Bird Report - December 2106

There is not much to report from around Sunnybank this month as the days were at their shortest and the weather challenging at times to say the least. We had our usual visitors such as Starlings, House Sparrows, Blackbirds and Greenfinches and I made sure to put out extra feed for them.

There was a Short-eared Owl exploring the field at Little Halley; three Snipe flew up from the field at Quoybelloch and a few days later even more were startled while feeding there. A few Robins have brightened up my days - seen singly of course. We have more Blackbirds than normal so I suspect the extras will be migrants roosting in our small plantation and popping out to feed in the field during the day.

On my beached birds survey at Newark Bay there were at least 10 Ravens in the field as I drove down the lane. As I walked towards the beach a huge flock of Starlings rose up - no doubt finding plenty to eat amongst the piles of tangles. Unusually there were approximately 40 Shag swimming in the sea offshore.

On to Sandside Bay and, driving down the lane, I stopped the car to count c.300 Greylag Geese grazing in the field opposite Grindigar. In the very next field there were 40 Pink-footed Geese feeding.

As I walked down to the beach at Sandside 25 Rock Doves flapped up from the field and made their getaway. A nice flock of 30 Linnets flew by. On the beach a large group of Hooded Crows and a variety of Gulls were busy sorting through the seaweed. There were 4 Oystercatchers by the water's edge - most of these species will be basking in milder weather further south. It was nice to see a good variety of waders, including Purple Sandpipers, Redshank, Curlew, Turnstone - all taking advantage of the incoming tide. In the sea I spotted a sizeable flock of Mallards.

In spite of it being winter, it won't be long before Ravens are making plans to pair up and raise families. Corvids are among the earliest species to breed. So the cycle begins again - let's hope 2017 is a successful breeding year for our birds.

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Photograph of a Starling at Sunnybank.

Pauline Wilson