Orkney

Orkney

Orkney
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Orkney

  • Local Group - Latest Happenings

    PAULINE WILSON WRITES AS FOLLOWS:

     

    Hi Everybody

     

    Well, the days are lengthening and the new season of RSPB Local Group Events is almost upon us.

     

    Ian Cunningham has been out with his camera and captured the attached photo of a Green-winged Teal which was in a small pool near Graemshall Loch on March 24th.

    To help us identify this bird Ian has also sent another photo of our Common Teal and writes:

    I have attached two photos so folks can see the difference between our "common" teal and the green-winged one which is a N American vagrant.  The biggest distinguishing feature is the white stripe which is horizontal in our "common" teal but vertical on the green-winged bird.

    Ian then goes one step further and has sent another photo as he explains below:

    This photo shows, by comparison with Wigeon, just how tiny this teal is.

    Many thanks Ian – we’re all delighted to be seeing your photos once again after the long winter!

     

    Local Group Spring Meeting – “North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory” - Thursday 27th March

    We consider it a scoop that Alison Duncan has kindly agreed to come along and tell us all about the work of the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory –,and a fascinating talk it promises to be. I hope a lot of our members will attend the meeting at The St. Magnus Centre, Kirkwall starting at 7.30 pm.  Details as follows:

     

    North Ronaldsay is on the migration route of many common – and sometimes incredibly rare – birds. Alison Duncan describes the observatory’s vital function in the monitoring of bird movement through the island. Alison has played a key role in the running and development of the observatory almost since it was founded in 1987 and this illustrated talk is an opportunity to hear first-hand about the important role it plays. I know some of our members have stayed at the Observatory – in fact our local group organised an outing there a few years ago.

     Members and non-members are welcome. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but there will be a door collection towards the cost of room hire. I hope to see a lot of you there.

     

    Money Raised by our Local Group

    Our Treasurer Graham Brown has contacted me with the following information to pass on to members:

     

    "The RSPB Orkney Local Group has just given a cheque for £460 towards the work of the RSPB in Orkney. This money was raised by raffles and collections at various events; thank you to everyone - members and non-members - who donated.

     

    This money is in addition to the £1672.33 that the Local Group raised bag collecting last year at Tesco and Co-op in Kirkwall. The Local Group has also sent RSPB Sales Ltd a cheque for £470-95 which is the proceeds (not profit) from goods sold at the Charities Christmas Bazaar and in the Stromness office."

     

    I think we can all be proud of our fund-raising efforts for last year. Let’s hope we do well in 2014 also. We will be bag-packing again at the Co-op in July but I am not sure whether Tesco has room for us this year which is a great pity. Any more fund-raising ideas from our members will be very welcome so please email me atp.wilson410@btinterenet.com.

     

    Nature Festival bookings open

    A reminder that the programme for the 2014 Orkney Nature Festival is out now and bookings are being taken by Visit Orkney on 01856 872856.  To download a copy of the programme and find out more go to www.orkneynaturefestival.org or pick one up from Visit Orkney or the RSPB office.  It is also on the RSPB Facebook page and information is available from the Visit Orkney Information Centre in Kirkwall. The Festival runs from 10th to 18th May and includes a fantastic array of outings and activities. Highland Park Distillery kicks off the week then there is a picnic on Hunda; boat trips to Auskerry and Switha; a day of events on both Rousay and on Stronsay. Our local group is involved this year, running our popular boat trips into the Gloup in Deerness although these are now just about full as are many of the more popular events.

     

    If you missed out on the Gloup trips, our local group will be running more in June, also a couple of puffin-viewing trips with Sidney Foubister. This is a new idea which I hope will be popular. Details of this, and all the local group events, will be arriving with you very soon.

    Meanwhile, here are a couple of imminent events:

     

    Bag the Bruck – Saturday 12th/Sunday 13th April

    This is a joint event with Orkney Field Club and, as usual, I am appealing for members to lend a hand on either day. Marine debris can seriously harm our wildlife so the more hands the better to come along and help remove plastic rope, netting and other rubbish from our beaches. RSPB Local Group will tackle Waulkmill Bay on the Saturday and OFC will be at Marwick Bay on the Sunday. Come along anytime between 10 am and 2 pm. Contacts: RSPB office on 01856 850176 or Brian Ribbands (OFC) on 01856 751439.

     

    Harrier Sky Dancing – Saturday 19th April

    This is a joint event with Orkney Field Club. Take a guided walk in the Birsay Moors to watch the spectacular courtship display of the Hen Harrier. Other birds of prey should also be on view. Families and non-members are welcome. Bring a picnic and binoculars if available. Meet at the Rendall Community Centre at 9.30 am. To book:Dick Matson on 01856 751426.

     

    Spring is in the Air!

    Thank goodness the lighter nights are just around the corner! Signs of spring are everywhere – I was delighted to see Celandine and Coltsfoot flowering nicely and our fishpond has taken on a new lease of life as frogs made their presence felt, leaving us a with a gift, ie masses of frogspawn! Perhaps the tadpoles will survive this year seeing as there is a serious depletion in fish, thanks to the visiting Heron during the winter!

     

    The Greenfinches are sporting bright coats and singing from the bushes – I look forward to seeing young from these birds in due course. The other day we had visits fromSong thrush  and Robin – how nice if these birds chose nest sites at Sunnybank? No sign of a Wren though this year which is unusual but there’s time yet I am sure. A few years ago Peter put up nest boxes for the Starlings (to dissuade them from nesting under the garage canopy) and two pairs have already claimed them and are busy carrying nesting material into the boxes – fascinating to watch and it’s great to have a fairly close-up view of the youngsters when they pop their heads out and demand food.

     

    That’s all for now but I’ll be pleased to hear from any of our members who have interesting items for my next email. My address is: p.wilson410@btinternet.com.

     

    Best wishes

    Pauline W/RSPB Local Group Sec.

     

     

     

     

  • Local Group latest happenings - 28/02/2014

    Sorry this is a bit late but here is the most recent 'Latest Happenings' from Pauline Wilson our Local Group secretary:

     

    Hi Everybody

    I hope a lot of you saw the Aurora Borealis the other night; unfortunately I was alerted a bit late and saw a fine display but nothing like the reds and greens captured on camera by my next-door neighbour!

     

    There have been a lot of reports of a family of Otters at the Brig of Waithe but sadly I haven’t yet been in the vicinity to look for these, however I’m sure some of our local group members have seen them. One person who certainly did was Ian Cunningham and he has kindly let me have the attached photo of what looks like two of the otters. Ian was doubly fortunate as he also caught sight of an otter at the Loch of Tankerness eating a tasty eel! Ian explains that the attached photo was at the limit of camera range but it’s great to see this creature tucking into a meal! Thanks Ian!

     

     

    Nature Festival bookings open

    The programme for the 2014 Orkney Nature Festival is out now and bookings are being taken by Visit Orkney on 01856 872856.  To download a copy of the programme and find out more go to www.orkneynaturefestival.org or pick one up from Visit Orkney or the RSPB office.  It is also on the RSPB Facebook page and information is available from the Visit Orkney Information Centre in Kirkwall. The Festival runs from 10th to 18th May and includes a fantastic array of outings and activities. Highland Park Distillery kicks off the week then there is a picnic on Hunda; boat trips to Auskerry and Switha; a day of events on both Rousay and on Stronsay. Our local group is involved this year, running our popular boat trips into the Gloup in Deerness. Make sure you have a look at the programme of happenings during this special week and remember to book early - some events are already full! 

    RSPB Local Group Spring Meeting – Thursday 27th March

     A rare opportunity not to be missed – we have a talk entitled “North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory” by Alison Duncan

     

    North Ronaldsay is on the migration route of many common – and sometimes incredibly rare – birds. Alison Duncan describes the observatory’s vital function in the monitoring of bird movement through the island. Alison has played a key role in the running and development of the observatory almost since it was founded in 1987 and this illustrated talk is an opportunity to hear first-hand about the important role it plays. I know some of our members have stayed at the Observatory – in fact our local group organised an outing there a few years ago.

     Members and non-members are welcome. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but there will be a door collection towards the cost of room hire. I hope to see a lot of you there.

    Posters to promote the Spring Meeting are starting to appear in Kirkwall and elsewhere. If you would like to print an A4 poster for your window, or your local shop, our Treasurer Graham Brown can email you a copy. Please contact him on graham.brown@gmx.com. Many thanks.

     

    SOC Meeting – Thursday 6th March

    The final meeting of the season takes place at the St. Magnus Centre, Kirkwall starting at 7.30 pm. It is entitled:

     “East Scotland Sea Eagles”

     

     East Scotland Sea Eagles is the third phase of the white-tailed sea eagle re-introduction in Scotland. Starting in 2007, the project aimed to release 100 sea eagles in Fife to establish a breeding population in East and Central Scotland. All birds are fitted with radio-transmitters and wing tags enabling their movements and survival to be monitored.

    This talk should have local appeal given the appearance of the bird in Hoy last year (only a matter of time before they are on Orkney?) also those interested in raptors.

     RSPB Members are very welcome to attend SOC Meetings – a donation towards cost of room hire is all that is asked for so I hope some of you go along to enjoy what sounds like a very interesting talk.

    Pin Badges – a great little earner!

     Morag gave me information about the sale of pin badges during 2013. This financial season has produced the magnificent sum of £2752.03.

    What a great effort by the people who look after the boxes (which can be seen in many tourist and retail outlets throughout Orkney) and of course the generous visitors and Orkney residents who contribute by buying the badges, thus swelling the coffers. New badges are being added all the time so make sure your collection is up-to-date!

     

    Stamps update

    Morag has just received a cheque for £200 in respect of used stamps collected by the RSPB Orkney Local Group. This means more money towards the RSPB Save the Albatross Appeal. I have just finished sorting a few carrier bags full of stamps which our members have saved during and after Christmas.

    Don’t forget to continue to save stamps and drop them off at SAS Business Supplies, 4 Laing Street, Kirkwall or at the RSPB Stromness Office. If foreign stamps can be kept separate this would be helpful.

    Many thanks to all who have contributed stamps and to Penny and Chris Park for allowing us to use their premises as the collection point.

     

    Bag the Bruck – Saturday 12th/Sunday 13th April

    This is a joint event with Orkney Field Club and, as usual, I am appealing for members to lend a hand on either day. Marine debris can seriously harm our wildlife so the more hands the better to come along and help remove plastic rope, netting and other rubbish from our beaches. RSPB Local Group will tackle Waulkmill Bay on the Saturday and OFC will be at Marwick Bay on the Sunday. Come along anytime between 10 am and 2 pm. Contacts: RSPB office on 01856 850176 or Brian Ribbands (OFC) on 01856 751439.

     

    Harrier Sky Dancing – Saturday 19th April

    This is a joint event with Orkney Field Club. Take a guided walk in the Birsay Moors to watch the spectacular courtship display of the Hen Harrier. Other birds of prey should also be on view. Families and non-members are welcome. Bring a picnic and binoculars if available. Meet at the Rendall Community Centre at 9.30 am. To book: Dick Matson on 01856 751426.

     

    The above are just two of the local group events taking place in 2014. Very soon members will be receiving the full programme of local group activities. We have a few new ideas for this year, including coal tits, puffin viewing and even a mystery tour so watch out for the programme landing in your in-box or letterbox before too long.

     

    Winter Bird Race

    Unfortunately I had to miss this event which took place on Sunday 2nd March attracting a total of 6 teams. The winning team, scoring 86 species, was made up of Julian Branscombe, Alistair Forsyth, Barrie & Linda Hamill. Two teams spotted 82 species, firstly Dick Matson, Malcolm Russell, Willie Smith & Celia Hills; secondly Steve, Sarah and Sami Sankey and Steve McCullen.

     

    One team in particular had some great sightings – Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail at St. Margaret’s Hope and Black-tailed Godwit at Loch of Banks – three good birds for Andrew Upton, Grace Currie, Rosemary McCance and Megan Taylor.

     

    Dick’s team boasted a Little Gull in East Holm and a blue phase Snow Goose in Evie. They also saw a Merlin chasing off a Buzzard just after they had ticked off a Kestrel – a good day for raptors!

     

    A few early-returning Lesser Black-backed Gulls also made it onto a few team lists.

     

    Malcolm Russell went through the species list after the race and remarks:

    It was a good day out, as usual, but for some reason all the scores were down a bit from the last few years. And yet Larks, Wrens and Dunnocks, etc were singing and some good birds found.

     

    The day was rounded off with an excellent bar meal at the Lynnfield Hotel. Thanks must go to Dick for organising this event once again and to Malcolm for the species list which is attached for our members to pour over.

     

    Please get in touch with me at p.wilson410@btinternet.com if you have any interesting items or photos for a future Latest Happenings.

     

    Best wishes

    Pauline W/RSPB Orkney Local Group Sec.

     

     

     

  • Winter Bird Race & Indoor Meeting

    Hi Everybody The RSPB Winter Bird Race is due to take place on Sunday 2nd March and Dick Matson gives details of the event: It is that time of year when we should forget about the truly awful winter weather and dust off the scopes and bins and get out there for some (semi-)serious birding! In other words it is almost time to take your partners for the Winter Bird Race on Sunday 2nd March. The procedure will be much the same as in previous years: we will aim to have teams of 4 per car (or 5 if you wish) and will search the countryside counting the different bird species between 9am and 5.30pm. Teams can start counting from wherever they like. As usual we will meet up afterwards at the Lynnfield for a social get-together and to compare notes (please get to the Lynnfield by 5.45pm). Bar meals will be available from 6.30pm. I will email a menu to anyone who would like a bar meal. For a species to qualify it must be identified by 3 people in a team of 4 or 5; but in a team of 2 or 3 it must be identified by 2 people. Obviously some latitude is allowed for teams with inexperienced birders. Please do not go onto private land without permission and avoid doing anything that could be construed as an invasion of privacy. Please do not disturb sick or injured birds (but report them to the SSPCA if possible). In the interests of safety, fuel economy and to minimise pollution we ask folk to observe a speed limit of 50mph. As well as enjoying the Orkney countryside and its bird-life we hope that people will regard this as an opportunity to teach and encourage novice or inexperienced birders. Thus we ask that you include at least one such person in your team. If interested in taking part please let me know by this coming Saturday (22nd Feb) on 751426 or at r.matson42@btinternet.com and also please contact me if you would like help in getting placed with a team. You are most welcome to participate even if you are a complete novice. Dick As Dick says, you don’t have to be an expert to take part in the Bird Race; it’s great fun and you can certainly learn something as you search for those vital species! I hope some of our newer members decide to give it a go. Dick will place you in a team to suit your birdwatching experience so no need to be afraid of not knowing the finer points of bird identification. ANOTHER DATE FOR YOUR DIARY: Thursday 27th March – Local Group Spring Meeting – “North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory” North Ronaldsay is on the migration route of many common – and sometimes incredibly rare – birds. Alison Duncan describes how the Observatory plays a vital function in the monitoring of bird movement through the island. Alison has played a key role in the running and development of the Observatory almost since it was founded in 1987 and for anyone with an interest in birds her talk will be unmissable. It will be held at the St. Magnus Centre, Kirkwall at 7.30 pm. Members and non-members are welcome. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but there will be a door collection towards the cost of room hire. I’ll give more reminders about this nearer the time but meanwhile please put this date in your diary as it promises to be a most interesting talk. That’s all for now. Best wishes Pauline W/RSPB Local Group Sec.