February 2016 Bird Report

[Many apologies for the late arrival of Pauline's report - gremlins in the IT system, now finally sorted - Editor]

February started off with a fine view of a male Hen Harrier hunting in our back garden at Sunnybank. It's lovely to see the male of the species with its light grey plumage topped off with black wing tips.

Also on February 1st I was pleased to see we still had the leucistic Blackbird coming to apples on the back lawn. However, this disappeared a few days later, probably getting a bit farther on its travels.

I took a ride out to the Gloup car park on February 13th, noting birds along the way. As I passed Deerness Stores I counted approximately 300 Greylag Geese.  Reaching the the Sandside area more geese were grazing in the field opposite, this time including Pinkfooteds among their number. Three Lapwings were to be seen in the field adjacent to the Gloup. It won't be long before these birds are pairing up for the breeding season if, in fact, they have not already done so. Looking to the other side of the road a smallish mixed flock included Golden Plovers and more Lapwings. Setting off back for home it was lovely to see a mixed group of birds. Upon closer inspection I counted no less than five different wader species: Oystercatchers, Lapwing, Turnstone, Redshank, Golden Plovers. As well as the waders there were at least 6 Skylarks although no singing to be heard as yet (although I know skylarks have already been heard this year). Not to be left out, a flock of Starlings was also in evidence. As I progressed down the road I spotted yet more Golden Plovers.

Snow arrived on St. Valentine's Day so, besides the usual apples and seed I normally put out for the birds, I added porridge oats and sultanas which they love. Dried mealworms are a favourite also. Besides our usual gang, this morning I was pleased to see a Robin in the back garden.

February 21st brought 80 Rooks into our front field; these are easily distinguished from other corvids by their grey beak area.

A Wren continues to delight us - it was flitting around in the Rose Rugosa bush on the 26th. I wonder if we will have breeding wrens again this year? Last year they nested in the goat house and it was almost impossible to spot the nest until they were almost fledged.

A Short-eared Owl is often to be seen in the field at Little Halley so the vole population there must be fairly abundant. I had a good sighting of it on the 26th.

I did beached birds surveys on February 27th, firstly at Newark Bay when I was surprised to see a Cuttlefish bone washed up on the shore. Nice to see Oystercatchers back - five were on the shore along with 2 Rock Pipits, 4 Ringed Plovers and 1 Turnstone.


Turning my attention to Sandside Bay there were at least 200 Pinkfooted Geese in the field below Creya. Out at sea a Red-breased Merganser female was swimming along as were 2 Long-tailed Ducks.


It was a higher-than-normal count of seabirds washed up on the shore, particularly at Newark, so the recent heavy seas have taken their toll.

Spring is just around the corner so I look forward to the chance for more birdwatching as the days lengthen.

Pauline Wilson