Sunday, 11 June 2017


Cotton grass, sea, cloud.

M and I walked, and just escaped the rain, more later but a lovely NFM moth Pyrausta despicata.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Flies, beetles and bath tubs (and a lot of baby Shoveler)

One of the places that yields a lot of interesting insects are the two bath tubs and one metal container in a field corner on the edge of the patch. There are water beetles living in these which I'm yet to tackle but there are always several drowned or drowning beasts there. Today was no exception and I came away with a couple of pots containing various interesting things. I'll be trying to sort out the ids shortly. This large Hymenopteran was represented by three individuals all of which were intent on dying this way, one plunged back in the water after I'd rescued it. I have a new key for these so may be able to get an ID. I'm starting to notice sawflies more, a primitive Hymenopteran, but they do seem to be pretty hard to identify, fortunately the county recorder is helpful.


Brachyptera risi - a sawfly, c 10mm (thnaks for the ID JS).

Lovely broods of Shoveler on The Shunan, a 9 and an 11, totally brilliant.

I'm a week out of date posting here, where are the flies and the beetles?

Here is a very tiny soldier beetle found in the previously mentioned bath tubs a week later, Rhagonycha limbata. I was chuffed to id this correctly and have now found a new key here

This is a very common but nonetheless lovely thing easy to find at the moment.

 Gastrophysa viridula (Green Dock Beetle, a Chrysomelid)

And as for the flies,

Argyra sp, male top female bottom (Dolichopidae)

Beris chalybata - a soldier fly (thanks to DD for these IDs)

Helophilus hybridus, more in my realm, a hoverfly

Quite a distinctive Empid, Empis stercorea

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Migrant moths

Lots of new for the year, several new for the garden and a pile of migrants.

Broom Moth, a likely migrant and new for the garden, one yesterday and two today.

Ancylis badiana, new for the year, indeed didn't get one last year.

Sandy Carpet, catching a few now.

Shears, NFY.

 Angle Shades, often a migrant.

One of two Broom Moth today.

Glaucous Shears, I struggled with the worn one at the top, but got the id in the end with a good bit of help, however, once put with the fresh one it seems obvious. Likely migrants again. I've regularly been catching Dark Sword-grass, a known migrant, three one night.

 Pebble Prominent is new for garden - today, x2.

Poplar Hawk, always popular.

Narrow-winged Pug, very fresh NFY.

 Common Pug possibly, that won't be going in iRecord though.

 Spectacle, NFY.

Here's looking at you, kid.

That's the moths done but I've still got a Hemipteran, a sawfly and a few beetles awaiting my attentions, think I'll go birding.... it's a lot easier.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Out and about (mostly)

Rather little yesterday as it was a grim day, mist, rain, a gale, surprised it didn't snow. A good chance to catch up on data and sorting out various identifications, although there are still a number of beetles in the fridge. In the end most data has been entered into either BirdTrack or iRecord and things have largely been identified, a few outstanding. I do like the Aphodius beetles and of the 44 UK species very few occur here, but of course what looks initially like a simple job, a red and black beetle surely that will be easy...

Yesterday brought a Large White Egret to South Ronaldsay,  very tickable but although it would be a UK tick I didn't feel very enthusiastic, thought I might be able to find it today or in the week, and didn't bother; no sign today.

The sunshine today brought out plenty of Green-veined Whites and a couple of Red Admirals, but more interestingly lots of Common Heath at Loch of Bosquoy and an interesting micro which I'm not sure I've got before, Syndemis musculana.

 Common Heath

Syndemis musculana

Lots of hoverflies today including this tiny but delightful Neoascia sp (probably podagrica).

Neoascia sp on hairy Bitter-cress

Driving lessons today took in Yesnaby, and Mollie enjoyed Scottish Primrose.

Scottish Primrose

Lots more to write about and pictures to post but time to find Crex crex, methinks.

Sunday, 7 May 2017


I went over to the north end of Hoy on Saturday morning. I needed to check the rookeries and see if they were occupied, and I thought I would see if I could find a Coal Tit. Before I set off I checked the moth traps, now running a new 40w actinic as well as the 15w (doesn't seem worth running the mv currently), and caught these two awkward customers amongst the Hebrew Characters..

 Rather pale, Clouded Drab

 Worn, Common Quaker

I sent the images to the county recorder as I was a bit unsure, but I did get them right :-)

 On Hoy it was dull and grey to start with, ideal for birding. Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler were in song, there was a White Wagtail on the beach and best of all Whitethroat in one of the gardens. The tramp across the moor to the plantations did not produce the hoped for Emperor Moth, nor did a thorough search of the plantations result in a Coal Tit, but there was enough to hold the interest. Up at Sandy Loch there was a Grey Wagtail, a pair of Common Sands and the usual horde of Bonxies. Coming back down the road to Moaness though I started to see insects, the sun had been scorchio for a couple of hours by then. A really nice selection of hover flies included Platycheirus albimanus x2, Eristalis intricaria x3, Eristalis pertinax several, and good numbers of Eristalis arbustorum/abusivus (photos need to be checked carefully). Strangely enough it was a couple of beetles that stole the show, this very smart rove beetle -

Staphylinus erythropterus

is common enough. But this wee leaf beetle is not, and what's more the nearest it's been to here until very recently was the Solway. It was a bit of a one to identify but I got there, with a fair bit of help, although I was pleased not to have been far adrift. It is doable from these photos. Depth of field isn't great as I was struggling to get it to stay still.

It is Hydrothassa hannoveriana which is quite uncommon across the UK. Small, a few mms long and associated with Marsh Marigold, which it was just by. On inquiring I've found that it has only just been found in Orkney in the last few weeks by two other folk, still my record is first for Hoy.

Down on the beach the hound found this:

Somewhat deceased Iceland Gull

I probably should have delved through the corpse for more beetles but I didn't really fancy that.

Today it should have been ok for rares, but, there weren't any. I spent the whole day gardening, fixing up a new rabbit proof bed for peas and beans was the main task.

I did empty the moth traps first thing. Nice, Dark sword-grass, a migrant, amongst the HCs and one Clouded Drab.

The new trap contained two of these, which could be Nebria salina, or it may be that I just don't have the definition in the photos (despite having RAW files) to see the pale hairs on the surface of the hind tarsi. Of course it is N.salina that doesn't have the hairs, absence always being the harder thing when looking to get definition from photos.

Oh, and the Rook count was zero. Rumours that the colony had been reinvigorated were found to be false, just loads of Hoodies (and one hybrid) hanging out there.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Workers' Day

A long weekend, it makes a real difference. Trouble is we end up shipping the girls about at odd times of the day and loose our own continuity, hopefully daughter No1 will be driving by herself in the not too distant future. Fortunately the exams will be done and dusted shortly.

Anyway, migrants have been increasing, The Shunan hosts pairs of Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler and a nice pair of Pintail and it is getting slightly warmer, although this easterly is doing its best to confound us.

During the week Swallows have spread across the islands, especially in the last two days, Wheatears are around the coast and Sand Martins are in their usual haunts. I've recorded Whimbrel on both patches now, with Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits on The Shunan. There was a very smart summer plumage Grey Plover at Palace today along with plenty of Dunlin. During the week a small passerine, that might have been a Pied Fly, was in the garden, unfortunately watched briefly from the upstairs bathroom, no bins. Best bird of late though has been the Osprey that came in/off and Northside this morning giving cracking views.

 Grey Plover


The actinic moth trap has significantly out performed the MV, to the point I'm only running the actinic at the moment. Hebrew Character, Common Quaker and Clouded Drab, plus a White-shouldered House Moth in the car have been trapped. A Large White butterfly emerged from a pupa in the green house today.

 Clouded Drab

 Common Quaker

Two hoverflies today, Eristalis pertinax in the garden and Eristalis arbustorum at The Links, Birsay.

 Eristalis pertinax

 Eristalis arbustorum

 Eristalis arbustorum showing the branched arista

We're now enjoying home-grown salad leaves, tatties are all in, peas are emerging, fingers crossed for the rest.

Ellen fished this out of the pony water, should be possible to ID.