Rare Visitors….

One of the things that Orkney ‘does’ is birds.  There are a lot of them about, and the islands are home to many of the less usual British species.

Most of the real rarities, though,  arrive during the spring and autumn migrations, when birds around the world are on the move.  If the winds are in unusual directions at this time, the birds can be blown off course, so that odd westerly winds bring us Siberian species, while easterlies brinsandhillcraneg North American species.

Over the past couple of days, South Ronaldsay (the island where I live) has played host to a Sandhill Crane.  This is a Northern American species, and this specimen is only the third to have been seen in the UK.

But it doesn’t stop there.  One rare bird equals a Lot of Twitchers.  For the past few days the place has been crawling men (yes, almost all twitchers are men) in full waterproof gear and carrying long sighting scopes and cameras with obscene lenses….

The crane has been very thoughtful, keeping up a daily routine over the greater part of the island.  He has not been shy and seems unabashed by the fuss he is causing.

Speaking in the shop this morning, someone said the bird was spending a lot of its time in a field near them.  What is it like?, someone else said.  A very dull sheep was the reply….

Still, it is keeping the beds filled, and no one can complain about that!

8 thoughts on “Rare Visitors….

  1. I suppose those guys are just as obsessed with looking at rare birds – as we are looking at lovely fibres?:)) it is beautiful though, I like those slender looking large birds like herons, cranes, storks etc…

  2. Sandhill cranes are VERY cool and zen. I used to live in Central Oregon where there would be hundreds, and one could practically drive right up to them in their lounging area. I do like the description of being like a very dull sheep, though!

  3. I would say that regular bird watchers are akin to us with our fibre! They love birds – seeing them, watching their behaviour and being where they are.

    Twitchers are a bit different though! They will travel hundreds (thousands) of miles to see a rare bird in a place where it is rare! The wouldn’t, for example, go over to Oregon to see these, but when one turns up HERE they charter aircraft to get to it…


  4. Sandhills are getting nicely re-established here in SW Michigan, and I see them in the fields when I drive around. Every spring I see them HIGH in the sky and hear them “Kerrrrrrooooo”ing from what looks like jet plane height.

  5. As one of the aforesaid twitchers I should point out that some of us are female – though not many! And the appeal? Well, it’s amazing to think that this big, soaring bird got across the Atlantic and found our islands, at the same time as we have birds ariving from Siberia and points east. And it’s quite an adventure getting from Norfolk to Orkney! (And now I’m looking forward to tackling the Pi shawl…)

  6. Whoa, that guy is a LONG way from home. The Sandhills of Nebraska are just north of me and the cranes often follow the rivers down, so we get them around here frequently when the spring time is very wet. Let me tell you, having one of these guys take off from a drainage ditch while you are driving past is a heart stopping experience!

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