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


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dip day, brilliant day

Had to work yesterday and couldn't get away until after three... too late, the Booted Warbler had disappeared and despite our best efforts AL and I could not relocate it. Whinchat, Merlin and three Stonechats tho.

Lovely day today, to Palace to start with with 80 +, maybe as many as 116 Blackwits, impressive as I've only ever seen one there before. Also a very nice juv Curlew Sand.


As well as plenty of Pied Wags there was a single White Wag, also Whites at both Howaback and The Shunan (unusually).

The moth trap produced over 200 moths of 16 species, one likely new tortrix, and a few other micros to identify.

 Autumnal Rustic (dark form)

 Aphobius ater (most likely)

Parsnip Moth

Another Aphobius sp to be identified but a revelation about Nicrophorus beetles as downloading the key I discovered that they are not entirely straightforward, caught 23 today, this from a previous day.

Nicrophorus investigator

Two Red Admirals in the garden, Small Tortoiseshell 3+, Green-veined White, Large White and down by The Shunan an excellent Painted Lady.

The star of the day turned up in the afternoon, first a fly-by but a couple of hours later the main performance:

 What's that over the roof?




Also 29 Blackwits flew by early evening and there were c1,000 Common Gulls in to The Shunan. Robin, Dunnock and Song Thrush in the garden.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Bit of aurora


Bit "noisy" but you get the idea, from outside the back gate


And from Bosquoy the evening before...


The odd small thing has flitted in the garden in the last couple of days, getting to grips has been tricky.... Hoping for a grotfinch on the feeders :-)

Friday, 15 August 2014

Gull confusion

Oh dear, oh dear! And I thought I was ok, quite good even, at gulls. Now the trouble was that I had hurricane Bertha and westerly airflows in my head. So dead chuffed to find a nice Iceland Gull in the tideline scrum at Palace, after a bit of thought a 2cy, getting my head around a summer Iceland Gull was an interesting challenge.

Iceland and Common, showing similarity with head shape

Just I was getting ready to go to my dental appointment a rather odd looking juvvy gull appeared next to the Ice. I had my head in the West, the gull had a big, black, decurved bill, clearly a juvenile, wracking the grey matter I could only think of Laughing Gull. Now I had no idea what a juvenile Laugher would look like, but what else could it be with that hooter? I even texted it in, once I got somewhere with a signal, before taking a moment and realising that Laughing Gull is a dark grey thing and this gull had a very pale mantle. Quick consult of Collins (the battered hard copy, not the new app). Doh! It's a Med Gull.



It really is not a good idea to have any preconceived ideas when birding. Med Gull is rare here, despite a breeding attempt a few years back, there are just a couple or three a year on average. Egg now wiped off face..... Apologies sent to news distributor, fortunately I got a text off correcting my error before he got a text off putting it out. A very nice bird and educative. In my defense I'm not sure I've seen such a young Med before, maybe some 10 or 12 years ago in Cornwall.

My copy of Martin Garner's new book arrived today and I'm very, very impressed. Marked contrast to the new Helm Guide which is a bit of a disappointment to be honest - telling me to find an expert is just a cop out, pathetic actually. Martin's book is very well produced, great info and excellent illustrations. Go get a copy - http://birdingfrontiers.com/

It's rained a tad here, well a lot, and the lovely muddy Shunan has disappeared, just wee tufts of grass poking out of the water are all that remain of the islands. So it's a tramp around to find the waders. A likely spot was discovered at Bosquoy yesterday, and it revealed 2 Ruff, a Redshank, 22 Snipe and an annoying smaller wader that flew off before I could get to grips with it. Couple more spots to check out, one of which will involve a serious battle with the vegetation. Not so far today though, a day spent buying floors.

Two new moths in the trap the other morning (Thursday) both micros; Acleris rhombana (10) and Acleris sparsana. Also Diamond-backed Moth Plutella xylostella.

 Rhomboid Tortrix

 Acleris sparsana

Plutella xylostella

New glasses have arrived, maybe I'll get those gulls sorted in future....



 Barley below the house

 Bosquoy, rain coming


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Lepidoptera and waders

Did the moth trap first thing, I'd put it around the back and it was a bit disappointing, this was of interest tho. I think it is Square Spot Rustic, and just a grey colour form, this species is usually a deep rich brown here, any help welcomed.



I then walked around The Links at Palace, 91 Small Tortoiseshell and 4 Painted Lady.

 The field they were all in

When I got home there were 20 or so Small Tortoiseshell in the garden and one Painted Lady, a garden tick.


Next up, scanning around and a Green Sand flew across The Shunan, a year tick and a tricky one for the patch at that. Gardening involved taking all the vegetation off the tatties as we seem to have blight, removing the caterpillars off the kale and broccoli and cutting the somewhat bolted caulis.

Then off to Palace again where at high tide in failing light there were two Ruff on the beach. To the Loons where no sign of Swallows or the rumoured Hobby but a Greenshank called.