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 got off to a superb start with a pod of 4 orcas at close range at Sandside in Deerness, a male, female and 2 youngsters (3/6).
We were having lunch, enjoying a great northern diver close by on a gloriously sunny day, when the male orca exploded out of the sea before our very eyes. Absolutely breathtaking.
Orca pods were also seen by ourselves and our guests on 16/6 (Barrier # 4 East); and 20/6 (Hoxa Head).
Red admiral butterflies are ubiquitous, and we found a rare mason wasp in Deerness on 10/6.
Unusual birds during the month have included a sub-adult hobby and 2 swifts on Hoy (17/6); and a dozen black-tailed godwits on 23/6.
A high altitude food pass by a pair of hen harriers was also enjoyed on 23/6.
We listened to a corncrake calling locally on 25/6.
A bit of a red letter day on 26/6 which started with great views of a jack merlin hunting; continued with seeing a water rail hopping over bogbean, swimming and then flying at The Loons; and ended with finding a Temminck’s stint at The Shunan – a great day!
June ended with a flypast by 21 swifts at Barth Head on 29/6, with 3 harbour porpoise out to sea.
A great start to the month with 4 harbour porpoises and a basking shark in Rackwick Bay, Hoy, on 2/8.
Most of August occupied off site with a short holiday and British Birdwatching Fair commitments.
Back home in late August sparrowhawks being seen almost daily, along with short-eared owls and hen harriers.
A juvenile merlin hunting meadow pipits over Gerraquoy on 26/8.
Another solitary swift at Liddel on 27/8, and best of all, a very unusual record of 2 common hawker dragonflies, hawking around inside the gloup at Halcro Head.
The white-billed diver still around at the month end – it’s been at the bottom of our road for the whole of July and August!!
The 1st week of July gave a superb adult yellow (white)-billed diver, just down the road in Water Sound from 2/7 onwards.
Other unusual sightings included a cuckoo (1/7) and lesser redpolls (4/7).
Excellent sea conditions on 3/7 produced a minke whale and 3 harbour porpoises from Cantick Head on Hoy.
In Shetland 7 – 21/7 with 2 one-week tours, wildlife highlights being a solitary bull orca on 14/7 in Yell Sound, and lots of close-up views of puffins and otters.
Back home a harbour porpoise and 11 puffins off Hoxa on 28/7, and a solitary swift at Deerness on 31/7.