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.

September and October Highlights 2005

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…..