Bird Report - September 2019

To quote RSPB's Reserves Manager Alan Leitch "Swallows departing, Pink-footed Geese arriving - changing seasons for Orkney".

I was away early September but when I got back I noticed there were still a lot of Swallows on the wing, there was a Wheatear on the garden fence and Pied Wagtails were still around.

In fact, at the end of the month all three species were easily seen.

This is the time of year for migrants passing through Orkney and on the 11th there were a number of reports . . . . Pied Flycatcher in the Lighthouse Quarry Garden, also two Willow Warblers. Four Wheatears were just along the road. Moving on to Sandside two Stonechats were spotted while two Whinchats were at the Mull Head Visitor Centre. Alan Leitch was in the East Denwick Plantation but merely a Blackcap and a juvenile Whinchat were to be seen.

After my holiday I reacquainted myself with the Geo area where a mixture of Turnstones and Starlings were enjoying the bounties washed up among the tangles. Three Hooded Crows were at the water's edge obviously finding something to their liking. Nearby 3 Eiders were in the water.

As Alan Leitch observed, Pink-footed Geese are arriving in the parish and I counted 30 in a field down the Newark road.

As I passed Cellardyke on the 20th there was a Hen Harrier hunting in the field, then moving on to fields further down the Geo Road. Always nice to see a Hen Harrier. I suspect this was a juvenile.

Back to migrants - a Red-breasted Flycatcher was spotted at Sandside (I always seem to miss the goodies this location can offer).

A report from the East Denwick Plantation on the 24th included Red-breasted Flycatcher, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, 2 Redstarts, 2 Willow Warblers and a Lesser Whitethroat. Earlier 3 large flocks of Barnacle Geese went over Sandside Bay and 3 Jack Snipe were flying around.

I had a nice sighting of a Song Thrush in the back garden on the 27th.

Marlene & Ivor Rorie from Newark contacted me after enjoying some notable species. Marlene remarks that there was the largest number of Seals she has seen in the bay in one go. On the 23rd and 24th Gannets were diving - what a spectacular sight they make. Earlier in the month Dolphins were seen out past the point, across from Marlene's house. 

On the 27th - calm after bad weather the previous two days - I was lucky enough to be at East Denwick for a bird ringing session when a number of species were caught and ringed including Robin, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff, Goldcrest, Wren, Chaffinch. It just shows what birds are around!


Photo of Goldcrest by Pauline Wilson.

By contrast, it was quiet when I had a walk at Sandside Bay on the 29th but I was able to enjoy watching Gannets - adults and juveniles - diving.


Photo of Gannet by Gerry Cannon.

Watch out for more migrants in the next few weeks!

Pauline Wilson