Pauline Wilson, RSPB Local Group Secretary, writes:
“Hi Everybody. Kate Thompson kindly sent a report from the Orkney RSPB Wildlife Explorers’ outing “What Can We See On The Peedie Sea” which was coupled with a Wild Art Workshop courtesy of local artist Tim Wootton.
“Incidentally, Tim Wootton has recently scooped the Birdwatch/Swarovski Artist of the Year Award with a fine charcoal drawing depicting two Arctic Skuas. Many congratulations to Tim on this great achievement.”
“Orkney’s growing band of RSPB Wildlife Explorers were treated to a master class in wildlife art. Sixteen youngsters were joined by renowned bird artist Tim Wootton, who provided some top tips on how to sketch birds, such as remembering that birds ‘knees’ are actually their ankles! The group also learnt from Eric Meek how to see birds up close through binoculars and telescopes before heading out to the Peedie Sea to put their new skills into practice.
“Fortunately, despite cloudy skies and a cool breeze, the rain held off and there were plenty of interesting subjects for the budding artists to choose from. They quickly demonstrated just how much they had learnt and came up with some very characterful drawings of swans, ducks and redshank. None could quite compare, however, with Tim’s own exquisite sketches of a long-tailed duck, which delighted everyone.
“In the run-up to next month’s Christmas party, some of the children will also try their hands at capturing wildlife in print, in hope of winning a national Wildlife Explorers poetry competition.”
For more information on RSPB Wildlife Explorers in Orkney please contact the RSPB office in Stromness and ask to be put in touch.
Tim Wootton’s blog is at http://tim-wootton.blogspot.com/.
On Friday RSPB volunteers Gerry and Ian braved wild seas, thunder and lightning, and hailstones the size of marbles, all so that they could spend the day on the Hoy reserve planting native birch seedlings at White Glen, an area of the reserve where the planting of native species - mainly downy birch and rowan - is ongoing.
They did a great job and the trees are still standing after an exceptionally windy weekend on the island. Hopefully the trees will do well and be there for many years to come, attracting birds, providing shelter and adding to an area of woodland which local folk and visitors will be able to enjoy.
Storm clouds over the Hoy hills (looking south east towards Red Glen from White Glen)
"Hi Everybody. I received an email from Ian Cunningham and thought it particularly interesting as his photographs show the birds in winter plumage which is quite different from our usual views of these species. A lovely seal certainly has the 'Aah' factor! Many thanks to Ian for once more passing on his photos to our local group."
Ian Cunningham says:
"Spent a very pleasant morning on Scapa Pier and here are some of the birds that were there. The little auk was a first for me and it was very obliging... swimmimg near the slip so I had great views of it underwater too. Loads of winter-plumaged guillemots near the pier and some nice long-tailed ducks and a couple of red-throated divers. There was also a young seal there which I hope people will like too!"
From top: long-tailed duck, little auk, red-throated diver, guillemot and the harbour seal.
All photographs: Ian Cunningham
Ian's website is at http://www.ianandhelen.co.uk/
... along with the Whooper Swans and assorted wintering wildfowl RSPB at Mill Dam on Shapinsay are fortunate to have secured the services of two Irish Cob ponies from a couple on Shapinsay. They will be grazing an area of the reserve which we struggle annually to get the appropriate levels of grazing on. It will be interesting to see the results of their browsing in the coming months...
Mill Dam Warden - Paul Hollinrake with Billy & BoncyPaul also in the last few days opened up a couple of springs to create open water areas which are starting to fill-up nicely.Mill Dam on Shapinsay is a cracking wee reserve only a boat journey from Kirkwall. It is always worth a look at Mill Dam with an elevated hide overlooking the reserve and usually a host of wildfowl & waders to be viewed.
I had hoped that, by now, you would have all read the report in the Orcadian from our very successful Feed the Birds Day. No luck, sadly, but see Morag Wilson's blog below.
A last minute reminder that RSPB volunteers will be out again tomorrow (12th), this time at Kirkwall Town Hall for the annual Charities Bazaar. Please drop by if you are in the town. It's a good chance to buy RSPB Christmas cards, calendars, diaries, etc. also to support the raffle the main prize being Kate Barrett's unique painting of a Lapwing.
Annual General Meeting
Thanks to those of you who attended the AGM on November 3rd. Eric Meek and Andy Knight gave interesting reports of events which have taken place and some on-going.
The Committee remains unchanged as follows: Chairman Dick Matson, Treasurer Jim
Williams, Secretary Pauline Wilson. Committee members: Grace Currie, Graham Brown, Kathie Brown, Aileen Meek (Wex representative).
Rosemary & Neil McCance donated a lovely Limoges plate depicting a Snowy Owl and this was won by Ann Gosman; a bottle of Orkney wine was won by Ian Smith. Many thanks to those who contributed so generously towards the raffle which realised a total of £38.
After the AGM we joined members of the SOC for a very interesting talk by Neil Calbrade about the Wetland Bird Survey in Scotland.
Also at this meeting Eric Meek presented an award to Dawson Shearer (see Orcadian for photo) recognising 20 years' volunteering in the Beached Birds Survey.
Amendment from last time
In my last 'Latest Haps' I reported that a treecreeper had been spotted in the St. Magnus Churchyard. Eric Meek has asked me to point out that the bird was spotted by cathedral stonemason Colin Watson. What a find!
Interesting Talk tomorrow night
Eric Meek reports the following:
Just a reminder of the talk entitled 'A Saga of Sea Eagles' that will be given by John Love on Saturday evening (12th November)at 7.30 pm in the St.Magnus Centre, Kirkwall.I hope some of our members will go along to John Love's talk and find out about the re-introduction of this fabulous bird into parts of Scotland.
Your Local Group Committee held a meeting last night and, besides our usual outings and events, one or two new ideas were spoken about so I look forward to telling you all about these before too long.
Finally, I couldn't resist attaching the photo of a blackcap we had in our back garden recently. We still have 3 of these birds feeding on apples and I was amazed at how aggressive they are to each other - even though there are four half-apples skewered onto the bushes, one bird wants command of them all, forcing another to fly down to cut-up apples on the lawn! Fascinating to watch and worth the small cost of a bag or two of Lidl fun-size apples.
Members might want to go out and stock up on apples, in fact, as Waxwings are arriving, a few having been spotted, two of which were in the RSPB Garden in Stromness just this afternoon, much to wardens Lorna Dow & Alan Leitch's delight! I'm hoping they might be heading out to Deerness pretty soon!
That's all for now. Please send items of interest to me for the next email.
Pauline W/Local Group Sec.