Monday 27 November 2017


 Looking to the Brough

 Gannets and Noup Head (Westray)

 Looking east

 Common Gull

Common Gull

On NW winds I'm checking every gull as it comes west, coasting. It's always a good sign if there are a few Great Black-backs and this afternoon there were a good few of them coming west. Eventually this fine Iceland Gull was picked out from the crowd. (Not as sharp as I would like, really.)

I'd better check the age but maybe a 3cy.

I'd been pretty engrossed in all this and then thought to head to the tea room when Louise reminded me that I was meant to be planting trees at 2pm, and I had the keys... Quick scoot back to arrive just ten minutes late. 

The Woodland Trust had provided us with another 400 odd trees most of which we put in the ground before it got dark. These are to try and create a bit of habitat and a bit of shelter on our very exposed school grounds.

The West Mainland Farmer's Ball (and the harvest home) is always an interesting and largely very enjoyable event. We headed there last night to support younger daughter collecting her various pony riding awards. Best is to see folk of all ages dancing together, tradition and culture kept alive enthusiastically. The down side is quite often (but not always) the speaker. (There are certain things that it really is not appropriate to make a joke about.) The Orcadian language is very much alive here, and that is a more positive aspect of these speeches. I still have to listen very hard to understand all that is said. 

I meant to post this the other week, Buzzard P, locally bred four years ago and hanging out in the trees next door, I finally managed to read the tag. There is currently another tagged bird hanging out around Bosquoy, I've still not managed to read that tag.

Tuesday 21 November 2017


The title of my friend (from primary school) Chris Nicholson's book about Thomas Hardy's later years, and the season that has now arrived. Wet and windy and cold. The pellet boiler is gobbling sacks of pellets, the pallet of 100 sacks bought a month ago has dwindled, I need to remember to order more this week. My office in work is nice and warm, perhaps the warmest room in the building, but on these dark evenings I'm not keen to go out to the car in the cold. Tonight the short walk across the playground left me very wet, rain has been unremitting today, pony fields half submerged.

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You need know very little about Hardy to enjoy this book, the relationships in this biographical fiction are compelling.

A few seawatches of late, the best included three Glaucous Gulls and a couple of Little Auks. Otherwise not much turning up, four Blackwits at Loch of Bosquoy were a surprise.

 This distinctive House Sparrow with a white tail feather has been with us for quite a while, I think about five years, I didn't record his presence for a few years (regretfully).

A lovely day on Sunday, relatively calm and the Sun, that absent friend, joined us for a day. So, the Rooks came prospecting as they do on any kind day from now on.

Taking the recycling out to the car last week I discovered that the council supplied, weighted bags were in a bit of a state, holey. Rodent damage. The traps in the kitchen have not caught anything for a few weeks now, the one House Mouse that I caught was a loner. A transfer of a trap to the garage and four nights in a row I've caught Wood Mice. The first one had been half-eaten by its cam-padres, a surprise, I wouldn't have expected Wood Mice to do that, there may of course be a larger rodent lurking. The poison and the cats have kept the rats under control outside, but there is evidence of their activity.

The Otter at the bottom of the track that we saw over a few days has not been seen for a while, then the other night the girls were driving back from the ponies in the early evening and came across a large (dog probably) Otter just by our front gate. They had great views in the headlights.

Listening -

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Aimee Mann, Kamasai Washington and The National, take a look at the film made to go with Kamasi's album, here:

 I think the talk went ok, glad it's done.

Up and coming - a bit of a hop on Saturday night at the West Mainland Farmers' Ball.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Fire and other things

A bit of a blow at the end of October and a couple of seawatches produced hundreds of Kittiwakes, about a third were juvs, Gannets, Great Northern Divers, Snow Buntings and a nice biscuit coloured, juvenile Glaucous Gull. An interesting looking gull was also seen, unidentifiable for sure but most likely just some sort of eastern/Baltic argentatus Herring Gull.

The bird looked strikingly pale when first seen (but that might have been the light), the very dark head, neck and upper breast was striking. Interesting black in the primaries, P6 and P5, various other features might lead to a possible Yank Herring Gull, but they're next to impossible to identify unless they show off conveniently in front of you in good light for a few hours, or conveniently die so the wings can be carefully examined.

Big aurora here right now, but the moon is too bright to see it properly. 

Louise enjoyed the foam storm when we went for a walk.

A couple of good bonfires over this weekend.


 Our garden, Sunday

I'm still working on this talk for a fortnight's time for the Field Club, getting there slowly.