Oct 23, 2014

After a day of endless rain a brief gap saw the clouds part enough to confirm there was an aurora behind it all. In the time it takes to type it was away and the rain sporadicaly returned. Disapointing day with an X flare not producing any CME, Sill the art of survival is in the way we wait.

Oct 21, 2014

24

Twenty four comes in with a flat glow behind clouds. Its been blowing fresh for most of the day . An hour before sundown the cloud began to break up. It remained fresh but the clouds looked drmatic in the failing light. An eatherial sort of green glow was on the camera but not on the large screen had me going but as soon as those photos were processed i was out again this time to get a solid colour. I dont know if much will happen but the stackplots are jumping at notheren lattitudes and the solar wind speed is 600 it looks good for a bit any way.

Scraping a couple in.

The night of the 20th was a bit of a wash out with few if any gaps in the cloud. Once again I stuck my head out the door at 4.30 to see stars so a quick couple of shots that looked ok on the camera and back to bed. 20 hours later and I check the images and they have a faint aurora on them. Im well chuffed. Tonight’s weather has been cloud and pishing rain. There was a gap showing on sat24 that rolled in right on time. Unfortunately as happens with the satellite photography it wasnt the whole story. The rain stopped about on time and the cloud lifted well but didnt really go away. In the north the sky lightened superbly but the remaining cloud would just not split. The photos I have are still on the camera but I have green showing through a couple of thinner clouds. Its a bit of a pisser that there is a KP6 thats G1 now and its all kicking off out of sight of the ground....hope everywhere else is having more luck than we are having here !!

Oct 19, 2014

Nice night

Continual rolling cloud ment that the view last night was coming and going a bit. With some paticence tho I managed to see repeated spells of dynamic movment. More words later maybe.



Oct 18, 2014

Sat night

Its half seven on sat night, the stackplots at our lattitude in Norway and Lerwick are showing good movment. There is a KP3 called and the Bz is south. Cloud may be a problem but here we go again.....fingers crossed.

Oct 16, 2014

21 today

First off i called Sky Glendale Auroras,
Glenern last night and thats the name of a house down the road from me...oops...anyway we have strong green but with a hazy cloudy sky. this shot is cleaned up a bit of the orange haze. I dont know if it will get stronger or show better but heres hoping.

Onwards

Back to the smaller stuff tonight. After seeing a post from Glenern on Skye a quick test shot revealed a broad low aurora here....20 !!



Oct 15, 2014

Nineteen

Been a brill night, aurora seen wide spread across Brittan. Took a while for wurs to come alive but come alive it did....best night of the season....so  far !!


Oct 14, 2014

Heads up

We are looking good for a display tonight. There is activity building all ready and a southerly Bz and a KP4 call. We have clearish skys. suns down about 18.30 and the moons up at about 22.30 so hopefully we will have some proper darkness in the early evening.......Im now crossing my fingers and toes !!

Oct 13, 2014

18

18 Comes in tonight with a purple glow peaking out from behind tall standing horizon clouds. Moon rise is lighting up the sky now.....Im going to give it a go in a while and see if theres a better view.

Oct 12, 2014

17

Aftre a bit of speculation and a bit of a false start last week tonight right now 17 is in view. A very faint glow across the horizon that struggles against the rising waining moon. Im charging the battery now and going to try again in an hour.

Oct 5, 2014

16

Number 16 fell to the camera last night although it took some waiting for. There was a super clear sky but with the BZ against us it was not looking to hopefull. I was going to give it up but a photo from Graeame Whipps taken from Durness had me back out for a look. Eventualy I had green on the camera screen. Pleased as i was it looked more elusive on the computer screen although two shots did hold a little green. I think i was at the total edge of what my 450d could handle. So this is the tip of the day. If you are looking for a camera body to take night sky photos dont get a cheap Cannon 450d....

Oct 2, 2014

15...01 10 14

Low slung faint aurora with dynamic overhead etheral lights, Best overhead etherals of the season so far...gubbed by rain !!

Sep 30, 2014

14

Low slung aurora in progress right now.

13

The Harray kirk to the right, the lights of Dounby to the left. Another flat and static display tonight but at least we saw some good colour in the last stages. Been a good couple of days, just started a local aurora group on facebook.

Sep 27, 2014

Looking across the gardens.

Strugling tonight again. It was as if last night repeated its self, a good looking gap with horizon cloud exposed the dancers in the distance. It wasnt to last long and soon was once again lost to the clouds. So thats me, indoors watching Blues Brothers going back and forth to see if the skys clearing. Think im going to give it up on both counts.

 

Sep 26, 2014

KP4.

The sun is barely down. the clouds are barely away, the aurora is barely up, things have barely begun, my battery is barely charged !

Frustration,After missing monday night this was about the best point of Tus night.


A hint of promise for tonight.


and this is the sky now.....again!!


Within three mins of returning outside the cloud rolled over the now clear sky and that was that again...mmmmm

Sep 25, 2014

Quick cures for frustration

Frustration reigns just now. I think madness lies just below the surface. There have been four nights of aurora in a row. Tonights show if its up there is somewhere above the sea of rainy cloud the stretches from horizon to horizon, even the horizons are close together. This seemingly constant aurora is coming not from snapping filaments or flares but rather an increased flow of solar wind from an earth facing coronal hole. Its passing now but today I was reading there’s another facing us for three days. Which a bit of luck there will be more fun for the start of the week. The good night for us was Tuesday. But since then its been all cloud and rain.. Last night had lights being photographed way down over the border at Hadrians wall and over on the east coast. Lots of folks got to see some lights even with almost universal scabby skies. Photos and reports from the far north have been full of exciting talk and stunning photos, its heady stuff !!Here the clouds parted at five this morning to reveal some lights but I must say it wasnt me that saw them this morning. I was out fifteen minutes ago for a look and got rained on for my troubles, A quick jump out again as a break from typing right now.......the frustration continues.. I am lucky tho the season just starts although the equinox is prime time in it. There are months of darkness to go and many more nights to come. So maybe this is the blog kicking back in to life........bloody hell I just went out to take a photo of the rainy cloud and light pollution and there is a green swathe of lights beneath a horizon gap. The gap does not get very far north but its green way down to the east....once again the game is afoot, and the wifes about to groan im sure......

Sep 24, 2014

Night of the 23rd




It took a while for the sky to clear and the display was very static but at least it was bright. Above is the arc and below the aurora and the milkyway.

Sep 23, 2014

Heads up

I know its been raining for hours but there is good activity out there. Glendale on Skye has aurora. The skys have just cleared over Harris and theres a show going on. Looking at Sat24 ther is a noticable looking gap coming towards us. Extrapalating the arival time it looks as if it will be here half twelve one. Theres a lot of ifs hare but if the sky breaks there may well be a lot to see !!!
FOUR SIX SIX FOUR SIX.




The aurora season has started well. This year I have my first DSLR and along with it I have jumped in and bought a Samyang 14mm wide angle lens. So this has replaced my FZ28 which bit the dust getting blown off the garden wall last winter. Going out armed with a nikon compact for the big feb display kindo made up my mind that I needed to be tooled up better. Although we still haven’t had a good big display I have been getting colours I could only dream of with the bridge tho so im pretty chuffed so far. Tonight there was a good strong southerly BZ and the chance of KP4 so it might have gotton good and bright. Almost as soon as the twilight disappeared there was a noticeable glow in the distance. It grew in proportion to the band of cloud across the horizon but never managed to crest it. Cloud cover looked dodgy. Sat24 had shown a good gap in the coming cloud cover but lots more cloud behind and from sundown for an hour and a half or so we had the view to the north. Once gone it wasnt to come back. I just had to be satisfied with reports from lapland of huge bright dancing displays. Ach well thats just the way of it. There is a chance of more over the next couple of days but I think thats No10 by for us tonight,

Aug 19, 2014

Unusual harrier behaviour

I saw something I have never seen before tonight. As I was coming away from Russadale quarry I had the dog running on a right good bit in front and was messing about in the heather just off the track. A hen harrier came over Chris's house down the field and over the heather. It made for the dog and circled around it five or six times. It really looked as if it was looking to nail anything the dog would have put in to the air. I might be assuming a lot here but it really looked like it was taking advantage of the dog buldering about.


Aug 11, 2014

Time moves on with nobody charged

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-28673161

Apr 29, 2014

Through the square window

Standing in the kitchen looking out of the windows putting off doing this and that, thinking of making a cup of coffee when bugger me a pied flycatcher lands on the compost heap then drops down and picks off a couple of flys. With this it rises to perch on the fork handle and look about. It probably sees me raising binoculars and moves off to the rugosa and out of view. After a reasonable time of about sixty seconds waiting I slip out of the back door for a spy and sure enough the wee fella is sitting low in the garden corner elder. Unfortunately for me a mop of grey hair and a grey hoodie dont make for very good camouflage and its off again. Returning to the kitchen I put the kettle on and before its boiled the bird is low down in the other corner of the garden. There is a cold wind blowing down there and the bird is flighty, just picking insects but it looks like slim pickings. A few moments later it was up and gone hopefully to better feeding. It was a delight to see for that brief time and a garden tick. I made and drank a cup of coffee waiting but it was gone carried away on the migrants wind.........then it was back to the task of putting off what ever it was off again. Who says procrastination gets you nowhere !

Apr 18, 2014

First wheatear of the year.



Briefly out and about


Out for my first run about for a while. The west side was devoid of auks with just a few razorbills and fulmars. There were quite a few kittywake about with one or two settled on ledges. I took a few shots of fulmars loafing. A female wheatear shot along the rocky shore at Mar Wick which was a nice site being the first one I have seen this year. Shooting over to the Butquoy carpark at Birsay for a bacon roll I met a holidaying birder that I had met before a couple of years ago, poor fella has had a rough time of it with the weather.!! From there to Northside and the geo to have a look at the puffin ledge. It to was bare apart from a few razorbills. There were plenty of fulmars paired up tho so at least that was encouraging. Just at the parking I spied another wheatear which I manage to snap a few photos of. It moved off to the garden wall across the road where it was joined by a second. I totally failed to get another shot and the pair took to the air disappearing in to the fields. Not much but it was fine and bright with a promise of better days to come !!

Apr 14, 2014

Facebook bloody Facebook


I may be preaching to the converted but I think that through out birding in general there is one rule that at the top of the list and it is this.... Your actions in the field should NEVER be detrimental to the interests of the birds, the birds come first. With the proliferation of DSLR photography this maxim has been pushed aside as more and more photographers push on for more and more intimate images. Now seasonal shots of unfledged chicks in nests, birds on nests are cropping up on the big facebook sites. Some of these groups are happy to host such images. Its a disturbing thing to see some shots of the worlds rarest freshly hatched ducks scattering before a snappers lens. Another shot one day had rare chicks in a nest with the photographer giving a description of how hard it was climbing the tree and getting mobbed whilst he struggled to get the shot. This instance did cause a fair amount of condemnation but such comment was soon stopped by the admin and the group continues to host such images. The problem is that such big sites attract superb photos and big audiences and turn over a large amount of photos in a day, the toxic shite is soon buried in the scroll. I saw a shot of a LEO around a occupied nest taken with 50-250 lens. The only reason the owl didnt fly and he got the shot was because the female was on the nest nearby. If the bird had spooked the female could have gone as well and left the nest open to predation and for what, a crappy photograph. You would probably need a licence to take that shot in the UK, to get that licence you would need a better reason than some ego massaging on facebook. The past few weeks things have looked worse in this respect than previous years. I hope its a trend that will get stopped and facebook groups will get a grip on this irresponsible crap but in reality I cant see it.,...sucks

Apr 7, 2014

Great Grey Shrike

The Great grey shrike at the Shunan today, theres a bit more on the blog facebook page.

Mar 30, 2014

AURORA HEADS UP

This now from aurora service europe. There has been a second big flare carrying CME today. I ken all well and fine it so often the kiss of death when i start shouting look to the skies but this is looking so good for the coming nights that i just have to type with crossed fingers.



There was yet another CME today which also looks Earthbound (and better than the one we reported about earlier today). SWPC have just issued a G1 (kp5) Geomagnetic storm watch for 2 April because of it. The kp figures and times will show up on the 3 day forecast tomorrow.

We now have a few CME's probably heading our way, so it is going to be an interesting couple of nights ahead.

http://www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/
This from Spaceweatherlive......

SOHO/LASCO imagery is now coming in and there are some frames available showing the CME from the X1 solar flare. Good news: the CME has an earth-directed component. It is perhaps a slightly weaker part as the bulk of the CME is heading well north but a asymmetrical full halo CME is clearly visible. The CME has absolutely an earth-directed component. More imagery is needed for a more detailed analysis (arrival time, expected storm strength etc.) but an impact can be expected at Earth from this CME.




Mar 29, 2014

X Flare heads for earth

Hot diggitydoo after being locked out of blogger for six months the new  google single identity has suddenly let me back into the blog. So HEADS UP....There is big flare headed towards earth right now. It might be a glancing blow but who knows. Could be another big lights display about to arrive,  be looking from sunday.

Oct 4, 2013

Pinkie flock today


stopped starts play

Its been a couple of days since i have been out what with the gales, rain and such so finding this morning flat calm and exceptionally mild was a pleasant find. Shooting off up to Eskadale with the dog on tow was a muddy delight, every thing was fresh moist and the air was sharp and clear. This is a huge change to the sunny spells during the gales. The air then is allways laden with salt and the air holds a haze that becomes particularly Leary with the dropping sun behind it. Anyway i digress, that was then and this is now, now is a different game! The cycle up has really only put up a dozen  meadow pipits and arriving at the bushes the dog once again dives in to where he has chased pheasants before. Its a bugger but he jumped in before i realised what was going on. Three wee birds flushed followed immediately by several calling redwings one of which dived into the elder beside the stand of fuchsia. He held his ground for a minute calling angerly until the dog once again moved him away as well. These were the first redwings i have seen this year. All excited I was going to post them up on Orkbird on my return  but it soon turned out they were all over and folks were well aware they were about !! Our return to the  house had starlings fly catching, a spectacle I always find enjoyable to watch. I wish I had a big camera with a big lens to catch some of the antics !! Down the fields there were substantial golden plover and pink footed geese flocks along with the first widgeon of the season on the Breckan pools.........Oh its nice the wind and rain have stopped !!

There is a little film of the flocks on the blogs facebook page. To get there click the link in the side bar on the right.

Sep 29, 2013

Pink Waxcap

I would never have thought of a mushroom to be twichable but here we have the Pink Waxcap a red list species exceptonaly scarce across Europe.

Been a while

was out with Tim Deans saturday class today for the first monthly walk of eight. We started at the east end of Newark beach with me arriving late !! However we were soon scoping the beach picking out every thing to be seen and comparing sizes of waders from sanderling up to godwit and golden plover. Off shore gannets actively fished. With this we moved off to the Mullhead plantation where we found Allan Leicht and Julian Branscome packing up their morning ringing effort. They had been catching the birds we had come to look for, in this case yellow browed warblers. These are regular passing migrants all be it in small numbers This year its a some what different story, there have been record numbers in Norway and yesterday the count on Shetland went over three hundred ! Although Shetland sits in a good position to hover up tired migrants before they reach us many have been getting through. In the trees the lads have caught three of five that were about. We had a quick series of glimpses of one flitting about also robin and wren scolding away, snipe and brambling over head before we moved off to Grindigar via the kirk yard at Sandside. Here we checked out the rocky shore and enjoyed the dramatic sight of the last of the bonxies harassing the gannets for the food they were catching. The safer water close in held the first returning widgeon flock I have seen this autumn, another treat. Grindigar quarry gave us a good place for a quiet coffee whilst we enjoyed very close views of A couple of yellow browed warblers flitting about our heads. This pair turned to three then briefly four until one went from YBW to chifchaf to willow warbler. Still they provided excellent entertainment. The last stop on the whistle stop tour of Deerness was Sandi sand accros from Dingishowe A tramp out over the sands brought us first close to ringed plover amoungst these and closer to the waters edge where a few dunlin. They are getting through their summer plumage now and interestingly there looked to ba at least two distinct species together. Its always nice to get out on the sands. Once you are there things settle around you and it all becomes more intimate. The water line on the rising tide to one side of us was providing good feeding for a flock of bartailed godwit along with a solitary knot. The other side had a very nice flock of golden plover. The goldies were just sitting about intent on doing nothing. They werent feeding and none realyly looked like they were sleeping. They were just casually loafing, mostly on one leg I may add. The air about us would fill with rising birds every so often although a cause never appeared. In one group of starlings and finches Tim had a goldfinch. Constantly over us were small flights of goldies and geese. We had had a good collection of shore birds before we headded off to the cars. One last peek over the dunes to the sea produced a pair of red throated divers, an adult and juvenile who obligingly came towards us right to the waters edge afording supurb views, an excellent way to finish the first walk of the season.

Jun 21, 2013

A sea watch for whales and porpoise today produced nothing but a posey photo !!

Jun 2, 2013

There is a little film of Cuckoo on the facebook page.

May 26, 2013

Tough life for a girl on her own

What seems like a couple of weeks ago I was at Cottsgarth for the nature festival day. There were shown Food passes at this years nest site and as a bonus its not to far from the hide. All in all things looked cushtie. Several visits later and things look a bit different now. Over six visits I have seen hardly any contributions from the male bird and the female was often off the nest hunting. Last time I was here the female dropped a young rabbit into the nest area from a dive with a release from sixty or seventy feet !! before continuing hunting.I assume the presence of hoodies in the vale prompted this action. Today on arrival the male was preening on a post above the nest site so I guess he had brought in food and was hanging about whilst it was eaten. It was soon off and a wait of an hour and a half ensued before it reappeared. This time it quartered the hill side and circled about the landslip before I lost it from site, I assumed it had floated over the top of the hill. Another fifteen minutes and a ringtail started in from the far right of the hill quartering low and slow. About half way up the heather. As it came in the male took off from the head of the landslip some where and soard down at it. The ringtail started calling and the pair tumbled together split and tumbled again. With this the female began a circling climb calling softly with the male following, they gained a lot of altitude before the male pulled away and I lost sight of both by taking the bins off them. Almost immediately tho coming in from the right fast and low to the nest the female glides over it dropping prey to the ground. She soon turns again and quarters the ground heading into the wind, over the greenest patch of of ground she wheels and drops on some thing. This time she stays put and quickly eats it for herself before disappearing over the ridge line. All in all its a bit concerning, it looks like this female is a victim of a polygamous relationship and having to do a lot of fending for her self. Things might go her way tho, the ground is full of young rabbits and every thing is hatching out food is looking more abundant. It will be interesting to see how she goes !

Gargany does the double !

It is fifteen days since i saw the gargany on the Loons pool. I was there a look today and after a while a gargany appeared, suprised it was till here i was even more suprised when a second one also a male paddled out of the bogbean...bonus !!