Sunday, 13 November 2011

Helli Ness; Cunningsburgh

After a lazy start to the day we packed a lunch up and headed off to explore Helli Ness, a distinctive headland near Cunningsburgh that looks quite impressive from the A970. It's always reminded me of Filey Brigg back on the Yorkshire Coast, though they are really nothing like one another.

As we drove past the end of Aith Voe towards the marina we stopped for a brief while to watch a large group of seals hauled out on the grass and a few going crazy, dolphin style, in the still waters. I was desperate to get out and get some photos or video of their antics, but the boss said no, I might scare them off, so I did as I was told.

After watching the seals we carried on and parked near Aness only to be greeted by a guard ram. Well this fine looking ram on a rope and we weren't sure how long the rope was. He didn't look happy and after some thought we headed up the track from Greenmow towards the headland off Helli Ness.

They must like their horny rams round here because just up the track was another fine specimen.

Looking south was Mousa and Burraland Broch where we were last weekend. It was a pretty grey overcast day despite the light winds and mild temperature, so I decided to try some black and white photos.

The track leads down the central ridge of the headland towards an old settlement.

It's quite an interesting arrangement of buildings and walled walkways. Also interesting is the fact that the upstairs fire place and wall supports for the upper floor are actually lower than the top of the nicely arched alcoves at this end of the house. The views are pretty fantastic, but I bet the weather is pretty more so on this exposed hill top.

Below, Helli Ness stretches out towards Mousa.

And the headland was where we were off to next.

Either side of the headland were some markers, this one a nice stone built one which I assumed was some sort of mead, but a local we bumped into said it was pretty new and wasn't sure why it was there. Further out on the headland is the remains of a stone enclosure which he said was a mead. He'd seen a otter not long before we met him, but we'd have no such luck today.

Out at sea there were a few boats, this one checking a few pots, others, we were told were after fry. The eastern side of Mousa is in the back ground.

It was getting on by now and the weather was definitely looking to change so we pottered about on some bits of the shore for a short while before heading back along the south coast of Helli Ness.

Stopping for a breather we noticed this stack at Runties Geo and then it was heads down and back to the warmth and the promise of fresh scones...

Loch of Tingwall at night

After a windy overcast day the skies cleared last night so I went out and about to try to take some night time photos. I had hoped to get some of the moon and starts over Bressay and Kirkabister lighthouse, but it was still far too windy over there for any long exposures, so I end up at The Loch of Tingwall. It was much more sheltered and Orion was just rising over the hills behind the Burradale Sisters.

I was just experimenting, fumbling in the dark in! The ones I've kept were all 30 second exposures at F 2.8 and ISO 100. The main issue I had was focussing with nothing to focus on, so I put it to focus to manual and took a flash photo or two to check the frame composition and focus as well as I could before taking the long exposure. Any hints on how to do it better will be gratefully received!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

West Burra: Seals and Smugglers

Conforming to stereotype, Beren and I took ourselves off for some exploring this morning while Clare did some house work. First stop was Hamnavoe for a bracing stroll to the smugglers cave. 

Beren played 'King of the Castle' all the way there...

And loved telling me I was the dirty rascal!

Down into the cave we went, with a stiff wind trying to blow us back out.

But once inside all was calm, except for the thundering from the waves crashing in the sea ward entrance.

On the way out fireman Beren gave me the thumbs up each step he took up the ladder. Apparently it's what firemen do!

And then he played 'army men' all the way back to Hamnavoe, hiding behind rocks and shooting me when I got near.

Next stop was a favourite little beach on West Burra. It's sheltered with nice sand, shells and seals.

As we approached Beren - true to form - managed to shoo the resting seals and young into the sea, but not before I got a few photos.

As always the seals from the beach just bobbed about keeping an eye on us as we pottered about before leaving them to their beach again. 

Has she got a poorly eye or is she winking at me? The same eye was half closed in all the photos of her.

The mother and young circle waiting for landing, once we'd gone. See the eye?

How cute is this?

And cute ponies from the stud too. Though this bad boy decided Beren was to be challenged and was determined to rush at him when ever he strayed from me.

Well, we've had a busy weekend. All there is to do now is enjoy a nice roast dinner with friends this evening and chill out...

Broch of Burraland and Mousa Broch

After a pretty rough week in a reversal of the usual situation the weekend has turned out wonderful with perfect conditions for bonfire night.

We were heading to a community run bonfire on the evening at Levewick, which was a great family event with good grub too, but during the day we went out for a walk.

My first thought was to go to Helli Ness near Aithsetter, but we decided to go and visit the Broch of Houlland in stead. So parking up at Wart we set off round the coast.

You cannot fail to miss Mousa and it's broch as you walk along this bit of coast.

The Broch of Burraland

Mousa from Burraland Broch

Close up of Mousa Broch and the remains of a water mill to the left. You can see it's double wall that you can walk up inside.

 And here's a view of the double wall of The Broch of Burraland with and entrance to it.

Inside the wall

There was otter spraint in every entrance into the wall voids in the broch. You can see fish bones and vertebrae clearly and almost smell the freshness in this photo. Sadly for me while I was taking photos of otter poo Clare and Beren were watching 3 otters go in to the near by geo! Anyway it's definitely a place to return to in future to view the otters. 

 In addition to the otters were hundreds of rabbits and shags on the near by cliffs.

A few boats passed in the sound while we were there, showing that despite appearances there was still a fair swell running through the channel.

Just to show why we need to return sans Beren; harmonicas are not common wildlife spotting aids! Though we did see some field fares, wheat ear and a black cap in addition to being chased by geese, ducks, hens and turkeys at on point.

We stopped to enjoy the beach at Sandwick on the way back as the sun was just starting to fall.


Back in Scalloway the early evening was pretty gorgeous too...

Clift Sound and Burra

Looking out over Trondra Brig towards Foula in the far distance