Sep 16, 2010

Oot west

An old friend I haven’t seen for ages came around today to try out different binoculars He also came camered up with his new 400mm lens so we just had to go for a scout about after all it would be rude not to!! Conditions were well against us with a gale blowing in from the north west. We wanted to check out some sites and Bosquoy was first on the list. The wind here scoured the surface of the water from one end to the other, white horses rose and fell and it was plainly obvious there was not a lot for Alfies 400mm lens to focus on. Venturing out the car and up the bank produced one small light and tan bird and a couple of meadow pipits. This is a total contrast to a week ago when we had a huge migrant fall at the end of a week of gales and big numbers of local geese mixed with hundreds of tufted, potchard and others filled the wee loch and small birds abounded around the shore and bordering fields feeding and resting after the gales. We moved to the Shunan and it was much the same story here with the wind sweeping the length of the loch in to our faces. We were luckier though for along the track in the lee of the fence thirty or more linnets were intently feeding, Over them a small group of swallows were feeding in the tumbling air. These birds all seemed game to be photographed, the flock of linnets moved up and down the track and the swallows obligingly landed feet away on the fence and were unbothered with the car windows going up and down….a few snaps were taken!!! We mosied on up the road through Dounby past the Loch of Banks. A few mallard sheltered around the bottom but we kept on going to arrive at the loons hide. This fairly bird less expanse is all ready being watched by two of the RSPBs finest. Little is to be seen on the water though and attention is on a hunting type hound running loose in the field below Skorn. Its putting up geese as its sniffing about but it isn’t wasting its energy chasing them. There are a couple of gadwall on the pool whilst overhead we catch a flock of snipe going up round and down. Andy was telling me that there are a lot being reported passing through at the moment. All in all though it’s a wind swept hole so we shift on. Marwick looked like looking in to the teeth of the gale so we turn south at the junction and head to Skail to try for a bird photo. Below the kirk will be the most sheltered and give the best chance. From the hill it looks wild with the waves breaking on Row and being carried over the cliff tops in spectacular fashion. Fortunately the shore at the kirk end of the bay is sheltered from the worst of the wind. We now get a chance to snap ringed plovers as they argued amongst them selves and chased each other in circles. A few turnstones now with their summer plumage mostly gone moved along the ware poking about. On the water Twenty odd dunters paddled about, a common scoter and a winter plumed guilimot added to the count. Two seals slept snouts in the air. A very obvious Whimbrel followed moments later by three more made for some excited oooh oooh look look type shouting in the car. We have about exhausted the possibilities so I jump out and try to digiscope the waves breaking on Row but it’s a bit windy and bumpy out of the cage! A run back past the loch presents little for the the cameras as there’s a small group of geese three quarters of the way across, given that the surface is lifting off like smoke here and there we plod on to have a look at the bird crop of Queena. This crop is on a the top of a small rise with a track beside it and a great place to sit and wait for the flocks to come to you…HA! Not today though. On the roll down the hill towards Brodgar there are a lot of birds feeding in the fields and we manage to get black headed gulls, lapwings and golden plovers in good range. In the lee of a skerry on the loch a small flock of teal were sheltering but once again little was to be seen. Our last stop was a walk up to the russadale quary as Alfie had never been there. This walk produced one blackbird,a meadow pipit, two hoodies and a distant raven so with that less than impressive total and me reassuring him that if he had been here in the spring ect ect we decide to head home, fortunately the rain decided to give a bird less return walk a little spice…..It was good to get out though and renew old friendships, have a nose about and see a DSLR with a big lens in action. Roll on the winter..oh god did I just say that!!...

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