Bird Report - February 2019

One of the most unusual things to be washed up on Newark beach must surely be a Red Deer which I was alerted to by Marlene Rorie. This must have been washed over from Caithness.

There were quite a number of big flocks around during February. Nice to report that there are still good numbers of Curlew to be seen both on the ground and on the wing.


This super photos of a Curlew is by Christine Hall.

Lapwings often accompanied the Curlews.

Big numbers also of Starlings which caused delight by performing their swirling act in various localities - always nice to see. 

The heavy seas have once again brought bounties for Gulls and there have been big numbers of varying varieties, but in particular Common Gulls which seem to favour feeding at the Geo.

More big numbers - on the 3rd a nice sighting of Pink-footed Geese in the field behind Delday and, of course, the Greylag Geese continue to find Deerness to their liking. Four days later the Pink-foots had moved to a field on the road down to Skaill. I counted around 100.

Another species which has been noticeable for being in groups is the Raven which I am sure many people will have seen hanging around in various locations.

It's nice to see more Oystercatchers as they return from their wintering grounds further south though some over-winter in Orkney. There has been a flock of around 40 Turnstones at Newark Bay for some time, busying themselves at the water's edge. Turnstones were also on view at Sandside Bay on the 25th and were joined by Purple Sandpipers. As I left Sandside a Pied Wagtail flew by and landed on the beach.

It is lovely to see some of Orkney's more common birds returning - Meadow Pipits and Rock Pipits are easily seen now.

Richard Falconer reported hearing a Skylark very early in February near Jean Corsie's house. It wasn't long before I too was lucky and now regularly hear Skylarks at Newark. In fact, one morning I observed two of the birds tussling in the air and singing before splitting and flying away.

A few Snipe have been surprised as I passed fields during my walks, the birds squawking and flying away into the sky. Rarer though is the Jack Snipe which I saw as it silently flew from the field's edge and was lower as it made its escape.

I was walking at Newark on the 11th and focused the binoculars on 3 Long-tailed Ducks swimming in the sea. It's always nice to see this attractive species.

Wrens are starting to be noticeable now as their unmistakeable sound is so loud it cannot fail to be heard.

I have a couple of raptors to report - a Short-eared Owl hunting down below Sunnybank.

A Hen Harrier landed on a fence up the Newark road before taking off once more.

After the heavy seas the beach at Newark (Sandside also I am afraid) was strewn with plastic, netting, etc. so I was pleasantly surprised to visit one day to see it immaculately clean thanks to the efforts of Ivor and Marlene Rorie. Great work. I hope more walkers respond to the request on the bin to Pick up 3 pieces.