Sunday, 28 February 2016

Less flu, a few birds

Still not entirely well but have managed a few short walks around the patch, and had to go out to get some hay for the ponies.

Spring is beginning to happen, even this far north. Pink-feet were moving Friday evening and Saturday with small skeins heard over the house in the dark and birds seen and heard during the day. Woodpigeons have been moving through with a maximum of 14 today. A large flock of Fieldfares flew WNW around midday today. Greenfinch are singing.

I had to head out  this afternoon as we had run out of hay for the ponies. As we pulled out of the farmyard with our trailer stacked high with bales the field opposite was being ploughed and hundreds of gulls had arrived just in the few minutes we had been loading up.

Amongst the mass of Common Gulls, fair numbers of Black-headed Gulls and a few Herring Gulls there was a single 2cy Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Now, spot the Ice...

Lovely adult Iceland Gull, bit easier to see in this picture.

A few other images...


Rookery stuff

Monday, 22 February 2016

No birding, flu (not bird flu)

Some photos from the previous weekend, 13th 14th, totally conked out this weekend.

 Nisthouse evening

 Loch of Bosquoy shore

 The returned, now making a noise in a field somewhere nearby

 Checking the plough here is often productive. An early Lesser Black-backed Gull was the first thing I picked out, then an adult Ice, and lastly this very striking, very white, 3cy Ice.

Writing a few species for the bird report whilst I've been out of action and starting to write up the Swift thing from last August. It's interesting trying to tie in the insect data (for Silver Y, Painted Lady and Red Admiral) to the Swifts. There is quite a bit of data from North Ron, Fair Isle, Shetland and Orkney but getting information from elsewhere will I suspect prove to be tricky.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Spring! (Some birds think it is....)

The evening air is no longer silent, or at best the silence broken by a cohort of Greylag overhead. Oystercatchers have returned to inland Orkney and their calls persist from dusk through the night. It has become one of my favourite sounds, full of hope.

Shelduck also think that Spring is here, with drakes on Bosquoy and The Shunan this weekend, a pair at Palace. The Coot invasion has continued, from one last weekend there are now nine on The Shunan and the fifty or so on Bosquoy are full of aggression towards each other, their loud calls shouted all around the loch.

It will be some months til the first Swallow though.

The Old Nisthouse patch produced some good things this weekend. A couple of evening walks at Bosquoy and Fulmar, Woodcock, Little Grebe, Pink-footed Goose and Peregrine all joined the list. Up at the house there were great views of Hen Harrier, wing tip inches from our bedroom window, Sparrowhawk, straight towards me as I drank tea in the kitchen and two Kestrels late afternoon today. Also of note Ruff x3 in amongst the roosting waders at Bosquoy and a drake Goosander there on Saturday evening.

Plenty of Grey Heron around on both patches, not quite matching Louise's four the other day though. Snipe were present, flushed a couple of times and calling overhead in the dark as I walked back home this evening.

Also hard to avoid Whooper and Mute Swans. The Mutes on The Shunan look as though they might be setting up shop for the spring. These were photographed on nearby Harray though.

 And some Whoopers that were with them.

Late in the afternoon these Whoopers were on Bosquoy.

More late afternoon images from Loch of Bosquoy.

Not so much on the coast, a smart male Hen Harrier being the highlight.

Common Seal, as usual confiding

Monday, 1 February 2016

Rough weather

The wettest month on record for Orkney I believe is what marks January 2016. Certainly getting out in the field has at times been challenging, indeed on Saturday morning I was nearly blown down a (admittedly small) cliff, but staying on my feet was a challenge, let alone seeing any birds.

Equally there have been some lovely days, brilliant for seeing water birds. My list for the Old Nisthouse patch has my lowest January total for this month, just 51 species. Patch tick of a very surprising addition, Little Auk, was some compensation. Strange things were afoot though, the earliest ever Oystercatcher, and three records of the species during the month, species like Meadow Pipit were quite common, Stonechat quickly ticked off.

On the Palace patch Little Auk was also added (yesterday), and early birds for the year were represented by a Bonxie, extraordinarily early.

Bonxie at Palace yesterday

The seawatch from Point of Buckquoy yesterday was interesting with Fulmar going 3,000 an hour, a few Guillemot and Razorbill, a very early Puffin and the afore mentioned Little Auks.

There were seven Brown Hares in the Palace fields.

A roost of 111 Purple Sandpipers at the Whale Bone were a good sight.

Tonight it is blowing again and around midnight it should reach a peak with gusts of over 70mph.