Monday 31 August 2015

Waders and gulls, piles of them

A good morning at Palace with the hoped for Curlew Sand, Little Stint again, an Iceland Gull in amongst heaps of gulls, and various problematical things...

Curlew Sand at back

Little Stint, juv

Adult Turnstone

Juv Turnstone

Adult Knot at front, juvs behind

Juv Knot

Gull scrum

Iceland Gull peeking

The 3cy Ice

Ice again

This thing proved problematic for a while, especially as I mis-aged it. With a bit of help I think it is a 2cy leucistic herring Gull but it was a confusing beast.

Herring Gulls, leucistic 2cy and adult

Leucistic 2cy Herring Gull

Looks like a herring Gull in this picture

Looks a bit more confusing here

This thing was also a bit confusing, 3cy argentatus I think,

All three above 3cy argentatus Herring Gull

Saturday 29 August 2015

Sunday 23 August 2015

That was rather a large number of Swifts

Since I've lived in Orkney, 6 years, I've seen Swifts about seven or eight times, quite often single birds but once or twice three together. Today I counted 666 from 09:15 until 14:20 (with an hour missing when I had to come home briefly) on the Birsay patch. An amazing experience as they buzzed past my ears in the strengthening easterly wind. Here's the account I posted on Orkbird2.

Went for a walk On The Links (Birsay) this morning, not all that early 9:15 or so. Just out of the car and three Swifts went by, nice, and we walked on. Went around the shore and into the village and all of a sudden there were quite a few Swifts about, 41. Swifts with us all the way up past the Tea Rooms and when we were near the cemetery I scanned and counted all I could see, 167. Down the road and I had another count, 220, that was at about 10:40. Had to go back to Harray but an hour later I was again by the cemetery, there were 28 Swifts but then they were gone and there were no more. I'd noticed a good flock of Golden Plover over at Northside so I headed over there, parked up near Skiba Geo and there were Swifts again, 31. I started to head towards Point of Buckquoy (Brough car park), counting Swifts as I went, that seemed to be the direction they were coming from, I wanted to work out if they were just the same birds flying around or fresh birds coming through. At the car park I saw very few Swifts, just 5 distantly to the west of The Brough and far out to sea, moving south. After a bit I headed back towards Northside and had not gone far when I was into a large flock of at least 50 all around me. I kept walking towards Skiba Geo until I got a good vantage point. It was then possible to see that birds were dropping from high altitude down onto the coast and then heading east. I stayed counting them until 14:00 when they stopped, a group of 20, a group of 15, a 3, then none. I waited a bit and headed back to the car, at 14:20 two more Swifts went through, and I left.

The Swifts were very difficult to count as they passed me to either side and I was scanning to try to see where they were coming in from. My total count was 666 (strangely enough, is that an omen?). bearing in mind I was absent for what was likely a busy hour, and that my counts were conservative I suspect that a good number more than 700 probably went through. Here are the counts, the birds were generally in loose groups.

3, 41, 220 (the 167 included in these), 28, 31, 11, 26, 21, 28, 2, 7, 5, 50, 4, 18, 22, 12, 9, 24, 31, 18, 14, 21, 15, 3 and 2.

Part of the loose flock of 220 Swifts

A large number of these photographs were taken with the camera set to around 28 to 35mm, that gives an idea how close they were.

Here's a thing I didn't know before, juvvy Swifts have a white forehead (thanks TC). I'd noticed that the birds had looked more white around the head than I expected, the photos show the white forehead on all where it can be discerned, so it looks like this movement was made up mostly, or perhaps exclusively, of juvs.

Sunday 16 August 2015


What with a wonky tripod and the Nikon misting up due to the air temperature I should be amazed I got anything, fortunately I sussed out the problems, lost the stronger shots though I think. These are straight out of the cameras, used both the GoPro and the Nikon.

All taken out of the back garden. GoPro first three, Nikon the last four.

And this one doodled in the software...

Monday 10 August 2015

Osprey again and hover conundrums

The osprey showed nicely again yesterday whilst I was down at Bosquoy.

It eventually caught a trout and flew off north again.

Plenty of Gadwall, other ducks and Coot emerged from the vegetation once the Osprey had left. The dabbling ducks and Coot were engaged in quite  feeding frenzy, it would be interesting to find out what is the great attraction for them on Bsquoy at this time of year.

The moth trap was loaded this morning, quite a number of annoyingly worn things, and a good number of micros, many now in the fridge awaiting examination tomorrow. I'm fairly sure that this is Dark Marbled Carpet....

but they are tricky until you get your eye in.

Three Ruff around The Shunan this morning and a smart male Hen Harrier.  Piles of Dunlin and Sanderling at Palace, 60 Dunlin, 18 Sanderling, 40 Ringed Plover.

A bit of an issue trying to identify some Eristalis hoverflies. Arbustorum which might be hoped to be fairly straightforward with its white face and thick hind metatarsus is not so because abusivus occurs here, very similar.

The arista should be diagnostic, this one appears not to be plumose, that would make it abusivus.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Osprey and other things

Rather a good day birding with an ESP past the Whalebones in the morning and a nice selection of waders by Palace both in the morning and the early evening including three smart Knot, 12 Sanderling, a good number of Dunlin, a Whimbrel and in the evening a Ruff.

Back home I escaped from chores early afternoon to scan Loch of Bosquoy from the garden, everything went up and next thing I see is a large brown bird plunging into the loch. Seems the Osprey caught a small fish as it seemed to be heading straight for us, I was thinking it might perch up in the trees to eat its catch, but it veered off towards Corston and disappeared. A little later as I was sitting drinking a cuppa in the sunshine the Quail called and then chip, chip and four Crossbills flew into the trees.

Monday 3 August 2015

Quail and little things

This afternoon at Palace there was a Little Gull (2cy, likely the same one as was there a week or so ago) and a summer plumage, adult Little Stint.

Yesterday's Quail that called from lunchtime til early evening wasn't evident today, and the Crossbill seems to have gone.

Sedge Warbler seems to have bred and have fledged young at Bosquoy.

Some hovers...

 Cheilosia illustrata, three of these down by the wee wood, where there was also a Volucella bombylans.

 Eristalis arbustorum or E.abusivus, a tricky species pair

This is Eristalis intricarius, today's star hover, new for me.

Fair catch in the moth trap as well, some micros still to sort out.