Bird Report - January 2019


A nice start to the New Year with a flock of Lapwing on the Links. It's always nice to see these birds which I think are full of character and fierce protectors of their offspring when breeding time arrives. I love to see their swooping and calling.

Also on New Year's Day Ivor and Marlene Rorie reported 5 Herons in one of their fields.

Another flock of waders on the 3rd when a good number of Curlews were at Gritley. In fact I have noticed good numbers of Curlews around the parish during my walks.

January 6th was a nice day for a walk with the dog so I headed up the Halley Road disturbing 2 Snipe which rose from the ground at Snippigar. Heading down the track towards St. Peter's Pool I counted 300 Pink-footed Geese at the bottom of the field. These are noticeably different from the Greylag (there were also a few of these) as they have brown necks and shorter beak - and pink feet of course. Wigeon were whistling from the water below where I stood.

Pink-foots were also present down the Halley track later in the month but a smaller flock of about 30.

I was just feeding the birds on the 15th when a Hen Harrier glided over and set the birds up in the air. The sizeable group of Starlings eventually pursued the raptor as it flew off - safety in numbers?

For quite a while now I have noticed a Dunnock amongst the house sparrows and starlings.

A neat sparrow-sized little bird with grey throat and orange legs it hops under the feeders and bushes.

On the 16th I was fascinated to watch 2 Jackdaws making an attempt to reach the peanut feeder in the back garden in order to grab a meal. This happened on a few days without success.

On the 19th and 20th I saw groups of Twite at Newark Bay. These will be feeding on seeds in Russell Aitken's field.

Driving on the 21st a Merlin dashed in front of the car from Erlend Aitken's workshop disappearing behind his house across the road. Nice to see this bird - the smallest of our raptors, in fact scarcely bigger than a blackbird.

I had a phone call from Mary Wylie of Lighthouse Corner on the 30th to say there were 3 Chaffinches under her bird feeder during the cold weather. All three were females so paler than the colourful male.

However the star of the month was a Barn Owl at Halley Farm. Elaine Spence rang me to say the bird was in one of their buildings so I hastened round to take a look. I had to climb quite a high ladder to get a view of this rarity. Actually a different bird of the species was seen near the Gloup area earlier in the year so is there a chance they are venturing further north and maybe might breed at some time in the near future? Thanks to Elaine and Steven for alerting me to this super bird. Elaine was also able to take photos so that was a bonus.

barn owl 1

barn owl 2

Photos of Barn Owl by Elaine Spence.

I wonder if many Deerness folk did the RSPB Big Garden Bird Count? Nothing exciting at Sunnybank. My tally was: 1 Dunnock, 8 Rock Doves, 48 House Sparrows, 57 Starlings, 2 Blackbirds, 3 Greenfinches.

With the winter weather kicking in I hope people are feeding the birds to help them through the cold conditions. Important, too, is water so please break the ice and refill drinking water.

Pauline Wilson