Oct 26, 2009

I thought this blog was going to get back on track, things were looking good. We had just had the Sandhill crane and I was starting to shoot about again and enjoy birding. The Red eyed vireo had me dancing with glee. October was started with all the promise that best month of the year brings. The day after the Vireo it was to all end for me. I was waiting for a squall to pass after lunch before heading off to work. As the loch disappeared in to the grey curtain of rain I felt a little woozy. Almost immediately I was aware of this my vision split in two. I stood and blinked like an idiot trying to clear it but nothing happened except for a throb of pain deep behind the eye. Oooer feeling like I was going to go down and being alone indoors I shot off next door where a car was summoned to whisk me in to the doctors. Rushed in, in increasing pain the afternoon passed in a blur from doctors into hospital. Next morning it’s on to an ambulance flight to Aberdeen. Nice to get a plane to your self but I would have preferred it under other circumstances really. So a week lying around on uncomfortable beds, my brain suitably irradiated with lots of cross sectioning x-rays and two separate lumber punctures (they were such a laugh) There seemed to be no damage from the wee stroke so I was sent home. All in all the hospital was clean, all the staff were superb, but the shop was expensive and the birds crap. I slipped away for a skulk about the grounds a couple of times and managed starlings and shite hawks. The one bright spot were three carrion crows so I managed a quick tick. With the staff fed up of jabbing me with needles and requests for bed baths I was returned home to get on with things.
It was raining when I made it back on to island terra firma but the downpour has only stopped to draw breath a couple of times since. Not that its making much difference to me as I am confined to barracks with orders to sit on my arse and chill…no running around and no excitement. I hadn’t counted on the weather being such an adversary in things tho. We have now had ten days of wet, sometimes very wet weather. During the breaks good birds have been popping up all over and I am stuck looking out the windows…great!. Its not been that bad though Fieldfare fell to the garden list. On Sunday afternoon in the lee of a pampas grass I spied a blackbird. On closer inspection it had a scaly appearance and a pronounced if subdued white bib evenly spread. This made my heart leap! Cos it looked like a female ring ouzel and if such would be only my second . The misty drizzle was blowing across the lawn but the window was reasonably clear of rain the more I looked the more convinced I was and it wasn’t one of the flocks of blackbirds that have flooded in from the continent over these last few days. So its photo next of course but the obvious thing to do is as usual the wrong one and even with the camera on and the scope set ready opening the front door is enough to send the bird from its shelter and away into the squalls. Great bird for the garden list and pleased to have it but I will have to live with loosing the opportunity to get the photo.
Today I was off to Kirkwall and then to Stromness a look. The tide was well up and the fields had a lot of activity going on. The calm dry weather that moved in over night has let all the birds that are about have the opportunity to feed. Big crowds of all the usual subjects made for some spectacular flock feeding. Looking across the lochs the air was full of birds coming, going and wheeling about. In Stromness at the top of Hellihole I saw my first Yellow browed warbler of the autumn so I was once more pleased with the day. On the return home I stood at the end of the drive and scoped out the fields below the house. Whilst there was no great numbers of birds near the house the loch was a delight. The surface was turning to glass and in this state it reveals exactly the numbers of ducks and geese exposing them with nowhere to hide on the smooth surface. Duck numbers have started to rise but the main influx is yet to arrive. As I stood there I was aware of a shuffling in the stunted sycamore beside me. I turn only my head slowly and in my vision is a Goldcrest…what a delight and yet another first for the garden list. Minute after minute passes, it’s a single bird and it moves flitting and probing, working its way around the branches. It keeps its acrobatic display going and ignoring me. A couple of cars pass and I remain comfortable and still. The wee bird stops still as the cars pass but promptly resumes feeding unflustered. Another car sounds up the hill and with out thinking I turn my face towards the sound…bad move. As I rotate it back I can see the business end of the Goldcrest pointed at me with an angry expression on its face. Now some may say that’s a bit of an anthropomorphic sort of thing to think but if you could have seen the expression when it had sussed out I was there and some sort of potential threat it was defiantly anger and aggression, the stare from those eyes for these moments bore in to my leaky brain. It seemed for a brief yet endless time we were connected and the whole size of the bird expanded to greater than the sum of its parts as it stared into my face. With a flutter it was gone and I was alone.
Och well you have to grab your fun where you can get it with the quiet life and it’s the little things that keep you going!!

Oct 15, 2009

Its been a quiet week for me as I have been stuck inside not really getting out. It looks like its set to continue for the rest of the month…Ahh the ironies of life. Best birds of note at the house have been a pair of Barnacle geese roosting in with a flock of Pink feet the middle of last week. I had a Carrion crow in Aberdeen the other day so it’s a year tick. There’s been days of rain here yet it is mild and still tonight. Below the house the air is a raucous noise of thousands of Greylags roosting and grazing. There were a few hundred Pinks and Laggs this after noon along with relatively small flocks of Lapwing Curlew Golden plover. Tonight is a different story. The flocks are right up to the fence at the bottom of the gardens and the noise has been really something at times. Im looking forwards to a good look through the bushes around the houses here the morns morning tho. There’s been a lot about and you never know your luck eh!