Sunday, 26 April 2015

Papa Westray weekend

Pretty brilliant weekend, many thanks to JB and VB for the hospitality. A quick early post, more pictures to be posted later - the morn most likely.

Just out of the airport and straight on to this

Great weather, if a tad cool

First good find was a rather distant, but nevertheless pleasing 2cy Little Gull, an uncommon species here.

Loads of these guys around

Nesting gulls everywhere and the Sandwich terns were also back on territory

Out to the north end for a rather uneventful seawatch but there were plenty of Bonxies and Arctic Skuas too.

Plenty of Great Northern Divers on the sea and a Raven's nest

We were getting tired and cold but the wader flock near Loch of Ness popped up as we went by, and there were several hundred birds. Amongst the several hundred Purple Sands there were several colour ringed birds so I was searching through them trying to record the ring sequences. All of a sudden a small Dunlin like wader popped into the scope. There was a certain amount of disbelief at first but I managed a "What's this?" to JB who got on the bird at almost the same instant. From finding a Baird's a couple of year's or so back I remembered the flank markings feature of White-rumped Sand. I knew it wasn't a Baird's and we both came to the conclusion, the bird had shown it's rump in the picture above but I didn't see this picture until tonight, however, JB saw the rump when the bird flew and our ID was confirmed. Subsequently I spent a couple of happy hours trying to get better pictures. Nearly died of hypothermia....

To cap it all the redpoll on the Redpolls page (just posted) was found on the way back to base, it is a Mealy but it caused a bit more excitement...

Here are a few more pix...

 Sadly the autumn's transport is now a rather colourful, small shed...




 Long-tailed Duck

 Norse grave

Ocean Queen

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Tree Spug, White Wags and Blackwits

The Blackwit "flock" on The Shunan has been 2 for a couple of days now. No sign today of yesterday's Tree Spug, and the Goldfinch hasn't been seen for two days now.

Bit grainy in the early evening fog

There are three fields in this condition around the house, this one above The Shunan. Currently these fields have attracted Wheatear, Pink, foot and the pile of wagtails. Hope rising of a Dotterel (which would be a patch tick).

Six alba wags yesterday including one a.alba. Today there were 11 at least including three a.alba.

White Wag

Pied Wagtail, looks like a 2cy f but I'm ready to stand corrected (I haven't looked it up).

Sunday, 19 April 2015


Excellent Greenshank on The Shunan on Saturday morning, and then another flying through Howaback on Sunday morning, last year I saw just one on the patch in the year. The Greenshank on The Shunan flew towards the garden calling early afternoon, distress caused by a Merlin flying parallel and behind it. The Merlin eventually stooped at our feeders.

Two Swallows at Howaback this morn, so summer has arrived. The Loons held another or the same American Wigeon this morning (thanks AL) as well as two Garganey.

At Palace there was a Chiffchaff, five Wheatear and a Carrion Crow.

The conservatory finally has a new door, getting quite good at this making lark....

Saturday evening Loch of Bosquoy

Friday, 17 April 2015

Evening skies

Not much to report on the birding front, a trickle of Redwing, first Blackwit yesterday and a Sand Martin this evening. Looks like no aurora tonight, sky was pretty good tho...

Aurora wow!!!!

Just popped out after Question Time.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

BWT reprise

Iceland Gull adult on Thursday and Friday between The Shunan and the house.

 Low light record shot, lovely bird tho

Today first Bonxie was right over the garden and there was a Wheatear on the beach at Palace.

No sign of the Yank Wigeon at Howaback today, last seen yesterday. However, after a long absence the Blue-winged Teal appeared again on The Shunan briefly mid morning.

Thursday, 9 April 2015


Well it was dead warm yesterday p.m. sitting out in the garden with tea, first Small Tortoiseshell etc.

This morning the American Wigeon showed rather well.

 Showing the white axilliaries and underwing

Yes I did (very gently) flush it, as wanted to get the underwing feature. The flock flew to the other bank and carried on feeding/loafing there.

Another Small Tortoiseshell along the Loch of Harray. A Goldfinch flew over by Howaback and there was a Brambling under the feeders.

Moth trap went out for the first time this year, just until midnight when it got too cold, not checked the contents yet.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Yank quaker roll

Definitely on a roll with the Yank quackers. For various reasons I had to be in charge of the riding arrangements this morn and whilst tacking up was going on took the opportunity to view Loch of Harray from the treatment works at Howaback. As usual there was a flock of Wigeon down there and today, due to the NW wind puffing a bit they were on the opposite bank, distant but viewable. Of course as well as counting I've always got the American Wigeon thought going on when I'm scanning these flocks and the very thought entered my head at the instant that recognition clicked in, "That is a Yank wigeon!"

Whilst I've seen three previously on Orkney I'd never found one before and a brilliant patch tick.

On getting back from holiday quite a few changes with many species now displaying in earnest, gulls and waders are sitting on fence staves, Curlew are bubbling and numbers of things are changing. At Palace yesterday there were over 100 Turnstone and I couldn't find a Purple Sand, one Sanderling was nice. Also the first inkling of migrants with a smart male Blackcap traversing the gardens by the palace.

Harlequin hols

Have been away on hols to Loch Ness. Managed to get the family to agree to stop at Brora on the way down and back so grabbed the female Harlequin Duck, a fine wee beastie. Will post landscape photos of Glen Affric later but for now here's the Harlequin.

Other pictures as promised