By John Holloway
There was a typical mixture of unusual species in late Autumn, spread across most areas of the island, but with bird-watching somewhat curtailed this year there are bound to have been several we did not see or hear of. One of the ‘joys’ of birdwatching!
One of the biggest surprises was at ‘Lower Samsons’ where Donald Omond found a Bullfinch in his ‘garden’ (wood?) there, and Sue saw a Yellow-browed Warbler in the nearby Castle garden the same day. The last Bullfinch here on Stronsay was over 10 years ago.
A large ‘flock’ (formerly known as a ‘funeral’) of Ravens built up in the Boondatoon/Gesty area in late October/early November when over 40 birds could be seen and there was an amazing flock of over 200 Rock Doves in the adjacent fields at the same time.
Birds of prey have been recorded regularly including Peregrine, Merlin, Sparrowhawk, Hen Harrier, and recently a Common Buzzard – quite rare here.
A flock of over 500 Golden Plover has been (and still is) present – also mainly in the ‘Banks’ area.
Several species of duck have been seen – mainly at Matpow, where a Dabchick has taken up residence, and Donald Omand reported seeing a Grey wagtail in Whitehall Village and 4 Slavonian Grebes in Mill Bay.
Anthony Potts saw a Woodcock fly up from within his garden at Gesty Dishes – and all through this ‘late Autumn’ period, the Lesser Whitethroat reported in October was still present – usually in the hedgerow on the South Side of the garden at Holin Cottage.
There have been several sightings of Stonechats around the roads (3 or 4 birds in total?) – generally perched on the fence posts/wires. A small delicate-looking species and relatively easy to approach in a vehicle. The roads between the South School to Roadside, and Mt Pleasant to Cliffdale seem to be their favourite sites during the winter months here, but much depends on the wind direction!
Thanks for all the calls. John & Sue.
Many thanks to the Stronsay Limpet for permission to republish in The Orkney News.
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