Apr 20, 2012

Out and about on Hoy

Hoy today turned out to be a shorter visit than planed due to the boat being booked up on the late sailing, never mind we did have a few hours to mooch about. The plan was to go to the pine plantation on the Rackwick road and work our way back from there. The cruise up to the Rackwick road was a little rain spotted but fine enough and nice as it was to be back on Hoy I was about to get a nasty shock. The mature pine trees and most of the others that had once stood at the road side had been totally clear felled and new plantings put in. Im sure there will be a plenty of good reasons for this to have been done but to my eyes this is nothing but sheer vandalism. Tall mature pine trees are rare enough habitat across the Hoy heather and with a good mix of healthy trees intermixed with lots of dead wood to promote habitat for insects. I don’t have any problem with new plantings, the more the better but FFS why slaughter the trees!! (answers on the back of a twenty pound note and post them in to me c/o Bank of Scotland) Any way rants aside there was a fair bit of singing going on and we had a look for forty mins or so till the rain pushed us back in the disco. Willow warblers were well represented with at least seven singing at once. Robins were also well represented with one pair on a nest. I spied one returning with food in its beak and another time one made a food pass to another near the nest. There were three more about tho and these were singing and scrapping with each other. A single Redstart appeared on to of some brush and moved off as I tried to close the distance on it. As soon as it landed a car put it up again and that was the last it was seen! Male Hen harrier, Bonxie and Ravens all moved about the valley. Rain moved us to the burn below the where we had a very welcome coffee whilst the rain rattled of the car!! We had a mippet, Stans first Wheatear of the season, another Robin and more Willow warblers singing in the bushes as a pleasant accompaniment to our piece! Next stop was Lyra burn where we had a wee break from the rain. Mippits were rushing about, five willow warblers sang at once also four Wrens. The surprising thing was the total of eight robins that were moving about in a noisy fashion here as well. There has obviously been a fall of Willow warblers and Robins across the island.. Margaret and I clambered down the steep sides of the burn to get a few photos of the brig with the burn in spate before the returning rain moved us on to the Pegwell burn. Here with a cursory look about the only common migrants to be found were five willow warbler singing around us and three to five more vocal Robins! There were four wrens singing about us as well. Today I have seen and heard more Wrens than I have in the last two years!! Last stop before the boat was the Lyness plantation. The trees have taken a proper hammering over winter and have had cye in them as well so it was pretty boggy for wandering around., The trees were teeming with birds tho and we paddled about underneath them following flitting movements and song. Chaffinch abounded and their song makes an interesting comparison the Willow warblers we had been hearing. These aside we also found plenty of Gold crests a few more Willow warblers, Wrens, at least one coal tit. All to soon we had to drag our self’s out and head back for the boat. All in all we saw lots of Robins and Willow warblers but few other migrants but there were gull colony’s, bonxies on territory and plenty of the other usual suspects despite the off and on rain…..all good fun!

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