Monday, 18 October 2010

Gannets galore

Had an early start as cars started arriving at the marina very early - fishermen going out to their creels I guess. Headed along to the hide, but no sign of Mr Otter. So had a shower and breakfast. Took the tent down (it was SOAKING - both outside from rain and inside the outer flysheet from condensation? Was also a very very heavy dew last night - the tent was very wet on the outside when I went to bed although it hadn't rained. Very clear, starry night too - and cold!)

Bundled up the tent rather than folding/rolling it all properly as it's so wet, and will all have to be cleaned and dried at home anyway. Then headed off towards Lerwick. Stareted raining - again. Got stuck behind slow foreign tourist camper van for ages on single track road, then behind slow taxi/minibus so missed the 10am ferry to Bressay by what must have been 30 secs. They'd shut the barrier but not yet set off. Typical. Mark and Heather saw ferries like that taking the barrier down and letting folk on - but that was in the north isles, not Lerwick!

Caught the next ferry to Bressay (11am) and drove straight over to the car park for Noss and had a quick march down to the 'ferry'. This must be the only ferry that gives every passenger a lifejacket to wear (Aside - I have now found another, the 'North Isles Fast Ferry' in Orkney which I had to get back from a day's supply teaching once.)

The warden was great, did a really good wee intro in the visitor centre about the birds, best route, etc. Time recommended for the walk is 3-4 hours, I'm planning to do it in a lot less so I can get the 3pm ferry back to Lerwick. Route march around first bit, keeping an eye open for porpoises and otters. Didn't bother stpping to watch the seals - I see seals virtually every day at home, I'm here for the gannets. Managed up to the first cliffs in 1/2 hour - very good going and should allow me 1/2 hour or so with the gannets quite comfortably.

The gannets were spectacular - thousands of them nesting on the cliffs and wheeling around - not so many diving as usually see that further out. Spent about 1/2 hour in the first spot just lying on the cliff top watching and photographing. Some of the folk I'd passed on the way up passed me again at this point, I really couldn't understand why they didn't stop at this place, the views of the gannets are great - can't believe there can be anywhere you get closer to them than this (there wasn't!).

Then went a bit further round and had to keep stopping trying to photograph the gannets flying past. Spectacular.

Fulmars and bonxies too.

Stopped at the top for another 10 mins or so. Nice views back to Lerwick from there too - last time I was in Bressay (start of July when I came up for the interview) I could barely see Lerwick from the Lerwick side of Bressay - this time I could see it from the far side of Noss. Although the weather was closing in a little, low cloud on the hill on Bressay now with the radio masts on it, they kept disappearing behind the cloud. Also a hint of rain in the air.

Had a slightly slower route march on the way down as on this side you pass the other geos and the place where there might still be some puffins - although most have now headed out to sea (inclduing the baby puffin from the puffin webcam as seen on Simon King's Shetland Diaries on TV; it apparently left Tues night/Wed morn according to Radio Shetland last night). Saw puffins in 2 different places, but just a few and only stopped for a minute. Did the whole walk, including my approx 45 mins gannet watching, in about 2 1/2 hours. Good going.

Just time to watch some sheep shearing while waiting for the ferry...

Ferry back then a quick march up the hill to the car - should have time for a quick drive to the lighthouse if I'm lucky. Rain started just as I reached the car. Good timing.

Quick drive down the island to the lighthouse - more nice views.

Then back through Mail to the ferry - second in queue so got on no bother, and got back to Lerwick in time to hit Scoop for supplies of ice cream and other nice food to take home. Ahhhhhhh.... :-)

No comments: