Bird Report - October 2106

In my last report I said that the wind would be turning to the east soon and, when it did, to get out the binoculars. Well my prophesy was right and we did indeed have strong easterly winds bringing in the migrants so I hope Deerness folk were lucky enough to see some of these rarities.

There were three main stars, beginning with a phone call from Jean Ward telling me she had a Lapland Bunting at Ploverhall. This species had also been seen at the Mull Head Visitor Centre earlier in the day so perhaps it was the same bird. Jean managed to grab her camera and take this photo of the little bird through the window.

Lapland Bunting

Sandside often hosts rarities but it surpassed itself on the 24th when Morris Rendall spotted a Siberian Accentor - a first for Orkney! Not surprisingly, many bird watchers beat a path to Deerness in the hope of seeing the bird (which is small and related to the dunnock family). It has distinctive head markings making it unmistakeable. I was lucky to have a good view of the bird as it pecked around on the ground.

Siberian Accentor

This photo of the Siberian Accentor is by Tim Wootton.

Also on show at Sandside on the same day was a Bluethroat (a bird on my wish list and one that I missed but will be searching for at Sandside during the next few days).

Here at Sunnybank we have our own rarity which has been feeding on apples in the back garden for the past week. This is a juvenile Barred Warbler which is giving us a bit of entertainment.

Barred Warbler 1

Morris Rendall took this photo of the Barred Warbler.

I had another special visitor on the 14th when a female Hawfinch paid a visit but only stayed a short time. With its huge beak this bird is easy to identify.

Other notable birds during October started off on the 1st with 6 Whooper Swans on stubble at Newark - reported by Isobel Gardner.

On the 6th I had a fleeting view of a Ring Ouzel in the back garden before the bird (which resembles a blackbird but with a white band around its neck) flew off. The very same day there was a colourful male Brambling under the bird feeder while a tiny Goldcrest flitted around in the whitebeam tree. There were actually Goldcrests aplenty around the parish with a number of people reporting these - I noted them at Sunnybank on the 18th the 23rd also.

Another species easily seen just now if you skewer apples on bushes or trees are Blackcaps - the male has a distinctive black cap while females and juveniles have brown caps. Since I put out apples I have had the species around all the time. A very small bird, they will also feed on apples on the ground. Of course, Waxwings love apples so worth putting some out to see if they include Deerness in their travels this year.

I expect, like me, people have been seeing Robins as they pass through on their way to their winter quarters - always a bird to bring a smile to the face.

Young Swallows were still around on the 9th - I saw six on the wing (identified as juveniles by their short tails). Hopefully they will be on their way to Africa now if not already there.

During a walk at Newark I had a very small bird in my sights and this turned out to be a juvenile Stonechat which was tricky for me to identify at first as it was minus its white neck marking.

On the same day I saw a Pied Wagtail straggler along the beach also a few Turnstones.

On the 29th I was just quick enough to see a Snipe fly off at the front of the house. It will be a while before we hear this bird's drumming call in the spring.

Other birds to look out for just now are Redwings, Fieldfares, Golden Plovers and, of course, Greylag and Pink-footed Geese.

Reports from bird watchers in Deerness:

RSPB Warden Alan Leitch says:

A nice morning at Deerness produced a nice variety of species and good numbers of thrushes (especially; Blackbird, Redwing and Fieldfare). The highlight was a confiding Lapland Bunting at the Mull Head car park. A couple of Woodcock spooked at East Denwick, while a few Brambling, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Robin and Goldcrests knocked about the plantation. In the Rosa rugosa next to the centre 16 Blackbirds came out! Sandside had a Siskin, a few goldcrests and a couple of Blackcaps. Langskaill plantation had many Goldcrests, Chiffchaff 3, Blackcap 3, Sparrowhawk 2.

Morris Rendall reports:

East Denwick Plantation Yellow-browed Warbler. Sandside there are now 2 Siskins. Lighthouse Quarry Garden produced a few Goldcrest and Robins. Halley a Flock of about 10 Brambling and a few Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Robins.

There are still plenty of migrants around so I will repeat my advice from last month to don the binoculars and start searching in the bushes!

Pauline Wilson