Of a Blackcap, a cowrie, and some porpoises

150920 BlackcapAfter last weekend’s high excitement, this weekend’s been a more low-key affair. I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a piece of natural history writing that’s been a few months in the making; and haven’t really had much time for heading out birding.

Looking out of the window, that’s not been a lot to suggest I’m missing too much – the same suspects have remained in the garden since last weekend – a feisty Redstart decimating the craneflies that are hatching out of the lawn, and officially Shetland’s happiest Blackcap – a male that’s spending his days gorging on the windfall apples I’ve been impaling on the old Christmas tree skeletons that serve as bird feeders and perches. I tend not to think of Blackcaps as frugivores, but this one certainly is, and he’s in no hurry to move on now he’s found such an abundance of fruit.

150920 Harbour PorpoisesI took a brief wander this morning to see if there was much happening beyond the garden’s boundaries. A Whinchat on the fences beside the track to the house suggested there might be some cause for optimism – but beyond plenty of Meadow Pipits there wasn’t much more sign of migration and the plantation was silent – no warblers of any kind calling, let alone the vocal (but secretive) Eastern Olivaceous Warbler of last weekend.

I worked my way back home along the shore, stopping at the beach to look – with much hope, as always – for cowries. I could only find one, but there was plenty of another, much more animate form of marine life a little way offshore – a vigorously feeding pod of Harbour Porpoises. I think there must have been north of 20 animals out there, rolling through the small waves. I spent a while watching them, hoping for a Minke Whale too… but with no joy on this occasion. A distant photo and a lone cowrie were all I could take away from this encounter.

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