Another bit of news that's slightly late getting posted was orca sightings in Scapa Flow.
Last Wednesday, while sitting doing some field work at Hobbister, I got a bit of a shock when a small group of orca appeared very close in to the coast. After scrabbling around for my mobile to let the guided walk group know they were there, the 2 adults and calf (it had been nosing at a creel buoy) kept close into the cliff and headed towards Kirkwall. Unfortunately, the walk group didn't see them but they were spotted futher round Scapa Flow later in the day. Local artist Tracey Hall was able to get this footage: http://youtu.be/YONQOVE-xj8
It feels like these strong westerlies have been with us for ages now, perhaps its this that is delaying our Arctic Terns from settling yet. Around North Hill reserve the skuas are definately getting paternity jitters and have stepped up their aggression a notch over their breeding territories. Our waders too are more frantic, and its likely the lapwings already have chicks, while down on the shore there are still hordes of high Arctic migrants coming through, particularly Dunlin and Sanderling.
The Guillemots on Fowl Craig are beginning to look pretty scruffy, tightly packed among their neighbours and brooding those big green eggs. Often the broken shells can be found on the cliff top, where a gull or a skua has managed to steal one and make a high protien snack of it! Elsewhere on the island our Corcrakes seem to be coming in fast now, with four magnificently vocal males on territory.
Despite the Atlantic gales, a few more unusual birds have found their way to Papay; a fine Ruff, and later a likely Quail was spotted, and perhaps the same one the next day by a keen eyed observer on Westray!
This news isn't exactly hot off the press but I'd thought I'd share some photos of the recent rockfall at Marwick.
After recieving reports and going to check the path hadn't fallen off the cliff edge, it turns out the fall was just off the reserve on the north side. You can just see it at the base of the left edge of the cliff in this picture.
It doesn't look too impressive but if you look at these photos below, taken by Jack Norquoy, you can see how substantial the fall was.
It will be interesting to see if any tysties take up residence next year....
Here's a few more photos of the reserve.