Sunday, 10 February 2013

Aurora unseen and bird stuff

On Friday there was an amber aurora warning ( trouble was it was during the day, that's not much good. The same thing happened yesterday afternoon as well, not quite a strongly (a yellow warning). When I went out in the first dark yesterday it was cloudy and raining as well, and although it did clear later and there was a bit of a glow and a single flash of light from the north nothing was going on. Disappointing.

On the bird front the first signs of spring are indeed here, although the weather would not be leading you to that conclusion, ice and light snow showers today, freezing easterly breeze. However, a pair of Shelduck turned up on The Shunan on Friday and took up territory. On Thursday night the first Oystercatcher of the year had flown over and yeserday there were five in the fields by The Shunan and two at Bosquoy.  Noisy time has arrived, although maybe the new double glazing will reduce the night-time piping, I hope it doesn't entirely eliminate the sounds of the night though.

If I were still doing Foot It, which I am still keeping a list for, I'd have been dead chuffed with today's Fulmar and Kittiwake. Fulmar would have turned up eventually in the summer I expect but I've recorded Kittiwake only once before from the patch, in thick fog in April (and then in the new section which is outside of the tetrad), so a good record. Also on the Patchwork list this weekend Slavonian Grebe, but I drove down to Hyval, a pony feeding and sorting out excursion, so not a Foot It species.

Mute Swans from Hyval

We went to Yesnaby yesterday afternoon, the light was stunning and the sea still had a mighty swell. Despite a good search around the Gyr could not be relocated though.


In the morning I'd walked Bosquoy with the hound. Taking my time and counting and searching, a WeBS count. The odd Aythya could not be seen amongst the 86 Tufties. Little Grebe was obvious (bet it won't be next month for the bird race) but otherwise an unexceptional outing.

This morning it was Birsay, and Palace produced a nice adult Glaucous Gull and a Fieldfare. There were at least 120 Purps and a nice flock of 46 Twite. It was the flock of crows that took pride of place though, 47 Hoodies, a pale hybrid and the best looking Carrion Crow phenotype I've seen here. No telling if the CC has any Hoodie genes but it had no grey feathers and the plumage had a smart sheen in the morning light. This blows my theories away possibly as I would have generally reckoned that Carrion Crow is a passage bird only, this individual my dispell that idea.

Glaucous Gul

At home the Brambling flock is still under the feeders, two Goldfinch are continuing to visit the Niger, the Tree Sparrow showed well and the male Hen Harrier that has taken to hunting through the garden was seen closely a couple of times. The Linnet flock is down to 14 though and still no Skylark or Meadow Pipit in the ajoining fields. Rooks roosted on Thursday night when 110 came in at 17:40, they probably roosted last night as well but I didn't check.

Here's the latest aurora news...
The CME, which was captured in flight by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, billowed away from the sun at 800 km/s. The bulk of the cloud looks like it will sail north of Earth. Nevertheless, a glancing blow is possible as shown in this 3D model of the CME prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Flight Center. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Feb. 12th when the CME passes by.

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