Thursday, 4 August 2022

An excursion to North Ronaldsay.

The Orkney Field Club were invited to Westness Farm on North Ronaldsay for a tour. The farm has been taken over fairly recently and is being managed for wildlife. Transport was via the Orkney Ferries Sunday excursion, a three hour boat trip in each direction....

Holland House, on the right.

A bit of a relief when the island finally hove into view. The three hour voyage had been very uneventful for both birds and cetaceans; cetaceans = 0, skuas = 0. A single Manx and a nice active Arctic Tern colony just off Sanday were the highlights, plus a Hen Harrier male hunting Starlings on Shapinsay.

Fulmar, not even that many of these on the way.

Once we'd arrived we were transported to the new community garden for an excellent lunch, tomato soup and vegan scones were consumed. A couple of common hoverflies were found in the poly tunnel.

Next, on to Westness where we were taken on a tour of the farm. Not being a great one for tours, and as invertebrate hunters tend to walk as slowly as botanists I was soon trailing along at the rear. I dug around in cow poo and found Cercyon melanocephalus, a water beetle. Under a stone there was Bembidion tetracolum, a common ground beetle and the county beetle recorder found the Devil's Coach-horse, which I glimpsed before it scuttled off.

I looked under a Sperm Whale vertebrae and there was this slug.

Milax gigates.

Four moth species were located, I failed to photograph the Twin-spot Carpet but got pix of the other three.

Agriphila straminella posed nicely.

Eana osseana.

Red Carpet.

And there were a few hoverflies; Eristalis intricarius, Platycheirus manicatus, Episyrphus balteatus and Helophilus pendulus.


Helophilus pendulus.

Episyrphus balteatus.

Best though were the plants. There were a good few things that I should have seen in the past, but I suspect I haven't, or at least haven't identified properly.

Hands and knees on the top of the beach looking for beetles I came upon Lesser Sea-spurry.

Lesser Sea-spurry.

The county plant recorder was on hand to identify this for me and then, looking closely around found this;

Equal-leaved Knot-grass.

We walked back inland through a fair bit of Bugloss.


There was then a focus on a wee dried up muddy pool and bog area.

Riccia cavernosa, second record for the county.

Common Marsh-bedstraw.

Hoary Willowherb.

And so tiny,

Northern Yellow-cress.

All too soon we had to scoot for the boat.

The light at the north end, the boat goes from the south end.

Just time to look for things in the water, a wee shoal of Lesser (probably) Sandeels.

On the long boat journey back, two Arctic Skuas, one Bonxie, a Short-eared Owl, another Manx Shearwater and two Common Terns were all that brightened the trip until Kirkwall came into view (mmm, seem to have lost the photo...).


Nick Carter said...

If I recall correctly Westness has been bought by two ex Calderdale friends of ours? Jack and Alex? They're going to manage it for wildlife I think.

Alastair said...

Oh, that's interesting you know them. Yes, the idea is to manage it for wildlife. Must give you a ring...