Friday 31 July 2015

Xbill again (and some Orcas)

The Xbill was still present early(ish) this morn but I've not seen or heard it subsequently. Later in its stay it took to sitting on the niger feeder rather than feeding under it. It also was feeding on sunflowers from the general seed feeder, but still fed on the ground quite often. I had suspected that it had some infection around its bill from early photos and subsequent pictures show an infection above the hind claw on its left foot.

What was supposed to be a peaceful walk around Northside into Palace turned into a bit of a stress as the hound behaved extraordinarily badly, however, prior to this bit of a do three Orcas showed briefly off the Whalebone, long time no see.

Monday 27 July 2015


A juvenile spent much of the day in the garden, just put the feeders out again yesterday after a 3 week or so break....

It was quite tame

Thursday 23 July 2015

Gulls and insects

The Birsay patch has given up Little Gull and Iceland Gull in the last few days. I seem to recall that I didn't manage an Iceland Gull there until July last year. There has also been a trickle of waders through including a few small flocks of Whimbrel. The Little Gull was a surprising patch tick, a surprise that I haven't managed one before. Unfortunately it didn't hang around and I only managed a record shot.

I'm still wading though volumes of pictures of Diptera, mostly Syrphidae but a few other things as well. I'm trying to key out this Empid (I know I could ask on UK Diptera but that would just be lazy.

Empid sp on Marsh Cinquefoil

I think this photo really shows the potential of the new Nikon for macro work, I am just so impressed with this camera. I've been taking a few landscapes as well.

Well, skyscapes really.

I've been identifying, and getting help identifying Syrphids, the genus Eristalis is especially frustrating as these things seem to key out but everyone is very cautious about nailing them to an actual identification. I'm hoping that the obvious thick hind metatarsus on this will make it a certain E.arbustorum (just been confirmed so chuffed, a tick).

Eristalis arbustorum

...and it seems I can have this as E.nemorum.

Eristalis nemorum

...another tick. The males do a wee dance over the females, but this one got confused...

Eristalis nemorum and Beautiful Golden Y
Here are some waders from Birsay.

 Whimbrels, 10 of 11



Ah, and a last thing, the new scope has got a nice new jacket, and the scope a tripod head that actually works, thanks to the folk at Cley Spey (again) for really prompt service.

Saturday 18 July 2015


A whole host of hoverfly pix will shortly be posted but to wet the appetite here's Empis tessellata, (I'm pretty certain my identification consultant expressed a slight degree of caution). It is very common on the patch in Harray at the moment on Hogweed. I've also seen a few at Birsay, by the Whale bone, it's probably pretty much across the county right now. As well as feeding on nectar it can be a predator. It has an interesting behaviour (not observed by myself) females only mate with males that bring along a food present, of prey. The red/brown colouration of the wing base makes it quite a distinctive beast.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Back from hols

We went on holiday to Arran and to Stirling and I didn't seem to have much time to post whilst there. At some point I may put up a pile of pictures. However, bit of a birthday whilst away which resulted in some new gear. The faithful Zeiss scope which I've had for a very long time is being retired (maybe temporarily, I'm going to see if Zeiss think it's repairable). The Zeiss still works but it is much damaged, both the eye piece and the main scope, indeed there are elements within the main scope which look to be in danger of falling out. I wondered about what to replace it with and have decided to try this Nikon 50 ED. I already have a Nikon scope (82 ED) which I like (but it's a big brute, not much cop for my wanderings, just use it from the car mostly)  and I only have a fixed 37x lens. So I've got a zoom with the 50. So far I'm liking the 50 ED, it's very light which at my time of life is handy. There are a few negatives but they may just be about getting used to it. It is very sharp and clear, actually sticking the 37x on it (becomes a 20x on the 50 ED) makes it even better, though losing the flexibility of the zoom. As you can see it is a wee thing. (Watching Shortie from the garden.)

Have also added a new camera to the kit. Still using the Canon for birding but I've been really impressed with elder daughter's Nikon for macro stuff so went for the later version, P7800. I'm not disappointed. The P7800 is also good for low light and night photography (for which the Canon is pretty much useless) so come the aurora season, but I'm hoping for some noc' clouds one night soon.

Moths and hoverflies from today and yesterday.... using the Nikon.

 Rhingia campestris

Platycheirus manicutus

 Poplar Hawkmoth

Silver Y

...and there was a bit of drama in the greenhouse as I was hunting hovers there.

The garden is a worry whilst away and of course the Woodpigs had laid into the peas, maybe they'll recover, emergency treatment today. Everything else seems to have survived but the cold has made this a very slow growing season here, tatties seem ok but everything else is well behind.

Another worry was the Arctic Tern colony, have the sandeels hung on? Or will the chicks have all starved to death again? A happy outcome there I'm pleased to report with quite a few Arctics already flying and a pile of chicks at different stages still coming on. Food does seem less plentiful, but that might have just been during the time I was there.

There were a few Whimbrel moving through yesterday, so autumn is here.

The eider don't seem to have done too well though, with just 7 broods on the whole of the Birsay patch, and most of those small broods.

Our meadow, which is slowly improving, and Midas.