Tuesday 20 February 2018

Mystery Goose

In my last post 'Half way through February already!' I mentioned seeing an odd looking goose in amongst a group of Greylags, which I had seen on a number of occasions over the last couple of weeks in the area of Echna Loch and Echnaloch Bay.

All attempts to get a photo had so far failed, but on my way to work today I managed to get an average record shot as a starter for 10 when I spotted it alone in the same field as it was in on Sunday.

Any thoughts?

The mystery goose

Sunday 18 February 2018

Half way through February already!

I can't believe we are already half way through February, how am I supposed to get any birding done when the months are going too quickly?

On the 4 Feb 18 I caught and ringed the Robin that had been around the garden since at least the start of the year. Up until now having one ringed and one un-ringed Robin had made it easier to confirm that there were at least two Robins in the garden. Now having two ringed individuals I won't know if I'm seeing one or the other, but if the a third bird puts in an appearance it will stand out.

On the morning of the 10 Feb 18 I managed a a short trip down into the village and along to Echnaloch and Echnaloch Bay.

In the village I saw three Hooded Crows, four Blackbirds, and a number of Starlings, House Sparrows and Rock/feral doves. In the field just to the North of the school playing field there were 25 Greylag Geese.

On Echnaloch there were 17 Tufted Duck, three Great Black-backed Gulls, two Mute Swans, four Red-breasted Mergansers, 38 Common Gull and what appeared to be a hybrid type goose, (it looked mainly like a Greylag but was a bit paler and had a white face). Tucked down in the corner nearest the Fossil Centre there were 10 Wigeon and eight Teal.

On the field between the loch and the Fossil Centre there were five Oystercatchers, six Curlew, six Lapwing and 15 Mallard. 

On the other side of the road there were 52 Oystercatchers and 16 Curlews on the beach, a single Great Black-backed Gull on the sea and 60+ Fulmar on and along the cliff.

Back at the cottage there was the female Blackbird, a Robin, a few Starlings and a couple of House Sparrows. Then a new male Blackbird put in an appearance and got himself a ring.

On the 13 Feb 18 I was on my way to work and as I was passing Echnaloch there were the usual Tufted Ducks, Mallard and Wigeon when I spotted close to the road a single male Goldeneye.

Yesterday, 17 Feb 18, I spotted first thing a male Blackbird on the lawn. This Blackbird did not have a ring so was another new arrival in the garden. A run down to the shop a bit later provided a single Oystercatcher in the field opposite Hillcrest. This was the first indication of the Oystercatchers starting to return up onto the hills for breeding. Leaving the shop and heading along the main road towards Kirkwall there were 60+ Curlews in the fields to the North of the school playing field.

Back at the cottage in the afternoon a flock of at least 11 Greenfinches appeared in the Fuchsia bushes. I manged to catch seven of them, ringed six of them and the remaining one which already had a ring on was ringed by me back at the end of June last year.

Later on I found out from my neighbour that when he took his dog for a walk in the afternoon there were 34 Jackdaws in the field on the East side of Bloomfield Road at the top of the brae.

This morning, 18 Feb 18, I had another ringing session in the garden. This time there was another Greenfinch previously ringed at the same time as the one I caught yesterday. In addition there were two more new Greenfinches, a Starling and a male Blackbird. Also in the garden was the female Blackbird, five Starlings, a Wren and  couple of House Sparrows.

In the afternoon I had to pop down to the shop and the signs of the returning Oystercatchers was becoming more apparent with 13 in the field South of Ruemuera, along with six Lapwing and four Curlew and there was a further six Oystercatchers on the school playing field.

Later I had to go into town so on the way back stopped off at Echnaloch and Echnaloch Bay. In the bay there were 29 Oystercatchers, three Redshank, 60+ Lapwing, three Common Gulls, a single Hooded Crow and a first for the year two Ringed Plovers.

Then along the South side of the bay flying low was a male Hen Harrier, who flew along side the car, turned behind it then flew along the roadside edge of the loch.

In the field to the South of the loch there were around 250 Greylag Geese. But in amongst them there were two geese that stood out. One was the same size as the Greylags but a lot paler, the other was the one that I have mentioned previously that was paler and had the white face. Now it was with the Greylags it could be seen that it was a bit bigger than the Greylags. All the photos I have tried to take so far have all been rubbish so I need to get a decent shot to try and get a better ID. It has been around for at least a couple of weeks now.

On the loch itself, there were nine Wigeon, 18 Tufted Duck, 20 Common Gull ( four on fence posts the rest on the loch), a Moorhen perched on a fence post, three Mallard, two Mute Swans and a single Long-tailed Duck.

Burray North End (28 Jan 18)

No this isn't a post about the local Burray Football Team, but a short post on sightings at the North end of Burray on my way back from a quick trip into town.

First stop was at the South end of Barrier 3 where I saw my first Redshank of the year with two on the East side of the barrier perched on a couple of the blocks. Also on the East side of the Barrier out in the bay was my first Red-breasted Merganser (a female) of the year.

Then I moved up to the Wind Turbine at Northfield to see what was on and around the quarry pool.

Wind Turbine at Northfield
The water level was very high, not surprising with the amount of rain we have had recently. The two small islands that can be seen are usually much bigger.

Quarry Pool next to wind turbine
Skulking around the far side of the pool was a Moorhen and on the pool was a female Tufted Duck. Other than that and a couple of Common Gull flying over that was it.