Sunday, 9 December 2018

Northerly weekend

The wind swung to the north so a quick seawatch on Saturday morning produced a couple of Little Auks and a GND. A flock of 60 Snow Buntings appeared late on, flying by and later settled on the Links, about 60 I reckoned.

On Sunday morning the moth trap was disappointingly empty, no insects, nothing. Another visit to Birsay, this time to the Whalebone found Otters in Skiba Geo. In nine years of watching I've not seen Otter before at this site so a bit of a turn-up. I'm guessing the northerly drove them out of their favoured spot. A female and her kit I thought.

Skiba Geo looking south

Friday, 16 November 2018

Night roaming

I caught a new moth, Mottled Umber. I'd not seen this species before but most likely because I rarely trap this late in the year and it is rarely this warm and still.

 I love the little, sinister face on the thorax.

Mottled Umber

Now I know this species is here it is worth looking for the flightless females. So out I went with torches and macro camera, looking on the Sycamore boughs in the evening just after dark. I found lots of slugs, Tree Slug  Lehmannia marginata, and Green Cellar Slug Limacus maculatus.

Limacus maculatus

Lehmannia marginata

And I also found this which is not meant to be here... Oligolophus hanseni (not found in Orkney before) . But possibly here because years ago my neighbour imported conifers from Aberdeen - further investigation required.

Note the dark hair on the central member of the trident, one of the key features.

Another new species for me found at the weekend was this cranefly Tipula pagana, the females are easily identified as they have these reduced wings.

Finally the night time hunting produced this minute and beautiful mushroom, Mycena sp

 Mycena sp

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Little Egrets and Goosander

The Little Egrets at Loch of Banks were successfully ticked for the year. Nice morning at Palace, lots of birds but nothing remarkable.

At home the reason for an increase in Greenfinch became apparent as the bird crop appears to be attracting some things now with 50 Linnet in there today. 12 Greenfinch and three Brambling around the feeders today.

A late afternoon wander to Loch of Bosquoy found two Goosander on the bank, it is a favourite place for them though.


Reed Canary Grass 

 Mute Swans

New Moon

Moth traps are out but it might be a tad cool at 5C we'll see,

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Helophorus species

During the summer, when it was warm and sunny there were hundreds of Helophorus beetles in our small barrel pond, and elsewhere, on my car one day! These were either H. grandis or H. aequalis and at the time I was struggling to identify these to species. The problem here was that the couplet in the key is about a small feature to do with shape. In the end I gave a specimen to LL who identified it for me as aequalis. Today I went back up to the trough where I'd found some Helophorus a couple of weeks ago, fortunately there were still some animals there. I took a specimen. Under the camera and microscope the id feature became clear, an evenly serrated edge to the final abdominal segement. And the reason I couldn't be sure of the id of aequalis in the summer, as I thought I couldn't see the feature.

 Evenly serrated hind edge to the last abdominal segement = grandis, irregularly serrated hind edge = aequalis.
The beetles were only in the bath and not in the nearby concrete trough.


Loch of Harray

A sunny breezy day. Bit of an aurora going on now.

Saturday, 3 November 2018


Feeling a bit sorry for myself as I had a tooth extracted yesterday. The small flock of Brambling with a Chaffinch and a surge in Greenfinch numbers to 14 (the most for a very long time) was cheering.

I dipped the Grey-cheeked Thrush because the text message system strangely failed :-( and the Tengmalm's Owl is at an undisclosed location, although from the photograph it looks rather sorry for itself, perhaps incontinent.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

North Ronaldsay

A few days on North Ron to celebrate a friends birthday and to do a bit of birding.

We stayed the first night at the south end, in the bird observatory and then moved to the lighthouse cottages.

Sea watching was good to start with Little Auks and Sooty Shears which I didn't photograph. I did photograph some gulls passing though.

Great Black-backed Gulls

Brown sea gulls

Herring Gull

 Nice big moth light

 There was Rosy Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing, Depressaria radiella mostly on the window ledges on the way up, not sure how they got in there. Surprisingly the bulb is less than 300W.

Croues, the round structures were built to keep the frost and wind off young cabbage plants.


 Purple Sands

Ringed Plovers

Snow Buntings

Old Light

North Ronaldsay sheep, broken boat

There was a Bluethroat around here somewherewe couldn't find it though.

This may be Eupeodes luniger but unfortunately unidentifiable to species, it's slightly odd.

Later in the week there were lots of redpolls including some Arctic type things, but I was back to work by then.