Many thanks to the Stronsay Limpet for permission to publish this article.
By John Holloway – Stronsay’s Ornithologist
Another year gone by, and as ever, a very different one to the year before as regards Bird sightings. But there are a few more ‘birding days’ until the New Year and things can change very quickly! As it did a few days ago!
The best birds of the year were a real mixed bunch – the Mandarin Duck on the Matpow Loch in late April; the staggering and unexpected Collared Flycatcher in the Osen garden in May and then a superb male Bluethroat at Airy.
A Marsh Warbler sang forlornly opposite The Mill for several days in early July but did not attract a mate and soon left the area. There were record numbers of Pintail and Shelduck in Spring – a sure sign that Greylag Geese numbers were down.
There were 3 Two–barred Crossbills in late summer – a very rare species in the UK – and a few of the usual uncommon migrants in Autumn including Barred Warbler, Red-backed Shrike and Booted Warbler (very rare in the UK).
Several Yellow Browed Warblers were seen in late September and a Red-breasted Flycatcher on 3rd October, and there was a very noticeable increase in the sightings of ‘birds of prey’ in early Autumn.
3 Waxwings were recorded in early October and a ‘Kestrel’ presented us with extremely difficult identification problems as – apart from most of the features looking ‘right’ for a lesser Kestrel the photograph shows what appeared to be one white claw – enough to make the bird a definite Lesser Kestrel according to all the birding literature we can find! The jury is still out on this bird.
Our minds were taken off the ‘kestrel problem’ when a Tree Sparrow turned up in Lower Whitehall – just the 4th island record! A Red-breasted Flycatcher was discovered at Osen and just as we thought the year was over as regards new ‘sightings’ Sheila Burger discovered – and photographed – a super Firecrest in the garden at Helmsley on 14th December.!
Thanks again for all the calls and information this year
A Mandarin Duck, in Orkney! I’m now imagining looking out the window and seeing one on our pond. You never know…