By John Holloway
Republished here with the kind permission of The Stronsay Limpet
There have been very few unusual sightings during the last month – two or three brief views of both Woodcock (daytime) and Long-eared Owl (after dark), the former per-haps the most expected as they often appear here during snow where the ground may not be frozen – unlike the bigger land-masses nearby where there may be heavy frosts – not ideal for probing their long bills into the soil. The party of Goldfinches seen by Brian and Christine towards the end of last year were seen again at Cliffdale on 26th January.
There have been encouraging numbers of waders and duck reported in February, in-cluding a sizeable flock of Pintail on the Meikle Water (Donald Omond). Whooper Swan numbers have been small and sightings few and far between.
During the short spell of snow, dozens of Snipe were recorded – particularly along the roadside ditches.
Ravens have been seen in well-above-average numbers and Shelduck have been building up at the Bu Loch since late January – the figure had risen to 15 by 21st Feb.
Oystercatchers too have been arriving, with a sharp jump in numbers at the end of January/early Feb. Donald Omond saw 2 (Greenland) White-fronted Geese on 1st Feb and an Iceland Gull flying past Bomasty Bay the same day.
The over-wintering Water Rail has been present and seen regularly by Ant and Clare in the garden at Gesty Dishes. Also seen during the icy spell were small parties of Reed Buntings (total 10-12 birds) and a flock of 14 drake Shoveller resting close to the shore in Lower Whitehall on 12th Feb. Birds of prey have been seen as irregularly as ever – Hen Harrier the most common, followed by Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine.
SOME OF THE MOST STRIKING BIRDS FOUND BY STRONSAY RESIDENTS OVER THE YEARS.
Keep a look-out for more this year!
Related story: Winter on Stronsay: A ‘look-back’ by John Holloway