Wednesday, 3 August 2011

On Hoy

... a rather a damp place yesterday afternoon. Third time lucky; (previous attempts had been aborted due to a lack of knowledge of the ferry timetable and, about to board, discovering Louise's car keys in my pocket) I eventually caught the noon boat yesterday.

Twin-spot Carpet (I think)

On the crossing I saw my first juv Tysties of the year, a single by Graemsay and five in a flock of adults off Moaness. Off the fish farm the water bubbled a couple of times with shoals of fish which a Bonxie seemed unable to feed from despite its best efforts.

I headed for Hoy Lodge Plantation and spent about an hour and a half searching for Coal Tit which despite hearing possible calls (those thin sounds which might be Coalie or might be Goldcrest, I confirmed neither) I failed to find; however, there was at least one (Common) Crossbill in there. Unfortunately I missed recording its call so a more certain id was not established. The plantation was very quiet in comparison to last year, when it had been full of Willow Warbler song, Chaffinch call and a lively place for birds. I did find evidence of Sparrowhawk activity though.

Bu Plantation

I then aimed north and headed across the moor to Hoy Forest (Bu Plantation). As I got there the rain began in earnest but the north-west corner was most productive with Coal Tit singing, at least two Coal Tit juvs whizzing around the trees, Robin with young, a pair of Chaffinch and a juv Willow Warbler. I was sure I heard Stonechat too but failed to see it.

I had a quick look at the coast and then retraced my steps, though going around Bu. Back at Hoy Lodge I sheltered under the tress for a while and continued listening for Coal Tit there.

Back at Moaness for the ferry Greenshank was noisy in the bay and there were at least two Red-throated Divers. (By this point actually managing to see anything through the bins was a bit of a challenge as all my cleaning clothes were rather damp and all they did was smear the water across the lenses. I can report that there were lots of rather distant "dots" on the water which I presumed to be a mixture of Eider, Tystie and Shag.) Closer, a Gannet looked rather lonely, surrounded by 14 Bonxies.

 Boat slip, Moaness

Very cold and wet when I finally got back to the car, heater on full blast for the short spin home.


Nick Carter said...

Sounds like a determined effort to see Coal Tit, are they rare up there?

Anonymous said...

Really enjoying the blog whilst staying on Orkney this last two weeks. Coal tits heard today on Hoy but not seen.

Alastair said...

Yea Nick, very tricky to see here, easier since last year when we found them breeding in three Hoy plantations. This year they appear to be in only two of the plantations though. Breeding Robin is not especially easy to find either, Finstown area excepted, our Robins leave in the spring and the return is certainly a sign of autumn.

Thanks Anon, have meant to post more but decorating and sorting out the central heating (amongst other jobs) and getting out in the field has gobbled up my time.