Wednesday 30 April 2014


Not on the patch unfortunately. Thanks to JB for coming to work to alert me the four dots were just up the road. Pix posted tomorrow (better late than never).

Saturday 26 April 2014


Not quite sure what this is although will admit to being lazy and not yet consulted the books, photographs etc. I find these tricky, but then I think most folk do.

I'm thinking Lesser but.....

CME, wrong way

Early today sunspots AR2045 and AR 2046 blasted out an X rated solar flare.... in the wrong direction so no aurora folks.

The first, and very late, Brambling of the year was under the feeders this evening. Two Bonxies roared low over the garden and Blackwit numbers rose to 12. Swallows were over The Shunan and Howaback.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Very sunny day

It was sunny all day.

 Rousay from Evie today

WeBS first of all then sowed the bird crop patch and then out to Evie for a walk with our friends who are staying.

Lovely light so lots of photo opportunities.

Hoodies by The Shunan

Snow Bunting at Evie, there were four

 This was on the moor

The WeBS was unremarkable but in the evening there were two Blackwits and two Ruff on The Shunan.

There currently appears to be a rather weak aurora but the cloud has come in.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Unexpected patch tick

Scrutinising the Tuftie flock at Howaback this evening along with the 8 Scaup there was a female Common Scoter. Common Scoter is an uncommon species here so finding one inland on a loch is a big surprise, nice it chose my patch. (Picture to follow, hopefully.)

Common Scoter, Loch of Harray (Photo Dave Constantine) (Thanks Dave)

A good bit of today was spent east. A Black-throated Diver was a nice surprise off Liddel where there were distant Slavs in sum plum and a few Red-throats and GNDs.

A large flock of Long-tailed Ducks on the PDC provided some photographic opportunities.

Earlier in the day around home 35 Pinkies flew NW and there were 2 Blackwits and the Ruff still on The Shunan. Whilst I was out Louise had a very pale buzzard low over the house and garden....

Goodbye Pinkies

Friday 18 April 2014

Iceland (and that's not the shop)

Coming home from work this evening, bit knackered to be honest and gave The Shunan a good scan. Checked the waders, there's the Ruff still. That's an interesting looking gull, quick flap, oh yea adult Iceland. In the end it flew up and fed on the fields by the house, ending up 100m from the garage, nice.

Also on the patch in the last few days, a pair of Pintail and Fulmar. No further sign of the B-wT but weather permitting Bosquoy will get some scrutiny this longggggg weekend.

Hey Nick, that Serin would be nice, send my way please.... it'll grip the Higson off terminally....

Sunday 13 April 2014

Deja vu

Well it could have been something else couldn't it? Find a BB for nil Patchwork points, because it's a species I've already found this year. To be fair it's likely to be the same individual but 18th January to 13th April with no sightings in between is "interesting".

It was at the far side of The Shunan and initially I just saw its arse disappearing into the vegetation, enough to call it in, Blue-winged Teal has a distinctive backside. It did reappear and then show off quite well but unfortunately I was unable to put others on to it, maybe it will stay longer than last time. (Very rubbish photo to be posted later.)

Other things today, a briefly heard Lap early on, the second Bonxie of the year, feeding on the now demised Pinkie that I once picked out of the wood and once picked off the track.

Pretty grim weather, cold wind, very heavy showers; great birding.

Friday 11 April 2014

Another patch tick

This is proving to be a really good week with the slightly possible Lapland Buntings of Tuesday afternoon converted into a certainty this morning with a smart male on a wall by the Sycamores by The Shunan.

Also still present one Ruff and a different Blackwit from yesterday.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Year ticks

A Ruff again on The Shunan with a smart near full sum plum Blackwit. Mid-evening the first Bonxie of the year flew through.

Main event of the day was a major tramp over The Kame of Corrigall, the moorland hill at the back of us. The hound had a lovely day, topping it off with the capture of a hedgehog which I only managed to get her to drop a few hundred metres from home (she doesn't damage them, just carries them).

 View from the Kame

Five Red Grouse andthe large Pinkie flock still present (c350).

Monday 7 April 2014

Patchwork points

I'd intended to go to Palace early on but was a bit slow getting my act together and so went local instead, good decision. Heading down the burn towards the road there was a very nice thing in the Rosa rugosa...

6 points, nice

It hung around all day, viewable from the garden as well. A small trickle of observers came to pay homage, quite an awkward species to see on Orkney. I'd long predicted a shrike in the hawthorn hedge at The Shunan so doubly pleasing.

Back for toast and coffee this was on the feeders, rather overdue for the year.

Other good things around the patch were two Hen Harriers, a pair of Tufted Duck, pair of summer plumage Red-throated Divers on Loch of Bosquoy and a late evening Short-eared Owl.

An evening trip to Palace found two Snow Buntings on the beach and the 2cy Glaucous Gull.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Been on my hols...

A brief trip away Soooth, not too far, just to Loch Ness, need to get Nessie on my pan species list.... dipped on Nessie but ticked this:

Quite an interesting bird and a likely contender for Loch of Bosquoy or Harray, I'd be dead chuffed to find one anyway.

Great Cormorant (sinensis I think) (no it's carbo)

At the same spot, Loch Flemington, not a species I generally am able to get close to. I must get the protractor out and measure the angles on this as it looks to my eye to be greater than 65 degs, indeed looks like 80 degs or so which would make this sinensis. (Oooops, wrong angle, it's carbo.)

Common Crossbill. 

I spent much of Tuesday stomping around conifer woodland near Nairn seeing many flying crossbills. Eventually back in the car park 30 or so dropped in to the Alder trees and gave excellent views, all were Commons.

The real highlight of my trip was coming across a field of crows, a true hybrid swarm, take a look at these!

Hybrid swarm

I counted 25 Carrion (types) 16 clear hybrids and 4 Hoodie (types) in the one field, well smart.

Also an interesting Jackdaw in the field, I need to look at the pix a bit more carefully though.

Today more crow stuff as I found a pale hybrid collecting nesting material and located the nest (this back at home in Harray). This bird was paired with an as yet unidentified crow, either a Hoodie or a pale hybrid. Also two Sand Martins and two Ruff at The Shunan.