Oct 30, 2010

Otter at the Loons

On Thursday I was well impressed to see photos of otters on a friend’s facebook page. My mate Alfie Stanger had the good fortune to have a large dog otter put on a fine display in front of the loons hide just as the light was going. The sighting log in the hide also made mention of an otter sighting a few days back. Now the otter is one of the most elusive of all our wild life. I have only seen them on a few occasions so the temptation to go for a look at the end of the day yesterday was just to much for me. Shooting out as the day was ending I arrived at the loons hide to find Alfie there and primed for more action. Taking a seat and setting up there looked little In the way of bird life let alone otters.
The day before the otter had appeared on the far off left of the pool moved on to the wee island for a sniff about. There were mallard on the bank and water and they were unperturbed by the large mammal moving amongst them. He moved along the reeds in a dabbling manner with the rear end and tail in the air whilst I presume searching for food on the shallow bottom. From there he swam across the pool from left to right before emerging on the cut reeds at the mouth of the water rail channel and disappeared in to the reeds.
That was yesterday though and after hearing the description of what happened I settled to have a spy about for birds whilst keeping a weather eye out for wee tarka!! The seemingly empty vista before us soon began to offer up sightings, in the stubble fields far above us a gaggle of greylags were feeding then in the grazings below that a few curlew poked about. The field below this that leads to the reserve edge held three hares and along side these but not close enough to cause them concern a feral tabby cat was hunting a mouse or vole. One thing that had been called yesterday was a fox along the fence line. This was called by a visiting birder and Alfie managed a distant view in his bins as a Rufus looking rear end disappeared down a dip not to be seen again. We were discussing what it could possibly have been as foxes are not something we have on the northern isles when a flash of red bushy back end has me shouting FOX!! It was on the farthest comfortable view of my binoculars and it also disappeared down a dip. With the heart pumping and the mind shouting that it cant be can it??? I jumped on to the scope and swung it in the direction whilst explaining where I was looking. Within moments the culprit emerged, it was a huge ginger tabby cat with a monster tail. We both got on it and had good views in the scope. I am pretty sure that this was the fox from the previous night. It’s a good example of assuming the identity of a sighting when you are familiar with a species…its easy to convince your self you ken fine what your seeing. Assumption is a powerful psychological tool…and one I am personally all to familiar with as a birder!! With that wee mystery kind of settled it was back to the birds. Little did I know I was about to fall fowl of exactly the same assumption! Looking across the reed tops Alfie says look what’s that as a large gull floated away from us and moved on to the side of the hill. Oh its just a gull having a poke about I said with confidence. Yet it was seeming to be hunting in a quartering sort of fashion rather than the typical sort of herring gull flight Just as I was saying och its just a gull it spread its un gull like tail in a big fan and wheeled about to show its self in good view. It was a first year male hen harrier. It had passed over the three brown hares and they had not flinched. Now it moved along the fence line towards the farm and disappears. Its presence had stirred two flocks of Golden plover to take to the air, these gave a fine display wheeling about and changing colour as the changed direction before settling back to ground. The Peewits that were along the reserve edge were also spurred to take to the air but soon settled back in the same area as they had emerged.
Time passed but still no Otter, geese passed nosily over and the Harrier returned to plunge into the reeds way off to the left of the pool and not emerge, probably scoffing some prey!. Still no sign of Otters though!.
Passing time looking for a Reed bunting that was making occasional calls I was delighted to see a Water Rail walk over the cut reeds at the mouth of the channel. No sooner had I said water rail it walked in to the reeds and was gone. This was the first Water rail I had ever seen and I had the tingling thrill of discovery that you get seeing a lifer!! Still no otter though and now the rain started with a heavy thud thud The few Mallard on the pool seemed un bothered but a female Teal began rushing about like a loony, slashing and diving. The light was getting impossibly poor and we decided to head off and give it up for the night. It was a shame that the Otter did not emerge but that’s about par for these elusive creatures, never mind though I had a lifer and a good chat and laugh whilst birding and you cant beat that!! Even the ride home with out waterproofs wasn’t going to bother me tonight!!

It’s a shame the night didn’t produce an Otter but Alfie has said I can show a couple of his photos here so you can see the beast for your self’s though…Thanks for that Alfie!!

Oct 28, 2010

RSPB Sept report

Here is the Sept report from the RSPB...It was the hottest month of the year for sightings...how many did you see??



Traditionally one of the busiest months of the year, this September didn’t disappoint with two good ‘falls’ of Continental migrants (on 7th-10th and 28th-30th) but with much of interest emanating from the north-west in between. So many notable birds occurred that many of the commoner species that are usually mentioned have had to be omitted this month.

Black-throated Divers were noted in Holm Sound on 14th and off Cava (three) on 23rd while the first two returning Great Northern Divers passed the Brough of Birsay on 17th. Similarly, the first two Slavonian Grebes had come back to the Swannay Loch by 19th. Strong winds mid-month produced a good passage of seabirds with up to 1900 Fulmars and 1000 Gannets per hour passing the Brough of Birsay on 17th when 53 Sooty Shearwaters and 35 Manx Shearwaters were also noted. On North Ronaldsay the main Sooty passage was on 25th when 214 were counted while 19 moved through the Copinsay Pass on 29th after strong south-easterlies. 60 Storm Petrels were trapped on North Ronaldsay on the night of 1st with up to six per day recorded at sea there until 22nd and one through the Copinsay Pass on 29th. Large concentrations of Shags included 400 on the Little Green Holm on 19th and 600 in Widewall Bay on 26th.

The first (and only) Whooper Swans were eight over Herston on 25th. A large passage of Pink-footed Geese was witnessed at the Brough of Birsay on 17th when 2100 were counted in two hours; elsewhere the largest count was 229 on North Ronaldsay on 22nd. Migrant Greylag Geese have not arrived in any numbers yet but a flock of 1500, presumably local birds, was on the Loch of Skaill on 20th. A family party of five Snow Geese were in the Stromness area until 10th before what were presumably the same birds moved to Deerness on 14th. A single adult was in Orphir on 13th and 18th while three adults were at Head of Holland and Head of Work 13th-15th with perhaps the same birds on the Loch of Clumly on 26th. The first Barnacle Geese were 12 on North Ronaldsay on 28th followed by 18 there the following day.

Wigeon numbers began to build with 1500 at Mill Dam, Shapinsay on 24th while 19 Pintail were on North Ronaldsay on 12th. The Loch of Clumly was an unusual location for 12 Scaup on 26th. Two Common Scoters passed the Brough of Birsay on 17th and one was on the Loch of Skaill on 20th. The first Long-tailed Duck was off No.4 Barrier on 25th. 41 Red-breasted Mergansers were in Echnaloch Bay on 11th.

A Honey Buzzard that moved south-west over Binscarth on 19th may have been the bird seen at Berstane two days later and over Tenston on 30th. Sparrowhawks became conspicuous early in the month associated with the ‘fall’ of passerine migrants while Merlins were also very much in evidence, an interesting sighting being of two (together with a Peregrine) stooping at Starlings coming into roost over Stromness on 8th. Rare raptors involved a female Goshawk that moved south through South Ronaldsay on 10th and a Hobby on North Ronaldsay on 12th.
The final count of calling male Corncrakes in Orkney this summer was 23, four up on the 2009 total; a migrant bird was on North Ronaldsay on 10th, the same day that a Quail was recorded there. 364 Coot at Loch of Bosquoy on 26th was a good count for so early a date. The two Cranes that had first been seen in the Stromness area on 6th August remained until 19th September and afforded many folk with memorable experiences as they displayed to one another on numerous occasions

110 Ringed Plovers gathered on Stromness Golf Course at high tide on 13th. The largest Golden Plover flocks were 2000 in the Swanbister area on 25th and 1500 at each of Dounby on 2nd and Brough, South Ronaldsay on 26th. An American Golden Plover was a rare visitor to North Ronaldsay from 1st to 22nd. The largest count of Knot was 70 on North Ronaldsay on 8th while 60 were at the Shapinsay Ouse on 12th. Up to eight Curlew Sandpipers were seen on North Ronaldsay with up to five at the Loch of Skaill and singles on Stronsay and in Deerness mainly in the first part of the month. Records of their usual travelling companion, Little Stint, included three on Stronsay on 12th, one-two at Loch of Skaill and singles at Marwick and North Ronaldsay. From across the Atlantic came no fewer than six Pectoral Sandpipers with two on North Ronaldsay, two at The Shunan and singles in Deerness and at the Peedie Sea, the latter remaining from 21st to 30th and providing many folk with their first experience of this species. Also from North America came a Buff-breasted Sandpiper to Brough, South Ronaldsay on 23rd. North Ronaldsay recorded up to 17 Ruff (peak on 12th) but elsewhere only one-two were seen in five localities.

No fewer than 568 Snipe were counted on North Ronaldsay on 30th. All Jack Snipe records also came from there with an early bird on 9th followed by others from 24th with a maximum of seven on 29th. An early Woodcock also arrived on the island on 29th. North Ronaldsay also saw most of the Black-tailed Godwit passage with two peaks of 107 on 10th and 106 on 23rd; elsewhere the largest count was 16 on Stronsay on 12th. Only four Whimbrels were seen, on North Ronaldsay on 10th and 12th, on Flotta on 24th and on Burray, where the regular wintering bird had returned by 8th. The largest Curlew flock was 550 at Marwick on 20th. Greenshanks were scarce with records of singles from just three localities. Single Wood Sandpipers were at The Shunan on 2nd and 11th and on North Ronaldsay from 9th to 11th. Two Green Sandpipers were at Ireland, Stenness on 26th and one at Durkadale next day, both favourite localities for this species. Up to four migrant Common Sandpipers were on North Ronaldsay from 6th to 12th. A Grey Phalarope was seen from the ‘Pentalina’ on 10th while two passed the Brough of Birsay on 17th.

Our breeding seabirds’ woes are well-known and a complete survey of our breeding skuas confirmed suspicions that even Bonxies are in trouble – numbers have declined by 23% since 2000. Arctic Skuas are faring even worse with a 62% decline since 1992.

A Glaucous Gull was on North Ronaldsay on 25th. As usual, small numbers of Sandwich Terns lingered right through the month as did a few Arctic Terns but the presence of one –two Common Terns on North Ronaldsay right up to 30th was more notable. Tysties were especially conspicuous off the Churchill Barriers on 11th with a total of 74 off Nos 1,2 & 3.

The only Swift of the month was one in the Binscarth area on 8th. A Stock Dove was on North Ronaldsay on 29th while single Turtle Doves were in Kirkwall on 11th and on North Ronaldsay from 22nd. A Hoopoe was a good find at the Warebeth Cemetery, Stromness on 30th. Single juvenile Cuckoos were at the Wee Fea Plantation, Hoy on 8th at Manse Bay, South Ronaldsay next day. Short-eared Owls became much less conspicuous during the month and the only Long-eared Owl was one in Deerness on 9th. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was on Stronsay on about 10th while a small arrival at the month’s end involved birds in Deerness on 28th and in Stenness and Stromness on 30th. The migrant arrival early in the month brought two Wrynecks to North Ronaldsay and one to Hestily, South Ronaldsay between 8th-10th. A Short-toed Lark was a rare, but typical, visitor to North Ronaldsay on 29th. 800 Swallows were still using the Graemeshall reed-bed roost on 9th.

It was a month for interesting pipits! Amongst our resident Rock Pipits and the myriad migrant Meadow Pipits, small numbers of Tree Pipits appeared between 8th–12th, with up to 12 on North Ronaldsay. Then, on 28th, a Richard’s Pipit from the steppes of Siberia and Central Asia was found on North Ronaldsay; a Red-throated Pipit from the tundras of Scandinavia and Russia was heard to call several times as it was mobbed by Rock Pipits over Kirkwall; and, perhaps the bird of the month, a Buff-bellied Pipit from North America and west Greenland, only Orkney’s second, was found at Yesnaby.

Yellow Wagtails are normally scarce migrants here but the ‘fall’ from 8th brought six to each of North Ronaldsay, Deerness and South Ronaldsay with singles to Burray and Twatt, the latter being identified from a photograph as a male Blue-headed Wagtail, the race of Yellow Wagtail common on the Continent. Grey Wagtails were noted in breeding areas in Finstown, Stenness and Kirkwall but also on North Ronaldsay from 27th.

Redstarts were conspicuous in the migrant arrival early in the month with up to 37 on North Ronaldsay and 32 on South Ronaldsay; Whinchats were generally fewer but North Ronaldsay again recorded a peak of 37 on 10th.A Black Redstart was seen at Cara, South Ronaldsay on 7th. Few Robins were seen in this early ‘fall’ but they became more numerous late in the month with up to 17 on North Ronaldsay. Three Bluethroats were also found at this time; in Deerness and at Cottascarth on 26th and on North Ronaldsay on 30th. Coming from both the east and the north-west, Wheatears were in evidence all moth with peaks of 24 on South Ronaldsay on 9th and 110 on North Ronaldsay on 12th probably mainly being Continental birds but 20 on Birsay Links a few days later being considered to be mainly of the Greenland race.

Small numbers of Fieldfares arrived between 6th-12th with up to seven at nine localities. A few Song Thrushes also arrived then but their main influx occurred late in the month with 105 on North Ronaldsay on 29th/30th. An early Redwing was seen on that island on 9th but there were no more then until 26th after which up to 23 were seen at six sites. Blackbirds also became conspicuous at that time while up to three Ring Ouzels were on North Ronaldsay together with a Mistle Thrush, four of the latter also being seen in Rendall on 30th.

During the two main migrant arrivals on North Ronaldsay, two Grasshopper Warblers were seen on 9th and again on 30th. Sedge Warbler records became fewer as the month progressed although at least 10 were still at Graemeshall on 9th and the last was seen on North Ronaldsay on 20th. One-two Reed Warblers were seen in six localities between 9th-12th with others at Evie Sands on 23rd and on North Ronaldsay on 30th. A Blyth’s Reed Warbler was an extremely rare visitor to North Ronaldsay on 30th. Three Icterine Warblers were noted between 11th-15th with a further two on 26th/27th.

It was a good month for Barred Warblers with ten between 3rd-14th and a further five at the end of the month. Small numbers of Lesser Whitethroats appeared during both ‘falls’ but very few Common Whitethroats were seen with only one-two in Deerness and South Ronaldsay and on North Ronaldsay 9th-12th. Blackcaps and Garden Warblers were two of the main components of the migrant arrivals. On North Ronaldsay, Blackcaps peaked at 28 on 9th and 10 on 30th with numbers elsewhere fewer but similarly distributed. 32 Garden Warblers were found on South Ronaldsay on 9th with 17 on North Ronaldsay the following day, five also being seen on the latter island on 30th; other localities recorded up to three almost all early in the month. Willow Warblers were also common during the early arrival, especially on 9th when 48 were on North Ronaldsay, 28 on South Ronaldsay and up to ten elsewhere; small numbers also arrived late in the month. Chiffchaffs, as usual, reversed this picture with only a few being seen at the start of September but the arrival from 26th bringing in more including up to eight on North Ronaldsay. Wood Warblers were seen in Deerness on 8th with two there next day and another being in Finstown on 10th and 15th. A real rarity was a Western Bonelli’s Warbler on North Ronaldsay on 10th/11th. Right on cue, the first two Yellow-browed Warblers, coming all the way from Siberia arrived on North Ronaldsay on 21st to be followed by others in Stromness on 26th, Rendall on 27th, Deerness and South Ronaldsay (three) on 30th when a peak of seven occurred on North Ronaldsay. Very few Goldcrests occurred before 28th when the arrival brought 16 to North Ronaldsay and small numbers elsewhere.

Perhaps the most conspicuous species of the early migrant arrival was Spotted Flycatcher with 32 on North Ronaldsay, 29 on South Ronaldsay on 9th and 15 on Stronsay on 12th, birds being reported from fourteen other sites. Pied Flycatchers were fewer but South Ronaldsay recorded 18 on 9th and, again, there were records from fourteen other localities including as far west as Yesnaby. A suberb adult male Red-breasted Flycatcher was found at Eastside, South Ronaldsay on 9th with another immature bird at Cara on 30th.
A Red-backed Shrike appeared on North Ronaldsay on 9th with other at Burwick and Costa on 11th. The series of Coal Tit records from Hoy continued with at least one at the Wee Fea Plantation on 8th.

Small numbers of Chaffinches and Bramblings appeared early in the month but the main influx occurred from 26th respective species totals being 50 and 112 on North Ronaldsay on 30th. Siskins were also conspicuous, especially towards the end of the month with 161 on North Ronaldsay on 30th and up to 18 elsewhere. An interesting series of Twite counts came from uninhabited islands in Wide Firth on 19th with 250 on the Little Green Holm, 50 on Muckle Green Holm and 110 on Boray Holm; it would be interesting to know what these birds were feeding on in these remote unfarmed sites! Up to 12 Common Redpolls were on North Ronaldsay from 24th with four on Sanday on 26th and up to ten in Finstown after 27th. The origins of these birds was suggested by the finding of single Hornemann’s Arctic Redpolls (from Greenland) on North Ronaldsay on 20th and Sanday on 26th. Two Lesser Redpolls were seen at Durkadale on 9th and 27th with another on North Ronaldsay on 30th. Single Crossbills were at Durkadale on 9th and Swannay on 11th. One-two Scarlet Rosefinches were found on North Ronaldsay, Stronsay and in Finstown between 3rd-15th with other singles on North Ronaldsay on 20th, 23rd and 29th. North Ronaldsay also recorded a Hawfinch, very scarce in autumn, on 30th.

An Ortolan Bunting, a very scarce visitor these days, was at Cara, South Ronaldsay on 30th while single Little Buntings were on North Ronaldsay on 27th and at Hewing, Firth on 29th.

Perhaps the outstanding event of the month was the arrival of Lapland Buntings almost certainly, despite their name, originating in Greenland. North Ronaldsay witnessed three separate arrivals with 104 on 1st then declining until 135 arrived on 12th before declining again ahead of a third arrival of 272 on 27th. This pattern was more or less mirrored elsewhere with up to 68 occurring on the Brough of Birsay, up to 70 on Birsay Links, up to 120 in the Yesnaby to Black Craig area and up to a dozen in 12 other localities. This is, by far and away, the biggest irruption of this species ever witnessed in Orkney. The first Snow Bunting arrived on North Ronaldsay on 14th and built up to a peak of 242 on 30th up to 22 being noted at five other sites.

Eric Meek

Oct 26, 2010

I had a single Waxwing in the garden sitting on top of the rugosa this morning just as I was setting off to town. Quickly I put out more fruit nipped next door and did the same there then headed off to town. On the return four hours later I found the food untouched by anything but blackbirds. Keeping a beady eye out for another couple of hours failed to produce another bird. It’s a bit disappointing but they may yet come foraging and at least my rosehips survive for the blackbirds!! As a plus tho I get waxwing on the garden list and it’s a couple of houses since I had that!!

Oct 25, 2010

Waxwings in Stromness

Waxwings are entering the county in good numbers with good flocks being seen in Finstown and Stromness. The hot places to look at the moment are about Stromness at the old academy, along side of the fire station and along from the Stromness pool. This is an exelent oppertunity to see these spectacular and confiding birds. It is also a good oppertunity to draw them in to your garden. The best bait to use is fruit, diced and halfed apples spiked up in bushes or on your bird tables should help attract them in...good luck and enjoy!!

Oct 24, 2010

Waxwing alert

There have been reports of Waxwings in dribs and drabs all week and my feeble serching has found none. Tonight though Tim Wootton reported masses around Stromness. Waxwings are a spectacular and noisey bird thats well worth getting along for a look see!! I know where i will be the morns morn....roll on the dawn!!


After several reports of Stoats being at large the first one has been trapped.
This is a very concerning situation. Time will tell now if trapping will remove them...lets hope so.

There is a small film and more info on Radio Orkneys facebook page
There was a male Blackcap at the Merkister this lunch time and two Whimbrel passed over the house calling as i was getting the kettle on tonight!! Birding indoors,in the dark might be time to start a new list title....i jest!!

Oct 15, 2010

Alone in the darkness

Its nearly midnight and i have just been out side. Its flat calm with the distant house lights reflecting across the loch. There is not a single goose to be heard out there and the silence is deafening!!!
Eight Whooper swans pass over the house heading in a westerly direction looking to land. This was a first for the garden list i am happy to say!! As its a first its the excuse i am using for this shonky photo taken through the dirty sittingroom window!!!

Oct 13, 2010

1700-2000+ Pinkfeet below the house tonight at dusk.

Oct 11, 2010

Twitchin treecreepers

After an abortive attempt to get to Deerness yesterday when I managed as far as the Wideford burn before having to limp back, today I managed to finally see the Treecreeper that’s been at Grindigar. Deerness was hooching with birds. Although I wasn’t searching about much it seemed most bushes and shrubs held birds. Just turning off the main drag to Grindigar a dazzling colourful Redstart shot across the road in front of me and disappeared down the field. Slowing with the thrill and watching it go I realise the string of willows along the road side contain a flock of Goldcrests! I trundle along at walking pace and the Goldcrests seem happy to ignore the bike and give fine views. Parking up and moving slowly in through the gate to the wee quarry garden a flock of brambling spook and take noisily to the air. A peer inside and the bench is a third of the way down and I take a pew on it and sort my gear. Its soon obvious that the fleeing brambling didn’t take all the birds with them and with the quiet returning movement begins again. The canopy is moving with Goldcrests and the bright warm air is full of their high pitch calls. I have seen quite a few on migration over the last few years but today was the first time I have seen them feeding on the ground out in the open. Quite oblivious to my presence they were coming within ten feet of me, some times with three on the ground at one time, other times they were in the willow directly overhead!! Through this I was trying to quietly get them in to the scope for a photograph whilst on the ground it was marginally better than trying to snap them in the branches. They scurried around like clockwork toys and entertaining as they were proved dammed difficult to get in the viewfinder!!
Robins were well represented in the common migrant stakes with three seeming to be in view at any one time. I’m sure there were a lot more about though as a Sparrowhawk pass had an awful lot of alarm calling going on all at one time. Once things settled and restarted a Blackcap showed up for a minute and a Garden warbler landed in the apple trees but was gone when the camera was pointed in its direction. It was a calling male Chaffinch that delivered my bird of the day. It had caught my attention in the lower boughs of on of the conifers and as I was watching it a movement below caught my eye. Here at last was the Tree creeper. Forty five minutes waiting has produced this exciting and beautiful bird. With a white belly, mottled brown back and curved beak it moved up and down the trunks of the fir trees hunting insects at a cracking pace. It is an industrious little chap and a challenge and a half to digiscope, No sooner is it in the viewfinder than its gone behind a trunk or off down a branch. I move over to the heebies and it moves down the line of willows. With little more than blurred shots the camera abandoned I enjoy great views for about tem minutes before it flies directly towards me and enters the heebie two foot above my head. I wait about for fifteen more minutes but this the last time I see it out. I am happy enough though and it was a super last view. That was it for me as I have places to be and have to head home. All is not dull there though and a pair of Goldcrests that had been there in the morning remained all day…adding another name to the garden list!

Oct 10, 2010



Its time to hit the road, in a responsible non motogp sort of way of course.

Oct 9, 2010

Finding fungi

Today I went on the field club fungus outing led by Julian Branscombe and based around Finstown. It was an extremely interesting and enjoyable wee expedition that took us through Binscarth woods and back to the old Kirk yard. I didn’t know much about fungus before but soon began to pick up names and recognise species as we moved through the woods. There was a good turn out today and we spread out locating interesting fungi and getting them identified. This is where the expertise of the field club comes in so handy with so many naturalists to hand to split almost identical looking mushrooms. Milkcaps, Candlesnuf, Glistening inkcap,Inkcaps, Deadmans Fingers, Deceivers, large stands of Honey fungus, it just kept coming! The range and amount in such a small habitat was quite surprising and we were soon scurrying from find to find. It was all good fun and a lot of the time the canopy above was filled with the high pitched calls of the busy newly arrived Goldcrests. With a circuit of the woods done we move off to the old Kirk yard. The unpromising sward of grass proved surprisingly full of fungus as we began a closer inspection. Most obvious to start were the slime moulds, called dog vomit mould in the states and is well named! A variety of Waxcaps, Earth Tounge and Smoky Spindles all looking creepy and exotic in their graveyard setting. To complete the creepy setting a couple of freshly killed and bleeding Redwings below a tombstone told of a Kestrels food cache as it took advantage of today’s bounty. All in all it was a very interesting morning and all to soon over. On the way home I had a quick look in the Stenness Kirk yard and there were even more to identify the best of which was a blue one! I had never seen a blue mushroom before. Its shaping up to be a super weekend!!!

There is a photo album of today’s fungi on the Facebook page if any one fancies a look!!

Oct 7, 2010

Stop Trump, the fight go's on. The fight needs you!!

I thought the clearances were a thing of the past but here they are again in this day and age. Here is a council being manoeuvred in to using CPO for the private individuals to make huge amounts of profit. I thought these powers were for the betterment of a local community for road extensions or the creation of public amenities. Not only is this situation hugely questionable but the trump organisation also want the council to use their power to evict the land owners that he cannot buy!! I hate bullies, greed and the selfish rape of our environment. I don’t think that this section dunes, a designated SSSI should be lost to a monoculture of lawn and become a green desert!! We might only be able to protect small bits but they all add up!! I cant get links to work in posts but this can be coppied or there will be a link at the top of the links list in the side bar.


Oct 5, 2010

Oct 4, 2010

Im just back from a spin about out west. First stop was the ring of Brodgar for a look at the occupants of the bird crop beside the main gate. This flock was mostly Linnet with a good number of greenfinch and a few Twite. The only unusual bird in amongst it was a male Chaffinch. This all didn’t hold the attention for to long and it was saddle up and onwards. Crossing the Voy road I stopped for two separate cock Wheatears Both were large and well brown which left me thinking Greenland? The bushes at Voy had a obvious smattering of Siskin with flashing yellow birds flitting about. I don’t stop but carry on to Yesnaby. Its errked me that only four of us saw the Buff bellied pipit and my consequent attempts have been fruitless but one more try eh! Well that wasn’t to be, the cliff tops and scrambling track were pipit free zones. There are a small flock of Golden plover which get a scan through for intruders but to no avail. Every thing in the valley below the old mill rises and ball se a peregrine flashes through. The action lasts for less than a minute before the Peregrine moves of whilst being mobbed. From there its off to Stromness via the cauldhame road. There is little to see along the cauldhame road apart from the fine view. Peeling off for a circuit of the loons does little for the day list. A fresh southerly wind is scouring the whole area. I peel of once again and head to Warbeth beach. This is empty of waders and the fields behind only yield up some mippits and a single Sky lark. On the way back out though I see the bird of the day!. In the field besides the pond where the Herons roost a large broad winged raptor rises, its trailing jessies and this is an obvious sign that it’s an escaped falconers bird. Its mobbed before it gains to much altitude and heads in the direction of Brinkies bray. I take pursuit but cant find it once I am on the other side of the hill. I end up going to Ness battery and walking round the fence to gain a view but all to no avail, I had lost it!! After a couple of visits in the town I head to The Brig of Waith and a stop to snap some waders where I find horror of horrors I don’t have a camera in my pocket!! A retrace of my steps finally has me in the middle of a stubble field where to my relief theres my camera lying there waiting for me to pick up…peew!! I might not have seen a lot today but its all well that ends well.

On another tack though its worth noting that over the last few days there has been a substantial passage of Brambling and Siskin with good flocks being reported all over. Siskins are a colourful bird that will happily come to garden peanut feeders, so it might be worth topping up your feeders and keeping a weather eye on it!

Oct 1, 2010


I dipped on the Red breasted flycatcher this morning, the willows were bending over big style in the fresh wind and there was no sign of flys let alone flycatchers. I headed down to Hestly next and had a blackcap at the waterfall and a goldcrest in the pines. I just missed a big splash crossing the barriers coming back as well. At least the wind is blowing from a decent direction, hopefully the game will restart refreshed when the blow drops away!