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U3A Birdie Group - May 2018

by Liz Lea - 10:38 on 02 June 2018
On Wednesday 16 May eleven birders followed Tim Wright out along Northside's banks, starting at the Brough of Birsay carpark. It was a bright,sunny, breezy and thoroughly enjoyable morning. There were hirundines, skylarks, meadow pipits, wheatear and pied wagtails inland and a single glaucous gull,gannets and little parties of both auks and kittiwakes out to sea. On the stacks at Skipi Geo the arctic terns were busy "wenching", as one of our party described it - trying to catch fish to pass to their chosen partners in pair-bonding rituals. The choppy seas were proving a challenge but in the bright sunlight the wheeling, screeching cloud of birds made a fine spectacle.
At Whitaloo Point the party was able to look along the dark cliffs towards Costa Head and directly across the geo spy razorbills and puffins. In the geo itself rock doves and fulmars were well settled in.
Returning along the road through Northside village we were entertained by starlings and swallows disappearing into cracks in walls and barns and, once out on the coast again, saw sand martins swooping up to holes in the sandy cliffs.
After a short stop at the carpark picnic nousts, several folk walked towards the Palace to see more sand martins at their nest holes before going on to lunch at the Orkney Brewery, while others had to beetle back home to attend to afternoon commitments.
Around 30 species were seen. Many thanks to Tim and to the telescope he so kindly lugged round for us. It makes even the common species like eider or ring plover look amazing - as indeed they are.

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