October began splendidly with a rare American vagrant, and another 1st for Orkney (that’s 2 in 2 weeks!!) with a red-eyed vireo at the Langskaill plantation in Tankerness. Wonderful views of a delightful bird.
Meanwhile later in the month our winter visitors arrived back with our local greylag augmented with pinkfeet, barnacles and whooper swans; and the seaduck – scoters (common and velvet), long-tailed duck, great northern divers and Slavonian grebes all in good numbers.
There were 7 hen harriers at our local roost on 18/10 and we were seeing merlin almost daily. A jack snipe on Hoy on 20/10, and a woodcock invasion at the end of the month with birds everywhere.
The Atlantic (grey) seal pups were an annual treat at the month end.
On 2/9 a Short-eared owl sat on one of our fenceposts – just right for the ‘scope – and on 3/9 a male hen harrier floated by, with ringtails on an almost daily basis thereafter.
A female Merlin has also been seen several times hunting locally.
Wader hunting with our guests continued to pay dividends on 5/9 with lovely views locally of a Buff-breasted sandpiper, another rare American vagrant.
The following day, one of sultry calm, we delighted in 7 Harbour porpoises and a Minke whale at the entrance to Scapa Flow.
By October the winter birds had arrived, with excellent views of Red-necked and Slavonian grebes, Scaup and Whooper swans.
Grey geese everywhere: Greylag; Pinkfeet; Barnacle; and a solitary Brent. Grey seal pups were seen at close quarters – great for photography!
And finally, a glimpse of an otter on 23/10 finished the season with a flourish…..