Bird Report - October 2014

Migrants are the main news at this time of year and Deerness has had its fair share of these.

Here at Sunnybank our garden has hosted several - a female Chaffinch was pecking at seed on the lawn; 6 Siskins flew up the lane in front of the car flashing their yellow rumps as they went; 3 Redwing were in the back garden which was unusual as they are normally seen in fields; a Goldcrest stunned itself by flying into our window but this story has a happy ending as, after being put in a fishbox to recover, the tiny bird flew away.

I was lucky to have been invited on two bird ringing sessions at the East Denwick Plantation near the Mull Head Visitor Centre. First was early evening so not much time before dusk set in. However, a nice variety of species were ringed: Robin, Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Linnet, Chaffinch, Wren, Dunnock and Lesser Whitethroat - a bird new to me.

On October 8th it was back to East Denwick where 38 birds were ringed:

18 Backcaps,


  • (photo of Blackcap by Pauline Wilson)
  • 5 Goldcrests,
  • 4 Blackbirds,
  • 2 Redwings,
  • 2 Song thrush,
  • 1 Chiffchaf,
  • 1 Wood Pigeon - a surprise catch! -
  • 1 Robin,
  • a colourful Brambling,
  • 1 Reed Warbler, and
  • 2 Yellow-browed Warblers which were the stars of the show!

yellow browed warbler

(photo of Yellow-browed Warbler by Pauline Wilson)

So you never know what's hiding in the bushes!

Many other species are now either wintering here in Orkney or passing through and there are a number of reports from our parish.

Julian Branscombe was lucky to have a trip to Copinsay where quite a number of birds were to be seen, mostly in the crop planted especially to attract them: 8 Brambling, 40 Twite, 30 Linnet, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Siskin, 5 Chaffinch, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Blackbird, 5 Redwing, 25 Song thrush, 5 Robin, 2 Wren, 1 Dunnock, 1 Water Rail, 1 Jack Snipe. There were also 3 bonxies over the island, 1 Peregrine flying north, 1 Hen Harrier hunting over the bird crop, 1 Golden Plover, 15 Skylark, 25 Rock Pipits, 4 Meadow Pipits. Quite an afternoon!

At the Mull Head Visitor Centre a 2 Whinchats  and a Stonechat were spotted,

Mull Head is a fine place for a walk, also to spot birds. 7 Snow Buntings and a Hen Harrier were seen on October 22nd. Earlier in the month a female Merlin was hunting over the rough ground while 2 Knots  were among a small flock of Turnstones below the cliffs; 3 Bonxies and a Wheatear were also to be seen.

It's always worth a peek into the Lighthouse Quarry. On October 19th the trees held 2 Blackcap, 4 Goldcrest and 3 Chiffchaff. I hope they were alert as a male Sparrowhawk was also in the vicinity!

The road down to Sandside Bay revealed 1 Stonechat, 1 Blackcap and a small amount of Thrushes.

Watch out also for Greylag Geese, Pinkfooted Geese and Barnacle Geese if you are lucky. Also arriving just now are the handsome Whooper Swans - it's a great sight and sound to see these flying past, trumpeting as they go.

What a lot of migrants are around. Many, of course, are leaving our shores. I saw my last Swallow at Sunnybank on October 2nd. This will by now be well on its way to South Africa.

Closer to home, there has been a little Wren poking aboutthe garden for a while now and I see the occasional Robin to add a bit of colour to our usual flock, but even more colourful was a male Pheasant looking most handsome before disappearing over the wall.

There's lots to see at this time of year so enjoy!

Pauline Wilson