Bird Report - March 2018
March has proved quite an interesting month with a few more birds to report.
Star of the show was undoubtedly the Crane which landed in the field across the road from the Lighthouse Quarry on the 17th. This big bird was close to the gate so it was possible to get a really good view as it turned over the soil to find goodies - I suspect leatherjackets.
Photo of Crane by Gerry Cannon.
Going back to start of the month, we have had a Dunnock for some time now and it chose to make an appearance on the 6th. It is similar to a house sparrow but has grey round the neck and has a different stance and tends to peck around the floor rather than sitting in trees or bushes. Also on the 6th our regular Robin was tempted by the mealworms I spread on the lawn while a Redwing was in the front field.
On the 6th also I went to Sandside Bay and disturbed 4 Pheasants which flew from the undergrowth. Many who have been on the local beaches cannot fail to have noticed the Cuttlefish bones which have been thrown up in the heavy seas.
Spring had truly sprung on the 9th. Skylarks were larking around in Russell's field; 20 Eiders - both male and female - were in the sea with the males making their distinctive call. Also 3 Bar-tailed Godwits were feeding on the shore at Newark in the usual place frequented by them. They were back on the 25th and Skylarks were still singing.
It was a boiling sea at Newark on the 16th, consequently there were lots of assorted Gulls and Waders feeding on the bounty brought in by the waves.
Spring was in the air again on the 26th - Skylarks were on the wing, a pair of Oystercatchers were hanging around together and a Meadow Pipit was displaying, obviously trying to catch the eye of a lady. Further on at the Geo there was a lone Mute Swan which is quite unusual for this location.
On March 29th at Sunnybank there were no less than 33 Blackbirds, 3 Redwing and a Fieldfare in the front field. This tends to be a yearly happening but I am not sure if the birds are arriving or leaving for breeding grounds.
Pied Wagtails are starting to make an appearance and Wheatears cannot be far behind and, of course, the Meadow Pipits will soon be seen on almost every fencepost.
On the 29th I took a walk with my dog down the track to Lower Gritley and Peggy flushed a Woodcock from the grass. The very next day a Woodcock flew out of a field at Quoybelloch. Woodcocks are very similar to Snipe with the ridiculously long beak but they are quite a bit bigger.
April is always an interesting month for new arrivals so watch out for the Swallows!
Bird Report - February 2018
It's always nice to see a Robin in the garden so February was a bonus for me as I saw one on many occasions. On the 16th two were under the feeder - you rarely see two Robins together apart from the breeding season as they are feisty little birds and don't like competition! Mealworms are a favourite so it's a good idea to throw a few on the ground; today I saw a one feeding on an apple.
Photo of Robin by Ian Cunningham.
I threw out food on the front path on February 3rd and it wasn't long before 3 Hooded Crows located it - I am always amazed where the birds come from as soon as a morsel is thrown out, particularly Gulls which seem to have a sixth sense!
A walk at Newark Bay on the 3rd saw a large group of Wigeon and Mallards out at sea. A lot of Oystercatchers were in the adjacent field, obviously back from their winter quarters (although in view of the weather at the end of the month they would have been better delaying their return as the ground was frozen and no beaks would have been able to penetrate it). As I walked back to the car I spotted a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers in the bay.
I was walking up the road from Newark on the 4th - a lovely day with blue skies - when I was amazed to hear a Skylark singing from high up in the air. This is very early but my ears did not deceive me as only a few days later a group of the species was in Russell's field and once again singing was taking place - lovely to hear.
Around Sunnybank on the 13th and 16th we had the inevitable Robin, 2 Redwings were in the field and 6 Greenfinches added a splash of colour.
I took another walk at Newark with my dog on the 18th and was treated to fine views of a variety of waders - Oystercatchers, Purple Sandpipers, Sanderling, Turnstones and 15 Knot. Also included in the tally were Wigeon, Mallard and a Glaucous Gull feeding on a dead seal. Glaucous Gulls are identified by being pure white apart from pale grey wings (no black).
It's always a pleasure to see a Dunnock so I smiled when I spotted one pecking around under a tree in the garden - this is a typical scenario for them.
There was a nice end to the month when I was lucky to catch a quick look at a Goldfinch as it flew past the house the landed on the gate before flying off again. A lovely colourful bird as our photo shows.
Photo of Goldfinch on teasel plants by Alan Cooper.
The extreme weather at the end of the month and into March caused great difficulties for our birds so it's even more important to give them a helping hand until the bad weather eases. In addition to bird feed and peanuts cooked rice and soaked bread are both good as are apples, pears, grapes, sultanas, oats. I put out fat balls but notice that these were untouched, probably because these had become frozen in the extremely low temperatures. Equally important is water and this should be renewed each morning or more frequently if this is freezing during the day.
Let's hope things will have warmed up significantly by the time I write my next report.
Bird Report - November 2017
I am starting this month's report with an omission from October, accompanied by this photo taken by Henry Reitzug. I had a phone call from my neighbour Anne Reitzug to say a bird had landed on their patio at Little Halley but she wasn't sure what was looking in the window at her dogs! It turned out to be a young Shag which had been blown off course, hence the unscheduled landing. Anne and I managed to capture the bird, take it to the Geo and release it. It was nice to see the Shag happily swim off, none the worse for it's experience.
On a walk down the track towards Lower Gritley on November 1st I startled a Snipe which flew off I have seen a number of these birds during the month - they make themselves obvious as they take sudden flight with a loud cry.
A nice sight down the same track was a group of 10 Whooper Swans calling as they went - lovely.
Another Whooper Swan didn't have such luck though. Richard Falconer found a dead bird on Newark Beach and it was sporting a leg ring. It turns out the Swan was ringed in Dumfries and Galloway in 2013 when it was aged at least 2 years.
Not too much else to report. I had a Black Cap on apples on November 4th.
There was a big flock of Wigeon at St. Peter's Pool on the 19th - they are easily identified by their distinctive whistle. The males have a bright yellow head stripe.
I walked the dog down the Geo Road, along the short and back up Newark Road but there was not a lot about until I reached Jean Corsie's house at The Links. Two Twite were busying themselves among plants in the dyke; a Robin was in the garden and 2 Snipe made haste in the opposite field.
Speaking of Robins there seem to be quite a number about this winter; nice to see in the festive season. A Happy Christmas to you all!
Bird Report - October 2017
There has been plenty to see for the serious birders in Deerness during October but first for the more mundane!
To carry on from September, early in the month still saw Wheatears, Pied Wagtails and straggler Swallows thinking about making their exit from Orkney.
A walk at Newark on the 6th saw 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, also a Heron as well as Sanderling on the beach. Another walk from Newark to the Barns saw 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Herons making their presence felt.
On the 8th there was a solitary Goldcrest in the rosa rugosa at Sunnybank. It's always nice to catch a glimpse of Britain's smallest bird as it flits about making its quiet but distinctive call.
There have been two visits from Dunnock in the back garden, on the 13th and the 22nd.
It was nice to see a Songthrush in Daisy Aitken's garden on the 19th while Redwing were present at Sunnybank on the same day.
Barely a day has gone by without a Robin pecking around our back garden and, during a recent walk, it was evident there had been an influx of these feisty birds.
I had a nice walk at Newark on the 20th and was treated to a stunning display of Gannets diving (adults and juveniles which are dark).An unconcerned Seal swam lazily on this pleasant day..
A mixed flock of birds near Glenavon was disturbed when a male Hen Harrier flew amongst them and they were quickly dispersed!
Driving down the Geo road I was alerted to a flock of visiting Fieldfares while Golden Plovers and Lapwings were in Keith Eunson's field at the bottom of Halley Road.
On to the rarities . . .
I was lucky on the 29th to see a Firecrest which had been spending a little time in the Lighthouse Quarry - a colourful little bird (bigger and brighter than its Goldcrest cousin) this was a first for me.
Morris Rendall took this splendid photo of the bird.
Another rarity was seen at the Lighthouse Quarry, namely a Tree Creeper.
Once again Morris Rendall was ready with his camera to take this photo.
More sightings at the quarry were: Yellow- browed warbler and 2 Goldcrests.
Sandside Bay has seen its share of migrant birds in October - on the 22nd Morris Rendall reported as follows: 2 Stonechat, 3 Goldcrest, Blackcap, Redwings, and Snow Bunting on the beach. Birder Ian Cunningham visited Sandside Bay and spotted a Buzzard with red wing tags.
Moving on to East Denwick, species reported there by Alan Leitch include Red-backed Shrike, Woodcock and a French-ringed Blackbird which added interest. Completing the picture at East Denwick were Brambling, Robin, Goldcrests, about 65 Redwing and two Thrushes.
So October proved to be a busy month for our feathered friends!