Bird Report - October 2015

There has been plenty to see in the parish during October. I didn't even have to stray from home earlier in the month as there was a Song Thrush on the back lawn on the 4th, followed a couple of days later by a Garden Warbler. I skewered apples onto the bushes on the 10th and in no time at all they attracted Black Caps - 1 male and 1 juvenile/female (the latter have brown caps). I had a number of this species over the next week or so. October 11th saw two Bramblings (a handsome male and a female) pecking about for seed on the back lawn. There has been a flurry of sightings of Goldcrests (our country's smallest bird and colourful too with the gold crest on its head) and, sure enough, they arrived at Sunnybank where quite a number were in the bushes making their distinctive sound as they flitted through the branches. We had 3 Redwing - a type of thrush - in our small plantation, scoffing the Rose Rugosa hips. A male Brambling was back on the 15th and later in the day it was lovely to see a Dunnock pecking around the floor below the feeder - typical behaviour.

So, as you can see, the binoculars have been out a lot in our corner of Deerness.

Earlier in the month I visited the East Denwick plantation near Mull Head Visitor Centre where a friend was ringing birds. A fairly quiet session but 2 Lesser Whitethroats and a Wren were nice to see. Near the Visitor Centre 2 Stonechats were on the fencing wire while several Linnets and a Wheatear flew past.

Some residents of our parish couldn't have failed to see the Black Swan which was present at St. Peter's Pool for quite a while. It seemed to be accompanying a Mute Swan. Henry Reitzug of Little Halley took a photograph of this bird.

black swan

The main excitement in Deerness in October was on the 11th when a Hoopoe was spotted down the track at Sandside, then - hard on its heels - a Red-Flanked Bluetail­ appeared on the fence quite near the top of the track. I was lucky to be informed of this bird and taken to see it so it was a great thrill. It was quite small and very rare for Orkney as I believe it was only the fifth sighting. While viewing this little bird I couldn't fail to notice the huge number of Goldcrests which seemed to be everywhere - in the bushes; among the wilting umbellifers. (A total of 61 Goldcrests had been ringed at East Denwick earlier in the day) A Chiffchaff was also joining in the party.

Jonathan & Kathryn Southerington of the Rocket Hoose reported 34 Whooper Swans at St. Peter's Pool on October 20th - a very striking sight I would imagine.

I was out with Daisy Aitken for a short run on the 16th and we saw a big flock of Golden Plovers, along with Lapwings, in the field opposite Seatter. Now is the time of year for these plovers to pay Orkney a visit. As we reached the junction of the Kitchens/Halley Roads there were lots more Lapwings in the field.

Several local bird watchers regularly visit Deerness and one of them reported as follows:

Lots of Blackbirds, Fieldfares, Redwings about. Other birds a few Goldcrest and 2 Robins at East Denwick Plantation. Short-eared Owl at the Barns of Ayre. Brambling in stubble field along road to Halley.

Another report: East Denwick - Barred Warbler, 1 Redstart, 5 Goldcrest, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Yellow-Browed Warbler.

An East Lothian visitor to Orkney reported as follows: Sandside - Little Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler. Brough of Deerness Great Grey Shrike.

RSPB Warden Alan Leitch was at Sandside and saw a Yellow-browed Warbler, the Hoopoe and a Rustic Bunting.

Watch out for Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares moving through Deerness. They all belong to the Thrush family and can be seen in good numbers at this time of year. Also, I have already seen my first Robin - a sign surely that Christmas is just around the corner!

All in all quite an exciting time in Deerness during the month of October.

Pauline Wilson

 (Photo of Black Swan by Henry Reitzug)