Bird Report - January 2016

For a few days I have enjoyed watching a Blackbird which has a good number of white feathers amongst the black. This is known as leucistic which is a type of faulty gene I believe. The bird suddenly arrived with us and seems to be sticking around for the apples, etc. I put out each day, adding a bit of colour to the normal garden birds. 
Other winter species include the usual Blackbirds, Starlings, House Sparrows and Greenfinches. Also recently we have seen three or four Collared Doves hanging around the feeder. Other sightings this month have been a Wren and a Robin in the back garden. A Meadow Pipit flew down the lane as I drove down from Sunnybank. 
A more unusual sighting was a Woodcock which paid us a visit on January 16th, crouching in a clump of grass at the top of our field. It stayed long enough for me to take a photo - which is not too clear but recognisable - before flying off. The Woodcock is very similar to the Snipe but bigger and chunkier. 
The Short-eared Owl has been round and about Deerness again with several sightings. It was in the field at Little Halley on the 16th, then at Grind the following day. Two days later I was on the phone when I saw it once more in the field at Little Halley obviously hunting as it kept flopping down then taking off. Lovely to see this raptor so often. I am presuming it is the same bird but not necessarily.
There is still a presence of Greylag Geese with a large flock in the field opposite Billy Stove's and I noticed a smaller group at Staye.
I visited Newark on the 24th to do a beached birds survey. There were huge piles of tangles adorning the beach and, taking advantage of the food therein, were a massive flock of Starlings which made quite a sight as they flew off when I approached the beach. Just a handful of waders were feeding at the water's edge - Turnstones, 1 Purple Sandpiper and 1 Rock Pipit. Sadly, the stormy seas had depleted the seal colony with five lying dead on the beach. 
Travelling back up the road, heading for home, my head was turned by a Sparrowhawk which took off from a fencepost and flew over Russell's field. I wondered if this was the same bird that flew over Grind the very next day.
As I write, storms are lashing Orkney and Shetland. Let's hope the birds are keeping their heads down until the weather abates.