Sunday 24 March 2019


A bit blowy up here in The North. Gusting 70mph or so. Hail, snow showers occasionally, a lot of rain, and wind that stings and knaws at you. Best stay indoors.

The Purps weren't enjoying it that much either.

Whilst out on Saturday morning I noticed some fresh cow poo on the Links so went for a delve around, two ticks straight off.

 Aphodius pedellus maybe.

Aphodius prodromus

An hour or two battling with the keys to these, I knew they were Aphodius from the start but that is not the trouble. Two keys, various tricky couplets and the dull brown one cqme out as Aphodius prodromus but the red and black one was defeating me. It keyed to pedellus but I have a sneaky feeling it could be lapponum, time to call for reinforcements I think (posted on Beetles UK but these could be on their way to Oxford).

In conteast this Xantholinus linearis came out pretty easily.

Xantholinus linearis from pine litter in our garden.

Friday night and the Field Club talk went well, although following the previous speaker talking engagingly and amusingly about her limpet studies was a bit of a short straw to be honest.

Also identified a few snails (or maybe misidentified them). Currently working on the bird report species I have to do, crows plus a few, way behind on data entry to iRecord, need to crack on and catch up.

First Pied Wags on the patch on Thursday, surely spring is nearly here.

The Shunan, dusk Thursday, a tad more peaceful than now.

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Rough-legged Buzzard

I'd been working in Kirkwall and then just went home afterwards, picking up a battery for the Corsa on the way. Tea and homemade scones, thanks Louise. Then remembered the R-lB had been reported yesterday just five miles away at Durkadale. Fitted the new battery, jumped in the Corsa and scooted down there. Arrived with the usual thoughts of "this'll be a waste of time" (world's most pessimistic twitcher). Bird appeared right by the car after a two minute wait. Proceeded to perform up and down the road for half an hour before jousting with two Hen Harriers and disappearing. Light was rubbish as are my "in flight" photography skills but for the record... Also 65 Hoodies and 3 hybrid crows.

Monday 18 March 2019

Sproghawk Sunday, and other events (eventually)

Things to post, lots of photos to sort out but these to start with.

Sitting in the back garden, photographed through glass (not especially clean)

Probably Cylindroiulus latestriatus, you're supposed to dissect these to be sure...

Lyniphinid spider on Xanthoria parietina

Our walk at Yesnaby was spectacular and produced some interesting critters, I have a Staphy beetle still to do. 

 There's a broch that we'd somehow not seen before, spectacularly placed, a bit of a noisy place to live though.

I love the stones placed for fencing.

The rookery at dusk, Saturday.

Sunday 10 March 2019

Winter, back with a vengeance

Wicked weather today, 50 mph squalls and hail, and snow. In the afternoon I went in to the shop. There was thundering on the roof. When I went out after five minutes the road was covered in a depth of hail stones and snow. Pony Blue stayed inside for half the day.

We went to Marwick for a brief struggle with the wind.

This is a colour photo, straight out of the camera....

Earlier in the week I was playing around with the Olympus having read some things about using the flash diffuser more effectively.

Venus Flytrap in the kitchen.

Hopefully I'll get the chance to photograph small creatures tomorrow. It is the centenery Orkney Field Club field outing. Meeting at Brodgar as the club did a hundred years ago.

My mum's washing machine lasted for ever, I'm sure it did. I've just ordered our fourth in 9 years. It wasn't a good omen with this Zanussi when the door fell off after a fortnight. Repaired under guarantee, but now a large chunk of the weight compound split off, the machine then jumped about on the spin and punctured the outlet hose, brilliant! By the time I've got the bits (don't think the weight will be easy to replace here) I might as well just get a new one, I don't trust what other damage has occurred with this thing. New plan - buy a Siemens with a five year guarantee.

Plenty of Pink-feet earlier in the week in the fields around the house. Today at Marwick there was a flock of 700 or so. The rooks have half-heartedly been collecting sticks, their efforts will have blown away today mind.

Anyway this weather has allowed me to finish the hoverfly report and to get my wee talk prepared for Friday week.

Helophilus pendulus, it'll be a while yet before I see one here this year I suspect.

Bird report species to write now....

Saturday 2 March 2019

More Spring

Song Thrush singing, a Water rail, only 2nd record here for me, flushed from a ditch and as of Thursday, and seen again today, Rooks are collecting sticks. Daffs are coming out, Lesser Celadine just breaking in to flower, Crocus in full flower from 16th of the month (see below).

Anthobium unicolor, 2nd county record if I'm right.

I'm not getting anywhere with this though. (Help via the Cranefly Recording Scheme - it isn't a cranefly, I thought it was - "It’s a window gnat Sylvicola cinctus or fenestralis." I need to head over to Steven Falk's Flickr pages to see if I can determine it to species.)

It’s a window gnat Sylvicola cinctus or fenestralis.
I was given a good tip with the Helophorus aequalis/grandis couplet problem, shove a bit of paper under the elytra, it works well, the teeth are instantly revealed.

Helophorus grandis, to light 21/02/2019.

Light trap, lots of slugs, Trichocera regelationis one Helephorus grandis, no moths.

Under the living room window 16/02/2019