Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Red Rumped Swallow, Defintley worth a run down Ward Hill for!!

Its the 3rd of May and I managed to get a well deserved sleep in. It all kicked of after lunch as the male Subalpine warbler was giving fantastic views as it fed in the Obs Plantation. The Commom Scoter and a Common Tern were in the Havens while I got lift to up Golden Water where 4 Tufted ducks decided to take a rest during there migration.
I wandered over to the Fog Horn at North light to photograph the small  part of the cliff that gave way underneith the path last year.
I then ventured along the cliff tops to East lother water and came cross the lonely Whooper
Swan which looks like it has taken up permanent residence.
Continuing my way, I looked back towards bergeroo where I was impressed by the big rock fall that happened at the start of the year. I have been told it has blocked up a cave at the bottom where around 20 pairs of Shags usually nest.
I carried on to Wester Lother to watch hundreds of Gannets getting ready for their breeding season while Grey Seals were resting on the rocks at bottom. A pair of Great Skuas caught my attention when they seemed to be tracking something under the waves. I thought it was a fish a first until there was alot of splashing and one of them went in for the kill. The unfortunate victim turned out to be a Puffin, It took the Bonxie several minutes to drown the Auk before a Fulmar came and stole it of them. The Skua did all of the hard work and yet the Fulmar took the prize!! I have only ever seen this behaviour (fulmar) once before which also happened on Fair isle last year. It would be interesting to find out if it is localised or wide spread.
Da Kirk Stack - 800 pairs of Gannets nest on the rock each year
I went over to Dronger (north west tip of FI) where I had just missed a shetland ewe giving birth twins (a black & a white lamb) but was in time to photograph there 1st steps.
I sat on Dronger for over an hour watching Fulmars and Gannets Glide pass. It was Tranquil, hot and Sunny with no wind, It was just perfect until I looked back to see the big steep hike back up. After getting back up, I walked around the back Ward hill taking in the breath taking scenery as I headed back around to the mast.  By this time, I was wondering how was I going to get back to the observatory as my feet were hurting and I was struggling to walk then I got several texts and a phone call saying RED RUMPED SWALLOW at Utra.....The very southern part of the island!! One of my all time favourite species and a bird that I would not miss for the world. I had too block out the pain and find the will to run from the highest point of Fair isle all the way to the Air strip so I could get picked up. I had a matter of minutes to get down there, I made an valiant effort and met the Parnaby family where we headed down south. Swallows, Sand Martins and single Swift could only be seen when we arrived, After 5 mins, it had started to sink in that the bird must of disappeared until I got a shout that its here! WOW, It flew pass with a Barn Swallow giving incredible close views. We watch it for several minutes drinking from a small pool until it landed on a fence watching us. What a superb sighting, This was a Fair isle and Britsh tick where before I have only ever seen them in Israel back in March 2007. I was absolutey Knacked but it was well worth it and I would defintly do it all again tomorrow if I had to!!
(Picture taken in Israel)

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