Bird Report - June 2016
The birds are all busy with the important job of raising young just now. Our Wrens have fledged and we have been hearing the sounds of mum (or dad maybe) rounding up the youngsters at the end of the day. I was surprised that the family returned to the byre each evening for a while after fledging. Our House Sparrows, Starlings and Greenfinches all have young at the moment and it's nice to see the youngsters' whirring wings when they beg for food.
Another youngster causing interest is an Oystercatcher which hangs around Daisy Aitken's garden with its parent which was seen throwing a worm onto the ground for the young bird to eat.
I have seen one or two Ringed Plovers on Deerness beaches employing diverting tactics to dissuade me from straying too close to a nest or fledglings.
I had a walk at Newark on June 20th and saw a small group of Linnets, at least one of which was a male showing off his handsome red breast that he sports at breeding time.
Nancy Scott tells me her House Martins are going along well with three nests attached to her house. Similar to martins are, of course, Swallows and these can be seen in various parts of the parish and youngsters are now on the wing - spotted by having a shorter tail. These birds usually have two, or even three, broods before embarking on their long journey back to Africa.
I had a nice walk at Mull Head on the 18th and was rewarded with sightings of both birds and flowers.
Flowers included Silverweed (flowers are very sparse), Tormentil, Bog Cotton, Marsh Marigold, the ubiquitous Buttercup, Clover, gorgeous Sea Pinks, Sorrel, Plantain, Early Marsh Orchid looking stunning with its purple blooms, Sea Campion, Cocks & Hens (or Ham & Eggs as I know them from Yorkshire), the delicate Lady's Smock and Scurvy Grass. Soon the Grass of Parnassus will be in bloom which is a good excuse for a walk at Mull Head; these also flower at Sandside.
Early Marsh Orchid, Cocks & Hens, Plantain, Clover and leaves of the Coltsfoot plant, the flowers having been in blooms a few months earlier. Photo taken at Sandside by Pauline Wilson.
Birds included: Swallows, Rock Doves and Starlings at the Gloup, Guillemots and Razorbills (both in the sea and on nests), Fulmars, Kittiwakes flying past, Shags (in the sea and lots on nests), two Pied Wagtails at the Brough - I suspect a nest; I saw lots of Meadow Pipits, one in particular giving a splendid breeding display, flying up into the sky then coming down again head first - sure to attract a mate! I saw two Bonxies (Great Skuas) and Oystercatchers were plentiful with their unmistakeable call. Whaups (Curlews) too, have a distinctive call and these were present, probably keeping a close eye on youngsters. The Black-headed gull and the Greater black-backed gull are both handsome birds despite them preying on other species and I saw both at Mull Head.
I hope the breeding season in Orkney is a successful one in 2016.