Friday, 5 August 2011

Shetland: Noss And More Magic

A day for boat trips, that was the plan for Wednesday. One in the afternoon, out to the cliffs of Noss, then later in the "dark" one to Mousa, an island where storm petrels live in a Broch, beside the shore. It was a good job Paula had taken the trouble to book the boat (Dunter III) as we saw several people turned away who'd turned up on the day for the day trip.

As soon as we'd left the shelter of the harbour, the gannets started to follow us, which was fab to see, as were the pirates, the Bonxies who soon moved into our wake. Such powerful birds, which leisurely followed until they got bored, and either soared off, or powered past us, like we'd dropped anchor.

On the rocks were seals, both common and grey , plus shags practising yoga, or so it seemed. Blasting past the boat were black guillemots, puffins and fulmars. And we'd not even reached the sea bird colony of Noss yet!

When we did, the smell reminded me of both Bempton and Skomer, but unlike those two, here you're underneath the cliffs, and risk being bombed. Amazingly, given my track record I managed to escape, unlike Kate who christened her nice coat with some white stuff. Enough of the pooh-talk, and back to the birds...

The cliffs are swamped with gannets, plus guillemots, fulmars, shags and skuas, which patrolled the area, chasing anything with a catch. Getting shots of the birds as they flew between us on the bobbing boat and the cliffs was tricky, but the trusty old 100-400mm did the business, and reminded me how light it is, compared to the prime lens.

Apparently the great skuas are responsible for keeping the place tidy, and we saw a pair pecking at a dead gannet in the water, though even they didn't seem particularly impressed with their dinner.

While I don't generally get sea sick, being sat still, bobbing around like a cork, started to affect my stomach, and I was glad we started to move again, heading back to Lerwick. Once more the pursuit by Bonxies commenced, and they came closer than any of us had imagined, when one of the boat's crew offered some biscuits to them.

I had to lean right back to even get a focus lock on it! You'd not want one of these chasing you, believe me.

Still buzzing from the boat trip, and looking forward to the next one, Neil and I opted to head out to try our luck for otters. After a good hour, he raised the alarm - one was on the move, and within moments, we were all heading towards it, moving as it dived, freezing when it surfaced. That was after I'd bagged some shots of it scampering across the beach area, to the sea, keeping low as it did.

In the water it caught and ate a couple of crabs. Was great to watch, especially at such close quarters. Then, with us all stood on the headland above, it caught a flat fish, too big to manage at sea, so swam right into the shore, below us. We couldn't believe our luck - a young male wild otter, clambering around on the rocks and seaweed, only a few yards away.

He soon polished off the fish, twisting his head this way and that, as he crunched through it.

After, he nosed about in the seaweed, in search of crabs perhaps, and rubbed his thick fur against the rocks.

I'm sure he could hear the shutters firing, as he looked right down my lens a couple of times, but the wind was in our favour, and he wasn't put off by us being there.

A quick groom and he was off, out into the loch, leaving us all ecstatic from the experience, with grins from ear to ear. Wonderful. Truly wonderful.

1 comment:

Paula Moss Photography said...

Sends shivers down my spine, fabulous stuff, I really do live in Heaven.