Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Went to Evie where it was blowing a hooly, the Fulmars were confiding by the broch though.

Back home at about 6pm the Brambling started calling continuously, it was found in a garden tree with the Chaffinch and the Siskin, a pre-roost of lost souls perhaps.


Here's this morning's treat under the feeders which due to rushing to get the car to the garage I nearly missed. Fortunately, it was still there on my return. The Siskin is still present but no sign of the Spot Red today.

Monday, 29 March 2010

From the garden bird racing

Garden Siskin today

A jolly wheez. PH and BH have instigated a how many species can you see from your garden in a year Orkney bird race ... red rag to a bull. And wanting to get a head start on JB before he calculated the probability of 325 from his spot I raced into action this morning with several, Baldrick-like very cunning plans.

Plan number 1 = scanning over distant Loch of Harray waiting for a flyby, conveniently provided by Long-tailed Ducks for the tick.

Plan number 2 = grill mid distance Loch of Bosquoy until something obvious shows (well it's a fair distance) two drake Shoveler were the business (there may have been ducks as well but they prove a bit tricky at that range).

Plan number 3 = scoot down to the Shunan, locate the Spot Red then leg it back up the hill and get it on the garden list, nice :-)

Plan number 4 = drive round to the far side of Loch of Harray, locate the Scaup flock then attempt to scope from garden on return. Scaup flock found but may as well have been floating cow poo when seen from the garden, Plan 1 will be reinstated on the morrow (with an outside chance of Fulmar).

Also added today were fly through Mepit and Goldfinch and finally got a Moorhen which was skulking around The Shunan. The total so far is 56.

Elsewhere today at least 4 Slavonian Grebes on Loch of Harray, another 6 Shoveler at Brodgar along with 8 or 9 Scaup, 70 Twite (but no Wheater) at Yesnaby and a very smart male Siskin (different bird from the other day) on the feeders at home. But the Chaffinches have gone.

This Niger's nice ....

Sunday, 28 March 2010

LB-bG makes airspace


The "in the garden" list gained one today as Lesser Black-backed Gull made airspace. The garden also had record numbers of Greenfinch, at least 12, probably 16, three of which were ringed and Chaffinch, 2 males.

Late afternoon the Shunan held a good roost of Oystercaters, 310 counted yesterday.

A late afternoon trip to Loch of Skaill found at least 6 Slavonian grebes in various stages of dressing for summer, 9 Barnacle Geese, 9 Whooper Swans and the usual selection of Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers and Long-tailed Duck.

Rather distant Slavonian Grebes

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Hebrew Character


Ok, so it's a common moth but hey I caught it. There was a second moth flying near the trap when I went out to put it away, that was before I knew I'd caught anything.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Still, ovecast and warm

... but still no moths. The light is on as is the sugar and there are plenty of other flying insects.

Tomorrow's plan is to try to add to the garden list if the weather is half decent.

A bit of recalculation is going on with my Orkney year list as during the recent wind up to inspection at work record keeping became somewhat wayward. I'm now pretty certain the Spotted Redshank was 100th for the year, however, in the light of the new "in and from the garden" year list competition I'm regretting not driving back up the track to get it on the garden list.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Spring is ...

Our summer migrants are arriving. Lesser Black-backed Gull has been in for a couple of weeks now and Siskin is all around the islands, there was a male on our peanuts yesterday morning. I managed to catch up with the Spotted Redshank today which was found by AL on Sunday whilst I was away. Subsequent grillings of the Shunan earlier in the week have failed to reveal it but this morning it was feeding out in the middle - made me a little later for work than I like. The slurry is being pumped on the fields at the moment and there are piles of gulls about, at least 25 Lesser Black-backs around the Shunan and on the surrounding fields this evening but nothing else of note amongst about 750 gulls of the other four species. The smell around the house is a trifle strong though.


We went south last weekend as a bit of a treat. Mostly Louise fancied a walk in the hills so we headed for our closest Munro. The Stromness 2nd w Iceland Gull waved us away, out onto a choppy but uneventful crossing to Scrabster. Shopping in Thurso was rather exciting and kitchen stuff was purchased. I eventually scored Blue Tit, Great Tit and Coal Tit for the year. Other year ticks were Buzzard and Dipper but best of all were three Golden Eagles. The eagles were over our heads all at one time with a Buzzard which looked tiny. Louise got snowed on whilst the girls and I made a huge sandcastle on the beach. All in all a nice couple of days.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Sugaring solution

.... boiled over and went over the Aga, kitchen smells sweet if a bit smokey. Am running the light as the cloud is coming in from the west, will need to watch out for the rain though. Have still not seen a moth this year other than a micro that appeared in the car as we were hacking west on Saturday. Doesn't look as if I've caught in the trap but there's a micro on the landing.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Mothing, not

...cos it's blowing a hooly now. Back in blogging action again, though, that's a bonus.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


A Siskin on the feeders this morning before I went to work was a year tick.

Moth trapping the other evening was unsuccessful using light and it's been rather cold since.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Moth trapping

Running the moth trap at this very moment, overcast and still. I won't run it all night, I'm told that at this time of year the first two hours after dusk are the only productive ones ...?

I still haven't made my sugaring brew although I've bought the ingredients - one pint of Newcie Brown (how did I used to drink this stuff?), a tin of treacle and a bag of sugar. When I've boiled it up I'll add some rum too. In the past I've had a fair bit of success with sugaring so I'm hopeful this brew will do the trick.

Birds today - about 350 Curlew flew in to roost on the Shunan (AL note, a cannon netting event might be profitable?). A couple of Ravens were around and about. The Chaffinch appears to have gone and the Song Thrush didn't song.

Much of the afternoon was spent getting kites out of trees, eventually successfully. After initial fun the kites were "freed" and both ended up in our neighbours trees. Tree climbing, long pipes, rope and step ladders eventually did the trick. The final straw was seeing the helium balloon (not one of my favourite things) drifting off over the fields, "I thought it would be safe in the garage dad." "Wrong, child, wrong!"

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Bird race trophy

Mollie thought there ought to be a trophy for the bird race winning team so she made one. I got a card too.

Whooper Swan made it on to the "from the garden" list courtesy of five on Loch of Bosquoy. If I'd run back to the garden fast Shelduck would have joined the same list. Mute Swan had a good attempt at the in the garden list but the low flying flock of five missed airspace by about 50ft. However, Chaffinch was found under the feeders, 2nd record. Later in the day Song Thrush was singing from next door.

Oystercatchers have arrived in force in the last few days and their calls are now continuously audible from the house and garden. Some are on territory and many more in flocks. Lapwings are displaying around the Shunan today. The field beside the house was ploughed today and at one point about 500 gulls were around us, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was espied from the kitchen window amongst the usual four species.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Bird race

The plan was set and the race was run. A good day was had by all. Thanks to RM for arranging the race and to the other teams for spurring us on. It was all a forgone conclusion, of course, with JB's meticulous calculations predicting a win with a 89.32% certainty. One or two outside chances rolled in and one or two certainties rolled out, but 88 was a pretty good total, just two shy of my unscientific target of 90.

Highlights - two Song Thrushes at Birsay, as predicted, the only ones seen all day. Greenland White-fronted Goose. Finding an Iceland Gull, 1st winter, at Loch of Skaill (just like buses, never one for ages ...). Smew at Loch of Skaill. Goldfinch behind Firth church. Fields of waders including a surprise Black-tailed Godwit on Tankerness. The excellent Green-winged Teal at Graemeshall Loch. BH's Whimbrel performing in an exemplary manner on Birsay as did the Long-eared Owls in the Hope roost. Surprise of the day was JB's carefully fattened Tree Sparrow. Bonus of the day was the not so elusive Brent Goose.

Dips - Pied Wagtail, the scurrilously suppressed Common Redpolls on the Heddle Rd, Sparrowhawk, Short-eared Owl and Barnacle Goose.

Close calls - Robin, just the one but that did; Kestrel and Skylark from the car; Pheasant, finally falling with a field of four and saving JB from a long, cold winter dip. Pink-footed Goose with ten minutes to spare.