Tuesday 22 March 2016

John Linton Smith R.I.P.

I first met John (most people called him ``Lin' )just over  40 years ago . At that time I had started wildlife photography and wanted to know more about the subject so I joined Sorby Natural History Society and John was giving the talk on nesting birds.

John was very enthusiastic about the subject and his photography superb. He was doing a lot of nest photography both around Sheffield and up in Scotland. It took a lot of knowledge to first find the nest then set up a hide to ensure the bird would remain safe and he always emphasised this to those that would listen.

His knowledge of wildlife in the UK became even more evident when I joined his Natural History night classes which my wife Diane and I continued to attend up to it being disbanded back in 1987.

Then he helped us to set up what now has become known as the Woodhouse Wildlife group which ran from September 1987 - 2014 . Even then John continued to come to the group with numerous talks on a variety of wildlife subjects.

                                                                                             Wendy, John and Diane

A few years after joining his classes our paths met again at St Augustine Church where we both served on a regular basis and both our wives sang in the choir. We shared many more interests such as visiting Scotland, music, WW2, the RAF, Cats, Sheffield Wednesday to name just a few.

John also encouraged me to start doing wildlife talks of my own to the RSPB, Wildlife Groups etc and again helped me to start delivering photography course for the Adult Education in Sheffield and then in Shetland.

John was also know as Mr Lapwing as he studied  the birds nesting habits and the birds behavior for many years, he called his talks Vanellus presentations after the Lapwing's Latin name

                                                                                                     John's favourite bird the Lapwing

We have spent many an hour sharing our interests and even when we moved to Shetland we kept in regular contact. Even before we left Sheffield John wasn't in the best of health and even though he never liked talking about his illness he would always enjoy talking about Photography or Wildlife.

In the end it was a peaceful passing helped by the staff at St Luke's. We will certainly miss him, a great friend and inspiration and help to many more people.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

weekend birds

Last weekend with good weather, we wasted no time in getting down to the South mainland. Very few people around which was odd as the weather couldn't have been better with no wind and sun and it wasn't too cold.

First at Grutness all the birds seemed far off, a Great Northern Diver, Long tailed duck (9) Shag (6) but most the waders congregated at the north end of the beach. Only a dozen or so Turnstone down at the south side, but a large flock started to work along the beach towards me. Another Turnstone (55) Ringed Plover (8) Oystercatcher (6) working the tide line. At the small lay-by a couple of snipe flew off and a Skylark sang a sign spring is around the corner.

Working my way back to Sumburgh hotel another 5 skylarks landed on the airfield and soon 2 took off on a flight display singing as they started to rise in the air. Flocks of Starling flew in to feed and several sang along the wall to the hotel.

A few Fieldfare and Blackbirds hopped along on shorter grass and a flock of feeding Oystercatchers had large lumps of mud stuck to their orange beaks. A couple of noisy Redshank came over and another Skylark began to sing.

From the beach many duck could be seen in the distance a large raft of 156 Long tailed duck was impressive and it was good to locate the Common Scoter (4) and a Velvet Scoter which have been present for around 2 weeks.

Red Breasted Merganser (10) Goldeneye (12) joined by Shag (12) and an impressive (23)Great Northern Diver looked great in the sun. On the beach Turnstone (18) Starlings and several Rock Pipit search through seaweed.

A quick look down at Spiggie revealed Whooper swan (12) Shelduck (2) Goldeneye (18) Wigeon (23) Teal (6) Snipe (4) many gulls and Greylag Geese . Raven and Hoddie seem to like the fields with sheep which also attracted a couple of 100 Starling.

With the weather still good on Sunday we headed down to Quendale.  Around the mill around 100 starling made a lot of noise, these were joined by a good number of Sparrow. Following the burn up to the dam , I flushed snipe(4) and a Moorhen then just beside the dam a Jack snipe seemed unconcerned as I approached but finally flew out just as I was ready to take a photo.

Past the old house a Peregrine put up a large flock of starling which had been feeding close to the dunes then around 50 Oystercatcher and 20 Curlew took flight. When things calmed down a flock of Rock Dove returned to feed near the lower reaches of the burn and several noisy skeins of Greylag came into land on the farmland.

This weekend we had to go to Lerwick so a good time to look round the harbour, no Iceland or Glaucous Gulls present and a general lack of other gulls. A few Long Tailed Duck and eider could be seen and close  in a few Black Guillemot both in breeding and winter plumage. Several Raven and Hoodie , Oystercatcher and Rock Pipit also gave good views

Sunday was mostly sunny but cold with some snow showers but down at West Voe the sun  shone on Long Tailed Duck (194) Common Scoter (5) Velvet Scoter, Golden Eye (12), Red Breasted Merganser (5) GT Northern Diver (8), over at Grutness only a Red Throated Diver and a couple of Black Guillemot showed.