I hope you had a peaceful and wild Christmas and New Year.
My festive break was typical of many folk, with food, drink, walks and friendship being main features. Shetland has been pretty cold since November, but it is indeed winter. It has been warming to hear of the kindness that folk have been showing to our wild birds, putting out food and water. I've been hearing of blackbirds taking food from people's hands, such is the trust that has developed through hard times. Turnstones regularly came into my garden, feeding amongst the starlings, and I've been noticing them perched up on walls and roofs.
At this time of year, I cannot help but think back to 1993, when the Braer oil tanker ran aground at Garthsness, not far from Sumburgh Head. I was a teenage volunteer then, helping with the clean up operation, walking the coast gathering oiled birds, dead or alive. A few days ago, my boyfriend and I took a walk to the site where it grounded. Once we were there, he could recall seeing images on TV screens of reporters, environmentalists and politicians standing in the gale force wind, updating the world on what was unfolding. I could recall the stench, and a mix of emotions. A visit today however, reveals a very different image, with rock pipits, wrens and cliffs of full with fulmars and well-balanced Shetland sheep. There is no sign of the ship and the sea looks as beautiful as everywhere else in Shetland.
Thousands of guillemots have been back onshore at Sumburgh Head, and it is great to hear their calls again. Also, it is a welcome sign that spring isn't all that far away.
All the best from 60N