Local News

Stronsay Recent Bird Sightings: January 2023

Republished with kind permission from The Stronsay Limpet

A great start to the year in what has been a month of rather benign ‘ordinary’ weather. Several species of geese have been recorded, including a sizeable flock of Barnacles, a few Greenland White-fronted Geese and two striking Snow Geese – all welcome winter visitors.

Also in the ‘winter visitor’ category, a Jack Snipe was seen here in the Castle garden, and a Long-eared Owl in the drive (one of several ‘night-time sightings including along the Airy Road). Other ‘Birds of prey’ recorded regularly have been Sparrowhawk
(plundering smaller species in gardens) and Hen Harriers of both sexes (hunting low over the open meadows). A Kestrel has been seen regularly too. A few Chaffinches have overwintered in the Samson’s Lane tattie-field, and small numbers of Linnets and Twite have been seen. But the most ‘striking’ sighting in the ‘small bird’ category was the (insectivorous!) Chiffchaff seen in the Castle garden on 19th and at Lower Samsons by Donald Omand next day. During this period a Water Rail (perhaps the same bird as last winter?) was helping itself to the food put out for the ‘garden birds’ at Cliffdale.

Long-tailed Ducks have been seen in Mill Bay most days this Winter and an occasional flock of Sanderling on the beach. Up to 5 Goldeneye have been seen on the Bu Loch, and towards the end of the month Shelduck had returned to the area – 3, then 7, then 15, and finally 17 on 30th. Will we have yet another record year for the species in 2023?!!

The last interesting sighting – and a real surprise – was the flock of 7-8 Snow Buntings which flew across the road by the Ayre of the Mires on 30th. Without doubt the party which arrived in that area in October and have been seen a few times in-between.

An average number of wintering thrushes have been seen – perhaps a total of 200 of both Redwings and Fieldfares, and a similar number of Blackbirds.

Thanks for all the calls. The 2022 Stronsay Bird Report now out. Please ring if you would like a copy (£5 including original sketch cover. 616363.)

John Holloway

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