Friday, 29 December 2017

Merry Christmas

Christmas day, presents, a lovely walk at Yesnaby, cooking, eating, conking out.

Tropical jimjams contrasting with freezing Orkney, fortunately the conked out heating was fixed pronto a few days previously - thanks Davy.

 Harray kirk on the way to the ponies.

 I have swum / walked through that arch previously, I didn't fancy a go at it today...

Yesnaby as spectacular as ever.

No sign of the 350 Snow Bunts previously reported but an Iceland Gull was a seasonal gift.

Christmas pressies included a kick net and sorting tray, watch out aquatic beasties I'm going to be recording you too.

On Boxing Day we walked up to the trig on Birsay Moor. The hail let rip a few times and the path was tricky. The hound had a lovely time.

 Bog Asphodel stems

I don't think we saw a single bird.

Horsey duties at Howaback, a large flock of Linnets, 2-300 and some nice light.

 Buzzard P in the next door garden again.

Not the greatest photo of a Chaffinch but to illustrate a change perhaps caused by a different feeding strategy. The last few years we've had one female Chaffinch all winter, joined by a male in the spring, but then leaving. I've started putting food in under the trees and the Rosa and the pair of Chaffinch that have been here for a couple of weeks or so has quickly increased in number day by day until today we're at 7. Not a huge number but I think the first time except for the occasional autumn day when Chaffinch outnumber Greenfinch. Our Greenfinch numbers are still much reduced after what was likely a Trichomoniasis infection, causing quite a few to die. This resulted in no feeding for a while, but the numbers have not recovered, generally there are four or five, in the past there used to be thirty or more.

This morning there was a horse food emergency, somehow we'd pretty much run out of Easibeet. But a lovely calm, bright day and I was keen to volunteer, the ideal conditions for Surfie hunting. On the way in to Kirkwall I found the Velvet Scoter flock but they were distant and I couldn't find anything other than Velves. A quick count of the Great Northerns got to 25 or so but there were undoubtedly more. A smart 1cy Glaucous Gull was sat on the fish cages. There were quite a few Slav Grebes and the usual few hundred Long-tailed Ducks. Eider were in short supply close in but there were piles of things sitting on the water in the distant haze. Easibeet (and new wellies) purchased, a few late presents which we'd forgotten in the bag, and I tried the other viewpoint on the way home. Better angle, a bit closer to the birds and in amongst the Velves were two drake Surfies.

Great digiscoped photo.

I got home and all were heading or had already headed on to the moor. Finishing the sag aloo as a kind of brunch I headed for the hills.

A hen Merlin was having a ding-dong with a Hoodie and ended up over our garden and rattling through the trees. (A Merlin day is always a good day.)

The light was grand and I took a few pix as I followed up the Kame of Corrigall (well I didn't actually get that far, meeting younger daughter on the lower slopes in retreat and walking back down with her).

Home from the north.

These are the shapes in the snow and frost where the sheep were lying.

...and here are the sheep.

Snow over Hoy.

The sun came out for a last look on the day.

Redwing and there was a pair of Stonechat.

Clouds over Hoy as we came down the last fields.


Nick Carter said...

A great read, love your updates. All the very best to everyone for 2018!

Alastair said...

Thanks Nick, I really enjoy writing them, although all too often it's a hurried business. I really should be sorting all my moth records and writing the hoverfly report for the county, tomorrow maybe. Currently working on our new county pan-listing Yahoo group, finalising the rules for those that want a competition. I think this year we will just be having a go to see what we can find.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Don't think those pyjamas would suit me