Friday 27 Jan saw me setting off on my first work trip for 2012 and indeed my first work trip since July as my leg breaking incident has prevented me from heading South since the start of August.
So at Midday I set sail on the MV Pentalina from St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay across to Gills Bay on the Scottish mainland. The crossing took me out through Scapa Flow and across the Pentland Firth.
There were a couple of Cormorants drying their wings near to the harbour in the Hope and as we set off out into the bay several small groups of Eiders and a Red-throated Diver. As we got out into the Flow there were quite a few Greater Black-backed Gulls and the occassional Fulmar flying past.
It was good to see most of the cliff faces on both the inhabitted and un-inhabitted islands starting to get good numbers of Fulmars taking up residence with the Greater Black-backed Gulls sitting on the cliff tops watching them.
As we crossed the Pentland Firth there were some Shags and a solitary Gannet closely followed by a group of three all heading into the Flow.
The drive down to Pitlochry was fairly uneventful. A few fields holding several hundred Greylag Geese and small flocks of Curlew. Surprisingly I didn't see a single raptor in the whole journey.
The next leg of the trip takes me onto Preston calling in at the RSPB reserve at Vane Farm on the South side of Loch Leven where there is a ringing demonstration as part of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch weekend.