Wednesday, 16 July 2014


A nice surprise this evening, venturing out after the rain. Walking down to The Shunan I noticed a pile of Swallows over our neighbours, counting through them I came across the reason for their grouping up as a Merlin was heading into them at high speed. She chased up and stooped once and then more high speed antics before she chased up again and stooped, spiraling into the farm yard. I'm guessing she was successful as she did not re-appear.

Regular Bonxies through the garden at the moment, the last remaining Oystercatchers with chicks are kept busy, their alarming giving early warning of the approaching skua. Moorhen juvs were seen today but the Coot broods seem to have been lost. The Shelduck adults have left with two of the offspring, leaving two. Looking over to Bosquoy there were over 100 dabbling duck this evening so tomorrow morning's mission is to go down early and count them.

A couple of days ago a brief walk to Skiba Geo at Birsay gave these welcome views. Apparently the other colonies across the county have done ok.

Great views to Westray

The moth trap was out again last night, I'm going to make a real effort to ID the more obvious micros, the micro book is on its way.

Rooks and Jackdaws were closing in on the field being harrowed, as were nearly 300 gulls.

The bird crop is a bit overgrown but there's plenty of fodder beet in there.

Some skies from yesterday and today.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Noc clouds

Noctilucent clouds last night, a tick. Here's what they are

What about the holiday snaps you might ask? Well, like last year promised but maybe I won't get around to it.

Last night's moths included what I think is Barred Red.

 Barred Red

I have difficuty deciding if these are Small Square Spot or Ingrailed Clay, any help or suggestions gratefully received.

 These first four, Harray, from behind our house last night


 These next three, Loch of Boardhouse at about 01:00

This last at Point of Buckquoy, Birsay at about 02:00

Monday, 30 June 2014

Woodchat dip dip

So missed the Palace Woodchat, at least I did ID it from photos. Then tried three times for the one near Stromness and failed three times, so it goes.

Bit of mothing recently and lots of searching for, and proving breeding birds.

 Dusky Brocade I think

 Grey Mountain Carpet

 Narrow-winged Pug

Setaceous Hebrew Character

Corrections to the above if I've got them wrong....

 Agitated Oystercatcher

Same bird, pity the ring is facing the wrong way

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Arctic Terns

Took a bit of a wander around Northside today. There were 65 or so Arctic Terns there including a single 2cy. The Arctics were pretty interested in nesting, there was a fair bit of courtship feeding with sand eels, some birds may have been sitting on nests.

Chatting to folk it seems the sand eels are in, depends whether they stay of course. 

Also of interest were breeding Rockit and Wheatear, breeding Oystercatcher and Lapwing, a passing Whimbrel  and a passing dark phase Arctic Skua.

Back at the ranch an intermedius  Lesser Black-backed Gull was notable.

Poplar Hawk-moth

I set the moth trap up on Thursday night as I had a school group coming up to look at mini-beasts yesterday. I've not had time to do much mothing of late. Four Poplar Hawks were popular with the children.

But of most interest locally would be this Peppered Moth which I think would be the third Orkney record (I caught the second one a few years ago).

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

More craking

Actually saw the Corncrake today as it flew whilst I was looking for it from the car, flew towards me as well, but of course I couldn't see it on the ground. Last night it could be heard from our bedroom (if you listened very, very carefully with the window wide open...).

Drama this morning as scanning the Shunan everything went up and I was in time to see a Peregrine take a second go at an adult Oystercatcher, probably one of a breeding pair on the back of The Shunan. The Peregrine had it in its talons as it lifted off but dropped it from a height and followed it down.

Threatening skies tonight as the rain came in from the south.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Crex crex

I've only heard this species once from the patch, actually from the garden late one summer. However, on my return from Cairngorm, Louise mentioned on that afternoon she had heard what she thought was one on the track. I wandered around that night, walking the dog, but no bananas. Early this evening and I discovered a serious lack of pasta, required for Jamie's pasta dish. As usual a pause at The Shunan for a scan, mmmm is that a Gadwall? Reverse up a bit and quite clearly not Gadwall.

Here's the rain coming in this afternoon.

Whilst in Cairngorm no time for birding really as working just about 24/7 however a singing Wood Warbler at the centre was very nice. Green and GtSp Woodies, Trepit and bril views of Osprey whilst canoeing on Loch Insh. Returned totally kn#####ed so no early starts, 11:30 out birding today.

Shelducks have four chicks, no idea how they've managed that as they looked to have failed weeks ago. Mutes on Bosquoy have 5 and the Sedge Warbler population seems stable with three pairs The Shunan, and at least two at Bosquoy, will be checking Howaback shortly.

After supper now - can hear it from the garden.

At Skail yesterday first Eider chicks of the year.

Whilst listening to the Corncrake this mepit showed nicely.

The Shunan as the Sun went down this evening.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Minke no Orcas

 Arbitary R-bM photo from Bosquoy early in the week

A text from PH summoned me to the Orphir Rd, scene of last year's big Orca pod. A single beast had been seen, I kind of suspected that this would not be quite right, and sure enough a single Minke Whale was evident feeding avidly around the Sound. I suspect this may well be the same animal as hung around Clestrain last year and was quite often reported as an Orca. Unfortunately I didn't stay quite long enough it seems as a pod of  five Orcas showed well off Ness Point a little later. Also in the Sound were quite a few divers including two Black-throats and at least one GND, as well as a few Red-throats. Plenty of auks and Arctic Terns too.

On to Yesnaby where there were a few skuas about, lots of breeding waders and piles of auks passing.

Back at The Shunan the drake Shoveler is still present as were a pair of Gadwall and a pair of Teal.