Bird Report - March 2017

Spring has arrived and there are more birds to be seen - and heard. I have spotted Robins, Meadow Pipits (in two instances displaying males), Pied Wagtails, so there is plenty to see. Nice to hear Skylarks as they soar way up in the sky; we have a Greenfinch male which is calling regularly from the top of nearby bushes; Wrens are now making their loud sounds, in fact, I have been watching the progress of a wren's nest in our byre which started with a few strands of straw and is now a complete house awaiting an occupant. I heard the unmistakable sound of a cock Pheasant so obviously a mate is being sought here.


Photo of Robin courtesy of Ian Cunningham.

Here at Sunnybank our House Sparrows, Starlings and Blackbirds are preparing nesting sites. We are lucky to be able to garage the car at night but those whose cars live out often have a battle on when Starlings choose a cosy spot under a car to try to raise a family!

Quite a number of birds showed well during a drive to the Gloup car park, with 2 Jackdaws, 2 Greater Black-backed Gulls, 2 Hooded Crows and a flock of Rock Doves all in one field. Further along another big flock of birds, this time Lapwings, accompanied by Common Gulls, while Curlews were calling, and a Fieldfare made an appearance. There are still plenty of Greylag Gulls to be seen but it was nice to see c. 250 Pink-footed Geese as I drove up the road from Skaill on my way back.

Favourite wader Oystercatchers are now being seen in greater numbers as many return from their winter break down south and will be preparing to breed. Another wader already paired up is the Lapwing, spotted while displaying in the parish.

On a walk down to the shore from Hacco the sound of Skylark song accompanied me and 2 Hares were in the field. As I reached the shore I noted 3 Shelducks, 2 Redshanks, a few Wigeon and a flock of Curlew. A nice sight was a Merlin which alighted from a fencepost and flew across the field and out of sight towards St. Peter's Pool.

One of our regular bird watchers, Morris Rendall, was in the parish on March 18th and spotted a Stonechat at the Mull Head Visitor Centre, a Barnacle Goose near the car park while another 5 Barnacle Geese were at the Barns of Ayre, along with 7 White-fronted Geese.

I had a phone call from Isobel Gardner to report a dead Gannet on the beach at Newark and she pointed out that the bird was ringed. Sadly, the bird had been caught up in fishing net - an all too common problem I am afraid. I reported the ring number and very soon the British Trust for Ornithology informed me that the bird had been ringed on Sule Skerry on 22nd July 2015 aged at least 4 years. Interesting facts supplied by the BTO about ringed birds were:

Oldest bird - Manx Shearwater, 50 years 11 months

Furthest travelled - Arctic Tern from Wales to Australia 18,000 km

Strangest recovery - Osprey ring found in stomach of a crocodile in The Gambia!

The Annual Bag the Bruck beach cleanup takes place during April so, in light of the aforementioned Gannet's fate, I hope plenty of Deerness folk take part in this vital exercise.

Pauline Wilson