Noup Head, Westray
The plan was that due to it being Louise and my twentieth wedding anniversary at the beginning of July, which we were yet to celebrate, our house-sitter would kindly look after our girls and we'd get away for a night out. The chosen spot was Westray and the very comfy Pierowall Hotel. Now Westray is not especially known for good birds so Louise had reckoned this was a safe bet methinks. Bad call. No sooner had we set out on our first walk when the text comes in, Sharp-tailed Sand, Swartmill Loch, Westray. Now Swartmill is down the south end of the island and we were north of Pierowall with no transport, Westray is quite a sizeable island as well: and there was the wedding anniversary issue.
Fortune smiled; Louise was gracious; I managed to get hold of DO the (only) birder on the island, who was the finder of the bird, and he kindly offered to come and fetch me; and having accomplished the locating each other and getting to the loch, after a nervous 20 minute wait the Sharp-tail appeared; smart. Well, that was unexpected. It would have been an excellent find, and if we had gone over using our bikes that might have been the case, as we would have stopped at Swartmill. As it was I was the second observer, and to some extent, never having seen this species before, helped to confirm the ID.
The next day we did go for a good tramp, up north to Noup Head where seabirds were doing what they should be doing, fishing and breeding. There were thousands of Kittiwakes feeding over the sea and a constant stream of birds on to the cliffs. A very encouraging, and sadly rather unusual sight here these days.
No pictures of the chief suspect I'm afraid, but here are some other pictures from the weekend.