Jun 30, 2009

Just back from Hoy and there will be a little report to follow at some point,sufice to say that i had a good time and met a load of nice folks along the way.

There was a report from Kas of orcas heading east in the firth below hoy last night about ten.

There is also a Crossbill irruption going on with flocks of these splendid seed eaters appearing almost anywhere at the moment...good hunting.

Jun 26, 2009

God its hot!! I am off to hoy to fish at the foot of the old man and do the high cliffs. Its to nice to work and the OH dont finish work till tues so the hell with this!! Im offski....laters folks

Jun 24, 2009

Positive signs from the cliffs

Well it’s the 24th and there is finally some good news going about with our sea birds. The gull colonies are producing young gulls and the first of these are taking to the air. Terns are on young in many places. Last night and today we saw Guillemot chicks and lots more Kittiwake young(my best birthday pressie). The RSPB walk was led by Eric Meek today and we were up to Marwick head. Although sparsely populated it was all happening with birds on eggs and young. Bonxies and Arctic’s light and dark all attacking returning birds. Puffins were very evident today as well. Eric brought out the interesting idea that the cold winter might have caused a lag in the time it takes the sea to warm. This being the case it could be why there are still sand eels about when in previous years they had gone by now. Whatever the reason I am just glad they are still here and hope they stay for a few more weeks so we can get some sort of success from the breeding sea birds this year.

Jun 23, 2009

Tus night.

I had a very pleasant evenings walk with Tims class tonight. We did the Swartland drovers track to the decca station and on to the Merkister hotel before finishing below the old mill. All the usual suspects were well represented with an added abundance of Sedge warblers. This bird below has to be the star though. This is a Common Sandpiper. Common enough for many folks but for us it’s a rare breeder with only a handful of pairs across the county. This one is a female the give away sign is the patch where she has been plucking her feathers for the nestlings. Nice bird in the setting sun.

Jun 21, 2009

Solstice sunrise at the ring of Brodgar.

Tonight i saw film of the solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. It was quite a contrast to up here!! These are a few of the snaps i took walking about the stones. It was a superbly mild night, a few folks milled around and the place had a frendly laid back kinda vibe. Bird song filled the air and the ambiance was superb.

Jun 19, 2009

Out west last night

I was out west with a group last night and we ranged across Marwick head. Although the cliffs look quite sparsely populated the good news is that we saw the first of the Kittiwakes starting to hatch their young. It might only have been two nests but several nests had birds on eggs and there was a lot of nest building activity in progress. Fingers crossed that this is the start of a more successful breeding season for them this year. The auks give more cause for concern tho as their sparse numbers might lead to a lack of cohesion in the colony as a whole. Even at this stage the Ravens seem to be getting a bit of free rein in predating the less occupied ledges, but I suppose only time will tell how it go's. On a brighter note the gull colonies look to be doing ok near me. Reports are coming in from surveys and it looks like Terns are well settled on eggs in their colonies at sights all over the isles. I know we keep getting to this stage and it falls to bits but hopefully this will be a better sort of year.

Jun 16, 2009

RSPB Harrier cams come on line but bad news from Forsinard

The hen harrier camera is or I should say was working as it has packed up transmitting but should be sorted over the next few days. It looks like there has been one chick lost already though. Embarrasingly i cant actually remember how many chicks there are tho as I haven’t seen the feed yet. Any one that wants to see its all happening at the visit Orkney centre in the new bus station.
All this pails into insignificance though compared to the news from Forsinard. Over the weekend I have read that their nest that’s camered up lost all of its eggs at some point. The cable has also been cut so there’s no pictures. Whether the two things are connected I have no idea but it’s a very sad state of affairs whatever. The Forsinard wardens have a back up nest so fingers crossed visitors will be able to enjoy the excellent views and insights to life in the nest very soon.

Jun 15, 2009

Jun 10, 2009

Hen Harrier cam about to go live.

Good news on the RSPB’s Hen harrier nest cam. Latest reports have the chicks hatched and the camera getting sorted. With a bit of luck there should be live pictures streamed to the screens in the visitors centre at the bus station on Thursday. It should be well worth a look!! Last year was a fascinating insight in to day to day life on the nest. I for one am looking forwards to loads more interesting action.
Most of last week was spent with groups from Kirkwall grammar school walking the tops or off road cross country. The RSPB walk was Hobbister and we had a dozen or so for the tour round. It had been a slow round with the full range of species’ but a low showing with the numbers. However the resident Peregrines were about to save the day. As we were looking at one adult on the cliffs Allan suddenly spied this years nest with youngsters in it. The white splash making the nest suddenly visible to all. Two birds were visible and the whole crew were delighted. Of course I could not leave it there and over the course of the last six days I have been over watching. The chicks have come on in leaps and bounds, literally at times. There has been no shortage off food and the smaller one has been getting more than its fair share. There has been food passes and feeding. The parents have seen of all comers over the week whilst the bigger birds have been exploring their surroundings. Its amazing to see the development over only a week but I suppose as they fledge in thirty days or so it has to be rapid. There’s about a week or less and they will be in the air. It’s been a great week, bright interested kids mixed with good birding and only a little rain…..

Jun 5, 2009

Plant puzzler

I found this whilst out with a group the other day. It has a Thrift like bloom with a hairy stem and leafs like buttercups. Its not im my Scottish Collins and its not a local flower...anyone got any ideas or sugestions as i am pretty crap at plant ID..

Jun 2, 2009


Orcas have been seen tonight in the Pentland Firth heading west. Whilst i was reading this report on orkbird i saw that Kas had put up an address for her mates web sight. Although they are over the water in Caithness i think it is extreamly relevant to us over here. It has lots of good advice and information for all us budding whale watchers. Have a look its interesting stuff( i hope the link works}