It was back in June 1991 that we saw Albert Ross, the Shetland Black Browed Albatross which was present at Saito Hermaness between early 1970s and 1995 This bird built a nest each year hoping to attract a mate that never turned up as Albatrosses are birds of the southern hemisphere, extremely rare in these parts.
Bird watching is like that you never know what is going to turn up, as long as you are in, a so call hotspot - Shetland included then you have an excellent chance of seeing something unusual. These are normally islands or coastal locations, lucky we have both on the doorstep.
It been like summer these past weeks, except for the odd day of cloud and rain. On a great sunny, still day last weekend we travelled up to Sumburgh head . The car park was full indicating that Puffins could be seen on the cliffs.
looking over the wall near the lighthouse many Puffins stood close by, in fact hundreds stood around in groups or flying around. Some still collected nesting material, one decided to cause a fight but none could be seen carrying sandeels- a bad sign. we talked to an RSPB warden who said after a good start to the breeding season the second half was proving difficult, with few bring back eels.
It seemed strange as the week before and after our visit to Sumburgh Head we watched a good number of Arctic Terns bring back large sandeels for young birds. How could these find food and the Puffins struggle?
Razorbills and Guillemots had left the cliffs a few weeks before and young birds had been seen, so these may not have been affected by the reduction of eels in the latter periods. Kittiwakes another species that relies on sandeels could be seen in very small numbers.
Curlew, Oystercatcher and Lapwing are beginning to flock in reasonable numbers, joining larger flocks of Starling. The Paddyfield Warbler is still present on Noss, but we still have not had time to visit the island even though we had two short trips to Bressay, the first island you must cross to get to Noss.
Autumn is with us now and it will only be a short time until some rarer birds start to turn up, this year though i will be more tied down with work.