Thursday, 6 May 2010

Return to Shetland

With the onset of spring it is again time for me to follow the lead of the birds and migrate northwards for the summer. This will be my third year as warden of two National Nature Reserves, Hermaness and the Keen of Hamar.

Before the monitoring work really kicks in there is a bit of time to get everything at the visitor centre sorted out. This year required more work than usual having had a new roof last year, part of the visitor centre had to have a new ceiling and be re-plastered. After a good day of cleaning though it all looked respectable again.

Black-tailed Godwit

Whilst there are lots of summer birds arriving in the UK, up here things are not surprisingly a bit later. There are Wheatears, Willow Warblers, Chiff Chaffs, Black-tailed Godwits, Ring Ouzels, Redwings, Fieldfares mostly passing through on their way to Scandinavia.

Great Norther Diver in summer plumage

One of 3 Ring Ouzels


A number of the breeding birds are getting down to business, Curlew can be seen on top of rocks and grassy hummocks, performing display flights and calling out with their beautiful bubbling call.


Lapwing in irridescent summer plumage

For me there have been some more speciel arrivals too. My first ever Snowy Owl, literally 5mins drive down the road. A really magnificent bird to see, it was a little distant and there was a lot of heat haze too so not great for photographs, but a treat none the less.

Snowy Owl

The end of a period of sunspot minima sees more sunspots, and more solar flares and coronal mass ejections. If they burst out in the right direction, towards earth, then we are in for a treat in the form of aurora. Over the last few days there have been some incredible solar storms, unfortulately it has been cloudy in Shetland so we havn't been able to see them. Back on the 24th April however it was clear, and we were able to see the aurora borealis. It is a real treat to be able to step out of your back door and see the magical light dancing in the sky.

Aurora borealis and star trails. The hill to the left is Hermaness
and to the right is Saxa Vord with the military radar station.

1 comment:

  1. Wow it looks amazing Alatair- I'd love to drive up and visit you up there sometime-what a spectacular job!