Bird Report - April 2018
Things start to get interesting in April and 2018 has been no exception.
It was a nice start on the 1st when 7 Long-tailed Ducks were swimming in the sea at Newark while a Robin was at the Geo.
Earlier there had been 1 Mute Swan at the Geo - seen by myself and Isobel Gardner - but on a later occasion there were 2. This is an unusual place to see the species and it was not long before they moved on to pastures new. At the Geo for a number of days have been a small flock of Eider Ducks - the females a dull brown but the males unmistakeable in their black-and-white plumage with green trim to the neck - and what an unusual mating call!
Wheatears are now coming into Orkney to breed and what smart-looking birds they are, easily identified by the white rump as the bird flies off. My first bird of 2018 was at Newark on the 3rd.
I had a nice sighting of a male Hen Harrier at Newark on the 5th made more interesting by the fact that it was being pursued by a tiny bird!
Chaffinches paid a few visits to my garden at Sunnybank during the month, starting with a female and a colourful male on the 7th.
While walking at Newark Bay on the 7th I heard a 'whoosh' and a massive flock of Golden Plovers flew overhead.
Nice to see more colour on the back lawn on the 8th with two super Goldfinches pecking around the base of the feeder and completely ignoring the niger seed feeder.
A stunning male Brambling was on the back lawn on the 13th along with a female Chaffinch and these same birds were present the following day while a Song thrush was in the front field - I took this to be a migrant heading back home to breed.
There were a few nice sightings on the 14th at the little bridge at Newark as a Pied Wagtail flew from under the bridge. As I looked out to the bay there were lots of gulls, predominantly Black-headeds busying themselves in the surf. Two Shelducks were also in the vicinity.
Photo of Shelduck by Ian Cunningham
The male Chaffinch was back in the garden on the 19th, accompanied by a female Brambling.
It was a colourful bonanza in the garden for a short while on the 19th - 3 Siskins were accompanied by a fabulous male sporting bright yellow front; 5 Greenfinches including 3 males in breeding plumage; male Chaffinch and a female Brambling.
Photo of female Siskin taken by Pauline Wilson on her feeder in 2009.
On April 25th I had a phone call from Elizabeth Corsie of Upper Noltland to say 2 Cranes were in the stubble field on the way to the Covenanters. They were around last month so must have decided to stay a bit longer.
I had another Goldfinch at the feeder at 7 am on the 27th.
It was lovely to see my first Swallows on the 29th flying around at Daisybank and obviously looking for a place to call home.
In addition to the birds mentioned above, I must also mention Meadow Pipits which are everywhere, Pied Wagtails which are easy to see just now, don't forget the Wheatears and, of course, our old friend the Skylark seems to be singing even louder this year! Lovely to hear.