Oct 4, 2013

Pinkie flock today

stopped starts play

Its been a couple of days since i have been out what with the gales, rain and such so finding this morning flat calm and exceptionally mild was a pleasant find. Shooting off up to Eskadale with the dog on tow was a muddy delight, every thing was fresh moist and the air was sharp and clear. This is a huge change to the sunny spells during the gales. The air then is allways laden with salt and the air holds a haze that becomes particularly Leary with the dropping sun behind it. Anyway i digress, that was then and this is now, now is a different game! The cycle up has really only put up a dozen  meadow pipits and arriving at the bushes the dog once again dives in to where he has chased pheasants before. Its a bugger but he jumped in before i realised what was going on. Three wee birds flushed followed immediately by several calling redwings one of which dived into the elder beside the stand of fuchsia. He held his ground for a minute calling angerly until the dog once again moved him away as well. These were the first redwings i have seen this year. All excited I was going to post them up on Orkbird on my return  but it soon turned out they were all over and folks were well aware they were about !! Our return to the  house had starlings fly catching, a spectacle I always find enjoyable to watch. I wish I had a big camera with a big lens to catch some of the antics !! Down the fields there were substantial golden plover and pink footed geese flocks along with the first widgeon of the season on the Breckan pools.........Oh its nice the wind and rain have stopped !!

There is a little film of the flocks on the blogs facebook page. To get there click the link in the side bar on the right.

Sep 29, 2013

Pink Waxcap

I would never have thought of a mushroom to be twichable but here we have the Pink Waxcap a red list species exceptonaly scarce across Europe.

Been a while

was out with Tim Deans saturday class today for the first monthly walk of eight. We started at the east end of Newark beach with me arriving late !! However we were soon scoping the beach picking out every thing to be seen and comparing sizes of waders from sanderling up to godwit and golden plover. Off shore gannets actively fished. With this we moved off to the Mullhead plantation where we found Allan Leicht and Julian Branscome packing up their morning ringing effort. They had been catching the birds we had come to look for, in this case yellow browed warblers. These are regular passing migrants all be it in small numbers This year its a some what different story, there have been record numbers in Norway and yesterday the count on Shetland went over three hundred ! Although Shetland sits in a good position to hover up tired migrants before they reach us many have been getting through. In the trees the lads have caught three of five that were about. We had a quick series of glimpses of one flitting about also robin and wren scolding away, snipe and brambling over head before we moved off to Grindigar via the kirk yard at Sandside. Here we checked out the rocky shore and enjoyed the dramatic sight of the last of the bonxies harassing the gannets for the food they were catching. The safer water close in held the first returning widgeon flock I have seen this autumn, another treat. Grindigar quarry gave us a good place for a quiet coffee whilst we enjoyed very close views of A couple of yellow browed warblers flitting about our heads. This pair turned to three then briefly four until one went from YBW to chifchaf to willow warbler. Still they provided excellent entertainment. The last stop on the whistle stop tour of Deerness was Sandi sand accros from Dingishowe A tramp out over the sands brought us first close to ringed plover amoungst these and closer to the waters edge where a few dunlin. They are getting through their summer plumage now and interestingly there looked to ba at least two distinct species together. Its always nice to get out on the sands. Once you are there things settle around you and it all becomes more intimate. The water line on the rising tide to one side of us was providing good feeding for a flock of bartailed godwit along with a solitary knot. The other side had a very nice flock of golden plover. The goldies were just sitting about intent on doing nothing. They werent feeding and none realyly looked like they were sleeping. They were just casually loafing, mostly on one leg I may add. The air about us would fill with rising birds every so often although a cause never appeared. In one group of starlings and finches Tim had a goldfinch. Constantly over us were small flights of goldies and geese. We had had a good collection of shore birds before we headded off to the cars. One last peek over the dunes to the sea produced a pair of red throated divers, an adult and juvenile who obligingly came towards us right to the waters edge afording supurb views, an excellent way to finish the first walk of the season.

Jun 21, 2013

A sea watch for whales and porpoise today produced nothing but a posey photo !!

Jun 2, 2013

There is a little film of Cuckoo on the facebook page.

May 26, 2013

Tough life for a girl on her own

What seems like a couple of weeks ago I was at Cottsgarth for the nature festival day. There were shown Food passes at this years nest site and as a bonus its not to far from the hide. All in all things looked cushtie. Several visits later and things look a bit different now. Over six visits I have seen hardly any contributions from the male bird and the female was often off the nest hunting. Last time I was here the female dropped a young rabbit into the nest area from a dive with a release from sixty or seventy feet !! before continuing hunting.I assume the presence of hoodies in the vale prompted this action. Today on arrival the male was preening on a post above the nest site so I guess he had brought in food and was hanging about whilst it was eaten. It was soon off and a wait of an hour and a half ensued before it reappeared. This time it quartered the hill side and circled about the landslip before I lost it from site, I assumed it had floated over the top of the hill. Another fifteen minutes and a ringtail started in from the far right of the hill quartering low and slow. About half way up the heather. As it came in the male took off from the head of the landslip some where and soard down at it. The ringtail started calling and the pair tumbled together split and tumbled again. With this the female began a circling climb calling softly with the male following, they gained a lot of altitude before the male pulled away and I lost sight of both by taking the bins off them. Almost immediately tho coming in from the right fast and low to the nest the female glides over it dropping prey to the ground. She soon turns again and quarters the ground heading into the wind, over the greenest patch of of ground she wheels and drops on some thing. This time she stays put and quickly eats it for herself before disappearing over the ridge line. All in all its a bit concerning, it looks like this female is a victim of a polygamous relationship and having to do a lot of fending for her self. Things might go her way tho, the ground is full of young rabbits and every thing is hatching out food is looking more abundant. It will be interesting to see how she goes !

Gargany does the double !

It is fifteen days since i saw the gargany on the Loons pool. I was there a look today and after a while a gargany appeared, suprised it was till here i was even more suprised when a second one also a male paddled out of the bogbean...bonus !!

May 16, 2013

May 12, 2013

Stonechats are go !!

After a couple of weeks of weeks of my local male stonechat calling im pleased to say that he has found a mate and today they were enthusiasticly defending a territory. The pair of them were out calling and causing a ruckass as I passed with the dog so im guessing they have yet to lay but I think its odds on that I have breeding stonechats on my patch !!

May 11, 2013

May 10, 2013

The film below dont work and i cant get it off ...ooops

John Crosleys Gargany at the Loons !!

Cheers John i wouldnt have waited about for long and missed this if it wasnt for gabbing to you...nice one !!

Apr 30, 2013


Water rail tosday at The Loons

Apr 14, 2013

Yesterday Stano was telling me of listening to snipe drumming and this morning I heard my first of the season as well. I was just uncliping the dog from the bike at the end of the Howe road before heading up the hill as above me a snipe was doing its thing. The surprises didnt stop there because from the Eskadale track a distant harrier put on a display of skydancing. With out bins it was about as far away as I could manage to see. It was surprise as the conditions were quite damp and lightly misty but all in all a delight to see. Tramping back the mile to the bike we were asailed once again by the amours snipe This time he was accompanied by a female (I am assuming)who followed him around maintaining station below him chiping away....a nice walk !!

Apr 12, 2013

Nothern lights

There is an earth bound CME due to arrive the 13th. Look out for lights on sat night !!

Apr 2, 2013

Cotasgarth april 2nd

After reading Tim Deans sunday class report saying that Cotasgarth was hooching with harriers on sunday I thought it was an idea to pop over for a look this lunch time. Even though it was clouded over and cold it was a warming walk up the track from the farm. Geese were the main birds seen on the way to the dale. The heather hill sides are fairly covered in pairs now as the residents begin to take territory . The track through the dale produced a few of the first returned meadow pipits. I have been noticing more of these have been reapering in the county over the last few days, we had seven or more on the Eastside beach yesterday and one was displaying somewhere over the back field last night. The hide was cold and draughty with yet another dodgy door handle! However with the windows open and the collar up I settled down to scan the ridge and hillside before me. My usual routine is a spy over the stands of willow scrub for small birds perching, a look over all the posts on the hill side for perching raptors that might be resting, preening and chucking up pellets then up to thr ridge line for birds coming in. At this point the first raptors came into sight with a buzzard moving along the skyline. This was closely followed by another and the pair moved towards the pylons and disappeared over the hill. A large ringtail came over the top and quartered the hill to the left to disappear from view. Shortly another smaller one (young male) came in from the Harray mens graves area and passed over the hillside rising over the ridge at the land slip. The pair of buzzards were soon back about hands with the pylon and this time the drew the attention of another ringtail. This one set about haranguing the buzzards and quite a scrap for a while. As they split and moved away it fell quiet for a bit until a harrier quartered the right hand hill side again. Around the pylon a female kestrel hovered dipped hovered and dipped. There are a pair over this ground and have been a fixture for years there.Buzzards reappeared over the ridge line and patroled with hovers and flapping wing beats reminiscent of sparowhawks giving it a bit of flap flap flap gilde flap flap flap glide. I was well chilled by now and not in a mellowed out sort of way man, I was just plain cold !! Giving it up and walking out the best bit of the day was about to happen, at the gate to the dale there is a wet patch with a big dung pile and just as I arrived there there was a single call from a snipe and with my next foot fall three tiny snipe took off from almost beneath me, they shot away low and silent to land almost together a short distance away in the long rank grass. My heart was in my mouth with the thrill and surprise!. Im sure these were jack snipe, I have seen a few singles over the years but this was the first time I have seen any together and three feeding together has just made my day. Worth a wee bit of cold !!

Mar 31, 2013

Orkneys stonechats have received a hammering over the last few hard winters. From once being a common moorland bird their numbers have crashed to become something of a rairity. Last winter was favourable tho and there was breeding in a few isolated sites. This winter has been mild for us as well and hopefully stonechats are starting to re-establish. This male was in a dale of the Harray hills and I found him whilst walking the pup.. I have now seen him a couple of times on visits but have yet to see a female to make a pair. With luck a lassie will happen along as he has taken up some prime real estate. Wrens have made a good recovery from the decimation of the past winters and the hill was ringing with their song along with several skylarks in the distance. I was only there for 40mins but I also managed to see a pair of buzzards ( another of our successful arrivals with numbers going up over the last couple of years) Both of them came down twice in the small trees besides Comleybank before lifting off to soar the ridge. Whilst up there the were harassed by a female kestrel. The first returning meadow pipits were about the heather although I have yet to hear one sing but its early days. Other raptors were a ringtail that came from the Lyde side and a shorteared owl that quartered the low heather and grazing’s below. Apart from these the only other birds were a raven and a couple of hoodies but as I said its early days

Jan 28, 2013

Its the start of the year, dafs and other bulbs are showing the first signs of shooting above the surface and the ravens are roosting in the derilict up the road. Life is starting once again, Question is will my birding revive its self after five months off....we will see....