By John Holloway
Republished here with the kind permission of the Stronsay Limpet
Signs of Spring right across the island, the most amazing ‘sighting’ so far being the record numbers of Shelduck on the Bu Loch – peaking at 70 plus, on 26th March. 10 would have been a very high number just a few years ago.
A few Whooper Swans are lingering – 5 on the Blan Loch in late March – and Curlew have regained their former nesting areas around the pastureland, the males giving away their presence with the aerial ‘bubbling’ song, and ‘parachuting’ display into the short grass.
Both Iceland and Glaucous Gull were seen in early March (see photo of latter) and 3 or 4 Pied Wagtails arrived on cue in mid-month.
Birds of prey have been seen less frequently, the majority having left for their breeding territories elsewhere. A Slavonian Grebe was seen by David Askew in Lower Whitehall on 15th and there were a few migrating Redwings and Fieldfares mid-month. Dave and Carwyn saw a Chiffchaff in the garden at Coweshouse – also on 15th – when there was a large flock of well over 100 Golden Plover in the nearby fields below Fingeo. Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were both taking up territory in the latter half of the month.
What appeared to be a totally unsuitable, hanging, propriety ‘bird-feeder’ was hung on the branches outside the kitchen window here at Castle towards the end of the month and in quick succession over the next few days we saw male Siskin, male Greenfinch, and then male Goldfinch tucking into the seeds. All very uncommon species here (none breed on Stronsay). An interesting sighting, as the local sparrows could not seem to fathom out how to reach the seeds in the clear plastic tube. It seemed likely that the birds which quickly found the ‘way in’ had encountered that type of feeder before – perhaps somewhere else in the UK.
Thanks for all the calls. John & Sue.
PS The House Sparrows are still ‘stumped’ by the ‘feeder’ (but plenty of seed on the ground).