Sunday 2 February 2020

[Happy sigh]

It was a cold, crisp morning, and the Winter light was gorgeous. We were keen to be out in the fresh air, so after the fairly rare experience of scraping the ice from the car windscreen, we headed across to West Mainland.

We left the car by the Broch of Gurness and walked back along the single track road by Evie Sands. The calls of dozens of Long-tailed Ducks came to us from out to sea in Eynhallow Sound. Shags and Red-breasted Mergansers were busy fishing in the bay, whilst a Slavonian Grebe drifted through on the tidal race.

On the beach, there were plenty of waders foraging along the strand line and the water's edge, and a Grey Heron patrolled the shallows on the hunt for fish.

A flock of around 28 Snow Buntings were busily exploring the beach, argumentatively chirruping amongst themselves and squabbling over any interesting finds.

As we wandered inland along the banks of a burn, we encountered several pairs of Stonechat. Here, a female was sufficiently puzzled by my presence to hang around for a few photos.

In the distance, a male Hen Harrier quartered across a patch of wetland, hoping for Snipe, I guess. As it continued on its way, a large flock of gulls in the next field all took to the sky, rather than risk being caught on the ground. Their Greylag Geese neighbours, being somewhat larger and out of the harrier's league, simply watched the raptor fly low overhead.

We turned along a rough puddle-strewn track, the night's chill having given each one a coating of ice. The track crossed over the burn and then skirted the shore at the other side of the bay. More waders were present here: Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstone.

It wasn't a long walk, but the wildlife moments were top notch.

No comments: