Sunday 26 April 2015

Tree Sparrow and other sightings

Despite being half way through April the weather is still feeling positively wintry. After some relatively mild calm weather over the last couple of weeks the cold North/North-Westerly wind has returned this weekend and is not doing much to confirm we are in Spring heading for Summer!!

That said Summer migrants are arriving or passing through.

Wheatear numbers are increasing with some seen today down by Barrier 4, Bonxies (Great Skuas) are being seen more regularly with on flying over here earlier this afternoon being chased off by five Oystercatchers and Sand Martins were seen over Echna Loch.

The garden here is fairly quiet with the usual Blackbirds, House Sparrows, Greenfinches, Starlings and Rock Doves. There was also a Raven sat on top of the power pole in my paddock this morning.

A phone call from Barrie early this afternoon got me excited. He rang to say that there was a Tree Sparrow in his garden. I have seen Tree Sparrows down South and I have even ringed a few but I had never seen one in Orkney so a short trip over the hill was required.

As usual on arrival it had disappeared but after a short wait watching the feeders it reappeared and good views were had. I even managed a few record shots.

Tree Sparrow (front right)

Tree Sparrow (left hand side)
Also seen in Barrie's garden were 4 Greenfinches, 1 Blackbird, 9 House sparrows, 1 Dunnock, 1 Wren, 1 Pheasant, 1 Collard Dove and one Rock Dove.

While we were waiting for the Tree Sparrow to appear another bird appeared out in the bay at the end of Barrie's garden. This bird was the wintering White-billed Diver, so I took the opportunity to get a couple of record shots of that too.

White-billed Diver

White-billed Diver
While Barrie had been out and about earlier in the day he had spotted some Mallard ducklings down near The Bu.

April 2015 so far

A stop off at Echnaloch Bay on the 3 Apr produced 2 Great Northern Divers, 3 Redshanks, 8 Oystercatchers, 7 Long-tailed Ducks, 6 Great Black-backed Gulls and 5 Common Gulls.

At Millfield on the 5 Apr there were 8 Greenfinches, 8 House sparrows, 3 Blackbirds, 3 Hooded Crows and 2 Meadow Pipits.

Barrie was out and about on the 6 Apr and saw a single Glaucous Gull on the beach at Barrier 4, a male Scaup on Echna Loch and at the Bu 500 Golden Plovers and 23 Snipe. He also had his first Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Goldcrest of the year.

On the 10 Apr in the field to the East of Bruntland there were 3 Oystercatchers, 30+ Common Gulls and a Single Rook. The White-billed diver was still present on Water Sound.

On the 11 Apr there were two Hooded Crows in the garden of Millfield in the morning and in the evening a male Sparrowhawk was seen sitting on one of the garden fence posts.

A Great Skua was seen flying over Echna Loch heading out over Echnaloch Bay on the 12 Apr.

A single Redwing was seen on the 17 Apr sitting on a fence post of the top paddock at Rumera.

A Single male Wheatear was seen by Hillhead on the 19 Apr.

A single Great Skua being chased by 5 Oystercatchers flew over Millfield on the 26 Apr and a Raven was spotted sitting on top of the Hydro pole in the paddock at Millfield.

March 2015 Round Up

The Water Rail was still at Millfield on the 1 Mar.

The Glaucous Gull off of Westshore, first seen in Feb, was still present on the 3 Mar and also on the 17 and 28 Mar .

The White-billed diver was seen in Water sound, off of Westshore on the 7 Mar.

A stop at Echnaloch Bay on the 15 Mar produced 2 Redshanks, 5 Oystercatchers, 3 Ring Plover, 6 Wigeon, 5 Eider, 30+ Common Gull, 6 Great Black-backed Gulls, 80+ Fulmar, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and a single Curlew.

Also on the 15 Mar there were 5 Oystercatchers, 10 Common Gulls and a Black-headed Gull at Northfield Quarry and a single Shelduck on the pond just below Hillhead.

On the 17 Mar Barrie saw a Jack Snipe at the Burn of Sutherland and 6 Snow Buntings on the beach at Barrier 4.

Barrie had a male Siskin on his feeders on the 28 Mar.

There were 8 Velvet Scoters and 5 Common Scoters reported in Water Sound off of Hunda on the 31 Mar.

The rest of February 2015

The White-billed diver was still in Water Sound on the 12 and 14 Feb.

A single Glaucous Gull was seen at Echnaloch Bay on the 14 Feb and another one in Water Sound off of Westshore on the 18 Feb. Two more were seen on the 21 Feb in the fields to the north of the football pitch.

On the 23 Feb I stopped off at Echnaloch Bay / Loch on my way home. On the bay side of the road there were 53 Oystercatchers, 1 Curlew and 37 Lapwing along the water's edge, 80+ Fulmar up on the cliffs/flying around and 2 Common Gull, 13 Long-tailed Ducks, 11 Eiders, 3 Herring Gulls and 3 Great Black-backed Gulls out on the sea.

On the other side of the road on the Loch there were 2 Long-tailed Ducks, 21 Tufted Ducks, 6 Mallard, 18 Wigeon, 2 Goldeneyes and a Grey Heron.

A Whimbrel was seen by Barrie on the 28 Feb.