Bird Report - October 2019

During a walk down the Geo Road on the 3rd of the month I was attracted by a sizeable flock of birds, and found these to be c.300 Golden Plovers accompanied by a number of Lapwings as they so often are. This scenario was repeated the very next day, this time in a field opposite Sandside - were these the same birds? No way of telling, for me at least.

During a walk near home on the 5th I saw a flash of colour and realised a tiny Goldcrest had landed in the middle of the road before quickly flying off, perhaps to my garden as a Goldcrest was bobbing around the bushes there later in the day. I heard the bird while I was mowing the lawn and a search revealed its whereabouts.

Redwings and Fieldfares are to be seen at this time of year. I saw my first Redwing on the front lawn.

Robins are easily seen just now - such a handsome bird and one of the very few which sing during the winter. (I was at the Pickaquoy Centre car park recently and heard a loud, melodic birdsong and there atop a tall tree was a Robin!)

I have been having several views of a male Hen Harrier as it checks the bushes for a likely supper.

On the 9th I had a report from Marlene Rorie of Newark that 60 Curlews flew along the shore and past her house. She reported that Gannets are still active nearby (in fact I have watched these very same birds from Sandside). A stunning male Brambling was on the feeder and Marlene also mentions that she too has regular visits from a Hen Harrier. Marlene and Ivor regularly clean the beach and this often results in interesting finds, one such being a Triggerfish which is a summer visitor to Orkney waters. There have been 12 records in Orkney since 1995.

Trigger Fish

Photo of Triggerfish by Marlene Rorie.

A number of people have reported Swallows being around well into October and I assume these will have been a third brood which had to mature before they could make the long journey to Africa.

During a walk in the Geo Road area on the 13th I could not fail to notice a significant number of Meadow Pipits either at the Geo or making their way down the fields heading in that direction. I presumed I was witnessing migration in action and was thrilled to see this.

During a visit to Sandside Bay on the 14th I saw, and heard, 6 Fieldfares flying over. Not too much bird action in the bushes there, just a Willow Warbler and a few Goldcrests. Three days later in this location a Blackcap and two late Swallows were reported.

It was nice to see 3 Greenfinches flying onto plants at the Geo on the 17th and I noticed that Turnstones are still finding the seaweed a good place to search for food. I don't see many Herons on my travels so one taking off from the Geo caught my eye on October 20th. In the sea were 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Back home towards the end of the month I spotted a Dunnock on the floor near the feeder. This small bird is similar to a house sparrow but has a grey throat and is usually seen pecking for food on the ground. Other birds to report are a Snipe at Gritley and a Pheasant in my field.

I joined friends who were ringing birds at East Denwick on the 28th where a number of Reed Buntings were caught and ringed. The photo shows a Reed Bunting sporting a newly-fitted leg ring which can clearly be seen.

Reed Bunting

Photo of Reed Bunting by Gerry Cannon.

Well the nights are drawing in now and the weather is deteriorating so please don't forget to put out food and water for our feathered friends.

Pauline Wilson