Jun 27, 2011

Two lifers in a day.

Orkbirds once again came up with the goods, Last night I was having a look before bed when I saw the report of the temminck’s stint at the Shunan. Even though it was now to dark to go it would be light in a few hours and this would be to good a bird to miss. I have been down this road so many times and come up blank with a sleep and an ‘early’ start so with it being light enough to get things together at the back of three it was a simple decision to stay up and head out first thing. I put the time to good use checking out stint id info and sky news. Time passed and by four AM I was on site at the Shunan. The whole place was buzzing with Shellduck looking after five well grown chicks, a flock of oystercatchers roosting on the far shore. Every soften three or more would chirp up get their heads down and march about pleeping. This would go on for a while and stop before another protagonist would start up again and this of course went on all the time I was there!! The foreshore at the closest point had a trio of Herons roosting. They are spooky things at the best of times so I was fairly chuffed to get parked up with out disturbing them. The ambiance was fantastic as the light levels grew, a soft breeze was enough to keep off the midges. I adopted a soft seat on the bike and concentrated on scoping out every inch of mud and stone ii could see over and over again. There were several types of duck with young, Redshanks with chicks out wading, but little sight of a tiny wee wader.
Time passed and my attention wandered from the scope to the bins and with the wider perspective the dramas of the day harried me for attention…gulls and lapwings squabbled, curlews chased each other from the good feeding areas with bubbling cries whilst others jumped in to the vacant ground. At one point a scavenging bonxie put up several gulls and came in for some serious abuse before retreating across the fields. Eventually a scope pass across a distant rock spit showed a tiny head splashing between a couple of rocks. This was enough to grab my attention, just in front of this was a redshank and it just totally dwarfed the wader. It was a distant and dull view but you could see it certainly wasn’t one of the dunlin that were a short way off. Although obscured by the rocks it was moving into view from time to time I managed to see a distinct bib and a pale looking set of legs!!! Oh yes this is the bird im looking for!! Yeeha tick!! With the scope zoomed in to the point it will start loosing resolution I follow it from left to right watching it as closely as I can when it occurs to me …take a photo dumbfuck!! This of course is the kiss of death, no sooner though and a common gull lands almost on top of the poor wee Temminck stint pushing it off its wee pool. To my horror it took to the air and showing some white shot out of sight in to the last bay on the right. It was now 4.45 and the view had lasted five minutes or less. I was all fired up now and settled in again thinking it would show again but by 5.30 there was no sight of it. Even though it wasn’t to show again there was so much activity it was hard to be disappointed. Eighteen Blacktailed Godwits striding about feeding dressed in their finest summer plumage and a pass from a male hen harrier put every thing up just as I was on the point leaving gave a great opportunity to see just how many birds the loch side area held, Needless to say I failed to find the Temminck stint in the chaos with just my bins to hand, never mind though it was off home for a bit of well earned kip…I thought the day was over!!

On awakening and a quick migraine later I jumped on the bike for another look. I spent another hour searching over and over but the best bird I could find was a Common Sandpiper that dropped in covered a lot of ground feeding furiously and headed off. I took this as a hint and headed off as well. The loch of Bosquoy is the next turn on the right heading home from there so I snap in there for a look thinking that the Temminck might just be feeding here some where. Pulling up I find Morris Rendall setting up his tripod, saying whit like and that he asks me if we are looking for the same bird. If it the stint I am then. That’s not the one he says, he is here to try to photograph the Ring necked ducks. This is another bird well actually it was a pair of birds that were reported the other day and I hadn’t looked for. I had assumed that by now they would have been on there way to where ever…..WRONG …again. Never having seen one I had a look in my Collins that I for once had taken out with me. I was surprised to see that they had no discernable ring about the neck and were to all intents and purposes a large Tufted duck with a white band on the bill behind the nib, no crest and a pronounced lump on the crown. Armed with this I turned my attention to the flock of tufties across the loch. Theres little to see but a nice Slavonian grebe it its summer splendour. The flock is nervous and a bonxie pass lifts them all up in groups. The Bonxie trys for a few of the chicks in the reed bed edge but the gulls rise from the adjoining field and it is given short shift. Another look through the flock produces nothing and the further edges of the reeds now come in for scrutiny. Then looking straight at me is a big tuftie with a white bar on its bill, I shout Morris over and he gets it as well we take shots of the scope quickly checking it out when Morris says ‘I should just get my camera’ followed by ‘wait a moment whars hid gone’ HA!! once again the C word drove the bird away. It seems that our bird had slunk away in to the reeds. We looked and looked but it wasn’t going to reappear. I took a wander up the track towards the kirk road to get a view behind the reeds but it was to little avail although it was worth a look. Returning to the bike Kieth Fairclough had arrived and after a fruitless search he tried the track up the hill a bit as well whilst I kept a look out on this side. Even with a heard of lively cattle charging down to the shore failed to get the duck out of cover (if it was even there by that time) So with Keiths return I pack up to head home. I was fairly chuffed with two lifers under my belt for the day. At home it treated to a cracking dinner of steak and chips. Does it get much better than this….I don’t think so!!!!

Jun 16, 2011

Orkney conservation threat. YOUR help is needed NOW!!

This message was posted by Paul Higson on Orkbird and I thought it well worth repeating here. This is a very very important subject and the threat to local habitat that looms is very real. YOUR help is needed if local wildlife habitats are not to permanently disappear.

I would be very grateful if you could take the time to read the following, and
hopefully then take action…….

An important public consultation is currently taking place over the Orkney Local
Development Plan. The Plan has policies which recognises specific areas of
important wildlife habitat as Local Conservation Sites. Over the years, more
than 220 LNCS's have been identified and surveyed for their birds and plants -
generally moorland or wetland and home to many breeding birds such as Redshank,
Curlew, Snipe etc, as well as a wide range of other wildlife and plants. In many
areas these are the only remaining remnants of natural vegetation left.

Moves are afoot to remove this protection and it is vital that we act to help
protect the wildlife rich heritage we have on Orkney for future generations.

I have uploaded a new File (in Files section)- "Orkney LNC sites". listing all
these 220+ sites - we cannot afford to lose any of them.

We need to support the draft Orkney Local Development Plan policy that protects
these sites - Policy N2 (Natural Heritage Designations).

Could I ask you to write to your local Councillor - file uploaded - "Orkney
Councillors", expressing your support for Policy N2 and Local Conservation Sites
in particular, and the how strongly you feel about the need to conserve Orkneys
Natural Heritage.

ALSO, you MUST copy your e-mails/letters to devplan@... or The
Planning Manager, Development Planning and Regeneration, O.I.C, School Place,
Kirkwall, KW15 1NY.

Your comments can help give the Council the confidence to maintain the vital
Local Nature Conservation Site designations, and this policy, that gives these
important sites some protection from development. This plan could result in the
most important nature conservation policy decision in Orkney for years - the
decision is very much in the balance, and any support you can give may well be
the support that tips the decision in its favour.

One last thought - I personally think it is best if only members who live on
Orkney or visit on holiday respond, so "interference by off island do-gooders"
cannot be used as a weapon against us.

All representations HAVE to be with the Councillors/Planning by 24th JUNE 2011 -
please beat that deadline.

PLEASE , PLEASE do everything you can to help, and let your friends, family and
workmates know about this too.



Many thanks for reading this, and PLEASE PLEASE help.

Jun 15, 2011


Theres a short bit of film of dolphins on the facebook page! If anybody wants to speculate on what is going on i would be interested to hear it!