Sunday, 6 September 2009

A Big Day Out

The plan for yesterday was to start off with a seawatch at Marwick Bay and then see what might follow. However, arriving at the favoured spot at six or so an immediate problem became apparent, no wind, certainly nothing from the west, if there was anything it seemed like a breath of south-east. A happy hour and a half was spent around the bay, including 30 mins staring hopefully out over the waves. I was there early enough to check the roosts so 306 Curlew and one Whimbrel, 600 or so Common Gulls were decent numbers. After half an hour or so the Mepits began to appear and as usual there were plenty, at least 70 around the bay and probably twice that number. A Wheatear was of interest. Fulmar were going north at 1100 an hour and south at 70 an hour, Gannets were going north at 360 an hour and south at 70 an hour. Other seabirds included two Razorbills; there was also an annoyingly distant, suspicious looking small wader.

The Loons produced several Sedge Warblers, Reed Bunting, a male Hen Harrier, 38 Golden Plover and an assortment of Lapwings and Curlew. Several Water Rails were as usual heard and not seen. A SEO was at the watchpoint but then it started to be very "soft" (drizzle and thick mist) - breakfast.

I had a good feeling about South Ron so embarked on the long trek down to Burswick. Common Buzzard was an instant Orkney tick as was Willow Warbler. But then calamity as I failed to spot the wader roost on the beach before it spotted me - there were interesting bits and bats in there. 27 Snipe were put to flight off the beach and there were plenty more buzzing around. 2 Sandwich Terns were welcome. There were a variety of quackers on the little loch up the road including 3 Shoveler. There was a huge flock of Linnet and Twite (100+) but unfortunately they were in thick and distant vegetation. Out on the east coast I attempted a seawatch whilst eating lunch, not very successful.

On Burray Echna Loch produced its usuals but nothing unusual.

Graemeshall Loch (also known by myself as Loch of Dips) was enjoying a Common Gull party, many on the water and an interchange with a nearby field (kitchen) 950 were counted, all but two adults, sitting in the field with the gulls were 4 Sandwich Terns.

Tankerness, and I had hopes for Mill Sands but rain and a lack of exciting waders made for a slightly dull time despite a lot of tramping about and considerable wiping of optics. A fair selection of waders was amassed, except Sanderling. A Greenfinch landed on the beach. Loch of Tankerness took a bit of grilling for 370 Wigeon and not much more.

Feeling pretty puffed out by this time I reckoned a trip to a new place, for me, Inganess Bay might be of interest. Trying the patience of local drivers, who were exceedingly patient and didn't hoot even when I stopped in the middle of the road reading the map blocking it entirely, I eventually found the track down to Sand of Essonquoy. This was a good move. First Arctic Terns of the day, five; then a Common Tern + juv. What's that Little Grebe doing on the sea, er, funny long neck it's got, altogether an odd looking thing; I eventually worked out it was a moulting adult Slavonian Grebe, first I've seen for many a year (when were those ones on Elland GP Nick?). Red-throated Diver in summer plumage, adult dark phase and pale phase Arctic Skuas. After an hour or so I drove around to the other side, Sand of Wideford where there was a single Sanderling.

Back on West Mainland The Shunan produced at least 46 Snipe.

75 species in total, not a bad day out, I might order it up with extra rare sauce next time though.


Nick Carter said...

Prepare to feel old! The s Slavs at EGP were on 2nd and 3rd February 1996.

Alastair said...

That was a long time ago, I can still remember them and peering through the fence on the little bridge to try to see them. I think those were the last Slav Grebes I saw - that'll teach me to spend 7 years watching almost nowhere but Withens Clough; bonkers, mad as a hatter :-)