Bird Report - June 2015

On a visit to Newark Bay on June 7th I noticed the unusual sight of 3 Sanderlings in summer plumage. This bird is usually a winter visitor and these birds looked very different from the pale grey ones we normally see. They scurried off down to the water's edge on my approach. There was a Pied Wagtail on the beach and, as I walked back along the top path a pair of Meadow Pipits flew from what I assumed was a nest.

I then went to Sandside and was accompanied by the sound of a singing Skylark as I walked down the path - what a lot of Skylarks there have been this year. This skylark song blended into the noisy call of Oystercatchers as I reached the shore. Two Ravens flew side-by-side while a pair of Meadow Pipits danced in the air together. There were 40 Oystercatchers on the shore, also 20 Common Gulls while a notable number of Greater black-backed Gulls flew overhead. More Sanderling in summer plumage - a total of 5 this time and 2 Swallows were in the air. As I walked along the shore 2 Grey Seals watched me closely. When I reached the far end of the beach (towards the fish farm) there were two Ringed Plovers making a great fuss and trying to lead my astray - obviously young somewhere nearby.

On June 5th 2 Spotted Flycatchers were seen in the Lighthouse Quarry Gardens, then another was seen at the same location on the 16th.

I hadn't seen a Short-eared Owl for quite a while so it was nice to see one on a fencepost just past Dingieshowe at the beginning of the month.

On the 12th a Sparrowhawk landed in the garden here at Sunnybank before flying off, frightening the resident birds in the process! The next day, however, I spotted the bird flying past the window with a small creature dangling from its claws - not so lucky this time. We have had another visit from this raptor so are obviously part of its daily rounds.

I had a walk to the shore from Halley Road on June 15th and caught sight of two Shelducks down by the water's edge. On my walk back up 2 Meadow Pipits were perched on fence posts patiently holding insects in their beaks to feed to nearby youngsters.

While I was at the Mull Head Visitor Centre on the 23rd I heard a Snipe making its distinctive drumming sound.

June is a particularly busy time of year as birds are busy breeding and youngsters can now be seen just about anywhere. Just out of our back window I can readily see young Starlings, Sparrows (just watch the whirring wings as they beg for food), Blackbirds. Today I noticed several juvenile Greenfinches patiently following their dad around.

We have had a Wren flying out of the goat house with great regularity and I guessed there was a nest but a search revealed nothing. It was only when the youngsters were ready to fledge that I was in the building when a wren flew in with insects and it perched in front of a hole in the wall to feed the brood. I was so lucky to see this as the nest was so well-hidden.

Nancy & Alan Scott have three nests on the outside of their house which will be House Martins so that's an excellent sighting. Swallows have always nested inside their buildings but House Martins are much rarer in Orkney so you never know what birds will stop and spend a little time in Deerness!

Pauline Wilson

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