Monday 15 January 2018

Windy - Calm - Storm - Snow

Last Tuesday (10 Jan) the weather got a bit blowy, resulting in me taking the precautionary measure of relocating from the work's office in Kirkwall to the home office. This was due to the wind speed increasing from the south-east and high tide was a tea-time. South-easterlies can be the worst direction for pushing the sea in off the North Sea and causing over-topping on the Churchill Barriers.

Having safely got across Barriers 1 and 2 and onto Burray a quick glance at Echna Loch had a few Tufted Ducks and Mallards and a couple of Common Gulls. On the other side of the road there were a few more Common Gull out on the flow and the Fulmars patrolling the cliff.

On Thursday (11 Jan) the weather took a rest and it was a lovely calm sunny day. Tim D one of the local birders was out and about and at lunch time spotted three groups of Black-throated Divers totaling around 60 birds. They were quite a way out into the Flow towards the accommodation platform that is currently moored up. He also found over 50 Slavonian Grebes.

From Friday (12 Jan) onwards the wind started ramping back up again until it peaked on Sunday evening (14 Jan). I was recording gusts in excess of 58mph here at the cottage.

As a result the garden was pretty quiet with just the Blackbird, the two Robins two Greenfinches and six Starlings taking shelter and feeding. Apart from a Raven, a few Common Gulls and a lot of Rock/Feral Doves the only bird of interest was a Grey Heron trying to fly across the fields out the back of the cottage. It was certainly struggling to make headway against the wind even when it dropped down to a couple of feet above the ground!!

Today the temperature has dropped and we are now in for a week of snow, sleet and hail. As I was driving up the track to the cottage this evening I spotted what looked like a Short-eared Owl hunting along the fence line. I didn't get a clear look at it as it kept dropping out of sight and it was also out of the main beam of the headlights, but from the colouring I did see, it's shape and flight it certainly looked like one. If it was that would be the first time I have seen one in the dark, all my sightings to date have always been in full daylight.

It's starting to get light as I set off for work now, so in a few more weeks I'll be able to start checking out Echnaloch Bay and Echna Loch on my way to work.

Time to go and find my boot grippers just in case we do actually get some proper snow.

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