Monday, October 09, 2006

The Bird List

On the Monday we were fortunate to see a Blyth's Reed Warbler and Yellow Browed Warbler.
I think it was the Tuesday we saw Barred , Garden and Marsh Warblers.

There was of course a tale or two behind these bland sentances of -----------------------
scrambling over barbed wire fences, checking whether other fences were electrified or not...well on or off really you can see easily if the fence is capable of having a current run through it!! Learning how to climb dry stone walls with out knocking them or yourself down....and other useful stuff!! Making sure there were no rabbit holes to fall fact it was quite an adventure!!

I was very glad of my gaitors...specially where the thistles and stinging nettles were!!

There was also the local pager service...well mobile phone calls (if you were high enough to receive them!) This was from the Observatory when they heard of a rare or scarce bird.

Now I saw a Wood Pigeon and in my innocence called it one night...the room went still and the silence was great......Alison the Warden said....thats very unusual....and moved on quickly...
I thought but I did see one , but I hadn't said anything thinking thay were as common as my local patch!! Apparently not! So I was highly relieved when a tip top birder reported one the next day early...and others saw it too and my call went on the record!!

Self found Wood Pigeon does not really have a ring to it does it?

To be continued

The Birds and the sheep...

On the Monday suitably celebrating the Ryder Cup victory of Europe over USA...well Tony and I were.

We birded before we had to go to the Airport. We found a Moorhen...our first on Orkney. Now there are a few birds who are actually a different sub-species, as in Orcadian Wren...yes They are bigger...apparently they have longer toenails...not that we noticed...but they do weigh heavier..

(Just remembered forgot to mention the huge numbers of Black Guillemots - not looking as smart as usual but in their Black and White Plumage!!-we saw hundreds!!)

I actually wrote some notes to help me but I'm finding more memories than I took notes on!!
Yesterday we went to the best public WC anywhere...yes the World!!
And I cant remember the name of the place...but I will back in a mo....

Waulkmill Beach, Orphir thats it even has a loo listed on the council web site!!

What I was supposed to say was that on our way to the Airport we stopped to look at waders and found Black tailed Godwits, a moorhen and a Male Hen Harrier sat on a stick!!

Defo my bird of the week....altho not the rarest the best!!!
They are not two a penny tho...
Circus cyaneus-


not for nothing are they known as Ring tails...this is a Northern Harrier -same species..just couldn't find a better shot of a UK bird!!

We exited the airport and climbed into a Land Rover complete with Border Collie(vvvvvvvfriendly)and drove to the Observatory to dump our bags...what bags? Have coffee/tea .
The views from the Observatory were great.The sea in front with a field containing lots of rabbits - more about rabbits later.
Wheatears - more about them later too.
We then ventured forth (little knowing that Mike and Frank were not to arrive until the next day!!) saw a Robin which we looked at and smiled and carried on. Didn't know it was one of two that had arrived that day and is a rare bird well a scarce bird for N.Ron. Wewere to learn a lot about what was rare for N.Ron during the week.

We walked down the the main road...did I notice the difference? I think the main road was slightly wider! Stopped at a Gate and looked down on a Beach- Nouster (I know that because my room was called Nouster as my view was of this beach- I didn't know that when we first spied the beach inhabitants) Sanderling doing their Keystone Cops imitations- I think there were 13 (this became a hot topic later..and during the week at the evening callover-more later!!) Turnstones, a Knot, and some Ringed Plovers.

and SHEEP....everywhere on the beach....well eating the seaweed.
N. Ron is known for its Sheep - they roam around anywhere outside a wall built to keep them off the land , to eat the seaweed.(there are a few usual sheep kept in some fields as well) these produce the Famous N.Ron Mutton. Mutton which I had on my last night there...roasted. It was very nice...a bit stronger than normal mutton - which is much stronger than the Lamb that most of us eat.
Read more hear

I think that the price in the Observatory was £2.00 extra for a Mutton Dinner.

See the sheep look different too.
They are very quick and when you go onto the beach when they are there they look at you...then they bolt for it!! Only going out of range for being caught. I have every sympathy for the men who have to do the catching!

One unexpected side effect - was that my thumbs which have been quite painful recently and I thought I'd have to go to the GP worried that it was the first signs of Arthritis.
When I got home on the Sunday I realised my thumbs were working properly when I opened a jar with out thinking!! So Kelp tablets from the health food shops are on my list for tomorrow!!

111 species of Birds seen, including a walk by the Abernethy Forest with an excursion or two inside!!

Swallows still fact we saw some Swallows but not as many on North Ron!!
Best though were the Siskins...the adult males so bright I wished I had my sunglasses with me!! Oh and the fly-over me Wryneck!!
30 Robins reminded me of the migrants that arrive from Scandanavia each year! They are more orange!!

We travelled north on Saturday to Gills Bay to catch the ferry to St Margarets Hope.
On route we sea watched...Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Gulls(various)...Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins (3) they apparently leave here later than elsewhere.
Sooty and Manx Shearwaters....but no Leach's Petrel which would have been lovely, but several Stormies attempted to make up for their absence!

We travelled through Scapa Flow....the sea was almost flat calm --not not what we really wanted for sea watching!!
Sunday- we birded on Mainland- went all over!!

Highlight for me was watching well I'll come to that - perhaps you can guess?

Mist, wind and rain. Hallo Orkney!

Off to RSPB The Loons- Coot, Mallard,Gadwall,Shoveler,Wigeon and Teal. Fly over Grey Heron ...then......HEN HARRIER!!! Flying low and hunting.
Happy? I was very happy!! Well we watched the Harrier for ages!! I watched it for some more.Then we all had to look again as a Male HH flew as well!! What a little stunner!!

(When we were on the Ferry - Mike had spotted a HH at a great distance- I saw a BoP flying but until I saw it briefly in my bins I couldn't have been certain it was a HH!!- now I could see it through my new glasses!!)

I saw HH every day except Tuesday...but on Wednesday we saw 2 juveniles, to make up I expect!!

We actually saw HH every day except Tuesday
We had lunch over looking Birsay Bay....real cliffs.

I say that because the Orkney's are relatively flat, so hills look huge...but these cliffs are real cliffs!

We witnessed a Bonxie (Great Skua) knock a Gull out of the air into the sea, attempt to drown it for fun...and then fly away leaving a very weak gull to be finished off by a Greater Black Backed Gull.(eaten I mean)

Later that day we were at Stromness harbour (we all decided we liked Stromness) and A Bonxie flew really close to Denis (more about him later),but I decided he (Bonxie) was put off attacking Denis by - the Pom-
on Mike's hat!!
We had absolutely close up views of Bonxies....they are really big!!
Have a look at this!!

Birding on Orkney

Well I'm suddenly having more problems with my blog.

I shall attempt to post my birding tales on Orkney later, as it hasn't let me do so until now.

I deleted my post that somehow had a portugese advert in it that took several attempts - but its now gone!!

Will be back later going out to practise with my new compact digital camera which almost speaks!!
Wonder if my photography will improve?

Actually visited 5 unexpected landing on Sanday on the flight to North Ronaldsay (North Ron as its referred to on the Island) to pick up
"medical specimens" said Alison - the Warden at the Bird Observatory. She and her son were waiting at Kirkwall Airport when we arrived to discover they should have flown back the day before!!They were on our flight. The smallest plane I've been in so far! Pilot and then behind him, 8 seats.
The weather fog and mist or as I used to say clouds on the ground. This meant we flew higher than usual.
We discovered that as well as the 4 peoples luggage we left behind for the next flight that we had an extra piece of luggage, then the next flight attempted to land and couldn't,so returned to the Mainland (main Island of Orkney) with two of our group there minus one suitcase!!
The next day the skies were clear so all luggage and people were reunited!!

Where we stayed.
The Journey from St. Margaret Hope was interesting with Mike saying well I've never seen Orkney so sunny, the weather is the best I've ever seen, and so on and so on backed up by a couple of chaps who had been before!! Then it was off in the minibus along the 4th Churchill Barrier to we stopped and spied our first Waders! Redshank, Oystercatchers and Turnstones (this was were we might have seen a Little Gull or two but they were elsewhere)
Culture- The Italian Chapel, a visit here (not one Pete has been to - I think?)
You can read about it here

On the Mainland we meandered about eventually visiting another cultural place the Ring of Brodgar- you can read about these stones here

We finally reached our hotel at 18.00 having left my b and b about 8.45am.