


Giltarump...


Looking back south-east across Wester Wick...


 Looking north-west past Groni stack along the Culswick coast and towards The Broch of Culswick...


Everyone knows about the impressive the cliffs of Eshaness, but to me these trump them.

I was also in the south end recently and passed this happy gathering on the roadside near Quendale. I put a smile on my face...


As did the impressive waves in the Bay of Quendale...




I should get out some time just to look for good waves, they're amazing to watch and the power of the big dumping ones is something else!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Noss and the Noup

On a blustery day I finally got a chance to go to Noss National Nature Reserve and check the paths , it was a bit wet a times, but it didn't spoil the trip. After crossing Bressay it's a short walk down a track to the jetty. Pretty soon the wardens were on their way across in the little ferry for the short trip onto Noss. At £3 for an adult it's not bad and it goes some way to supporting the warden service on the reserve.


Noss visitor centre...


Outside are various collections of whale bones and inside are some great displays and a range of information and leaflets...



I set off round the island going anti-clockwise as recommended. In clear spells in the weather I got some good views like this one over to The Bard on Bressay from Turr Ness...


Heading around and slowly upwards I got to The Holm of Noss, a large stack just before you go up The Noup (which is just peeping out above the slope on the left)...


Looking south from the holm I spotted this arch in Feadda Ness which I remember from my boat trips around Noss...


The cliffs are well known for being spectacular from a boat, but they're pretty good from above too. I wonder how long it will be before this large block makes it's way down to the sea...


And soon enough the view of The Noup with it's fantastic gannet colonies is revealed; you can smell it too!


It's getting towards the end of the breeding season now with some birds already gone, but there were still plenty of gannets and chicks...




As I reached the top of The Noup the weather came in so I carried on and waited for it to clear whist watching out for the odd diver bombing bonxie. I didn't get hit, but a couple came pretty close.

I was soon back on the relative flat of the island and heading back to the visitor centre and the weather had cleared again. This is the view looking west towards Papil Geo as I headed back...


The walk around the island with the other bits I needed to check out is about 6 miles and the ground is pretty good with just the odd damp area to cross, though it's obviously a climb up to The Noup and back down. I spent about 3 hours, but on a better day if you were bird watching you would spend a lot more time. The ferry runs from 10am until 5pm depending on weather during the summer; you can check whether it is running by ringing the Noss ferry line 08001077818

If you fancy a little adventure with some great scenery and birds it's one not to miss.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

She sells sea shells...

I guess most people collect shells when they're out and about around the coast and we're no exception. Some time back I came across the remains of a a large hermit crab in a large whelk shell; I call him Boris...


I'm still fascinated by him. The way his legs are molded to his home and wondering how much bigger he could have got. Looking closer I noticed his impressive claws in detail withthe fine whiskers that fringe his claws. I've never noticed that before; I wonder if all crabs have this...


There's a rather special shell that we get in Shetland, know locally as a grotty buckie; tiny arctic cowries. They're very pretty and very small. Some beaches are better for them than others, but even on a good beach finding them takes some effort. We've got a small pile of them that we've collected, though I have met someone with a big glass sphere full of them. It took them 30 years to get that many, so we might get there yet!


Grotty buckies looking a bit grotty, they're not easy to get sparkling clean...


I think these are grey tops shells, another favourite and much more common than the grotty buckies...


And I think these are some type of Rissoa shell, they're really tiny...



Friday, 16 August 2013

Experiments with macro...

A friend and colleague got me interesting in trapping moths recently and after seeing how lovely they can be close up I bought myself some cheap extension tubes to use with my 70-300mm telephoto. It seems best used just at 70mm with the tubes, though oddly using the 70mm end of my 18-70mm lens is a failure. Some quirk of the particular optics I asssume. I've also got a few cheap close up filters which add quite a bit of magnification. It's going to be a long learning process, but some of my early attempts seem to have come out quite well.

Here's a blue bottle I snapped while out the other day...


And some close ups of arctic cowries or grottie buckies as they are called up here. I should have cleaned them first as they do look pretty grotty...



Last night I put out the Fireman Sam lamp powered moth trap again and got a new bounty. I put them in the fridge through the day to calm them down so I might have an easier time photographing them before releasing them this evening.

Here'a crane fly I caught...


And this is a Beautiful Golden Y. I think it's lovely with a bat like nose...



Here's a Udea Lutealis, or so I'm told...


And this tiny beast is probably Blastobasis Adustella...



These two remain a mystery for the time being...






Monday, 12 August 2013

Wonderful sunset

I was umming and ahhing about whether to go and watch Wolverine at the pictures last night when I suddenly decided, no, I'll go up the hill instead to photograph the sunset. And I'm glad I did...


This was taken from Berry Hill above Scalloway looking west towards Reawick where the sun set. You can make out Foula near the left horizon. There was some sort of rainbow thing going on in the showers crossing the island there that I was tempted to zoom in on, but instead I had a time-lapse running of the over all sun set which  think came out pretty well. Best viewed at HD quality...


I hoped to catch the meteor showers last night, but only saw one or two, but here is a very short time lapse of the plough or Ursa Major rotating in the sky, bottom midle of the frame...