Bird Report - January 2017
There is not too much to report for the start of 2017.
I had nice views of three raptors, beginning on January 9th with a male Hen Harrier which flew leisurely across our field and into Little Halley. Three days later a raptor flew over the house and, binoculars to hand, I saw that this was a Kestrel, easily identified when it hovered over the bottom field looking for likely prey. Another Hen Harrier was spotted on the 26th - this time a female - which was making its way past the front of the house.
The cold weather on the 14th attracted a Carrion Crow to the area below the bird feeder. This is quite a rare bird to see in Orkney.
There was another nice sighting on Jauary 28th when 2 Fieldfares were perched atop the bushes in our small plantation. These were accompanied by7 Greenfinches.
During my visits to Sandside Bay for the beached birds surveys (each full moon) I am always on the lookout for what birds are around. During my January survey there were 6 Rock Doves flying off when I walked down the track. They are easily identified as 'pigeons with white rumps'. There was a noisy Meadow Pipit chirping away on the shore and a Hooded Crow further along the beach. A flock of approximately 20 Turnstones were restless as they flew from one end of the beach to the other.
Driving back up the road from Skaill a handful of Greylag Geese were grazing in the field, while 2 Pheasants were together at the side of the road.
The last weekend in January traditionally sees the RSPB Great Garden Bird Watch and I hope plenty of people in Deerness took part in this, counting birds for just one hour and recording what they saw. The tally at Sunnybank was as follows: 70 Starlings, 23 House Sparrows, 4 Blackbirds, 3 Collared Doves, 8 Greenfinches, 1 Robin, 1 Jackdaw, the latter being an unexpected caller.
As I pointed out last month, Ravens will be nest-building any time now but other species will also be thinking about it in February. I spotted a pair of Lapwings in the air near the parish border so keep your eyes peeled!
Photograph of Lapwing, by Ian Cunningham.