Thursday 2 January 2020

The start of a new decade

Happy New Year and good birding for 2020.

1 Jan 2020

Just as the last decade finished with a stunning sunset, the new decade started with a cracking sunrise, just after 9am. However the sky was a mass of reds and oranges from about 8:15 until the sun appeared above the horizon, rising out of the sea.

First bird of the year was a Robin, just narrowly pipping the resident female Blackbird to the title. These were closely followed by a group of four Starlings and a group of Rock Doves/Feral doves. A Brown Rat was also seen scavenging amongst the bushes looking for its breakfast.

A Hooded Crow was spotted flying across the nearby field, before making a brief stop on the roof of Hillhead before disappearing over the hill.

Then three House Sparrows arrived to feed on the seed I had put out.

We had been invited over to some friends in St Mary's village, on the North end of the Churchill Barriers, for lunch so it would have been rude not to stop at Echnaloch Bay and Echna Loch to see what was about.

On the bay side of the road there were two adult Great Black-backed Gulls feeding on the remains of a seal carcass, while two juveniles stood watching waiting for their chance to feed. Out on the water were another two adults along with some Red-breasted Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks, a few Common Gulls, and an Oystercatcher flying across the bay.

On the loch side of the road there were two Mute Swans, some Wigeon, Tufted Ducks and two male Goldeneyes along with another Great Black-backed Gull and a couple of Common Gulls.

Moving on to Barrier 3, the beach on the South end of Weddell Bay had 20 Curlew on it and in the field behind the beach a flock of 20+ Lapwing were being quite flighty.

It was dark when we came back so nothing else added to the Burray 2020 List so the first day total came to 17 species.

The wind was starting to pick up and it looks like there will be some strong winds over the next few days.

2 Jan 2020

The wind has continued to pick up overnight and by the time night fall had arrived it was around Force 6 gusting Force 7 with the forecast for tomorrow being Force 8 gusting Force 9.

Nothing new in the garden today, in fact it was probably quieter than yesterday. A quick trip out after lunch gave me the opportunity to check out the small quarry up by the wind turbine at Northfield. The quarry itself was dead but the field to the south of the turbine had a mixed flock of Starlings and 20+ Redwings. Yesterday's flock of Lapwings was still about and just a flighty.

As I approached the turning for the Fossil Centre, a male Pheasant ran across the road and then ducked down into the grass verge hoping I wouldn't see it!!

Echna Loch was fairly quiet with nothing new noted from yesterday's collection. On the other side of the road there were 13 Curlew on the shore along with the Great Black-backed Gulls still feeding on the seal remains. Out on the water there were three Shags to accompany the Red-breasted Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks and the Common Gulls seen yesterday. Along with the Shags, a Redshank picking its way along the shore and a Raven flying along the cliff top were new additions to the Burray year list bringing the total to 22 species.

Last year I met Laura Elliot when she came to Orkney on holiday. Laura was relatively new to birding and had embarked on a challenge to see and photograph as many different bird species in Scotland as she could in a year. Her visit to Orkney contributed a number of species to her list. Laura is passionate about the great outdoors, birding and photography and has just launched her own website/blog which you can see here:

I hope you will take a look and follow Laura on her journey.

Hopefully she will do a much better job with her blog than I do with mine!!

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