Thursday 4 September 2014

June round-up

June was a busy month for breeding birds but also bought me a couple of year ticks for my Burray list.

On the 1st, I visited the small quarry up by the wind turbine at Northfield. This site has a small pool whose water level can vary quite significantly during the course of the year. The quarry wall provides a small cliff face type habitat and there are also some boulder piles and a soil heap. there is also some scrubby land around the immediate area and a patch of grassland.

On this visit I saw 16 Common Gulls, some on nests, and a pair of Tufted Duck.

Close by at the side of the road there was an Oystercatcher near a nest with 2 eggs. This was obviously spotted by the farmer as by my next visit, on the 3rd, some rocks had been placed around the nest site to stop passing motorists pulling over onto the verge and destroying the nest. The adult was again close by. This particular nest could easily be observed from the car park by the wind turbine without even having to get out of the car so minimal disturbance was caused to the adult and soon after stopping it would go back to the nest and settled down on the eggs. Another visit on the 13th still had the adult with 2 eggs.

A further visit on the 30th had me worried as the rocks had been moved and the nest was empty. However my fears were soon quashed when I spotted an adult Oystercatcher with 2 chicks following close by. As I headed from the quarry back to the main road I spotted another Oystercatcher chick running along the road before disappearing into the verge. So there had been a second successful nest in the same area as the first one.

Back at Millfield another Blackbird nest with three eggs was located in the garden on the 1st. Could this be the same pair that had just had 5 chicks having another brood? On a sad note one of the youngsters from the earlier nest was found dead below the kitchen window. There was a partial imprint on the window of a strike so was the most likely the cause of death.

On the 9th an adult male Blackbird was seen taking food to the nest indicating the eggs had hatched. Rough calculations indicated that the eggs would have been laid on approximately the 25th May and if it was the same pair as the previous nest there was about a week between the earlier chicks hatching and the latest eggs being laid!! A quick check of the nest showed all three eggs had hatched.

On the 26th it was noticed that the adult Blackbirds had stopped taking food to the nest. On checking, the nest was found to be empty. As both parents had been observed taking food to the nest every day since the 9th it is assumed that the chicks had now fledged and moved into the undergrowth.

Elsewhere an evening a walk up to the trig point and down to Moss Bank, on the 3rd, produced c150 Arctic Terns, 9 Common Gull and 2 chicks, 71 Black-headed Gulls, a pair of Mallard with 4 chicks, 3 Redshank, 5 Meadow Pipits, 2 Twite (the first for 2014) and 2 Curlew.

An evening walk down the hill and around the village, on the 7th, produced a Collared Dove, 7 Greenfinch, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 10 Common Gulls, 8 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Linnets, 4 Curlew, 3 Oystercatchers and 2 Arctic Skuas (the first for 2014) flying over the village towards Barrier 4.

On the 10th 2 Little Terns were seen on the Burray side of Water Sound in the afternoon and on the 28th a flock of 3 Whimbrels were calling as they flew over Westshore in the afternoon.

A visit to the quarry by the wind turbine on the 30th produced a female Mallard with 7 chicks, 5 Lapwings, 7 adult Common Gulls with 8 chicks and 11 Starlings.

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