Culture

Stronsay Bird Sightings – A Brief Summary of the Year

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.

Stronsay birds 1 Collared Flycatcher

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.

Stronsay birds kestrelOur 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.!

Stronsay birds 2 Firecrest

Photo credit: Sheila Burger

Thanks again for all the calls and information this year

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1 reply »

  1. A Mandarin Duck, in Orkney! I’m now imagining looking out the window and seeing one on our pond. You never know…

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