Saturday, 23 July 2016

Poor, neglected blog

I haven't posted anything for ages, I will try to back-fill from here...

Smart but nasty! I originally identified this as Notch-horned Cleg, Haematopota pluvialis, but it has been pointed out to me that the similar Black-horned Cleg, H.crassicornis has been recorded here, or is at least possible. I need to look at all the photos now and see if I have one from the right angle to see the notch!

I think this photo shows the notch...

Yesterday I saw the first two Udea lutealis of the year, the first one was conveniently in the garden.

Decorating for the last few days, I managed to get a splinter in my finger.

It was straight down under the nail and broke off, ouch! The dissection kit for insects came in handy!

The day before I pulled this out of the MV trap.

Not great pix, I have it in the fridge and will try to get better ones but it is Palloptera quinquemaculata (confirmed ID) which until recently had not been recorded from Orkney.
Palace this evening and there were quite a few waders at low tide at the burn mouth, 15 Sanderling, 25 Dunlin, a Turnstone, some Ringed Plover, good numbers of Redshank. Only the second Arctic Skua of the year flushed everything briefly.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Orcas from the garden

Scanning from the garden towards Clestrain Sound, 10km away, and looking for Gannets there were a few big splashes. Gannets I thought and then had a re think as I hadn't seen a bird and those were mighty splashes. Next thing a large black shape hurtles out of the water and makes a more serious kind of splash, ah, so that explains it. Louise had a look as well and the beast breached again. Couldn't see any white markings unfortunately, the distance might have had something to do with that.

The scanning had earlier produced brief views of an Osprey. The pair of Goldfinch from yesterday re-appeared on the front feeder.

No pictures of any of these but some nice hovers and some moths earlier and a backlog of photos to post anyway.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Invasion - what does it mean?

Millions of the tiny migrant moth Diamond-back have arrived in the county, the garden and any sheltered spot is full of them. As the afternoon shifts to evening they begin to fly and yesterday evening it appeared were generally heading north. On Friday night there were 116 in the MV but in perfect catching conditions on Saturday night there were 414. Today there did seem fewer about and last night the MV caught only 15 or so, but I over-slept and it was a clear bright night. There have been other migrant insects also with four Painted Ladies, Silver Ys in the MV and four Dark

 The invading force has arrived

Quite likely a migrant also, Angle Shades

Silver Y a classic migrant

I don't see many of these, Dark Sword-grass

Star moth of the last few days is this Glaucous Shears, a tick

I'm writing at nearly midnight and have just finished watering the garden, at 1:00 this morning there was still a very healthy glow in the sky. The not getting dark is odd, even after being here for seven years it is still odd.

Having dipped on Cuckoo last month when younger daughter got one in the garden I was finally rewarded this morning as I fettled the moth trap, first one in the garden for two years.

There are also hundreds of these about at the moment, Cocksfoot Moth, Loch of Bosquoy

I had come across the CMs here before but this was new for me -


Hoverflies have been pretty good too with these my favourites

A slightly confusing Helophilus hybridus, thanks to Roger Morris for confirming this

This one was more typical and an easier ID

Eupeodes corollae

Both these species are potentially migrants also.

Other than the Cuckoo it's all been a bit quiet on the bird front the odd Redpoll has popped in on the feeders or flown over but mostly it's checking on the breeding birds... a flyby Bee-eater wouldn't go amiss.

Sitting on a post means just one thing...

Something's awry

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Insects at least, and some terns

Moth trapping is still very slow with just a few Hebrew Character and the occasional other, best recently a Shears

A few hoverflies have been found, a brief Leucozona leucorum, Eristalis pertinax, Rhingia campestris, Helophilus pendulus and more of those tricksy Platycheirus albimanus, these all in the garden. P. albimanus was also common along the track by Birsay Tearooms. Green-veined Whites are now being seen in ones and twos across the West Mainland but I'm yet to see any other butterfly clearly enough to identify it.

Eristalis pertinax showing the diagnostic yellow front feet

Not too many birds, Lesser Redpoll occasionally on the feeder and Gadwall and Wigeon today on The Shunan. Turnstone seem to have moved through at Palace now and the Dunlin are dwindling but still 30 Sanderling today.

A new Arctic Tern colony with about 90 nests yesterday and there are likely about 40 pairs at Skiba Geo.

Some seasonal plant life.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

There's a cokcok in the garden

I was birding at Palace when the text came through, could not figure it out at all so texted back to younger daughter. Reply came through, Cookcoo, now I was with it. Two years since I saw or heard one at home. I didn't exactly rush back though and dipped, and although I spent much of the rest of the day in the garden, no sign.

This Pied Wag was very cooperative as I went down the track this morning. At Palace I saw a couple of these...
Still moving through, White Wagtail.

Indeed it was a day for black and white things at Palace, well this was more white.

A very pale adult Iceland Gull.

And the Brent Geese were still there although a little elusive at times and hiding round at The Links.

There were three Carrion Crows amongst the Hoodies but I didn't manage to photograph them.

 More gratuitous Harbour Seal pix - surprised and...

having a laff...

Back at the ranch there are branchers in the rookery.


This one was out.


Now for some colour from our wee wood

Pink Purslane

Spanish Bluebell