Tuesday 19 July 2011

Waders of the Last Auk

Yes, I'm afraid so. The punfest continues. As does the blogging about our recent trip to Orkney.

Carrying on the theme of shore birds, here are a few more photos of waders seen on North Ronaldsay.

These are a pair of Sanderling, taking a break from feeding at the water's edge in Linklet Bay. They were quite approachable, so you're allowed to wonder why the focussing wasn't crisper. Oops.

This isn't in focus either, but it was a long way off and moving quite fast and erratically. It's a Snipe in the throes of its courtship/territorial display flight. This is known as 'drumming' and is caused by the air flow over the outer tail feathers. The picture handily shows these sticking out at an angle from the body. If you've not heard this before, have a listen to the last bit of the audio in the above link. I wouldn't have described it as drumming, mind, as to me it sounds more like the world's heaviest kazoo being dropped from a great height. Not such a catchy phrase as drumming, I'll grant you.

Ah, Oystercatcher! A spectacular looking bird with an impressive range of piping calls. On this island during early Summer, it's difficult to be out of earshot of one of these beauties at any time of day. As Our Lass also has this on her ring tone, it can be (a) confusing and (b) damned annoying at 3 in the morning.

The mobile hide came in useful once more when we spotted this Lapwing chick in a pasture bordering the road. Not bad from the driving seat and out of the passenger window, obviously with handbrake applied and gearbox in Neutral!

I previously mentioned that to travel from North Ron To Westray, we had to change mode of transport from aeroplane to boat on Papa Westray. This small island (about the same size as North Ron) was sadly the place where the last Great Auk in Britain was killed in 1813. A bronze statue has been erected on Fowl Craig to mark this solemn day.

So, onto Westray itself, where the Admiral scored maximum brownie points by locating a wader that I had never seen before. In fact, even when he pointed it out, it still took me ages to see it, as its camouflage was just about perfect for the habitat it was stood in!

It's a Purple Sandpiper, which was feeding in a pool amongst the rocks and seaweed. Even when it moved, I wasn't initially aware of the shape of the bird, only the shimmering of part of my field of view. And, yes, I was sober.

1 comment:

Bob Bushell said...

Lovely birds on beautiful Orkney.