Sunday, 16 October 2016

That was a good day!

After the slight disappointment of yesterday's elusive Phyllosc (bright coloured thing I glimpsed) today certainly made up for it. Mostly the same stuff at home to start with as yesterday (Brambling, 5; Redwing, quite a lot; Blackbirds, 15+ etc) coming through, excluding the Phyllosc but including a brief view of a Woodcock.

The rest of the birding world is pretty excited about a relative of this...

Off to Birsay where there were plenty of birds coming in, loads of Redwings, quite a few Fiedfare and a scattering of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Meadow Pipits and Brambling. A Brambling was on the road in front of me so I went photograph it, not being a common bird at Palace, with it was a Meadow Pipit and then another I presumed, until I looked at it with the bins, ah, I know that head pattern! The Olive-backed Pipit hopped up on to the fence wire and I blasted away with the camera.

Wonderful Brambling pic


The bird then flew off some way to some houses. It was very hard to see there but I got a few views. I was waiting to see if anyone would respond to the texts. Just after Alan arrived the bird was flushed by a car going up the driveway. It then led us a merry dance with not very good views before reappearing back in the original spot and showing off well.

Driving home up the track to the house a bird flew across the front of the car amongst a flurry of Redwing. Various words were said before I stopped and got on to the bird in flight, whoa Mistle Thrush! It landed and a scan with the scope found there were two. First record for me in the county, nice.

 Not a Mistle Thrush - the left behind juv Whooper otherwise known as Ellen's goose.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A garden full of Redwing

The Redwings and Blackbirds arrived in force today to set about our Swedish Whitebeam.

There were at least 7 and maybe as many as 15 Brambling as well.

A new (presumably) Yellow-browed Warbler called from next door but I couldn't see it, a Goldcrest, at least two and probably four Fieldfare and at least 20 but most likely 40 or so Blackbirds made up the supporting cast.

At Palace all I could find were five or so Goldcrest but I would bet that there is something else there, I'll have another look tomorrow.

First thing I'd needed to be a taxi so had headed on from Stromness to get a few things in Kirkwall. While I was there I went to have a look at the American Wigeon reported in the week. I've subsequently found the excellent photos on line and it seems ok from them I think, it bothered me somewhat at the time. The photos show dark grey centres to the coverts of the axillaries, I can't find out if that is ok or not. The background colour to the face was quite gingery from the photos online. Light was awful but this isn't too bad.

Interestingly the drake was consorting with a rather grey headed duck. I probably ought to go back and have another look at that.

Not much at Palace, just a few Goldcrest and a Stonechat, I would guess that there is something else lurikng there somewhere.

Still a few hovers about, Eristalis pertinax, two in the garden and two Melanostoma scalare, a male and a female. A single unidentified Heliophillus. A single Painted Lady today.

Monday, 3 October 2016


Saturday was unexpectedly lovely, no birds mind but a lovely day. Here's a very autumn thing, spiders migrating by silk and landing in their thousands or millions, or perhaps these are about to set off.

Loch of Bosquoy, silk

There are still hoverflies in the garden, various Eristalis, mostly pertinax, a few Helophilus pendulus and a few Melanostoma scalare.

Eristalis arbustorum, original image enlarged shows hairs off the arista

I wonder if this is Eristalis nemorum? Can't see the wing stigmata unfortunately, perhaps hidden against the body and it's hard to gauge the thickness of the hind metatarsus.

Not a hoverfly, and rather a beast, pretty horrible when they get in the house Cynomya mortuorum.

Sunday was a beautiful day again, eating breakfast, lunch and tea in the garden (it was dark by supper time).

Broad beans and peas finished and out, broccoli in. The gale the other day ripped the broad beans to pieces but everything else survived, there are still courgettes coming along. Tomatoes nearly done.

I got back from Loch of Bosquoy around midday and before beginning the gardening had a mooch around the back garden trees. I check the trees several times a day in the autumn and spring. Warbler species seen so far on the home patch this year just one, Sedge Warbler, a common breeder. (No Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff.)  A flicker in the rowan, Goldcrest? No, a very nice Yellow-browed Warbler, but what was that next to it? Lesser Whitethroat. Birding is just weird sometimes.

Lesser Whitethroat

A little later there was a Redwing feeding in the whitebeam, and early evening 11 came in to roost and another two flew over.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Norwegian ringed Little Stint

Palace today and the Little Stint found on Monday was relocated, it is 21 days since it was ringed in Norway.

Starling bath time.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Birding day

Took me a while to get my act together today and get out there but despite my lethargy there were some good birds. At midday or so Louise and I went down to Northside, wonderful blue skies and a big sea.

300m past the Whalebone and a passerine appeared on a post in front of us, a very non-descript thing and I looked expecting another Meadow Pipit to rather slowly realise it wasn't that species at all and in fact had a very short, stubby, darkish bill. It was quite chunky, long tail, alarm bells began to go, a bird I do not see very often at all, and am pretty sure I've never found before. Popularly referred to as Grotfinch, and once had the rather nicer name of Scarlet Rosefinch but is now Common (not, even here) Rosefinch. Of course before I'd even thought about the camera it was off east not to be found again.

That was the second time this week a decent bird has begged off before I've really had a proper chance to enjoy it. On Tuesday, as I cycled home from work on a rather circuitous route to take in the various field flashes I came across a rather distant Pec Sand. A bit of field craft and I managed to get reasonably close, no scope of course. All of a sudden it spooked and was off across the fields, nice flight views but despite searching later on in the evening and on subsequent days not to be refound, and no pics.

I did make up for this this afternoon though as deciding to return to Palace to check the beach for waders I wandered off over the Links with the vague idea I might bump into a B-b Sand as there have been a few about. Hound and I rounded the buildings by Mount Misery and a familiar call came from two passerines that flushed just a little way,very nice.

Lapland Buntings

The beaches were stuffed with wagtails, mostly Whites to my eye, a good few adults. Plenty of Wheatear everywhere The Med Gull conveniently re-appeared and allowed some pics.

There are moths and hovers to catch up with from last weekend, I'll try and post them tomorrow. The traps are out tonight, still no Convulvulous Hawk for me... fingers crossed.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Moths, scary Knot and Biking Birder

Probably some hovers and beetles as well....

I'll start with the Knot which is likely the most interesting wader I've seen for a while, it seemed to have a touch of melanism which got me going with thoughts of Great Dot but I soon returned to a more sensible world.

Melanistic Knot - certainly raised the pulse rate for a while

I seem to have developed a taste for very tiny moths -

Elachista atricomella I think

One of the Coleophora species apparently, there are rather a lot of them....

The garden list seems to be building slowly, today I added Phoenix, the above Coleophora sp, and a Noctuid which I thought was Archer's Dart but has been properly identified as  Heath Rustic (thanks Andy and Stewart) , I don't recall seeing either in the garden traps before anyway.

Heath Rustic


This Pink-barred Sallow was in the kitchen this morning but I've caught three in the traps in the last two days.

I'm always very happy to see one of these in the trap.

 Haworth's Minor

Pinion-streaked Snout is likely the star find of the last week

Gary dropped by yesterday on his way to Shetland and the Ring-necked Duck was happy to oblige after a bit of a search through 175 Tufties and other assorted quackers. Gary and Sydney seemed to be getting on well...

Gary's other new friend left in a hurry, Nicrophorus investigator taking off

We had a scout around the garden yesterday afternoon and dug out a few things, amongst the usual hoverflies was this nice male Syrphus which I think the photo lets me get to vitripennis.

Nettle-tap, with the white eyebrow (another really rather small moth). There were still a few worn Udea lutealis around as well

Saturday, 20 August 2016


A brief excursion to South Ronaldsay on Wednesday.

Common Blue


There was a Greenshank on the shore too. All near Loch of Liddel. A trip to the Bistro to celebrate exam successes, well done Mollie! (And Liam.)

Back at home an early(ish) morning walk produced a juvenile Cuckoo, most likely fledged quite locally I suspect.

Huge numbers of Episyrphus balteatus have appeared in the garden, 340 counted on 16th and 210 counted on 17th. The spinach plants from last year are now in flower and these attracted at least 100 on 16th. A small number of dark individuals were also recorded.

At least 100 on this spinach which we've allowed to go to flower

Not much excitement with moths, as far as I know that is with a number of bottled specimens of micros to get checked over. A Nettle-tap was in the MV, a first for the trap, the run of Gothic continues with another on 15th in the actinic and likely Common Wainscot to be checked. The first Autumnal Rustics have begun to appear.


Autumnal Rustics

Waders are beginning to come through now with 13 Knot on the beach at Palace and a Greenshank yesterday. Rain and a strong south-easterly this morn means I'll be out hunting for rare things when the forecast end of precipitation occurs shortly.