Monday 21 January 2019


Slightly fatigued this evening having got up at five or so to catch the eclipse.

Saturday morning and it was duck count weekend, nothing spectacular though. Two more Otter sightings were nice.

Later on out to Northside where the first SEO showed up. I've rarely seen this species at my coastal patch so doubly pleasing.

Short-eared Owl

The Fulmars were smart in the late afternoon light.


The light and the sea combined spectacularly, I couldn't really capture this.

Unidentified lichens, but the chemicals arrived today, next big learning curve.

The House Mouse issue in the kitchen and garage seems to have been resolved with the new traps, none caught for a few days now. Still at least one Wood Mouse in the shed.

Sunday morning was spent working through beetles from last year's colour tray trapping. These are water beetles and I don't (mostly) have the latest keys so, they are hard anyway and this makes them a tad challenging. Investment required I think.

Later on Sunday we walked up on the edge of the moor and under one stone found three Carabid species, Loricera pilicornis, Agonum muelleri and Pterostichus strenuus. Also what looks like a sawfly larva and a pile of woodlice. Pity this was just outside my 1000 species in 1000m sq patch.

 Loricera pilicornis

Agonum muelleri

Pterostichus strenuus

My 1000/1000 square with the SW edge being the road.
The beetles were found on the track to the north just by the quarry, disused.

On the way home

Sunday 13 January 2019

(Nearly) 6,000/hour

Yesterday was spent tackling the remaining samples of critters from last year, I got through one tray's worth. All were water beetles which I'm just learning to do so it is a bit of a struggle. Mike Hackston's online keys are just brilliant when they exist for a particular family - but when they don't.... I'm going to have to invest in the new water beetle keys, I'm struggling along using a beta version of Friday that I was given years ago. (£70 for the two keys and the atlas - I'm close to a bit of online shopping.) Anyway, the Helophorus aequalis are quite familiar, there were 7 of those including a rather small one which I keyed out twice but it came out ok, just a runt I guess. Now I've seen H.grandis I'm confident about aequalis. However, there were three much smaller Helophorus in there. Eventually I got these out to flavipes, a nice common species that occurs here, so I can be fairly confident.

The next customer was a Dytiscidae, and a small one at that, these can be a bit hard.... but two hours later I'm pretty confident that it is Hydroporus planus which would be a good record, I think there are just two previous records in the county.

Hydroporus planus (I hope)

I do feel a bit more confident about these than the slugs I've been attempting. I posted a couple of records on iRecord last week and had made a complete pig's ear of the whole mularky. Effectively I confused House Sparrow with Redshank, that kind of order of error. Fortunately the national recorder is very helpful and extraordinarily tolerant and put me right, gave me a few tips, and asked for more records. I will try to do better next time.

Arion subfuscus (orange body mucus)

 Decoceras reticulatum (milky foot mucus)

A bit of a northly blow overnight sent me scuttling to the coast this morning. Fulmars were scudding past at near 6,000 an hour.

There was also a gull movement, the hoped for outcome from the weather. in amongst 216 Great Black-backed Gulls there were 2 Glaucous, a 2cy and an adult. As I drove home another adult Glaucous flew by the car at the Northside crossroads.

Not a Glaucous Gull (2cy Geeb)

Got home, had some breakfast (bread and butter pudding I made yesterday!) and decided to head back there +Louise and the hound for a walk.

Fulmars and Geebs were still doing their thing but a bit of a walk and we came across the hoped for Otters. The adult was feeding but the youngster did not look very happy, out of the water and sheltering from the massive sea.

The other mammal I've come across this week, other than Brown Hare and Rabbit has been House Mouse. We seem to be facing a bit of an invasion and I can only find one trap, effective mind.

House Mouse

This was an adult, probably good I caught that. The youngsters are just very cheeky, even getting on the worktop during the day (Stacked the supper trays put them on the side, put the kettle on, took top tray off bottom tray, mouse in the bottom tray!). The cats have now forced them out into the garage I think, no sign today, and more traps are on order.

Sunday 6 January 2019


A bit of tree planting in the garden, more moth habitat, as I was given some willow whips today. Mulched them with some old haylage we had lying about.

 The Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus was photographed under our feeders.

Star find so far this year, possibly new for county Bembidion bruxellense, extracted from wood and leaf litter in the garden. The specimen will go to the county recorder for verification (hopefully).

Bembidion bruxellense

Friday 4 January 2019

Surf's up

A calm day so seaduck hunting on Wednesday. That's after watching an Otter family, female and two kits on Loch of Harray earlier on (not in the 1Km square though).

From distance I thought there were two Surf Scoter with a small group of Velvets so I parked up at Quanterness and walked down to the sea to confirm them. There was a nice Snow Bunting flock down there as well. Of note was a pack of more than 50 Great Northerns fishing together with perhaps 80 together in the bay.

The photo of the Surfies perhaps not that impressive.

In the evening I got a message, "Was I interested in a boat trip to get better views of the Surf Scoters?" 

Early this morning and I got Wood Mouse below the feeders, I must try to photograph that tomorrow. Out to Kirkwall to join the boat team. Unfortunately the light was poor and the wind was just a bit more than ideal. All the same, good views of the Surfies and a good number of Velvet Scoters were obtained. The GNDs seem to have disappeared. We grilled the Eider flock but could find nothing more.

Thanks to Tim Dean for organising this and PP for expert skippering.

The Eider flock, c700 all told.


Grilling the Velvets to look for the other very rare but similar looking species.

Pale, winter Tystie.

Tuesday 1 January 2019

New Year

First insect identified for the year was Bembidion tetracolum with three found under a stone in the Wee Wood.

Bembidion tetracolum, a common Carabid here.

I'm having a go at the 1000 species in a 1 Km sq challenge. I don't expect to get 1000 species, I reckon 600 would be pretty impressive. The rules do not allow for anything other than a square shaped area so I've got to work out if I can squeeze in all the best places around the house, I'm particularly keen to get the top track in the square but it might not be possible. 

Away to a reasonable start and then I headed down to Loch of Bosquoy.