Wednesday 27 July 2011


Fantastic day today, bright and warm (this after some days of grey and cool, cold even). The warmth came through yesterday when the temperature suddenly jumped to 20C in the middle of the day but the sunshine didn't arrive until this morn. So good we even cobbled together a barbie.

The Dunlin are on the move, a flock of 17 at Birsay this afternoon were very tame. The local ones seem to have disappeared and this year I've seen no juvs on The Shunan, not a good breeding season perhaps. There had been 6 - 8 daily until fairly recently and on a couple of occasions i'd tracked them flying high over the house back up onto the moor. The 17 were all adults too. However, as we were leaving there were a couple of juvs by the burn mouth.

An excursion this morning to check some Atlas stuff produced an unexpected Slavonian Grebe, very smart. The steam roller was phtographed a few days earlier, on a prior visit to this site, I remember when beasts like this were in serious use.

The moth trap has not turned up anything very thrilling recently, well nothing I could identify at least. I've photographed a couple of things that might be of interest. However, Garden Tigers are always good to see.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Little Terns

I had to go to buy a gate (that darn dog) so headed over the barriers to the site. 22 adult Little Terns at least and one maybe two juvs: nice!

Hope you're not too green JB?

Friday 22 July 2011


Out for storm petrels last night. The northerly wind didn't help and in the end only three European Storm Petrels were caught with another five or so bouncing or missing the net. Bit puffed out today though.

Two Garden Tigers, a Yellow Barred and several Antler moths in the trap, depite running it for half the night closed up, doh!

Tuesday 19 July 2011


The northwind doth blow... so a seawatching I did go. Just 90 mins this evening from Whitaloo produced a very nice Pom (sans spoons but smart all the same) heading east. A gang of Arctic Skuas east ( a three and at least 3 more singles) a Sooty the wrong way, east along with 16 Manx. There was a lot of feeding activity about a klick or so out with 100 Arctic terns and 200 Kitts (including a single juvenile). Also of interest were the Puffins and Razorbills tooing and froing with food.

Monday 18 July 2011


We went over to Rousay today. The gloomy start to the day soon cheered up and we strode up the hill. Not many birds to report though and no cetaceans on the crossing.

New experience for the hound

 Nice views from the top


Saturday 16 July 2011

Tall ships

Having got back from holiday in England yesterday Louise and I went "sailing" today on one of the tall ships. This was a motor out of Kirkwall, east of Shapinsay, around Copinsay and then south down South Ron' around Burwick and then through the Firth to Stromness. It was all very civilised, we were well fed and cared for and no one was used as shark bait or prodded down the plank.

 We were glad we weren't on this one

Only four of our many sails were set which was a bit of a disappointment but the wind was wrong for us apparently

I saw three of perhaps six Sooty Shearwaters and six Manxies.

Sooty Shearwater

Copinsay and The Horse

Back at the ranch one Oystercatcher is behaving as if it still has young.


Tuesday 5 July 2011

Rooks and terns

Living next to a rookery and large corvid roost is an interesting if sometimes noisy existence.Counting them in the other evening I was surprised by just how many there are roosting at the moment, 1477 and 127 Jackdaws. We'd noticed them "snoring" a few weeks ago and last night I listened carefully and what was apparent was they are synchronised snorers. But for desperate slowness of our upload speed the video would be posted with this. I must look this up in BWP and find out a bit more.

I went to look at the Skiba Geo Arctic Terns the other evening and found to my surprise that a small number were back on the colony. Careful inspection revealed no eggs or young but they were behaving like freshly arrived birds, displaying and staking out claims.

These photos were taken at Skaill where ten or so seemed to be defending a phantom colony on the beach. It has been a very poor year for this species here. I understand the Northumberland ones are faring better.
Skaill Bay

I wandered up on the moor yesterday and found my route littered with Common Blue butterflies.Onto the side of the Kame of Corrigall and across the moor where I flushed a couple of Red Grouse one of which had chicks, proof of breeding for The Atlas.