By John Holloway
As might be expected in late Winter, most of the interesting sightings have been of ‘water birds’ and ‘birds of prey’ but a few early migrant ‘land-birds’ have been see, including 2 male Chaffinches in early March.
The most unexpected arrival was a Rook – formerly a regular visitor but now very rare – seen by Donald Omand near Sunnyside.
A few small parties of Redwing and Fieldfares have been seen in the grassy fields but most had soon moved on in their rush to the breeding grounds further north in Scandinavia.
Just a single Song Thrush has been seen and the first Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen along the Airy Rd on 4th March – a typical date.
Shelduck numbers at the Bu peaked at 18 in early March when the Matpow Loch still held a party of 8 Tufted Ducks, 2-3 Pintail and many Teal and Wigeon, most of which had dispersed by the middle of March.
The Dabchick was still present at Matpow until mid-month and an Iceland Gull was seen among a mixed flock of gulls at Bomasty Bay on 14th (long distance!).
A real surprise on 17th was a Water Rail which dashed up from the Mill Stream and stood motionless for a few seconds on the grassy bank as Sue and I were heading for the shop. No hope of a photograph!
The most obvious feature of the last month has been the number of birds of prey. We have seen at least one or two species virtually every time we go out in the car – mainly ‘ring-tail’ (brown) Hen Harriers , but also several sightings of ‘grey’ adult males (possibly the same bird). Merlins have been just as regular and there have been a few sightings of Sparrowhawk and one or two of Peregrine.
Our garden Wren has begun singing and many Skylarks have taken up territory across the island, the males singing regularly on fine days.
Many thanks to The Stronsay Limpet for permission to republish this article in The Orkney News