Nov 4, 2008

Out and about out west.

With another stunningly calm and sunny morning I decided to take a spin out west. I really needed to be concentrating on my photo year list but high tides were not really in my favour, So the plan was a casual scan across the lochs and on to Rango for a few waders.

Stopping first at the Stenness stones for a look I whiled away a few minutes with Eric Meek who was passing. But all the while I was talking I was aware of the gentle splash of fish in the water before me. So as Eric shot off I concentrated my efforts looking across the bottom of the Stenness loch. The tide was fully up with on space for waders around the sides. Shoals of fish continually disturbed the surface. I am guessing they were small trout. Strangely they didn’t seem to attract any attention from the myriad of gulls that were loafing about. Out on the water Big flocks of Widgeon moved slowly around. Tufted duck and Mallard were well represented. The soporific calls of Long tailed duck drifted over the still waters. Scoping them out in the middle of the loch you could see the males posturing before the females beginning to sort things out for the next breeding season. Looking towards the brig half a dozen Goldeneye of both sexes milled about feeding in the moving water floe between the two lochs. Scoping the stubble fields beside the Brodgar bird crop a flock of Snow buntings could be seen twisting and turning before settling back down to feed in the wet stubble.

Moving on to have a look over the Brodgar pools it was Widgeon that dominated the scene with a few Mallard. I was hoping for something a bit different but it wasn’t to be. A bit of excitement flared up as contractors fired up there grass cutting machienery. This put fifty plus Curlew in to the air along with a load of Lapwings. These all circled and landed around the pools bringing a bit more interest. A few Redshanks and the occasional flight of a Snipe completed the picture. Saddling up and moving on I aim for the end of Stenness Loch below Voy. Below the farm of Lyking a massive flock of Curlew stretch across the fields and down to the loch edge. A truly impressive sight.

Stopping at a passing place on the hill looking down on the loch below Voy there is a good gathering of wildfowl. All the usual suspects are there but try as I might I just cant find a single Scaup for the list. It’s an enjoyable task sorting through the throng though. The Crannogs hold a few Redshank but little else of the wading variety. I roll down the hill with the idea of checking out the bays beyond Voy but give it up as the sunlight is low and shining strait in the face so I keep on going. From here I head to Rango to look for waders. A nice Bar tailed godwit would be an addition. On arrival its evident that my luck is out. The rains of late have filled the loch to brimming and there is no mud to be seen anywhere. There are a few ducks on the loch and some Snipe roosting on an island but little else of interest. In the fields on the opposite side it is another story. Here we have a big flock of Golden plover. They are spread almost the whole length of the loch. Spread through them and around the periphery are good number of Lapwing. Below all of this 2 to 300 Curlew are at roost. I watch for a while and as I do the flock takes of time and time again, spinning around and landing back in the same place more or less. (there is a bit of film in the local films) It was not what I really wanted but it was a fantastic spectacle none the less…..Birding. I love it!!

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