Sunday 24 January 2016

Two more for the garden list

January so far has been pretty quiet in the garden so far this year with the usual Blackbirds, Greenfinches, House Sparrows, Robin, Rock Doves and Starlings with Common Gulls making occasional appearances.

However this afternoon just as a friend was leaving I spotted a Short-eared Owl hunting out over our paddock and heath land area. After my friend left it landed on one of the fence posts and sat there for a few minutes before taking to the wing again to carry on hunting. I was getting some good views of it through the binoculars but the views got even better when it swooped over the garden and landed on one of the garden fence posts.

As usual the camera wasn't to hand but when it flew off I managed to grab the camera and get outside to catch it hunting back over the paddock and heath land.

Short-eared Owl
Then as I headed back to the house I saw something moving on the ground below the row of Fuchsia bushes. Moving closer I saw a couple of Redpolls feeding amongst the leaf litter.

Neither species has been seen in the garden before so that's two new ones for the garden list.

No sign of the Water Rail this year but we remain hopeful.

Friday 1 January 2016

2016 begins

Happy New Year everyone.

Not the best of starts to the new year as I'm full of cold, so didn't really feel like getting out birding. The year list started with two make Blackbirds chasing each other around the garden just as it was getting daylight. As the sun came up a few House Sparrows appeared on the feeder. There were some Starlings out on the fields along with a couple of Meadow Pipits. The usual Rock Doves also appeared at the feeder, with one pair getting a bit amorous!!

A group of Greylag Geese were seen flying over head and also a couple of Common Gulls.

Looking out towards Echna Bay mid morning showed the large group of Gannets, mainly youngsters, were back in the bay feeding again. I wondered if the recently sighted Hump-backed Whales would put in another appearance today.

Sure enough around lunchtime I got news that the two Hump-backed Whales were still being seen in the Echna Bay area so I decided it was worth popping out to see them. So along with Claire we wrapped up warm and set off in the car to see if we could find them.

We saw a couple of people that we knew who said that the whales had been around earlier but were last seen heading back out into Scapa Flow in the direction of Hunda. So we headed off round the West side of the island to see if we could spot them. There were quite a few cars parked up along the road but no one seemed to be looking in any particular direction. Also there were quite a few cars parked up along the main road near the Fossil Centre but again people seemed more interested in chatting rather than all eyes in a particular direction.

We stopped off in a small lay-by just above Vestlay Banks and had a scan around the bay in front of Hunda and more out into the Flow on the West side of Hunda in case the whales had headed around to the South side of Burray. There was no sign of the whales but I did see a couple of Grey Herons, a couple of Long-tailed Ducks and a Great Northern Diver.

With no sign of the whales we decided to head back to home and about half way along the East/West section of the Littlequoy Road I spotted the two Hump-backed Whales out in the bay so we pulled over to watch them. Also in the bay but a bit closer towards the land was a smaller whale which was probably a Minke Whale.

Couple of record shots was the best I could do.

So not the best bird watching starts to a new year but still worth popping out.

Hopefully there will be an opportunity to get out soon and start the list off properly.

Barrie was also out and about and in addition to the whales and Gannets he also saw Guillemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes at Echna Bay. His other highlights included Goldfinch, Stonechat, Peregrine, Scaup and Short-eared Owl.

I was a bit distracted by other things during the course of 2015 so didn't keep on top of the blog. However I aim to catch up by providing a monthly round up of sightings around Burray during the the course of 2015 so that there is a complete-ish record of sightings. You will see a load of holding posts ready for me to fill in the details. 

Happy New Year to all my followers and I hope you have a great birding year in 2016. My new year's resolution is to try and keep the blog up to date as things appear!!

December 2015 Round Up

Details coming soon.

November 2015 Round Up

Details coming soon.

October 2015 Round Up

Details coming soon.

September 2015 Round Up

Details coming soon.

Goose count and other birds (29/30 Aug 15).

The weekend of Saturday/Sunday, 29/30 Aug, saw a Greylag Goose count taking place over the whole of Orkney with the East Mainland, Burray and South Ronaldsay counts taking place on the Sunday.

August 2015 Round Up

Update coming soon

July 2015 Round Up

Update coming soon.

Garden Nests (July update)

Just a quick up date of the nesting activity in the garden this year.

A group of four newly fledged Blackbirds appeared in the garden in late May, if their nest was in the garden it was well concealed as I didn't spot any obvious behaviour from the adults in terms of nest building or delivery of food.

The first signs of nesting was the sighting of a female taking material into the same site as she used for her second nest last year on the x June. She had a clutch of four eggs which all successfully hatched. As they approached the stage for being able to ring them the weather turned to wet and windy for several days so ringing was postponed. As the weather became better a check of the nest revealed that the nest had been abandoned. However, both adults were seen taking food into various areas of undergrowth so I assumed that the chicks were safe and had not be predated. A few days later the youngsters were spotted around the outer edges of the undergrowth and are still feeding in and around the garden.

Despite the weather the female started building another nest and eventually laid two eggs. After a week one of the eggs disappeared from the nest and soon after the female abandoned it leaving the remaining egg behind.

After weeks of having a couple of Linnets hanging around the garden I was beginning to wonder if they were going to do anything. Finally on the 4 July I spotted the female taking nesting material into the same bush that had been used by the Blackbird. Over two days she busily bought nesting material into the bush whilst the male escorted her and sat on top of the bush while she did the nest building.

On the third day (6 July) I saw the female bringing in feathers to line the nest and confirmed on the 7 July that the nest was complete. On the 8 Jul the first egg was laid and on the 10 Jul there were three eggs. On subsequent visits to the nest the female has been sitting tight so I have left her to it not knowing how many eggs she is incubating.

We have recently had a couple of spells of really rough weather and I was concerned the wind buffeting the bush was going to destroy the nest or at least eject some or all of the eggs from the nest.

I checked the nest yesterday and could see that the female was still sitting tight so hopefully next week the eggs will hatch and I'll be able to see how many youngsters we end up with.

I have also spotted a second pair of Linnets spending a lot of time in and around another bush in the garden but as yet I've not found a nest.

I has suspicions that a pair nested lasted year but I never found the nest or saw any youngsters. So it will be great if I have two pairs successfully breeding in the garden this year.

Apart from that I haven't seen any other signs of breeding in the garden. There have been plenty of young Starlings in the garden recently but there haven't bred here this year as we fitted a door to the old byre over the winter so they couldn't get in. There have also been lots of young House Sparrows and Greenfinches but again they must have bred elsewhere.

I am hoping to get a load of nest boxes built in the Autumn so that they can be put up and used as roosts over the winter and then hopefully for breeding next year.