Friday, 12 July 2013

A Day In Unst

So today (the 9th) Tommy and I travelled up to Unst for seven hours to do a complete nature search of the Island.

So our first stop was at Belmont but after finding nothing we moved on to Uyeasound where we saw this foal sucklings it mother.

While in Uyeasound we decided we'd have a trip over to Muness Castle, on of only two castles in Shetland.

A Ghost perhaps?

The front door 

The view of the castle from the south

A young Wheatear outside the Castle

After we finished at the Muness Castle and headed out of Uyeasound, we went
father north towards Westing.

A Lapwing

A Standing Stone,
These were set up like this by humans thousands of years ago, 
but no-one knows why they did it.

Two mammy Eiders with their four ducklings

"Ragged Robin" (R. Lychnis)

A Marsh Orchid

A young Black-headed Gull,
also flying over it was a young Arctic Tern

If you look in the center of the Island, then there is an old house or building.
It is quite a small Island and doesn't seem a very livable place.

Two domesticated Mallards

I nearly stepped on this Lapwing chick while I was taking some
photos of some Terns

After finishing in Westing, we headed up to Baltasound in search of a Common Crane
 which had a damaged wing

A "rare" Blue-necked Sheep

The broken winged Common Crane in Baltasound,
The Crane spent about 5 minutes trying to jump over a fence with no success.
It seems to be doing quite good, but it should have help if its not going to be captured and get its wing fixed.
An idea I had was that it could have walkway or bridges over the tops of the fences since it sometimes has troubles getting over them.

A duck crossing sign

A spit bug, this one was about 4mm long

After spending quite a lot of our time in Baltasound, we decided to head to the Keen of Hamar,
home of the Unst endemic, the Edmondston's Chickweed or Shetland Mouse Ear.

"Self Heal"

Blue Milkwort

The "Edmonston's Chickweed" (Ceratium nigrescens) or the "Shetland Mouse Ear".
The only place it is found in the world is the Keen of Hamar.
It was found by Thomas Edmonston at only age 12 in the middle of the 1800's, sadly Thomas Edmonston died in an accident during an expedition in South America aged only 20, by this time he was already a professor in Botany at the University of Edinburgh.

"Kidney Vetch"

A "Spotted Orchid"

The world famous Unst Bus Stop

After studying the plant and flowers at the Keen of Hamar
we headed even farther north to Haroldswick.

Our first stopping point in Haroldswick was Clibberswick

A Meadow Pipit with some caterpillars

Coming in for landing

A White Wagtail with a recently fledged chick

The longhouse 

It from the outside

Next we went on the Skidbladner, it is a copy of a Longship thatETC, It was original  meant to go from Norway to America.
After the men of the ship rowed from Norway to Shetland (In bad weather), they then gave up.
After it lay in Lerwick for a while, the people of Unst took it up north and set it in Haroldswick, where it is now today.

A pic from the prow of the "Longship"

"Loki taming the Kraken"

The ship is made of Oak and fir, it is 24.3 meters long with a width of 5.25 meters, it also weighs 9.5 tons and can have a crew of 36 (32 rowers).

And after we'd had a look at the Skidblander we headed back south towards the Halligarth Wood (which was planted by the Edmondston family).

While in the trees, we could hear lots of bird song of many different species, but we could not see a single bird! but there was a large grey bird flying in and out of the wood which we thought was a Woodpigeon.

A dead Greenfly

So after all that we headed back to the ferry at Belmont and returned back to Yell.

(This is my last blog post until I come back from Holland)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Hermaness Guided Walk 2013

So as part of the Shetland Nature Festival a guided walk was planned for Hermaness, Steve, Mairi and I decided that we'd all go up since none of us have been to Hermaness in years, I myself have only made it as far parking lot.

Lucky Minnie's Oo or Cotton Grass
(It is called many different names in Shetland)

Ferns and lots of them

Bell Heather growing in between the walkway towards the cliffs

A Dunlin 

a carnivorous plant

A Frog (Common?)

This Bonxie was sitting right at the side of the path 

you could easily get within one or two feet of it 

and it wouldn't move at all

The eastern cliffs of Hermaness

Longvi or Common Guillemots hanging on

A Rabbit, which barely noticed us as we walked by

The Tammie Norie on the left has Sandeels in its beak

The Rabbits on Hermaness seem to be so tame

Lesser Spearwort

Creeping Buttercup
(This plant and the one above look very similar but are distinguished by the leaves)

A Puffin, eaten and picked clean by a Bonxie

One of the Gannet Colonies at Hermaness

In the center if the picture you can see another Gannet Colony, to the right you can see the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse and to the far right you can see the Oot Stack, the most northerly part of the British Isles.
There is a story about the Oot Stack so I'd thought I would tell it.
Once apon a time there was two giants, one named Hermy who lived on Hermaness and Saxy who lived on Saxa Vord.
On day Saxy and Hermy had an argument and started chucking boulder at each other, either Hermy had a very bad throw or Saxy missed his target.
So a summary of the story is one of the giants missed their target and their boulder landed in the sea.
(these must of been really big giants to chuck a rock that big!)

Any idea what you call a group of Bonxies?

These Bonxies are eating a Tammie Norrie,
sometimes quite a few can be found dead in burns and 
on the sides of hills in Hermaness

A Bonxie overhead

Saxa Vord from the top of Hermaness

Some plants seen today include: Bell Heather, Milwort, Creeping Buttercup, Sundew, Cotton Grass
Tormentil, Cross leathed heath, Butterwort, Heathbedstraw, Lesser Spearwort, Sea pinks and Red Campian