Firstly, apologies for the lack of updates here lately. Have you missed us??
It's been all go here in Shetland, with literal and metaphorical highs and lows. In the last couple of months our work has taken us low to beneath the sea (via hydrophone on a Chris Watson sound recording course, run with our Shetland Nature Festival partners as a part of the Year of Natural Scotland) to the islands' highest point (partnership work with Shetland Islands Council inspired by John Muir taking Anderson High School pupils up Ronas Hill) .
This past weekend there was sad and good news.
The sad news was that the Puffincam chick has not made an appearance this year. It appears that a problem developed around hatching time and the chick did not survive. It's looking like a very poor year for our breeding seabirds here in Shetland, and we'll update you as the season progresses.
The good news was that our Loch of Spiggie whooper swans have brought out four cygnets. They're small and vulnerable and gorgeous. If you are visiting Spiggie, please look from the roadside rather than accessing the lochside.
I hope we see you at one of our reserves or events in the next few weeks!
Today we’ve had a lovely May Day surprise, and no it wasn’t a pinch and punch for the first of the month! It was the news that our Puffin pair that we watch via #puffincam laid their egg this morning. The egg was spotted at 9.41 am by @pridith and can be seen below in the following picture. Around this time, each year is when most of the Puffins around the cliffs of Sumburgh will be laying their eggs. Last year for example our pair laid their egg on the 4th of May.
Puffins typically mate for life and each year return to the same burrow to try to reproduce. Like most seabirds, Puffins lay only the one egg. Once laid, they will spend roughly 5 weeks incubating it until it hatches out.
We’re now slowly counting down the days until our birds welcome their new arrival. If you spot any interesting behaviour or activity on our webcams, please let us know by tweeting with the hashtag #puffincam or contacting us via email. Shetland@rspb.org.uk
To view the webcams click here.
As you may know, Sumburgh Head is in the midst of being redeveloped, so is a bit of a building site at the moment. Please note that access to the lighthouse isn't possible this weekend as there is digging work taking place at the gateway.
However, you can walk up past the cattlegrid (wear boots as it is pretty mucky), and you may be lucky to see the guillemots on the stack. They aren't here every day, it depends on the weather and sea state. When it is rough, the birds go out to sea to avoid the waves smashing onto the rocks. This morning though, it looks like winter with a dusting of snow, but sounds rather like summer with the call of guillemots and fulmars.
It's always wise to keep an eye on the sea and to the skies. A puffin was spotted nearshore a couple of weeks ago and a peregrine has been seen now and then. A little auk was nearby at West Voe yesterday. So, if you're lucky, you may spot something a bit different.
Best wishes from Sumburgh Head