Sunday 25 May 2014

Glaucous from the bath

Well it would have been nice to have nailed it 100% but I shouldn't do that as it wasn't (quite). The Glaucous flew by the bathroom window, a garden and half a field away with a Geeb and fortunately I wasn't reading or doing the crossword or suduko, so I had my glasses on... but am I sure it was a Geeb and not a Leeb? And did I really nail that wing shape in the few moments of sans-bins observation? Close but no bananas I reckon, shame.

 View from the bath

However, it was a great day in the field with the first Chiffchaff of the year singing in gardens opposite the track to Bosquoy, a drake Pintail on The Shunan, and late afternoon, a Cuckoo heard distantly and then seen as it flew singing over the house and headed off west.

The day ended with a good deal of hopping around the Harray Hall to an excellent ceilidh band following some bril'sets from Fiona Driver,  The Family Atlantica, Gregor Morrison, Christina Stewart and Dervish, so no early birding today.

Since my last report I've been three days on Westray, working 24/7 unfortunately, so no skua or Buffy outings but nice views of Puffins and some redpolls were some compensation.

 Puffin, Westray

The crossing to Westray produced just one Bonxie in 75 or so minutes, no Arctic Skuas, I saw more Arctic Skuas inland, one flew in front of the car as I drove out of the track. On the way back I did see two Arctics, these do seem to be very low numbers and rather confirms that these two species are in real trouble, at least here in the northern isles.

On return home I was very nearly in serious trouble as whilst greeting family I noticed an interesting finch on the Nyjer and immediately grabbed the bins and camera in preference to fond hellos, managed to salvage relationships later..... the finch turned out to be an interesting looking redpoll, initial id suggests flammea.

 On this view this bird looks rather brown and cabaret like. However, views of the rump and the background colour of the plumage of the mantle and back suggest flammea. More pictures of this bird and discussion on the redpoll pages (see tab at the top).

I have to post a picture of the shed door I made and hung the other weekend, for someone who was considered entirely hopeless at these sort of tasks previously I think I have a right to be rather proud of this effort (hopefully it won't blow off at the next arrival of a hooley).

And here's an interesting conundrum, it might be expected that the end Sycamores would get their leaves last, but for at least the last two years this is what has happened (spot the male Hen Harrier in this image).

Our peedie wood

Loch of Bosquoy

Saturday 17 May 2014

One good wader follows another

Highlight of today was a Curlew Sandpiper coming in to summer plumage mingling with a rapidly feeding and likely rapidly leaving Dunlin flock. Curlew Sand is a patch tick, no photo tho it was distant and the heavens opened. I couldn't find it half an hour later but it might have been present later this evening, distance, poor light and rain not helping.

Also today a record four singing Sedgies around The Shunan, it seems like an especially good year for these.

Bluebells in our peedie wood

Wednesday 14 May 2014


Migrants in the shape of a Whitethroat this morning in the Hawthorn hedge and then a Wood Sandpiper this evening skulking and awkward to see in the vegetation of The Shunan. Also a couple of Arctic Skuas roaring around this evening, likely the pair from last year that frequented The Shunan.

On the duck front the Wigeon pair appeared, most probably a sign of failed breeding and the Gadwall pair were seen briefly.

Wood Sand, The Shunan (honest)

Arctic Skuas over the hawthorn hedge this evening

Also today I was shown a photo of a bird I could not ID. Not a very good photo but .... looked a bit like a Red Kite but, I will try and get hold of a copy to post.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Mammals not birds

Common Seals on the beach and a hedgehog, probably not an especially well one, in work's car park.

 Common Seals


Ok, here's some crows as well, a slightly odd looking Jackdaw, also perhaps not too well as it was visiting our feeders which they never do...

Smart Hoodie nest, the sticks are dried kelp holdfasts
The Loons, late evening

Birding has been quiet with just a Brambling and a couple of Siskin yesterday, although the good numbers of Sedge Warblers have held up with two singing in the Hawthorn hedge yesterday as well when there was the first Ringed Plover of the year on The Shunan.

Saturday 10 May 2014

Migrant trickle

Bit of an arrival of Sedgies today with at least 8 singing at Howaback and one at Bosquoy, there was even one in a garden by the Harray Stores (where I went to buy especially yummy donuts). Bird of the day was a dark phase Arctic Skua which paid a brief visit to the  Shunan, causing wader panic. Swallow numbers were up and there was again a Sand Martin at Howaback. Three Blackwits and at least three Dunlin on The Shunan. Otherwise a day for mending the track and gardening.

Might be worth a bit of a seawatch first thing tomorrow....

Only took one pic all day, Garden Tiger larvae, which the dog promptly rolled on (it survived).

Monday 5 May 2014

Bearded Twite


Awkward little sods.

I've created a new page here:

The page has photographs of redpolls seen across Orkney with tentative (and not so tentative) IDs.

The page is under development, comments are welcome. If you would like to make a contribution to the page please email me (badseawatcher at

Saturday 3 May 2014

Afternoon twitch

Morning involved a big tramp round, up The Kame and then over much of the patch. New species for the year were Wheatear and Arctic Tern.

At home there were still two redpolls.

Common Redpoll, flammea

Lesser Redpoll cabaret

Then south to South Ron, stopping briefly for this on the way...

Friday 2 May 2014


Yesterday there was a Whimbrel at Howaback which was finally nailed for the patch, after a few distant and briefly calling possibles, although after finding it I had to scoot back into patch boundaries so it would count for the Patchwork Challenge.

Today after walking the dog first thing I stopped again at The Shunan on the way to work and bingo the long predicted but elusive Garganey was finally added to the patch list.

Also this morn a Goldfinch, only the second of the year.

This afternoon the Garganey was still present. When I got up to the house and had a poke about four Common Redpolls were located. Then subsequently an additional redpoll visited the feeders. Also a Willow Warbler in the garden.

The Robins are breeding for sure, first time in five seasons, but actually pinpointing the nest is quite tricky, now fairly sure where it is.