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by Liz Lea - 12:35 on 19 September 2017


Birdie Group - September 18, 2017

Seven folk caught the 10.30 Varagan sailing to Sanday. Evan Williams, driving the Sanday Afternoon Club's minibus, met us and we set off for our first stop at Stove. There we met up with Emma Neave-Webb, the Sanday Ranger, who had been called out on Coastguard duty, rescuing a dog. What a lovely day we had with these two kind people! 54 species of birds were seen, the highlights being 3 short-eared owls in the North hill/Cleat area, a kestrel (apparently rare on the island) somewhere near Galilee and 6 or 7 ruff very close to the minibus on a flash in the Marygarth area. There were loads of bar-tailed godwits at every stop and we found a gray plover on the sand at Silverhall. This was one of the species we were particularly keen to see as they are few and far between on the Orkney mainland. On the shore below Roos Loch there was a  sick-looking cormorant. Tim Wright got a photo showing nylon fishing filaments wrapped around its neck which would certainly impede swallowing  ... Emma thought it would be possible to catch it once it got frailer, cut it free, feed it up and release it back to the sea. There were also two other memorable highlights - a pair of harbour porpoises on the sail out and two otters close into the Sanday pier as we waited for the Varagan to come and bring us home - a great end to an interesting day. Our grateful thanks to Emma and Evan for making all this possible and for allowing us to eat our packed lunches in the warmth of the Heritage Centre and for making us tea and coffee.

Liz Lea

Photographs to be added.

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