By John Holloway. Republished here with kind permission from The Stronsay Limpet.
With some very wintry weather in the first half of the month and a beautiful calm and bright spell towards the end, migration has been very different this year.
Pied wagtails were late arriving, but one bird of the European race (alba – very rare here in Spring) was discovered feeding among the ponies at Ha’breck.
So far we have seen just one Wheatear – on 24th April. (The second at lunch-time today – Sunday 25th)
The over-wintering birds of prey all seem to have departed as usual and there has been a very noticeable increase in the number of Curlew ‘on territory’ across the island.
Linnets returned just as the weather improved mid-month and our nesting Sand Martins arrived in Mill Bay on 20th.
Several other migrant species have been seen – as usual a mixture of regular and uncommon species. These include 2 Chaffinches (Helmsley and Castle); Common Buzzard (Andy Whiteman); Short-eared Owl (Simone); 2 Great Skuas (David at Osen); the first Swallows – at Airy (Hazel), and a nice ‘trio’ from Donald Omond – Willow Warbler, Short-eared Owl, and a Little Tern. The last species being quite rare in Orkney.
There has been a welcome rise in the number of wintering ducks, several species of which can still be seen on the Matpow Loch, Wigeon,Teal, Mallard and Tufted Duck in particular have all taken advantage of the reduction in the number of Greylag Geese.
The Mute Swans are building their nest on the bank this year – the island still under-water due to flooding during Spring tides.
Two Sandwich terns were on the fence which crosses the loch on 21st. They were asleep and had probably just arrived in Orkney.
Thanks again for all the calls and here’s hoping that the fine weather continues and brings a good and colourful assortment of migrants to the island during the next month or so.