Our summer extended into September this year with some lovely warm, sunny days. There has been lots of insect activity with various moths, butterflies, hoverflies, bees, caterpillars, and some late wildflowers too.
I started September with a recce for one of my Wader Walks at the Sands of Evie, having completed the recce for Newark Bay on the 31st August. I was joined by my good friend, and colleague, Jean Ross of Great Orkney Tours and we had a lovey walk with a good variety of wildlife seen.
The autumn migrations is well underway by now with some rarities turning up on a few of the islands – Papa Westray, North Ronaldsay, Sanday, Westray and also the mainland of Orkney.
On Sunday 3rd September, we had booked the Orkney Ferries Sunday Excursion trip to North Ronaldsay however it was cancelled due to strong winds. We were lucky to be able to get our car booked on the Westray ferry so we headed there for the day instead. There were a few migrants around including Golden Plovers, Turnstones, Knots, Sanderling, Wigeon and Wheatears galore!
On our return from Westray we learnt that a Hoopoe had been seen on the Stromness Golf Course, and the next morning, it was still around so we thought it would be rude not to go and see it, especially as it was not only a patch/year tick but also a lifer for me and within walking distance of home!
On the 5th September, we heard our first Pink-footed geese flying over on their journey south, they make such a lovely call. Next time you see a skein of geese migrating, have a listen to the sounds they make……. If it’s a lower pitched “honk honk” they will be Greylag geese, however if it’s a higher pitched “wink wink” they will be Pink-feets.
I was invited along to a very special place – Bea’s Wood, where my partner was doing some work for the owner. The trees were all planted by the owner’s wife who sadly died 6 years ago. It is an amazing place with a burn running through the property, there’s a pond and 2 different woodland trails. I heard/saw at least 14 species of birds including Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest, Wren, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird and Linnet. Here’s a short video of the Goldcrests calling.
Below are some photos of the woodland – such a special place – my thanks to Colin for allowing me to have a wander round.
Sanday is one of the islands I mentioned previously where some rare birds have turned up, so we decided to head there for a day trip while the ferries were still on the summer timetable. I also wanted to take my partner for a pizza lunch at 59˚ North.
Before lunch though, we went in search of a rare wader – a Long-billed Dowitcher. Armed with my telescope, binoculars and my big Collins bird book I scanned, and scanned, and scanned, and eventually found this bird – phew! There was not going to be pizza until I had found it! We also spotted a different wader, which we identified as a Curlew Sandpiper – both were lifers for me.
After a good lunch of pizzas and Sanday Sundae’s, we went off in search of more birds and found Knots, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwits and a Grey Plover.
As mentioned previously, we’ve had some warm and sunny weather during September so there are still a few wildflowers to be seen. Here’s some photos below:
I also loved these autumnal looking grasses/reeds which we saw while doing a survey out at Mull Head.
With warm weather, and plenty wildflowers still blooming, it has been a good month for seeing butterflies, moths and caterpillars. In our new garden, we have had Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells busy feeding on the Ragwort.
We have also had several sightings of Bright Line Brown Eye caterpillars and have discovered that there are 2 forms – green and brown, both of which we have seen in our garden, but I have also seen the green ones on beaches/seaweed on some recent wildlife walks.
I had a walk with clients on my Hidden Gem Short Orphir Bay walk on the 15th September where we saw a very late Common Blue butterfly desperately clinging onto a Devil’s Bit Scabious flower. Also on that walk, there were lots of Red Admirals feeding on Brambles.
Towards the end of September, and while doing our Orkney vole survey for the Orkney Native Wildlife Project, we saw Silver Y moths and a Haworth Minor moth at Mull Head, Deerness. Also that day, I spotted lots of tiny Magpie moth caterpillar feeding on some willows.
As I write this, it is now early October and the wind is lashing the rain against the office window. October is the start of Grey seal pupping season and I am very much looking forward to my Seal Pup Walks for the next couple of months. Check out my website for more information on my walks this autumn/winter and for a special offer that I am running during the October school holidays.
I will leave you with a short clip of Gannets diving off Grobust beach, Westray.