Sunday 27 August 2017


The midge situation in the garden is such that emptying the moth traps is farcical. It is currently not possible to carry out counts of common species, there is just no time for that before the hapless counter (that would be me) is enshrouded in a cloak of tiny biting demons.The greenhouse is no longer a safe haven, indeed, being in an enclosed space, unable to move away, it has become more like a torture chamber. So today a new tactic, egg box in hand, coat on, hood up, hat smeared in repellent, I walk around the garden trying to identify the moths. Photography and note taking on the hoof.

On the outside of the trap today a new moth, one I think that may be NFM, certainly NFG, Small Autumnal Moth.

 Small Autumnal Moth

A NFY today were two specimens of Haworth's Minor.

Haworth's Minor

Today's triumph (perhaps, it will need confirmation) might be this Trypeta zoe, not listed on the NBN for Orkney, so maybe a first for county. Whatever, a smart wee beast.

Male Trypeta zoe, I think

The trap also contained two Pink-barred Sallow, and the usual suspects.

Pink-barred Sallow

We went over to Deerness and managed to dip on both the pod of Risso's Dolphin and the four Pec Sands (being too lazy to walk over to the pool). At home though a nice male Hen Harrier showed from the kitchen, much to the delight of our visitors, and there were four Ruff in the fields below the house. Later there were three Ruff at Marwick and Hen Harriers, a Shortie, a Greenshank and Water Rails at The Loons.

 Hen Harrier

Deerness produced many hoverflies, the Rosa rugosa at Denwick being covered in a species that I am yet to identify. There was an Eristalis intricaria as well as more common things. 

Common Carder I think

Although this one looks like Moss Carder, I think it is actually Bombus pasquorum, there are a few black hairs on the abdomen.

Scathophaga stercoraria, common as muck but attractive none-the-less.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Lemke's Gold Spot I hope....

Whilst I was on my hols in Arran a NFM moth was Lemke's Gold Spot, I was really delighted to see this species and to be able to work out the ID for myself. Trapping the other night, first run with my new LED light in the Robinson and on the very last egg tray...

I'm pretty sure this ticks all the boxes but I have sent it to the CR for final judgement.

All the traps are out tonight, here's the LED in action, it is amazingly dim so would be good in a built up area but seems pretty effective.

The Hoy High lighthouse (actually on Graemsay) is the light in the distance.

Also new for the year was Barred Yellow, a lovely moth (but it flew off too sharpish) and Rosy Rustic.

Rosy Rustic

Numbers of Square-spot Rustic are starting to build up now and Small Square-spot and Ingrailed Clay declining.

Square-spot Rustic

I've been catching a lot of these Eudonia alpina recently, an attractive micro, and a little tricky sometimes from E. angusta (CR has been very helpful with these).

Eudonia alpina

A 1cy male Crossbill has appeared in the garden and like last year's is very tame and likes Niger seed. It uses its tongue to extract the seeds from the tiny hole in the feeder.

Also recently a Greenshank at Evie but not much else doing.

The fridge is again full of tubes as I've been sweep netting through our meadow again... insects = 15 minutes in the field and three days trying to identify the blighters.

Exam results day has passed and elder daughter is largely very happy. Far too stressful the whole malarkey if you ask me, and that's just for the parents, let alone the students.

The Honda's mystery ailment may well have been diagnosed, although I'll be towing briefly tomorrow with  still a possibility of stop/go behaviour. It's days may be numbered, I think our patience is wearing thin, to say nothing of the bank balance, 102,000 miles though. It is the annual Dounby Show and the day will be spent encouraging younger daughter and ponies. I somehow think I may avoid the Stereo Lobsters in the evening though, it tends to be an alcohol fueled event.

Saturday 5 August 2017

Buddlia nectaring

Loads of moths on the Buddlia tonight including: Large Yellow Underwing (100+), Silver-Y (probably worn Beautiful Golden Y(4), Dotted Clay, Square-spot Rustic, Snout, Dark Arches, Eudonia alpina and possibly another Eudonia (in a pot). Also Scoparia subfusca buzzing around the actinic and a likely Agriphila tristella around this computer screen (got away).

 Large Yellow Underwing

 Square-spot Rustic

Silver-Y  Most likely a worn Beautiful Golden Y, see comments below.

Thursday 3 August 2017

Shapinsay day

Popped over to Shapinsay on Wednesday and walked about; it would be better by bike. However, we had a nice tramp round, a bit of insecting and a decent late lunch in the cafe.

 Grey Heron.

 Black tangles (Tangles = Orkney word for seaweed).

 Tree Wasp, I was especially pleased with these, a county tick at least.


 Back in Kirkwall at the car park by the police station, nectaring Starling.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Inverness in a day

I went to Inverness on Tuesday to pick up a car (no the Fiesta is still going strong, but it is about to be handed over to elder daughter). An interesting journey, bus from end of track, bus to Burwick, JOG ferry to John O' Groats, bus to Inverness, all for free thanks to my Old Scot card and my ferry vouchers. Thankfully it all worked and the connections were smooth. The bus along the coast from JOG was fascinating, any number of huge castle-houses along the coast. We usually cut out that bit of coast going from Scrabster south. Managed to get stuck in to another Magnus Mills' All Quiet on the Orient Express during the journey, annoyed that I'd forgotten to charge the iPod, so only got about 45 mins of tunes, at least the head phones cut out most of the bus radio-babble. (All Quiet... is a nicely bizarre tale.)

Coming back I put the new (to me) vehicle on the Scrabster ferry. The week before when we'd come back from Arran on that ferry there had been about 12 Common Dolphin around the Old Man, I'd been really pleased with these as I rarely see any cetaceans from that boat. I was disappointed on the JOG as there were no cetaceans and it should be a better route for them (loads of Puffins though). However, the sea was almost glassy, perfect conditions as we headed out at 7pm. Immediately there were a few brief but likely Porpoise sightings, then 20 minutes out two Orcas, one of which breached, a bit distant but good enough. There are two males hanging out in this area and although the views were brief I was pretty sure the one I saw the back of was a male, the breaching one twisted sideways and I saw its belly. A little later two definite Harbour Porpoise were nice. Then an hour out and still south of the Old Man a huge pod of well dispersed dolphin. These were bigger than the Commons from the previous week and there was no bow riding and only one breach, dorsal fins were larger and I saw white on the back so White-beaked they were, I reckon at least 20, possibly 30, very neat. Another observer saw a Minke on the same trip as well and other counts of porpoise were four sightings.

 The Old Man of Hoy from the north.