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.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Not for the squeamish

Not the best of weeks really, too much work so missed out on the RBF invasion, bit annoying to learn one was found dead in Dounby, then come the weekend horrible cold and generally conked out, oh and the Honda broke, puncture with bike going to work (Louise had my car), and the worst was the rat issue. I won't mention the referendum, oh shit I have.... Whichever way anyone voted it was all a bit deflationary in the days after (I'm not saying how I voted). I do think that it is last chance saloon for UK tho', if the promises are broken we'll be doing it all over again in a year or two and this will certainly be an independent country then.

Youngest daughter reported rat in bedroom on Sunday p.m. This happened previously a few months ago and we eventually removed it by throwing her small chest of drawers in the garden and watched a medium sized rodent high-tail it off across the lawn. Not so easy this time. Couldn't find the beggar. An hour or so later Ellen reported rat in another room. When I went in the house there was male cat prowling in the living room and Louise with a broom and trousers tucked into socks on guard. Fortunately I had wellies on, armed myself with other broom and returned to the fray. Louise and the cat found the rat. Rat ran, cat chased, rat went under sofa. Easy methinks, lift sofa; no rat. Eventually we figured out that the rat was in the the sofa. Cat lost interest. So we took the sofa to bits pretty much, turned it upside down but couldn't get the rat out. Shut the door to the rest of the house, open conservatory doors and retire. Several hours later the plan had not worked, the faithful hound confirmed that the rat was still tucked up in the sofa frame. Took a knife to the sofa internal fabric, cutting a few strategic holes. Poked the holes with broom handles and eventually after a lot of rat running about inside sofa Louise got lucky and walloped it one. A somewhat reduced speed rat was then finally caught a further blow or two and eventually removed with the fire tongs... That took some doing.

The mothing has been a bright spot, pictures later. And the Grey Wagtail in neighbour's trees on Saturday quite a star bird. Greenshank at Bosquoy on Sunday was first for the year and Sunday also produced a juv Hen harrier, two Sparrowhawks, a Merlin and  a Buzzard. Warbler of the week, a single Chiffchaff.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Hovers and other stuff

Not the greatest birding weekend, bit knackered yesterday, truth to tell, and was a bit half-hearted with the birding. The Sun appeared for lunch and insects on the wing grabbed my attention with four Red Admirals in the garden and some interesting hovers by the kitchen window, on the rocket. Rain today, lots of it. and despite an ok northerly wind direction nothing of note, it wasn't really going for it to be honest, perhaps just touching Force 6 at times, needs to do a bit more than that, the constant rain didn't help either.

 Oh, and this happened Friday night, catch three, one of which was in there to start with.

Fantastic Blackwits today, right by the road at Palace, pity the light was so rubbish.

Caught some new moths the other day, both Small and Large Wainscott (I think), Haworth's Minor and Small Autumnal.

 Haworth's Minor

 Small Autumnal

 Small Wainscott

 Large Wainscott I think

Four of these in the garden on Saturday

 Probably Syrphus ribesii, on Comfrey leaf

Scaeva pyrastri

More hovers and micros to do yet.

Here is (possibly) the star of the show, I think this is Nicrophorus interruptus, new for Orkney if it is.

Here is N.investigator, the one we usually get....

Nicrophorus investigator