Sunday, 21 February 2010

Bearded Seal dip again

Having completed the children's party I checked Orkbird, "Bearded Seal showing at noon."

Arriving at the spot a seal was behaving oddly just off the school. Long whiskers were obvious and it had a small squashed up face. We watched it for half an hour and I varied between "this must be it" to much doubt. Another observer was confident but I was persistent and in the end when the animal finally stopped bobbing up and down (a characteristic apparently) and swam over to the slip it revealed itself as Common Seal. Darn it!

Saturday, 20 February 2010


Went for a walk at Marwick Head during the middle of the day and saw a zillion Guillemots on the cliffs, very impressive.

Not a Guillemot

Not much else to report though. The strongly suspected Barn Owl observed as I drove up the Dounby Road on Tuesday evening failed to show when I made an effort at the same time today. Good habo and plenty of roosting places so worth another go. I wish I'd stopped in the first place tho', but it was "only" a Barn Owl.

On Friday morning I dipped the Bearded Seal reported at Finstown the previous day.

In the garden two Greenfinch continue to be around, a Merlin joined the from the garden list by sitting on a post by distant Loch of Bosquoy for half an hour this morning. At work two Oystercatchers were on the roof, so that's their territory sorted.

Monday, 15 February 2010


The lights are beginning to show in the northern sky, a tick for me.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

and to Evie

The plan had been to go walking on Hunda today but an exchange of texts last night indicated a start at Finstown would be of interest as AL was planning to catch some Wigeon. We arrived a little late and joined the line of vehicles waiting and watching. The Wigeon drew closer and then drifted away, then Oystercatchers on the bank gave them courage and one by one they began to come to land. Looking good. Then they all got off and went out onto the middle of the Ouse. At this point we gave up but perseverence would have paid off as 34 were later caught and ringed.

We headed east but down came the rain so we ended up visiting the Italian chapel, having a very brief stroll on a beach and returning west.

Back at Finstown the ringing exercise was being tidied up so we went to Evie.

That was a good plan Louise. Several hundred Common Gulls on the beach with a few larger cousins. Out on the sea were plenty of Long-tailed Duck and, oh ho what's this? Adult Iceland Gull. 1. I've not found Iceland Gull before (fairly amazingly really) and 2. I've not seen an adult before, not that I remember anyway. Also Great Northern Diver eating a flattie, 70 or so Twite, 40 or 50 Dunlin and 20 Ringed Plovers. Good one.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

More beautiful days

One of our rotting carts, this in the Orkney Vole "reserve"

Lunch and coffee outside, it's still and sunny up here; decidedly warm to be honest, tropical not.

Work on the potato patch has proceeded these two days, some progress but steady is best with digging I find.

Bird race reccy is ongoing, the Stromness Iceland Gull made it onto the year list yesterday as did Chaffinch. Goldfinch and Dunnock were nailed (our garden bird is a tad unreliable, although it was singing yesterday), Goldcrest was checked out.

Two species singing yesterday with Robins being most vocal along with Dunnock. Oystercatchers seem to be venturing inland more, both yesterday and today seen from the garden. The Rooks are decidedly frisky.

Loch of Stenness held 120 Scaup yesterday, not a bad total and Little Grebe made it onto the garden list courtesy of slightly distant Loch of Bosquoy. There were fleetingly 27 Fieldfare in the garden, next door.

Today's mission was to nail down the GW-f Geese but they didn't seem to be where they were supposed to be and the light was grim, need to get these sorted. Twitching A.carolinensis would be the ticket tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


A Dunnock holding territory at work, a Blackbird singing in Kirkwall and a Woodpigeon appearing in our garden this very morn. The snowdrops are flowering in the garden too.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sunny day

Bay of Skaill

A very lovely day today which led to not much birding really. A late start due to enjoying a glass or two too many and staying up quite late. Had a family tramp up to the cairn south of Bay of Skaill this morning. There were plenty of Long-tailed Ducks in the bay and a Tystie off the south cliffs. Very few sea birds moving.

In the evening I had a go for the Birsay harrier / owl roost and not a harrier nor an owl did I set my eyes upon.

Birding highlight of the day was dipping Common Redpoll, it was in the tree, I raised my bins and it flew at that instant, it didn't call properly so I was left humming and harring, slightly annoying.

Bittern, not

On a course in Kirkwall on Friday and the timing was right for a dusk visit to Graemeshall Loch. Whilst the Bittern didn't show the finder (KH) did, unfortunately he didn't bring his Franklin's Gull with him either.

Of interest were the 11 or more Grey Heron's that flew out of the reed bed as dark approached. A duck and then a drake Goosander appeared, Orkney tick for me. A Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk hunted the loch side.

Proposal to extend the Italian hunting season

Please click the link to find out more and then to send protest email to the Italian Government - thanks

Click here