Sunday 31 January 2021


The species count from the camera trap is slowly rising. Dog (Golden Retriever), 2; irritating Humans, 3; Brown Hare, probably the same beast on a number of occasions; cat (not ours), 1; Blackbird, 4 individuals at least; Robin, 1 (presumed the same); Chaffinch, 5+ distantly; Rook, 30+ very distantly; Song Thrush, 1


Waiting for some other mammmals to appear. Now including apple in the bait, along with bird food and small dog biscuits. I'm due a Little Bunting but it would be frustrating to see it from the trap and not in life, not sure how I'd feel about that.

A few interesting things I've come across of late - The Investigation, the best TV series I've watched in a very long time, intelligent, original, and an astuate subtext. Bicep, brilliant new dance music. A Walk in the Woods, old people finding friendship.

A second camera body for less than £100, I couldn't turn that down, especially as it's nearly new (old but barely used). A PEN  EL5 added to the kit. Same quality of image, which when linked with the 12-45 Pro lens means decent.

Used it to take some images of seaside lichens yesterday. I'm trying to learn my lichens, just bought the FSC leaflets, they'll help me get in the right area before consulting Dobson. Not sure if I can be bothered with all the chemical malarky, I guess I will within the 1km if it means getting a definite ID.

Caloplaca verruculifera, I think. Caloplaca thallincola more likely.

Buellia stellulata, maybe, or not, reidentified to Diplotomma alboatrum or D. chlorophaeum.

I photographed the Turnstones for a bit too.

And the Harbour Seals.

These all with the OM-D 5 though.

Today's lichen shots were taken with the Pen and the OM-D, I needed to use the OM-D, tripod and macros lens with focus stacking on the Cladonia, tricky things to ID, not at all sure I've got it right. Educational though with the focus stacking, I think I'm beginning to get the hang of that, unlike the Olympus TG-4 it takes a bit of figuring out. First five with the PEN.

Physcia aiploia.

Ramalina farinacea.

Ramalina fastigiata.

Ramalina fraxinea.

Usnea subflidana.

Cladonia macilenta (probably not) or maybe coniocraea? Or even C. polydactyla, K test required.

Hypogymnium physodes but what are the black spots? (They're the pycnidia that hold the spores, thanks BH.)

Nice selection on Hawthorn.

Bit more later probably - Garden Birdwatch count....

45 species of bird for the 1Km sq for January, Jack Snipe added today, I missed treading on it by about 10cm or so. Other things: Fungi - 3, Lichen - 8; Moths - 2, Mammals - 5, Molluscs - 1, Isopods - 2, and a few other bits and bats.

Garden Birdwatch - Woodpigeon - 1, Blackbird - 11, Song Thrush - 1, Robin - 2, Dunnock - 2, House Sparrow - 20, Goldfinch - 1, Brambling - 1, Chaffinch - 18, Feral Pigeon - 16.

Monday 25 January 2021

Waxwing? Or not...

 Languishing upstairs on Saturday morning I was rallied by a call of "I think there's a Waxwing in the trees!" Scrambling to get downstairs, just in time for, "Oh! It's gone." Leaving me to wonder if it was one or not. Apples were rapidly deployed, the Blackbirds and Starlings had scoffed the ones that had been out mid-week, and I patrolled the garden for a while but no joy.

A bit of a slow day. The Brambling was still present along with more than twenty Chaffinch, a product of throwing some food on the ground under the bushes and trees.


The camera trap was deployed to maintain Waxwing surveillence, to now avail.

There had been a sprinkling of snow overnight but late Saturday afternoon and early evening a fair old bit came down.

Unusual here in recent years.

Sunday morning and the variety of birds in the garden was increased, four Goldfinch on the feeders were joined by four Lesser Redpoll. Three Whooper Swans made a low pass over the garden and my head, I was a bit slow with the camera. A Woodpigeon, four Snipe, and at dusk a Song Thrush.

Through the (dirty) kitchen window pix of Lesser Redpoll.

I photographed lichens and fungi on our walk. I'll try to identify all of those before I post them, a bit of a struggle as I'm not very good at that. For the first time for a while no Winter Moths or Green Cellar Slugs were found by torchlight search. One of the cats brought in an Orkney Vole, unfortunately.

Sunday night I put the camera trap out  where I thought a different mammal might be recorded. Total recording - Golden Retriever x2; annoying humans x1; Robin x 1 or 2, still feeding at 17:40, when it was dark; Brown Hare x1 or maybe as many as 3.

Blink and you'll miss it.

A more leisurely visit.

I do know this one, Xanthoria parietina. I'll post some more later.

Tuesday 19 January 2021



Playing with the new camera trap, our suspicions were confirmed.

Small Tortoiseshell.

A butterfly was unexpected midweek, Found at work fluttering around inside the building. Other Lepidoptera were less unexpected with headlamp searches still finding Winter Moths, fewer, but still present.

House Sparrows.

House Sparrows still active at the weekend backwards and forwards from cover to food. A Brambling still present with 23 Chaffinch.

A bit of a look at lichen by the sea, I think this may be Lecanora gangaleoides.

Lecanora gangalaoides, hopefully.

I bought the FSC guide to ferns this week and was pleased to find a key to horsetails within it which should prove useful. Also some FSC picture leaflets to lichens which will supplement Dobson, at least get me on the right track I hope.

The WeBS survey didn't produce anything of great interest. However, lots of wildfowl on The Shunan and the two Whoopers attracting a variety of associate feeders.


Whoopers with Gadwall, Wigeon and Tufted associate feeding.

Disappointingly my ladybird larva from last year has been deemed unidentifiable to species. Chances are it is 10 spot but 2 spot can't be ruled out. Still the first ladybird larva for Orkney but it would have been nice to get it to species.

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Headtorch searching again.

Winter Moth, there were five on trees around the garden.

Limacus maculatus, two of these and some tiny juveniles on trees.

Zygiella x-notata around the windows.

And a Wood Mouse in one of the garage snap traps. We have a bit of a rodent issue at the moment. The new camera trap is out rat hunting tonight.

Wood Mouse, unfortunately (in some ways) RIP.

Monday 11 January 2021

Be inquisitive.

 Dire weekend weather and too many jobs to do. Ideally, I should have been down at Birsay looking for white-winged gulls this morning in good conditions for that malarky. Anyway, made up for the lack of white-wingers by working on iRecord and going back through photographs in the process. Sometimes you can just get lucky. I posted these photos on the Pan-listing FB pages not expecting much and got two responses. The first set me in the right direction but then Jaswinder Bopari responded. JB has identified a few of these things for me in the past, including Zele albiditarsus, another species with very few records in the UK.

Lissonota versicolor

 JB kindly gave me a bit of background info as well. This species was recorded from Arran in 2017 but as far as he is aware there are no other Scottish records. So another excellent find for 2020, more by luck than judgement really. I'm sure in amongst my photos and specimens there are probably a few other gems like this one. I think it is always worth taking the photograph and then at some point pursuing it with species like this. Hymenoptera are especially tricky but there are some very helpful experts, like Jaswinder. Often it will be a dead end, but sometimes it won't be. Anyway, dead chuffed.

Monday 4 January 2021

Ducks and Winter Moths

 Out with the scope in Kirkwall Bay today, flat calm. I dipped the Surfie but managed to see at least 42 and likely 60+ Velvet Scoter, at least 70 GNDivers including an impressive flock of 40+. The Eider were still at around 1,000 and there was a 2cy Iceland Gull on the fish cages at Hatston. Usual supporting cast of 100s of Long-t Duck, Tystie, RbMergs and Slav Grebes. On the way home stopped at Finstown for the 7 Common Scoter.

At home a male Hen Harrier flew over our heads to roost. 

In the dark with the headtorch I initially counted 17 Winter Moths but a second and perhaps more systematic effort later on (once the very good Sauvignon Blanc had settled) found 19.

Winter Moth.

Saturday 2 January 2021

GND, Winter Moth, Queen Eider dip.

Went to look for the female King Eider from Thursday afternoon and failed. I spent a while walking the coast, checking the harbour and the PDC to no avail. At the Hatston fish cages there were about 1,000 Eider so if it's in that lot, which are a piece offshore it will not be findable. Annoyingly my phone fell out of my pocket, a trick it often does and I don't learn, and cracked the screen. Darn! (Actually, I said a bit more than that.)

Previously, walking at Brodgar this GND had been quite close on Loch of Stenness.

A bit later I took a quick wander around the garden and there was a Winter Moth on the favoured trees.

Winter Moth on the moss on the Sycamores at the back, a favoured spot of late.

Walked up the back today and photographed lichens (to identify) and Yellow Brain Fungus (badly) - a couple of pix from the walk.

Cladonia sp, not sure what the grey stuff is, Lecanora polytropa perhaps.

Forgotten which species this is annoyingly, Cladonia arbuscula perhaps - Cladonia portentosa.

From up the hill by the moor.

It was raining as we approached home.

On Sunday a birding day, mostly on foot around home. Nothing much unexpected except the Brambling with the Chaffinch flock in the garden. Four Slav Grebes distantly on Loch of Harray. The Goosander have decided to disappear.


Exidia nucleata, a decent sized splodge of it this time.