Bird Report - April 2015
Birds are now busy building nests and breeding so watch out for them gathering nesting material. On a walk up the Geo road on the 23rd I saw two Meadow Pipits in the grass and one had quite a lot of dried grass, etc. in its beak so they would be heading away to a secret place in the hedgerow. There are a lot of Meadow Pipits to be seen just now - small birds with streaked breast and pointed beaks. The male is often to be seen flying up into the air then hurtling down to impress a female he has his eye on! Another bird around in quite good numbers just now is the Pied Wagtail -as its name suggests, it is a small black-and-white bird with a long wagging tail, easily seen on the shore, in gardens, etc. In our garden on the 17th we had a visit from a female Chaffinch but she didn't stay long, unlike the Greenfinches which now seems to be residents here at Sunnybank.
Another bird I noticed nest-building was a Wren I saw flying up from the shore near Newark, obviously to a nest hidden in the cliff-top. These birds are now to be heard (if not seen) as their very loud call belies their tiny size.
The waders are now pairing up and breeding - listen out for calls from Oystercatchers, Curlews and one of my favourite birds the Lapwing - such a brave bird fending off much larger assailants at breeding time.
I saw my first Wheatear of the year at the Geo - a handsome male was perched on a stone showing off its fine plumage. Willie Kirkness rang me to say he had 4 Wheatears at The Barns. These birds should be easily spotted now.
It was great to see my first Swallows of the year on the 25th when no less than 3 flew across the top of our field. Watch out for these birds which will be more abundant in the next week or so.
A nice bird to catch a glimpse of is the Snipe - I say 'catch a glimpse of' as these birds give a loud squawk then quickly fly off before you hardly have time to see them. Their very long beak makes them quite distinctive. I saw one as I walked down the lane from Sunnybank then another which flew up from the grass during a walk at Newark.
During another walk at Newark I spied Meadow Pipits and 4 Pied Wagtails, while out at sea there was a Red-breasted Merganser male and two Long-tailed Ducks. At Newark on the 18th it was nice to see a group of Eider Ducks the distinctive white-and-black (and green) male making his unique breeding call. Two Sanderlings were scurrying along the water's edge.
I had a walk down the track from Halley Road on the 9th and saw a Hare down on the path. Very soon I saw a bird fly down then, thinking better of it, flew back to perch on a fencepost. Closer inspection through binoculars found it to be a Sparrowhawk.
Sandside is a beach I visit regularly and a visit early in the month was quite productive. I walked down the path accompanied by a singing Wren; two Shelducks flew in and spent some time on the foreshore; 60 Oystercatchers were in a long line at the water's edge; 4 Pied Wagtails were making themselves busy on the beach; I heard a Pheasant calling; a Meadow Pipit was displaying; Curlews were calling. Walking back up the track I admired an abundance of Coltsfoot flowers (this plant puts out flowers before leaves appear quite a bit later) and the lovely Celandine - both yellow flowers brightened up my walk.
Noticing a flock of geese in the field below Creya, I saw these were the same flock of Pink-footeds I saw a month ago. By the time you read this I expect they will have left for colder climes, taking the Greylags with them - I expect many farmers will be breathing a huge sigh of relief!