The local 'bird alert' text service was in overdrive, with ever more rare species being discovered along (mainly) the east coast of the archipelago. Whilst we only live a scant half a mile from the nearest bit of shoreline, this isn't to the east, that coast is probably about two miles away. Therefore, we don't experience quite the same level of feather-induced adrenalin tickling our fancy. But that's not to say we're immune from upping the amount of 'staring out of the window in hope'.
And, amazingly, this tactic actually paid off in a way. As I wandered out of the bathroom and down the corridor to the lounge, I glanced left across our bedroom, through the window and out to the garden and fields beyond. There on a fence post was a Blackbird... no, not a Blackbird, a black bird... with a white chest band! Holy moly, a Ring Ouzel! I'd not seen one of those in Orkney before, and certainly not from our home. It was gone in an instant, sadly, so no time to rush for my camera or summon Our Lass.
As it was a lovely morning, we decided to go for a wander and, as we donned boots at the front door, a pair of birds called from overhead. I glanced at Our Lass in a 'I don't recognise that' sort of way and we both brought our binoculars to bear on the unidentified twosome as they landed, conveniently, on a nearby fence.
Bramblings! Further scanning brought us a Song Thrush and several Chaffinches (yep, we only see them on migration). Swallows were hunting around cattle in the pastures, and small flocks of Skylarks were happily burbling to one another as they swooped down to feed in the stubble fields. In some respects, we would have been better off staying at home, as the walk only brought us a couple of more Bramblings, a Robin and several Chiffchaffs (all seen from the road as we passed folks' gardens).
|Pretty sure this a Chiffchaff|
The following day was dreich, so staring out of the lounge window (through the now cleaned glass!) brought no new sightings. Forlornly, I gave up and wandered into the kitchen to make a brew, which was quite fortuitous, as this was the window through which I should've been looking. My garden project has spent another year not happening, so the silage wrap and worn tyres are still in place. You may recall that we had a Snipe visiting last Winter? Well, whether it was the same one, I don't know, but it brought a friend.
Not a rare bird by any means (they breed locally), but to have such great and prolonged views was a treat and a half. And, several days later, I finally managed to spot a Robin transiting through our garden!
With the rain continuing into the afternoon, I resolved to promote marital harmony and set to a task which I had been putting off for over a year. Early in 2017, whilst working on the island of Eday, I had been given an owl pellet (as compensation for not seeing the bird that regurgitated it!), and the pellet had sat in our kitchen ever since. I fully acknowledge the forbearance shown by Our Lass in regards to this situation, but enough is enough, eh?
The bird in question was a Snowy Owl, so the pellet wasn't small like the ones I'd previously dissected from a Spotted Flycatcher, a Barn Owl or a Kestrel. Those latter two had often contained mouse or vole skulls, so what would I find in this furry grey lump?
Well, aside from all that grey fur, which was probably the big clue, there were many vertebrae from a mammal much bigger than a mouse, or even an Orkney Vole. I'd say probably a Rabbit, as the local records centre doesn't have any data for Brown Hare on Eday.
And, yes, I have washed my hands before typing this.