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!

Lapwing Loons

Photograph of Lapwing, by Ian Cunningham.

Pauline Wilson

 

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.

Starling 480x640

Photograph of a Starling at Sunnybank.

Pauline Wilson

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.

Starling 480x640

Photograph of a Starling at Sunnybank.

Pauline Wilson

Bird Report - November 2106

After an exciting batch of birds during October, most of these migrants have now passed through, though quite a few lingered into November.

The Barred Warbler stayed at Sunnybank until the 3rd, along with the pretty Lesser Whitethroat.

November 2nd was a notable day for, in addition to the Barred Warbler & Lesser Whitethroat, we also had a Goldfinch, Black Caps and Robin. There have been several Robins paying us a visit, most I believe to be migrants.

Our first Waxwing arrived on the 3rd and I saw this, on and off, until the 18th, attracted by the many apples I had skewered to the bushes.

Waxwing

(photo of Waxwing by Gerry Cannon).

A Wren was a nice sighting on the 4th - I believe we have one roosting in our byre each evening.

Earlier in the month I spotted 3 Redwing in the front field and there has been an increase in Blackbird numbers as migrants join our local birds.

On November 20th I quickly got out the binoculars to confirm that a Woodcock was standing around on our front drive. I was distracted for a short while and when I looked again the bird had flown.

An unusual sighting on the 26th was a group of 14 Jackdaws in the front field.

During my beached birds walk at Sandside there was alarm when 7 Snipe flew past in great haste, followed by a male Hen Harrier.

There were rich pickings among the seaweed down on the beach and, taking advantage, were Starlings, Hooded Crows, Curlews, Oystercatchers and Common Gulls. Off-shore a lone Long-tailed Duck was casually swimming by. There are always Wrens to be seen or heard at Sandside and on this occasion one was perched on a pile of tyres chirruping away. There were 4 Ringed Plovers on the beach. Going around the back of the beach I was rewarded by the sight of 3 Linnets in a bush while a Robin was perched in a tree up the lane. Further up the lane a Song Thrush was nice to see along with another Wren, 2 male Pheasants and several Blackbirds.

The field below Creya seems to be a popular haunt for the goose population and on this day there were 100-plus Greylags.

One of our regular birdwatchers, Ian Cunningham, reported 350 Golden Plover in a field near the Deerness shop.

There is still plenty to see in December - watch out for Redwings, Fieldfare, Golden Plovers, Pink Footed Geese, Greylag Geese, Barnacle Geese (if you are lucky) and of course Whooper Swans.

Pauline Wilson