Saturday 5 January 2019

First proper patch visit

This morning was my first proper chance to get out and have a look around part of my Burray patch. So I decided to focus on Echna Loch and Echnaloch Bay and to the North up to Barrier 3 and Northfield.

Before I set off a quick check around the immediate area surrounding my cottage only produced a male Blackbird in the garden itself, 14 Starlings sitting on the overhead electric cables from my paddock and 17 Common Gulls feeding on the field next to my paddock.

At the bottom of the hill there were circa 70 Lapwings feeding in one of the fields belonging to Ruemera.

On arrival at the parking area between the loch and the bay I started with a quick scan of the bay. This produced 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Common Gulls, 2 juvenile Herring Gulls and 6 Shags.

I then switched focus to the other side of the road and had a scan around the loch. The Mute Swans that I had seen on New Year's Day had been replaced by 2 juvenile Whooper Swans

Juvenile Whooper Swan

I also counted 17 Mallards, 4 Great Black-backed Gulls, 300+ Greylag Geese, 25 Tufted Duck and 3 male and 2 female Goldeneyes. one pair were busy with courtship display. Near to the Southern edge of the loch I spotted 3 Little Grebes diving amongst the weeds.

Greylag Geese
Tufted Ducks
Male Goldeneye
Overhead a flock of 50+ Lapwings flew over coming from the direction of the flock I had seen earlier. Alerted by their calls I spotted a pair of Redshank flying low over the loch.

Back over on the bay side a further scan produced 10 Fulmars along the cliffs, now back on territory after the high winds at the start of the year. Out on the water there were at least 60 Long-tailed Ducks and in amongst them I spotted 4 Slavonian Grebes and a male Eider. Further out there was a large raft of Shags.

Long-tailed Ducks

Slavonian Grebe and Long-tailed Duck
I then moved on to Churchill Barrier 3 for a quick look at Weddell Sound. On arrival at the car par there was a Hooded Crow in the field next to it. Usually these birds tend to fly off when you get close but this one didn't move too far away.

Hooded Crow
There were 2 Shags diving along the side of the barrier itself and further out into the sound there were a couple of Cormorants. Near the shore line there was a flock of 20+ Starlings feeding in the undergrowth.

Next I moved up to Northfield by the wind turbine. There was a solitary female Mallard on the pool but a close scan around the water's edge revealed a Snipe by some rocks doing its best not to be seen.

I then returned to the loch, this time going round to the far side. Here a Snipe took off from close to where I pulled in and out on the water 8 Teal started swimming away from the water's edge further out into the loch.

Finally before heading home, a quick stop at the village shop produced 8 House Sparrows in the garden next door to the shop.

So a good morning's bird watching adding 11 new species to the patch year list. Totals for 2019 are now 40 for the Orkney list and 32 for the Burray list.

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