Sunday, 26 March 2017

Lesser Celandine

In the garden this afternoon, playing with the Olympus again. This movie took just over four hours to film.


The quality is far better on Vimeo, try here:

Sunday, 19 March 2017


A good tramp around the home patch on Saturday produced nothing new for the year but plenty of interest, a drake Goosander was probably the best bird. In the garden the Chaffinch seems to have gone but there continue to be three Goldfinch.

Our tom cat (neutered) killed two Orkney Voles on Friday, I was not pleased, he rarely seems to touch them, being more interested in larger prey, rabbits often, but today he redeemed himself by doing for a large rat. He doesn't seem very interested in birds, he did catch a feral pigeon the other day though, bring it in the spare bedroom and making a very serious mess.

Today's main activity was to get the greenhouse going. In the process I came across a few things:

Pterostichus melanarius, common here.

Lare Yellow Underwing larvae I reckon, there were two.

 Opinion is that this was Large White, note the parasite's exit(?) hole.

There was an interesting centipede as well which I should have probably bottled, suggested id was Geophilus flavus, certainly a Geophilidae anyway.

Blurry pic as it wouldn't stay still.

So some early tatties are in pots as are some peas. Seed bed ready for salad mix, to be sown tomorrow.

Handy sheltering in the greenhouse as the showers powered through.


Down to the beach with the hound, it was too windy to do much serious birding and I was short of time.

Hound enjoyed the outing anyway, strangely looking remarkably clean, no dead seals or cetaceans to roll in!

We managed to avoid a soaking.

Brough and mini broughs


Sunday, 12 March 2017

WeBS - foggy

Rather a poor start to the day but eventually got out to do the WeBS. By the time I got to Sabiston it was just too bright and sorting the duck out was pretty much impossible. However, I did manage to pick out three Black-tailed Godwits from the silhouettes .

The Lesser Scaup was still atLoch of Boardhouse but star bird there was undoubtedly this....

Patch gold, never seen one on the Palace patch before, digiscoped.

Back in Harray I finally managed to find a Short-eared Owl scanning from the Merkister Bay out towards Howaback. In every other year I have seen Short-eared Owl in January, so just two months late. Other observers here are reporting the species as scarce, mostly stoats reducing Orkney Vole populations are being blamed, but there are few stoats in this part of the West Mainland ( with only one confirmed sighting on the patch. Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew through Bosquoy on Sunday morning, first of the year.

 This hare was sunbathing at times as I watched him.

Greylags - Pinkies about in some numbers at the moment too.

At Brodgar, Loch of Harray, a stop-off during driving lessons for elder daughter.

 Burn rushing

Merkister, Loch of Harray

Sheds, Loch of Bosquoy

Under the feeders

Reed Bunting

Scathophaga stercoraria, first of the year, Loch of Sabiston.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

****** horse ******* box

 Managed to get home in time for a brief walk on Friday afternoon.

Saturday morning and the start of the horsy season, the above mentioned trailer has lain idle round by the shed for some months. I did think to get out early to hitch it up, I had an inkling their might be a slight issue with the brakes, drum brakes.

The carnage does not seem so bad now, dragging it across the grass with one wheel turning did not do the "lawn" a lot of good, or the hard standing for that matter. Took all the wheels off, clobbered the drums with a mallet (carefully), sprayed with mountain bike lubricant and eventually I got all the wheels to go backwards but not forwards. Wheels back on and a bit of forward and back stuff eventually got the brakes to behave, in the nick of time, five minutes to spare....

So there wasn't a lot of birding on Saturday morning, two hours that lot took. A trip to Kirkwall followed as supplies were low, and somewhere in there I wrote a couple more bird report species.

Sunday morning and the Goldfinches were showing well in the garden, they're getting quite tame.

 Starting to sing a little now, there seems to be two males and one female. Also singing this weekend were Skylark, right over the garden and Song Thrush. Lapwings and Curlews are on territory and the many duck species on The Shunan are all pairing off. A record three Pochard were on The Shunan on Sunday afternoon.

Midday Sunday I was patrolling Palace. Dunnock still present and a single Glaucous Gull briefly. Plenty of seals and rabbits with both seal species in the bay or off the Links and assorted colour variations of bunny behind the tea rooms. Brown Hares are much more obvious all over the place. No other birds of note though.

Standard view of the Brough

Dunlin's view of the Brough


The Rooks are showing plenty of interest in the rookery and roosting with Jackdaws most evenings now, shortly the first sticks will be carried.

 Time lapse Sunday evening from the track

Sunday, 26 February 2017


A few decent birds with the Lesser Scaup back on Loch of Boardhouse and a Fulmar watched from the kitchen window. Three Goldfinches were on the feeders. Star bird though was the Grey Wagtail that flew down the burn in Palace village, over my head and towards the sea.


Rooks at the rookery yesterday

Lesser Celadine just in flower


Friday, 17 February 2017

Olymus Tough TG-4

Got a bit carried away and treated myself to one of these (am currently selling my GoPro on Ebay to fund it).
Why? Brilliant macro capability, can be used underwater to 15m, very good low light capability and is tough as old boot. Messing about with it today also found it works pretty well for digiscoping too.

 Ellen's birthday cake

 Close up


Stacked focus close

Garden croci in the wind

Fish eye view Loch of Bosquoy

Digiscoped gulls Loch of Bosquoy

Good news today is that the Fiesta is back. With luck I haven't permanently damaged the engine by driving it around without coolant in it, ooops. Water pump blew. Hopefully the head gasket is ok. 

A few new things for the year today, Buzzard, Skylarks and a huge female Sparrowhawk that really got me going for a bit.

The following pix are with the Canon.

Whoopers on Bosquoy, four flew in to join the loan 2cy

Stonechat, the female of the pair at Bosquoy

Wren singing by our gate

Sad news yesterday, Eric Meek died in Aberdeen hospital. Eric was taken ill on Sunday and never regained consciousness. Eric did much to introduce us to Orkney when we arrived here. Eric also introduced me to the delights of the 16 year old Scapa, good man. I'll not forget the day the Sandhill Crane was put out on the bird alert text system here. I was in a meeting and my phone was buzzing every few minutes, fortunately we finished  with light available and I leapt in to the car to head from Stromness to South Ronaldsay. As can be imagined I was in a bit of a hurry and was toeing it a bit. Over the Barriers I checked my mirror and this blue Vauxhall was trying to overtake me, Mr Meek was apparently keen to get Sandhill Crane on his Orkney list. Eric did a huge amount to protect habitats and birds on Orkney in his role with RSPB, this did not necessarily enamour him to some local farmers and I am aware he had times in the job that were pretty extreme. Eric's perseverance and resilience has preserved much of wild Orkney, a true champion for wildlife, good bloke and excellent birder.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Harrier stuff

Eighth time lucky.... finally managed to connect with the likely Pallid Harrier at Mill Dam of Rango. Watched it preening for 20 minutes in the afternoon sunshine, of course the moment I went for the camera it flew. Just didn't get enough on it to claim it. Unstreaked, rich rufous brown below. On the ground looked slight, difficult to judge that in flight, didn't get the primary tip count and thought the wings looked much broader in the hand than a Monty (as they should), but did look bulkier and broader than the North Ron bird I found a few years ago.

Before this Cora had unfortunately flushed the young male Hen Harrier off a kill at Palace. I'm not great at raptors but I'd guess this bird is a 3cy. Here's some pics anyway.

Also at Palace a Carrion Crow.

At home Woodpigeons have built up to five, there was a Shelduck on The Shunan, two Siskin and a Goldfinch on the feeders, indicate spring is on the way. Record totals of 18 Shoveler and 26 Coot on The Shunan were the other highlights.