Stronsay Recent Bird Sightings

By John Holloway

Republished here with the kind permission of The Stronsay Limpet

Once again there have been a few unusual migrants in late May and early June, but which species we are likely to see is always impossible to guess.

An Icterine Warbler was seen at Lower Samsons and a Quail seen in flight near the Rothiesholm School. There was then a Red-backed Shrike along the Cleat Road and a Marsh Harrier at the Meikle Water, but the most unusual sighting was of a Stone Curlew at Holin where it flew across the road towards the Kirk but was not seen again (JH heard a Stone Curlew’s distinct ‘winnowing’ call in the area a couple of days prior to the sighting).

Donald Omand had further sightings of Crossbills at Lower Samsons and I enjoyed a second sight of a Quail along the Airy Road where it rose from the grass field alongside the car and flew on for 30 yds or so before dropping back into cover. 2 sightings of Quail in flight in the same decade would be rare here – hearing their rapid liquid ‘wick-wickwick ‘ call – not so difficult! The ‘rhythmic’ noise travels a great distance.

The low number of Greylag Geese this summer has given a much-wanted boost to other ground-nesting species. Although generally regarded as a ‘moorland’ bird the Curlew here have nested in the fields of grass in good numbers (about 1pr per 20 acres) since silage became the preferred winter-feed for livestock here in the mid-seventies. The parent Curlew have their young up and running before cutting begins.

One minus – there seem to be far fewer Pied Wagtails this year – or are we just missing them on our trips round the roads?

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