Saturday, February 2, 2019

Old Nisthouse, Harray, Orkney - new entrant

Here is my 1000m square in Harray, Orkney, as far away from the sea as it is possible to get in the county, all of 10Km.

I needed to get the garden in, it falls on the grid line if I don't twist the square around. The road is a natural marker and is the divide I use anyway within my 3km sq (but irregularly shaped) home birding patch. It seemed a natural thing to do. A bit disappointed I couldn't squeeze the track to the north in near the "quarry (disused)" on the map, as it is one of my best invert places and botanically interesting but so it goes. There is a lot of farmland in this square, intensive beef and sheep farming, however the third above the road, heading NE is wet, permanent pasture and pretty rich. There is a tiny little line of trees just to the east of The Shunan where I have found a fair bit in the past and as we own it of special interest. In our neighbour's garden there are some tall Sycamores which host a rookery. Our own garden has some Swedish Whitebeam in the back, main bird feeding area, and an area I try to manage for Orkney Vole at the front.

I've not seen many species so far this year but the quality has been there with a Bembidion bruxellense, which if confirmed will be new for the county. Today I found some tiny snails which I think are Columella edentulla, these will also be a county first if I've got them right.

My main interests are birds, Lepidoptera and Caribid beetles (which I'm getting back into after a break of some 30 or so years). I'm also interested in Opiliones which I also used to work on a long time ago. My botany is pretty rusty and I have new interests in land molluscs and aquatic beetles, but give me a key and I'll have a go at most things - not very keen on Hymenoptera, rather too hard...

Bembidion bruxellense I hope.

View from the garden this morning looking over the A986 to Loch of Bosquoy, Loch of Harray and the Hoy Hills. The fields in the foreground are in the patch.

The Shunan this morning, frozen so lacking the usual quackers.

Today's highlights, I've not attempted the 7 or 8 Staphilinidae from the extractor yet. Can anyone recommend a Collembola key? Are they doable? 

I think this is Tremella mescuterica? On gorse.

I think this is Columella edentula (the top arm of the L shape above it is 2mm long)?

I'll try and count up my January total shortly, I haven't really looked at any plants so I'm thinking 60 or so species for the month.


  1. Wahey! Welcome aboard. Place looks stunning. Only ever been up once and long overdue a revisit. Tremella mesenterica?

  2. Oh yeah, don't ask me about snails :D I have a go and then hope someone verifies or redetermines them on iRecord

  3. A very warm welcome to the challenge. Looks like you have a very diverse area to work.