Sunday 29 May 2016

Insects at least, and some terns

Moth trapping is still very slow with just a few Hebrew Character and the occasional other, best recently a Shears

A few hoverflies have been found, a brief Leucozona leucorum, Eristalis pertinax, Rhingia campestris, Helophilus pendulus and more of those tricksy Platycheirus albimanus, these all in the garden. P. albimanus was also common along the track by Birsay Tearooms. Green-veined Whites are now being seen in ones and twos across the West Mainland but I'm yet to see any other butterfly clearly enough to identify it.

Eristalis pertinax showing the diagnostic yellow front feet

Not too many birds, Lesser Redpoll occasionally on the feeder and Gadwall and Wigeon today on The Shunan. Turnstone seem to have moved through at Palace now and the Dunlin are dwindling but still 30 Sanderling today.

A new Arctic Tern colony with about 90 nests yesterday and there are likely about 40 pairs at Skiba Geo.

Some seasonal plant life.

Sunday 22 May 2016

There's a cokcok in the garden

I was birding at Palace when the text came through, could not figure it out at all so texted back to younger daughter. Reply came through, Cookcoo, now I was with it. Two years since I saw or heard one at home. I didn't exactly rush back though and dipped, and although I spent much of the rest of the day in the garden, no sign.

This Pied Wag was very cooperative as I went down the track this morning. At Palace I saw a couple of these...
Still moving through, White Wagtail.

Indeed it was a day for black and white things at Palace, well this was more white.

A very pale adult Iceland Gull.

And the Brent Geese were still there although a little elusive at times and hiding round at The Links.

There were three Carrion Crows amongst the Hoodies but I didn't manage to photograph them.

 More gratuitous Harbour Seal pix - surprised and...

having a laff...

Back at the ranch there are branchers in the rookery.


This one was out.


Now for some colour from our wee wood

Pink Purslane

Spanish Bluebell

Pale-bellied Brents

These were a bit of a surprise today...

At Palace

Also a Common Sand, two Whimbrel, 18 Sanderling, 50 Turnstone, 75 Ringed Plover and 80 or so Dunlin.


Sandy Carpet

These are a tad early.

Sunday 15 May 2016


Friday was a good day for finches with two more interesting redpolls which I think are Lessers, one has a gold poll. There were two Goldfinch, the first of the year, on the front niger feeder as well. A single Tree Sparrow remains.

Plenty of digging was done as the last of the tatties got put in and the pea / bean bed was dug and some beans planted out. Rabbit defenses are in place let's hope they hold....

 "I like nicely grown on bean plants, scrummy!"

 Gold top above, to show size against Greenfinch

 Down at the Shunan the Greenshank was still present until Sunday when it was not seen. 9 Whimbrel went over in three groups on Saturday evening and there was at least one on Sunday. A Dunlin on The Shunan was about on time. Late for the year was Arctic Skua, a dark phase flew in to The Shunan at 9 p.m. on Sunday evening.

Record shot

One of the pair of crows grabbed a wader chick by the look of things. In photographing this I realised that the bird is a hybrid, a subtle one though.

 Note the dark feathers in the undertail coverts, also the extent of the dark feather centres on the breast and belly.

 Quite possibkle the right hand bird is also a grey crow hybrid

The Kestrels may have young and a Sparrowhawk paid a visit.

At Palace the Dunlin and Turnstones had mostly disappeared to be replaced by a pile of Ringed Plovers and a single Sanderling. There were two singing Sedge Warblers and a pair of Reed Bunting, hard to find at this site. The Saturday seawatch from the Brough was very pleasant but didn't produce the goods.

This is probably Platycheirus albimanus, I have the speciment though, likely I'll key it out at some point.

 The girls wanted new pets but bad dad said, "NO!"

Thursday 12 May 2016


A review of yesterday's idenitifications and some new photos today  confirmed Eristalis pertinax and Eristalis intricaria in the ditch by The Shunan. There was also a wee black hover, but that will require a pot and the microscope I suspect.

 Eristalis pertinax

 Eristalis intricaria

Greenshank and Dunlin on The Shunan and what might be a record Tuftie flock there with 27 shared between Parra Shun and The Shunan.

Louise recorded redpoll and Siskin.

Wednesday 11 May 2016


The annual redpoll arrival began today with three Lessers, the Tree Spugs seem to have gone. There was a smart Greenshank on The Shunan.

More Eristalis pertinax were by The Shunan where there were also Leucozona lucorum. Yesterday there were one or more Cheilosia illustrata as well, or not they were Eristalis intricaria

Leucozona lucorum - not Eristalis pertinax I think