Bird Report - December 2019

There is not too much to report this month but I had nice sightings at Sunnybank on the first day of December with a Dunnock feeding on the lawn and a Robin hopping around. It is always nice to see these particular two and, in fact, I was treated to more viewings as I saw a Robin on the 8th, 9th, 12th and 21st while the Dunnock made more appearances on the 16th and 22nd.

During a walk from Newark to the Barns of Ayre on December 1st I could not fail to see a group of Wigeon near the bridge over the burn. These are easily distinguished by their whistling call.

Encouraged by this I repeated the walk the following day. There were approximately 60 waders on the sands, mostly a mixture of Sanderling and Ringed Plovers with a handful of Oystercatchers further along the beach. Travelling on the path the Wigeon were still near the burn whistling away and a small gathering of Greater Black Backed Gulls were on the rocks at the water's edge. A screech announced a Grey Heron which was patrolling the area looking for prey and a few Rock Pipits were, unsurprisingly, bobbing around the rocks.

Looking inland I counted around 150 Greylag Gulls in the field.

There have been noticeable numbers of Starlings around recently, I suspect numbers have been swelled by birds wintering in Orkney. Flocks have been wheeling around - a great sight - before landing and weighing down the Hydro wires.

IMG 3498

(Photo of flock of Starlings at Newark by Gerry Cannon).

There were strong gales on the 11th when my bird feeder blew over trapping a House sparrow. I lifted the feeder to remove the body and was amazed when the little bird flew off! What a lucky escape.

Back to the garden and 2 Collared Doves paid a visit on the 12th. A nice change from the many Rock Doves which are always on the lookout for an easy feed.

On December 15th I happened to glance out of the front window to see a line of 8 Whooper Swans flying by. I rushed to the door to hear the magical 'whooping' sound but they had quickly vanished!

There are still Blackbirds and Redwings sheltering in my small plantation and emerging into the field to feed. On the 22nd there were 6 Blackbirds and 2 Redwing.

Marlene Rorie alerted me to a dead Skate at the Geo which is an unusual sight. Isobel Gardner saw this also, estimating it to be around 3ft. across so quite a size.

IMG 3501

(The photo was taken by Tracy Davies)

I hope folk are continuing to give feed and water to the birds during the winter. Surely spring cannot be far behind as I notice my Snowdrops and Daffodils are poking their heads through - lovely.

Pauline Wilson

Bird Report - November 2019

Not a lot to report this month, coupled with the fact that I haven't been out and about as much as usual.

Recently there has been an influx of Blackbirds and Redwings which will be passing through as they migrate. Each year at this time I always get these birds in the front field when they come out to feed having left the shelter of the little plantation where they obviously roost.

I had a walk down the track from Halley Road on the 5th and saw a Skylark and 5 Snipe flying up after being disturbed.

Back home on the 7th I reached for the binoculars to watch a Willow Warbler taking a bath in the shallow water tray. Nice to see.

Driving past Skaill on the 13th a flock of Twite (or possibly Linnets) flew up the road ahead of me.

People have been watching out for Waxwings and I was rewarded on the 15th when a single bird landed in the garden. I rushed out with apples but sadly the bird did not stay long. The following day 3 Waxwings were on the Rosa Rugosa bushes. My neighbour Anne Reitzug also had Waxwings on her Rosas.

I took the photo of this Waxwing nine years ago when the bird was eating apple on the lawn.

What a nice photo opportunity.

Waxwing 1

An occasional Dunnock pays a visit to Sunnybank and this was the case on the 18th when the bird joined the flock eating goodies I had thrown down.

Robins have been noticeable during November - I had visits on the 19th, 25th and 29th.

Driving past Sandside on the 20th I stopped quickly as I saw a big flock of birds landing in the field adjacent to the path. These were Curlews and I was impressed to count a total of 130. What a lovely sight.

November 23rd saw the Greylag Goose Count on Orkney mainland. My tally for Deerness was 2760 although I understand a shooting party had been out earlier in the day. The highest number I saw in Deerness was at Aikerskaill where there were over 400 birds.

I regularly see Greenfinches but haven't seen any for a while so I was pleased to watch two underneath the bird feeder on the 26th.

Neighbours Anne and Henry Reitzug had a chuckle on the morning of the 28th when they spotted a male Pheasant on the windowsill pecking at the glass!

My final sighting of the month was another Snipe the only bird to be seen at Sandside when I took a walk there on the 29th.

Colder weather is now upon us so another reminder to keep the bird feeders topped up and provide water daily. On a couple of occasions so far this winter I have had to break the ice on drinkers to allow the birds to take water and  bathe.

Pauline Wilson

Bird Report - November 2019

Not a lot to report this month, coupled with the fact that I haven't been out and about as much as usual.

Recently there has been an influx of Blackbirds and Redwings which will be passing through as they migrate. Each year at this time I always get these birds in the front field when they come out to feed having left the shelter of the little plantation where they obviously roost.

I had a walk down the track from Halley Road on the 5th and saw a Skylark and 5 Snipe flying up after being disturbed.

Back home on the 7th I reached for the binoculars to watch a Willow Warbler taking a bath in the shallow water tray. Nice to see.

Driving past Skaill on the 13th a flock of Twite (or possibly Linnets) flew up the road ahead of me.

People have been watching out for Waxwings and I was rewarded on the 15th when a single bird landed in the garden. I rushed out with apples but sadly the bird did not stay long. The following day 3 Waxwings were on the Rosa Rugosa bushes. My neighbour Anne Reitzug also had Waxwings on her Rosas.

I took the photo of this Waxwing nine years ago when the bird was eating apple on the lawn.

What a nice photo opportunity.

Waxwing 1

An occasional Dunnock pays a visit to Sunnybank and this was the case on the 18th when the bird joined the flock eating goodies I had thrown down.

Robins have been noticeable during November - I had visits on the 19th, 25th and 29th.

Driving past Sandside on the 20th I stopped quickly as I saw a big flock of birds landing in the field adjacent to the path. These were Curlews and I was impressed to count a total of 130. What a lovely sight.

November 23rd saw the Greylag Goose Count on Orkney mainland. My tally for Deerness was 2760 although I understand a shooting party had been out earlier in the day. The highest number I saw in Deerness was at Aikerskaill where there were over 400 birds.

I regularly see Greenfinches but haven't seen any for a while so I was pleased to watch two underneath the bird feeder on the 26th.

Neighbours Anne and Henry Reitzug had a chuckle on the morning of the 28th when they spotted a male Pheasant on the windowsill pecking at the glass!

My final sighting of the month was another Snipe the only bird to be seen at Sandside when I took a walk there on the 29th.

Colder weather is now upon us so another reminder to keep the bird feeders topped up and provide water daily. On a couple of occasions so far this winter I have had to break the ice on drinkers to allow the birds to take water and  bathe.

Pauline Wilson

Bird Report - October 2019

During a walk down the Geo Road on the 3rd of the month I was attracted by a sizeable flock of birds, and found these to be c.300 Golden Plovers accompanied by a number of Lapwings as they so often are. This scenario was repeated the very next day, this time in a field opposite Sandside - were these the same birds? No way of telling, for me at least.

During a walk near home on the 5th I saw a flash of colour and realised a tiny Goldcrest had landed in the middle of the road before quickly flying off, perhaps to my garden as a Goldcrest was bobbing around the bushes there later in the day. I heard the bird while I was mowing the lawn and a search revealed its whereabouts.

Redwings and Fieldfares are to be seen at this time of year. I saw my first Redwing on the front lawn.

Robins are easily seen just now - such a handsome bird and one of the very few which sing during the winter. (I was at the Pickaquoy Centre car park recently and heard a loud, melodic birdsong and there atop a tall tree was a Robin!)

I have been having several views of a male Hen Harrier as it checks the bushes for a likely supper.

On the 9th I had a report from Marlene Rorie of Newark that 60 Curlews flew along the shore and past her house. She reported that Gannets are still active nearby (in fact I have watched these very same birds from Sandside). A stunning male Brambling was on the feeder and Marlene also mentions that she too has regular visits from a Hen Harrier. Marlene and Ivor regularly clean the beach and this often results in interesting finds, one such being a Triggerfish which is a summer visitor to Orkney waters. There have been 12 records in Orkney since 1995.

Trigger Fish

Photo of Triggerfish by Marlene Rorie.

A number of people have reported Swallows being around well into October and I assume these will have been a third brood which had to mature before they could make the long journey to Africa.

During a walk in the Geo Road area on the 13th I could not fail to notice a significant number of Meadow Pipits either at the Geo or making their way down the fields heading in that direction. I presumed I was witnessing migration in action and was thrilled to see this.

During a visit to Sandside Bay on the 14th I saw, and heard, 6 Fieldfares flying over. Not too much bird action in the bushes there, just a Willow Warbler and a few Goldcrests. Three days later in this location a Blackcap and two late Swallows were reported.

It was nice to see 3 Greenfinches flying onto plants at the Geo on the 17th and I noticed that Turnstones are still finding the seaweed a good place to search for food. I don't see many Herons on my travels so one taking off from the Geo caught my eye on October 20th. In the sea were 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Back home towards the end of the month I spotted a Dunnock on the floor near the feeder. This small bird is similar to a house sparrow but has a grey throat and is usually seen pecking for food on the ground. Other birds to report are a Snipe at Gritley and a Pheasant in my field.

I joined friends who were ringing birds at East Denwick on the 28th where a number of Reed Buntings were caught and ringed. The photo shows a Reed Bunting sporting a newly-fitted leg ring which can clearly be seen.

Reed Bunting

Photo of Reed Bunting by Gerry Cannon.

Well the nights are drawing in now and the weather is deteriorating so please don't forget to put out food and water for our feathered friends.

Pauline Wilson