Monday, 20 August 2018

Killer Whales & the last Puffins

We that's it for this year as we said farewell to the Puffins at Sumburgh. Last weekend there were 100's of Puffins on the cliffs and flying around but by Tuesday it was down to just one bird.

Its along winter for these birds as they head out into the North sea where they spend the winter in extreme conditions. The colourful beak become black and will only grow back as the new breeding season approaches.

As for the young ones, it a test of endurance to see whether they are fit enough to survive the heavy seas. It looks like this year has been a good one for most of the seabirds with many birds bringing in fish. Arctic terns are still bringing fish for their young around the coast and many are still very aggressive.

It will be very interesting to see how Seabirds are doing in Shetland as a whole with the Seabird census now complete. Seabird deaths are down by half on last year (as per beach surveys) with only 48 birds found in July.

Whether the Sandeel population is expanding is another matter. Sandeels are food for the ever increasing Herring populations, the sunny weather the best summer in Shetland for years many have increased the plankton that Sandeels feed on or the  sea currents may have been favourable bringing a good number of Sandeels north from Orkney.

What ever the reason its been very welcome to thousands of birds.

Gt Skua chased off by Fulmar

Last week we caught up with Killer Whale Pod 27. which is a group of 7 including two large males. Having just missed them coming in close at Garthsness we headed north to Scousburgh bay and about an hour later they started to come into the bay

They first spent a lot of time in the outer reaches making a few kills before moving towards us and many others looking from the cliff tops. It was great to have two photos below published in this weeks Shetland Times.

A couple of divers tried to get close but the whales came passed them quickly

It was a great sight even though the sun was in the wrong direction . Its been a while since any Killer Whales have been in the south mainland as many seals have already been eaten this year. They are spending more time hunting around Yell and Unst.

Several Minkie Whales have been seen around Noss and further a field with 15 in a pod off Muness, Unst today

Migration has started early, apart from the Crossbills a few weeks ago, Marsh, Arctic,Barred and Icterine warblers have been seen, mostly in Unst and on Fair Isle. An unusual migrant was a Treecreeper seen on a wooden hut (well we don't have many trees) More common migrants such as Willow Warbler, Swallow, Kestrel, Wood Warbler, Pied Fly and a few Black Redstart are now arriving

Come and join me on a Beginners photography course at Islesburgh, Lerwick. Many other courses also available

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