Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Thursday 9th September - Orkney Migrants

So after a long goodbye and a cycle to Kirkwall to sort out some finances; got to Grindigar Quarry near to Deerness. Actually this had the feeling of being someone's back garden and I initially rode straight past it. Backtracking I found the gate lichen covered with the friendly sign on it reading - "Weeds for sale, pick your own." Once through the gate a spotted flycatcher was seen on the nearby bush and soon 2 wood warblers, one wearing a shiny ring, a redstart, another spotted flycatcher, 1 reed warbler and about 6 willow warblers. Met a local birder, Maurice Rindall and it was lovely to have a chat about migrants.

Rode down to the Point of Ayre, atmospherically moody with low cloud, mist and a heavy sea with huge breakers. Waders on a smashed shoreline littered with mounds of laminaria sp. ripped by the last few days gales and sea surges, with a rock pipit picking at the sand flies. Views over to the inaccessible RSPB reserve - Copinsay were superb with gannets and fulmar passing. I had been offered a possible boat ride but the weather had prevented this from happening.

Two cracking long willow hedges lined fields nearby and many migrants were in them. The first to be searched had a whitethroat, a garden warbler and a male blackcap in it. The hedge further up the hill had far more with 3 spotted flycatcher, 1 pied flycatcher, a fabulous lesser whitethroat - one of my favourite birds, a reed warbler, a garden warbler, 2 redstarts and a male blackcap with about 10 willow warblers. A wheatear was on a barbed wire fence nearby. Twite in good numbers flew around, a rather tatty kestrel flew over, as did a couple of raven. Great stuff! Enjoyed this session with a super couple from near Stromness, Ian and Maureen and a very large rainbow framing the scene.

Finally cycled back towards the quarry only to meet another birder, Julian Branscombe, a really  interesting man with a great knowledge who has put me up for the night. So that's where I am now, midnight and still talking. Julian is identifying a ground beetle using a microscope and I'm about to read about a nearby iron age site, Mine Howe..

Time for bed.

Thanks to my Uncle Harold for his very kind donation for the RSPB.

All the best everone,


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