Oct 10, 2008

Out and about

A quick spin into town today produced the first Long Tailed ducks of the autumn on the peedie sea. There were good numbers of Tufted there and not a few Mallard. Leaving town in the fields opposite the mart I noticed a big circular flock of Golden Plover feeding on the ground. These would be the first good flock I have seen in Hatstown this year so I turn and go back for a look. Typically as I approach they are all taking to the air and heading over the back of the mart. Diving in the car park I pull up to try and count, there are now three flocks of about 200-300 along with a few lapwing and Curlew that have also been spooked. Some drop between the mart and shore the others head to Orkney meat….I head off.

I have a quick stop at Quanterness. The fields between the road and the shore are starting to host flocks of Greylag so it’s a quick scan to look for collars and off again. There are plenty of Lapwing and Curlew flocks between there and Finstown. Last stop was a pull in at Stenness kirk. Coasting down the hill for the last bit gives a silent approach hidden behind the graveyard wall. Looking over the wall there are about a million Common Gulls. With the crash helmet still on and the bins to my eyes I slowly look over the wall. The south end of Harray Loch is in sight but all I can do is hold my breath The gulls don’t all rise at once but the nearest ones rise uneasily. Scanning across the loch the water is choppy with small rafts of Tufted and Mallard. Gulls bathe around the islands. The rough ground beyond is well filled with Curlew at roost. On the shore and in the field edge Lapwings are standing around doing little as well. I could see Golden Plover rising and landing down here earlier from the house but two hours later they are nowhere to be seen. I see the first Slavoninn Greeb I have seen on the loch this autum. Happy with that I move away to cover and then slowly leave. Looking back from the last rise on the road every thing is still quietly at roost…….job done

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