There have been several Short-eared Owl sightings throughout the summer (including one very pale bird) and the species has certainly bred on Stronsay this year – on the ground somewhere!
Quail and Corncrake have also probably nested, as there were calling birds of both species and one or two sightings of the former.
A ‘white goose’ was seen near the airstrip on two or three occasions – possibly an albino of a common species or a Snow Goose which is a rare vagrant although some are regarded as escapes from collections.
There has been an obvious and welcome increases in some breeding species which have been adversely affected by the Greylag Geese. These include Skylark, Twite, Common Gull, Arctic Skua and Curlew – all ground-nesting species. However – the biggest noticeable increase in breeding numbers has been among the Sand Martin colonies. Birds which breed close to the dwellings have not been affected by the presence of the geese – Linnets in particular have been as numerous as ever this year, nesting in almost all gardens with bushes, where there may be three or four pairs in situ.
No uncommon migrants have been seen during late Summer but there have been a few recent sightings of Hen Harrier and Merlin, indicating that Autumn is on the way.
The single rarity – so far – was amazingly found feeding in the same field as the (much rarer) Ross’s Gull seen in late Spring – a Rosy Starling (in moult) between Springwell and the Rothiesholm School on 21st August. The two rare species were attracted to the field for very different reasons – the gull joined in with the feeding frenzy of common gulls following the harrow whilst the starling was attracted to the ground around the freshly wrapped bales in the same area. Great examples of man working in unison with nature!
Agnes reported seeing a Short eared Owl at Millgrip a few days ago – right outside her sitting-room window, first on the ground and then on a short fence stab just a few feet from where she stood.
Thanks again for all the calls. John & Sue Holloway
This article is republished here with kind permission of The Stronsay Limpet