Sunday, 14 December 2014


....has indeed arrived. Managed the WeBS yesterday, where Bosquoy produced three drake Goosander, two Jack Snipe and a Stonechat and Sabiston a nice flock of 40 Whoopers which included four small broods. It was windy today, at one point had a serious struggle with the car door, like a tug-o-war, happily I won. More lightening and intermittent electricity, snow, hail and by the sea massive waves. Progress with bathroom - quite good.

Thursday, 11 December 2014


Mostly lightning (which closed work) the wind was not so fierce, however, the swell was mighty.

Perhaps not the best place to park....

Difficult to park in the lovely new car park by the sea.

Getting to the car park might be a tad challenging.

Waves, dusk, Skaill

Video to follow.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bathroom redecorating?

Saturday was pretty grim, wet and breezy, but there were birds about and autumn continues with plenty of Blackbirds in the usual migrant places (Hawthorn Hedge and Loch of Bosquoy gardens). The Hawthorn Hedge also held two Goldcrest and one more was along the track ditch. It was under the hawthorns that the bird of the month skulked, unexpected in the flooded section was a calling (but unseen) Water Rail, not only a year patch tick but a new bird for the patch, excellent.

We'd gone to the West Mainland Farmers' Ball last night, so a bit of a late start. But a nice surprise as I made the morning tea was a Blackcap on the apples. Headed for the Stoneyhill Rd to check on the Red-breasted Goose, which was hiding, so down to Skaill where there were just piles of birds. Best were 28 Barnacle Geese, but there were Scaup, Whooper Swans and good numbers of waders.

 Still plenty of these moving through the garden

 Grey Seal

Slow progress on the bathroom though, just too nice a day today.

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.