Dec 31, 2008

Thank you all who have visited and revisited the blog over the past few months. Its been fun to do and I hope it has provided some small interest and entertainment. Any thoughts on content or direction would be very welcome. Cheers for now.

A happy and prosperous new year to you all.


Dec 28, 2008

A pair of Gadwall today

County photo list 08

As some of you may know at the start of the year there was a lot of talk of year lists. Now I only really keep a life list and am not a fan of listing, to tell the truth. I record little of what I see on a day to day basis. I know this is a bit slack but I have huge hand writing and would need a big note book so little happens. This year inspired by Paul’s huge charity effort(a big well done there Paul) I thought I would try something different and keep a photograph of every species I could manage whilst out and about the county.

The decision made I chose birdforum members lists 2008 to store the list on. A very handy place it turns out as posting in the members lists only you can post. This gives the advantage of uninterrupted continuity…a rare thing on a public forum! Overall I thought I would be doing well to 75 species. Bearing in mind that the county list is just over 200 was a reasonable target to be aiming at for my first attempt I must admit I am pleased with the way it has gone(even if it has cost a bit in petrol). I was armed with three good weapons in the hunt, First there were winter and summer classes with Tim Dean. Having spent the last three years regularly on his classes has been fantastic preparation in learning the ground across Orkney. Not to mention the photo opportunities that have occurred on his classes due to his superb spotting skills. Anyone with a growing interest in birding Orkney could not do better than sign up on one of his classes. The second prong was The orkbird site. This was a fantastic source of rarer bird info and accounted for several of the rarer photos. Its been a fantastic first year for orkbird. It’s a site that’s brought a lot to birding in Orkney. The third prong has been the RSPB office in Strombo and all their regular updates. They are happy to tell you if anything unusual has been about.

So that was it I was off.

The year started with the sort of rush you would expect and I was knocking photos out left right and centre. Starting with the Grey Phalarope at the Deerness slip it was one bird after another through January and into February. By now I had bagged about fifty species and hit a bit of a wall. Little further happened for a month or two and other things took my time. Settling again in the start of our summer. I was lucky now and my count started to rise again and unusual birds like River Warbler and Avocet came and went. Often tho rare visitors like storks and cranes were seen by many and I totally failed to find them. High summer came and went and with it a super influx of Rose coloured Starlings. This was late July and the list stood at about eighty five. Since then things have slowly moved along. I have picked away with the camera and scope as the opportunity has arisen. Over the months there have been times when I could have cried, no cameras or flat batteries or often as not short and fleeting views. I am sure I could have gotten more on the list if I had really gone for it but I always intended it to be a casual sort of affair, so much so that the list has been forgotten for a while now. Looking at it last night I saw that it was sitting on 97. So today we were out and knocked off another three birds to take it up to the hundred. So that’s that for the year although I suppose you should never say die and there is a couple of days left of 08. I don’t think I will be out to find any more although there have been a good few Woodcock about……That’s it for the year then. I am quite pleased with a ton but I bet there’s someone out there with a 160 county list. You ken how obsessive these birding types can be…lol

If you’re interested you can have a look through this link and see some well ropey record shots.

I don’t know if I will try it again. I did enjoy it at times I must admit and there was a special little thrill to know you have bagged another whilst on the search. Who knows what will happen?

Dec 11, 2008

I have been a bit lax in posting of late but the truth is that I have not really been doing any birding. The last two weeks have found me with my head down working away. Most of the time you would have found me with a spade or shovel in my hand as I have been refurbishing a big pond. It’s a complete empty out and reline with a concrete skin. After ten days we are about ready to put in the waterproof plastering and stonework. Birds have come and gone with some unusual behaviour from some. One day I had a pair of Stonechats behaving like Robins. Each time I would move away from the pond with a barrow they would shoot in like Robins, swiftly searching through the diggings for insects and worms. It was the first time I had seen this from Stonechats. They were accompanied by a Robin from time to time. Another unusual sighting has been a pair of Goldcrests that that were about from time to time. They were foraging through the bushes and gorse in the ditches with a constant flurry of contact calls and bounding acrobatic foraging. They were about for three days on the hillside. Woodcock put in an appearance with three sightings overhead. This winter I have seen more Woodcock than I have in the whole of my time birding. We had Twite and Greenfinch as the other regular fly overs. The weather has been freezing from time to time and a bit of a trial for us trying to lay concrete. The job goes on tho and hopefully we will be finished soon. There might even be a pond making report for the blog at some time in the future.