The 1st week of July was spent in Shetland, where we were troubled a little by mists
and poor visibility. We did, however, have a wonderful evening with the storm
petrels on Mousa (4/7); and see several pairs of whooper swans. Back in Orkney
I’m pleased to report sightings of stonechat (11/7 – they were decimated in our
recent hard winters). Scottish primroses completed their 2nd flowering; and
harbour porpoises were seen off Hoxa on 18/7. Interesting birds during the month
included manx shearwater (23/7); grey plover, swift, greenshank & pintail (all
25/7); & golden plover flocking back through (26/7). We helped ring storm petrels
with the RSPB on 25/7. But easily the star bird of themonth though was a roller,
present in Finstown from 26/7, the 1st in Orkney since 1966 – some bird!
June is just a beautiful month, not least because the sea pinks and squill adorn the cliffs.
Interesting birds have included a Manx shearwater in Scapa Flow (2/6); a summering whooper swan at the Brodgar Pools on 7/6; 2 common sandpipers at Graemeshall Loch on 8/6; and 2 crossbills at Rackwick on Hoy on 10/6.
We have also had stunning close up views of hen harrier, short-eared owl, merlin & peregrine early in the month.
We also opened our cetacean account with a pod of Risso’s dolphins in Birsay Bay on 7/6, and saw 4 harbour porpoises off The Ool on Switha on 10/6.
Rarest sighting of the month was of 2 beetles, too rare to have an English name, Chrysolina intermedia, lovely ladybird-sized beetles with deep red stripes along their lower backs.
Later in the month we saw a pintail with a brood of 5 ducklings (16/6); peregrines with well grown young; and a quail at Marwick on 17/6.
Eight – yes eight – Red-throated divers at less than 100 metres in glorious sunshine, with five in the telescope at once on 7/8 was a glorious sight.
Waders started to come back through, with Sanderling, Whimbrel and Greenshank all seen this month.
A determined wader hunt on 22/8 with a Belgian guest saw Black and Bar-tailed godwits, Ruff, Knot and wonderful views of Snipe and Dunlin, with a delightful adult Pectoral sandpiper (rare American vagrant) the next day.
An impressive southerly blow on 29/8 drove the Manx shearwaters right into Scapa Flow and we were watching Storm petrels at only 100 metres from the Churchill Barriers as they battled against the wind and seas.