April 2010

The coltsfoot is in flower; lapwing and curlew are displaying; and the first wheatears and chiffchaff are heading through South Ronaldsay – it must be Spring!

Last week the snipe and redshank joined in with their spectacular displays.

Even the twite are displaying, one of our specialities.

But just to prove that it remains early in the season there are still 3 whooper swans in a nearby field, and a jack (male) merlin is hunting locally, not yet on his breeding grounds in the hills.

First primroses in flower and a pair of courting sandwich terns on 11/4 confirm that Spring has sprung.

Migrants now passing through Gerraquoy, with c 500 pinkfeet on 14/4; lots of flocks of golden plover issuing their beautiful bubbling courting calls as they pass; and a cock wheatear on the lawn on 15/4.

More migrants last week too with whimbrel overhead on 20/4, and a solitary bird feeding in our field on 23/4. A large flock of 23 whimbrel in Marwick on 25/4.

Our swallows arrived back at home on 26/4.

Highlights included a sky-dancing hen harrier, 2 merlin and 4 short-eared owls on 27/4; and a pair of red-throated divers and the first Arctic skua also on 27/4.

Common terns back at Hoy on 30/4.

August 2006

We took most of the month “off” to visit the British Birdwatching Fair (BBF) at Rutland, and to get some big outdoor jobs done on our new peedie barn self-catering, such as installing the solar panel and septic tank.

We are taking bookings shortly for April 2007 onwards.

It was great to meet so many people at the BBF, and for the many folk who participated in our Highland Park quiz, the correct answer to the question “How many species of seabirds breed in Orkney?” was 21 (source Seabird 2000 survey), as follows: fulmar; storm petrel; gannet; cormorant; shag; Arctic skua; bonxie; black-headed gull; common gull; LBB gull; herring gull; GBB gull; kittiwake; Sandwich tern; common tern; Arctic tern; little tern; guillemot; razorbill; tystie; and puffin.