First the bad news, in car, drive down track for party shopping and food for Sydney (our bearded dragon) in Kirkwall when a Sparrowhawk scoots along the hawthorn hedge, ok for Patchwork but no good for FootIt (and I still need it). On the way home I gave the Shunan a quick scan as usual and a Pink-foot flew over, same story (and I still need that too).
Just outside Kirkwall there was a 2cy Iceland Gull in a field, nice. Shopping done I rashly decided to have a quick look at Scapa but very high tide, driven by southerly swell, bad idea. Went to see the Glossy Ibis at Langskaill for a quick year tick. It was very tempting to do the Point of Liddle too but party duties beckoned and house points might be at risk....
Party stuff took not so long in the end, time for an afternoon walk down to Loch of Bosquoy. Bosquoy produced the goods, the hound flushed a Jack Snipe, Golden Plover were on show and careful scanning of favoured haunts on the way back up to the house successfully located a Short-eared Owl in the dusk, something I've not seen here for a while. So three added to the FootIt list, 52 of last year's 61.
Back in time to load the car etc and a quick look at the photos of the skua sp found at Deerness that afternoon. On the way out of the door grab the BB with the skua id paper, hmm, that skua is quite interesting. (It most likely is a Great Skua but not an entirely straightforward one. I'm slightly confused about the head marking feature as I find that difficult to see between the various photos in the paper.)
Today, out the door in a fairly leisurely manner with few expectations, lovely day though, still and sunny(ish). Head for Loch of Harray pronto as I'm still short of Slav Grebe and Long-tailed Duck. Perfect conditions and Slav Grebe (x2) was quickly found but L-tD took a tad longer until 9 distant ones were located, and they were heard calling. Further searching of the loch found a very distant diver, not expected on Harray in January. At first I thought it was Black-throat but I could not see the flank patch. Eventually it adopted a more typical pose and the dark around the face seemed to disappear perhaps as it took better light. Nice one then as I didn't score a diver last year.
Now that is a naff photo - digiscoped
A Pink-foot or two called distantly but I couldn't locate them visually and elected not to tick them. A quick nip up the road to look at the Twite flock, a tad reduced compared to New Year's Eve, now just 130 or so.
Tramping the way home, further checks on the hills reveal two large hovering raptors. Some panic sets in, these things are way over on the east edge of the Kame of Corrigal. A fair sprint out of the boggy fields and when I get half a mile or so closer the things are still there, with a Kestrel. After much scrutiny at range I decide that these too are Common and not the much hoped for Rough-legged Buzzards, a record Buzzard count from the patch in any case and four Woodpigs on the powerlines are a record January count for that species too.
FootIt total 57 (and still no Black-headed Gull).
Loch of Harray from Merkister this morn