First published in The Stronsay Limpet – 200th edition – February 2022
‘Bird of the Month’ as February draws to an end was a ‘first winter’ Glaucous Gull at the Hill o’ Roo on the 7th, having just had a bath on the Blan Loch on the other side of the road. (See photo – broken feather protruding in the tail area).
Large gulls often follow this procedure but never bathe on the loch in large numbers.
A female Chaffinch is still visiting the garden here at Castle and the over-wintering Robin gives a burst of song occasionally. The tame Blackbird reared at Greenfield is still thriving here and has – unlike a few House Sparrows – avoided the marauding Sparrowhawk which visits the area regularly. Several birds of prey have been seen on and off – 2 or 3 Merlins and at least 3 Hen Harriers, including at least one – black, white, and grey, adult male.
A few Fieldfares and Redwings (more of the former) were present until mid-month but most seem to have moved on. ‘Where to?’ is the question! Oystercatcher numbers have been building up in the last two weeks and Shelduck have arrived in good numbers – 21 on the Bu Loch earlier today (20th).
Duck numbers have risen too, with 120 birds of mixed species (mainly Teal, Wigeon and Mallard) also on 20th. A few Pintail have also been recorded at Matpow where they bred in former years and a few Whooper swans have been seen at several sites, whilst at the other end of the spectrum Ravens have been recorded in larger than average numbers recently. Sad to say,
Curlew and Golden Plover numbers have dropped since the New Year coinciding with a noticeable – and worrying – increase in the numbers of Greylag Geese which are beginning to ‘pair up’ throughout the island.