Easter on Shetland…

…doesn’t seem that exciting. Scottish bank holidays, when stores, banks and other businesses are closed for a holiday, doesn’t include Easter on its list. Places are open this weekend.

But, Easter is a little special! Especially when it’s sunny and only a light breeze. People are out working in their gardens or some have started to prepare their boats for the coming summer. Lambing has started and small white miniature sheep on spinky, shaky little legs are being welcomed to this island. It’s an “easy” day, today, and even the seals are getting an early tan, as they sun bathe.

Wishing all our readers a HAPPY EASTER, plain and simple!

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    Photo: “Easter Seals” sun bathing on the Sandwick pier

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    Photo: Flower bed/garden outside the flat (Oh, No! Another flower picture!)

Det blommar igen…

Mitt i Lerwick finns en liten park som just nu blommar för fullt. Hur många lökar det finns där vet jag inte men det måste vara tusentals. Allt från små blå pärlhyacinter till fullstora hyacinter i alla möjliga färger.flowers06

flowers08Här finns naturligtvis påskliljor och andra blommor och buskar.

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Efter promenaden i det otroligt färgglada blomhavet i parken gick vi ner till centrum till ett av våra favorit “hang outs” Karibuni. Karibuni är ett litet mat/kaffe ställe med Shetlands bästa kaffe.

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Väl hemma i Gulberwick igen lade vi märke till att en del påskliljor är så trångbodda att de försöker smita ut.

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Med andra ord, våren har kommit till Shetland med stormsteg… Men vädret är lika opålitligt som vanligt, en solig dag följs av en blåsig, regnig eller dimmig. Men när solen skiner är det jättehärligt!

Shetland Birds…

…is a subject I haven’t touched upon with during this great adventure. Naturally, with many years in the Swedish sub-arctic, the environment and coastal character of Shetland, as well as being a bump along migratory routes, provides a new perspective with my ornithological hobby.

Today was one of those “dry” days allowing us to head out and get some fresh air. While Brita walked her beaches, I used binoculars and a field book to catch-up on my birds. Time to get in tune for spring and migratory birds.

maywickvy01-copyPhoto: Maywick Beach

I could easily write a list of the birds seen today, but to make this fun for readers, allow me to report on today’s birding results…in QUIZ form. Please jot down your answers with a method of your own choosing and have fun!
The answers are found at the end. This is an “open book” quiz. Good Luck!

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Photo 1: Beautiful Clangula hyemalis were playing in the Atlantic, today. What are there names in English or Swedish?

    What is the English or Swedish name for the following…
    A. Bucephala clangula
    B. Anas crecca
    C. Gavia immer
    D. Anas platyrhynchos
    E. Cygnus Cygnus
    F. Haematopus ostralegus
    G. Sturnus vulgaris
    H. Phalacrocorax aristotelis
    I. Anas acuta
    J. Arenaria interpres

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Photo 2: These birds can often be found on fields and are called Anser anser. What is their name in English or Swedish?

All winter we have had Vanellus vanellus and Numenius arquata, which made the months seem like spring for us. I can report that last week I saw what I think was a Sterna hirundo, but feel unsure since I didn’t have my binoculars and it may be a bit early for them. We are anxiously awaiting the return of Fratercula arctica.

Answers:
a. Goldeneye/Knipa b. Teal/Kricka c. Great Northern Diver/ Islom d. Mallard/Gräsand e. Whooper Swan/Sångsvan f. Oystercatcher/Strandskata g. Starling/Stare h.Shag/Toppskarv i. Pintail/Sjärtand j.Turnstone/Roskarl photo 1: Long-tailed Duck/Alfågel photo 2: Greyleg Goose/ Grågås

Det blommar!

Påskliljor verkar vara Shetlands nationalblomma. De finns överallt;  i trädgårdar, längs vägar, bredvid busskurer,  i buskar m fl ställen.  Det lyser gult överallt! För en annan som endast sett enstaka påskliljor i bukett form på Konsum är det ganska häftigt.

Varsågod:

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As Hard As It Is…

…to imagine, we’ve been busy. The weather has sometimes whipped and beat the island, the rain has swelled the small burns and haphazard ditches; once only scratches on the crust of the ground, but rapidly becoming white and prominent with frothing water. The water reservoir for Lerwick’s drinking water was often overflowing, when we drove by to work at the museum reception or the archives.

sandart01Photo: Sand art! But, how did this happen? (answer at end)

mailbeachvyPhoto: Mail Beach

For a few weeks, now, we’ve felt the sense of spring coming nearer. Today, was an almost detectable sense of early summer. The daffodils, often found thick in gardens and yards, but even unexpectedly found in ditches or on the edge of burly fields of heather, are intensely holding their breath for the right time to explode into gold.

Even though they forgot their beach balls, blankets and parasols, the seals were the only ones sunning themselves at Reawick Beach today.sealsonbeach01

So, with a child-like feeling, we went to the beaches today. What else does one do with a hardly noticeable breeze, +10 degrees (though most likely more) and the sun shouting “Get Out! Go somewhere! Don’t sit inside!” So, that’s exactly what we did, and came home red-faced from the day’s outing.
springfeelings01Photo: Spring feelings and being a kid
spiggiebeachvyPhoto: Spiggie Beach
nestinggulls01Photo: The gulls are planning how to arrange the furniture for the soon-coming little ones

Answer: Seaweed, stuck in the sand, is blown in circles by the winds

Stenbyggnationer.

stonewallwinter01_45Detta är väggen på ett mer eller mindre raserat hus. Dessa väggar finns överallt här på Shetland tillsammans med kilometervisa murar. De är så otroligt vackra och man kan inte låta bli att tänka på all den kraft som gick åt för dessa byggnationer. Inte nog med att det skulle byggas, stenen  skulle brytas och fraktas också.

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Dessa väggar och murar skiftar i alla möjliga färger beroende på stenen, ålder, lavar och ljusets skiftningar m.m.

stonewallwinter03_45Man kan inte annat än imponeras och förundras!

Smakrapport.

Jag kan nu meddela att ginen är mycket god. Den har inte någon särpräglad enbärssmak utan mer smak av för mig okända kryddor/växter med några citrusstänk ovanpå.

Kan rekommenderas med andra ord.

Sprit!

Nu kommer det ni alla väntat på, rapporten över alla whiskysorter Skottland och Shetland har att erbjuda!

Nä, nä, den får ni allt vänta på ett tag till.

Det är nämligen så att Shetland har inget eget whiskey bränneri.  Närmaste bränneri finns på Orkney öarna och vem vänder sig till konkurrentöarna…

Nej, detta ska handla om GIN! För gin tillverkas, om inte just här på denna ögrupp, så på fastlandet av Shetlands lokala vilda “kryddor”.

Att livet är fullt av överraskningar är så sant. Pete, en arbetskamrat från Star-Rent-A-Car tittade in på museet idag med en present. Presenten var en flaska  Blackwood´s gin

Vi hade nämligen diskuterat sprit i största allmänhet under en av våra trivsamma lunchtimmar och då hade jag fått lära mig om just denna gin.

Efter vad jag kan förstå är Blackwood´s  gin fullständigt unik och jag ska om en stund provsmaka den.

Smakrapporten kommer vid ett senare tillfälle.

Unbelievably,…

…we’ve had three straight days of great weather. Shetlanders would use the word “gorgeous” and, in all truth to the word, that is exactly how it’s been. People have been out sledging or building snow sculpture-like projects of snowmen or small caves. Being used to the subarctic, we found no reason to be inside with this wonderful February day…and, unbelievably, it is only just that!

Not being a work day, we headed westwards with Jeppe, to a place we hadn’t been before. And, coming to a road’s end, we trudged uphill only to find a small picnic table waiting for us to use. We had a picnic and enjoyed the view…the sun…and beauty of a snowy Shetland.

foulawintervy01-copy“…The snow covered island of Foula, westwards from the mainland and alone in the Atlantic. Wonder what the people are doing out there, today?

westerwickwintervy01-copyPhoto: Wester Wick view with Foula in the background

papilcliffhillsvy01-copyPhoto: Yesterday: from Papil towards the Cliff Hills
whalewickwintervy01-copyPhoto: Whale Wick with Foula out in the Atlantic

Shetland Ponies…

shetlandponywinter05 …is a topic I haven’t really covered, though I have a past as a horse owner. Unlike sheep, who usually dash away when one approaches, Shetland ponies usually come towards you. They somehow think they are going to get treats or food. Taking candid pictures of them lying down or peacefully eating is difficult since their friendly curiosity draws them to you like small furry magnets.

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I don’t like using a telephoto, but I guess I’ll have to try. Still, they see you coming, take a couple of minutes to think about what you’re planning to do, then amble towards you. Maybe they like having their picture taken?

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Unlike the Shetland ponies I’ve had the displeasure of knowing in Sweden, often spoiled, undisciplined and wanting to bite, the ponies on Shetland are absolutely sociable and lovable.

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They are outside all year around. Their fur becomes thick in wintertime. Some are very clean from the rain and wind and some can be very muddy and untidy with tangled manes. So, it’s exceptionally nice to find clean ponies like these.

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Can you tell which pony is only a foal? It was a nice wintry day again and I hope you enjoy these images! Shetland’s ponies are really really …cool!