Monday, 24 November 2014

Goose count day

I don't see Bean Geese very often, these were the first I've seen on Orkney. I can't remember having such good views in the past. They weren't on my count patch, well worth a brief, end-of-the-day detour to Deerness though. Fabialis race, looked like six adults and one juvenile.

 On the count patch there were 4,852 Greylags and  539 Pink-feet. One of the Greylags had a silver neck collar, I should get the history of this bird shortly.

Flodid, nr.Blondous, Austur-Hunavatns
Work, St.Ola, Orkney HY4713 27/11/2000
Blackhall, St.Ola, Orkney HY4712 10/01/2001
Work, St.Ola, Orkney HY4713 11/01/2001
Blackhall, St.Ola, Orkney HY4612 25/01/2001
Yintsay, Tankerness, Orkney HY5110 04/03/2001
Wester Watten, Caithness ND2355 18/10/2002
South of Asbrekka, Vatnsdal, Austur Hunavatnssysla 65;36N+20;22W 19/04/2003
Blackhall, Kirkwall, Orkney HY4712 01/03/2006
Flodid, Vatnsdalur, Hunafjordur, ICELAND 65;28N+20;21W 28/09/2006
Blackhill, St.Ola, Orkney HY4612 23/11/2007
Kirkwall, Orkney HY455117  23/11/2014    
Many of these everywhere today, and Blackbirds as well, autumn is still here.

Saturday, 22 November 2014


It lashed it down last night and for much of the day, it has begun to feel a little more like winter and less like autumn but tonight there were a surprising number of insects on the wing, caught in the glare of the torch as Cora and I walked the stubble.

Various things have not got done today, like decorating the bathroom, which now has new floor, new ceiling and new bath panel, but no thanks to me (well other than paying for it I guess). Newly purchased bathroom tiles are still in their boxes, undercoat still in its tin.

The notable bird of the day was a Merlin, a male glimpsed through the trees as I ventured out briefly once the rain had ceased. No time to explore further as ponies require feeding and we were out of hay. The trailer hitched up and bounced down the track, which continues in an unrepaired state due to the water.

The month has not been without its moments, a great Fieldfare day with them pouring through all one morning, the Red-breasted Goose which I finally caught up with, and Goosander and Jack Snipe at Bosquoy on a couple of occasions.

 Loch of Bosquoy

 Eynhallow evening

 The first Stonechat since winter of 2010/11 which wiped them out

 Jack Snipe away!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Great three days on Papay.

Our transport awaits

Once we'd got ourselves sorted, out in the field by 10 and the action commenced. A tristis Chiff in the school garden was a great start. Flocks of Redwings were coming south and with them things of interest, two Lapland Buntings were amongst one of the early flocks. A Blue Tit in the Fuschia of a garden, a Hawfinch with another flock (landed on the dyke but I missed getting pics).

There were very tame Goldcrests at Holland.

In the Quarry Garden, the same or another Hawfinch and there were Blackcaps dotted about.

AL and I headed up the north end where the Redwings and Song Thrushes were streaming in. Ring Ouzels, Jack Snipe, Snow Bunting were added.

I searched the east side and the palette garden as AL sorted the north.


Also a couple of Blackcaps, an elusive and confusing (for me) Willow Warbler, a very elusive bunting sp.

Our transport arrived, the lure of Y-bW perhaps

Time for a boat.

and some washing...

The Holm of Papay

Not much movement on Sunday, a few species were added, but we carelessly lost a crew member as AL flew back.

This colour marked Sanderling has an interesting history, ringed on Sanday in 2011, controlled on North Ron in 2012 and sighted twice in Iceland, back in Sanday and found now on Papay in 2014.

Monday started for me with a seawatch, a Great Northern Diver, an Iceland Gull and troublsome skuas were the highlight. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I'd made a mess of the ID of a pale phase skua that past reasonably close, quite possibly a Pom, but that a dark phase more distant and right at the end of the watch was indeed a Pom (dark phase Poms are uncommon about 8% of the population). I'm out of practice with skuas these days which shows how infrequent they are here other than during the summer, I mostly see them flying around The Shunan.

 Grey Plover

 Hybrid crow

Time for a last bird, rare on Orkney.

All too soon it was time to go, via the shortest, timetabled flight in the UK, around a minute to Westray.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Tristis maybe

Fair contender for tristis this, didn't call of course.....

Blue Tit

I know I said I'd not post but....

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Yellow-browed and Firecrest

Yesterday was a good birding day. Still picking up bits and bods from the easterly blow at the beginning of the week, yesterday a Chiffchaff and a Blackcap on the Patch with plenty of Song Thrush still about and a few Brambling and Chaffinch. A text sent me to Kirbuster Farm Museum garden en route to Birsay and thanks to TW a very nice Firecrest which showed well. Interestingly TW and I heard the call quite differently with him hearing the emphasis in the first notes and I hearing the most difference in the last few. An interesting refresher. There was a Grey Wagtail by the garden there too. Then on to Palace where on the path to the Links quickly bumped into a Yellow-browed Warbler which flew across the path in front of us and then performed very nicely in the back garden of the house beyond the burn, calling and showing very well. A couple of Chiffs in the village too. Still wanting a Y-bW for the home patch....

New interests and posting more on Facebook are leading me to conclude that I may well not make further posts here. At any rate I'm going to take a rest. I will post some links to my Flickr site for photographs. Birding news is available on Orkbird2 and on Facebook. I will post links at a later date.

If I blog I want to focus more on corvid behaviour  so there may be further posts on my other blog, which in the past has been rather neglected.

Will update shortly with links.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Skeins of pinks

Piles and piles of Pink-feet yesterday, pretty much every minute spent out on the patch and a total of 2140 in 22 skeins. Other good birds were a Green Sand and two Ruff at Harray, a couple of Goldeneye at Howaback and a Ruff and 8 Whoopers at Bosquoy. There was a Merlin first thing at home too.

Bit windy today and not too much birding, still some hovers in the garden.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hoverflies and Pink-feet

The moth trap nearly blew away early this morn, out at six to recover it in horizontal rain, not opened it up yet. Hoverfly stuff quite exciting at the moment, thought I'd found a new one for Orkney by the kitchen window just to discover that my neighbour over the hill in Rendall had found it in 2012. Anyway this might be the third record of Chrysotoxum arcuatum.

Yesterday I managed to figure out that the smaller Eristalis species on the kitchen rocket are E. arborustrum, helped by the new tubes that arrived yesterday, just handy for moths and hovers.

 Long, fine arista

 No black face stripe

 Thick basal meta tarsus on hind leg, wing stigma diffuse

On the birding front still plenty going on at Bosquoy, although the Greenshank has gone it seems. A Goldcrest in the garden was first for the year and the Pink-feet are piling in now.