RSPB Bird Reports
ORKNEY BIRD RECORDS
A single Black-throated Diver was off the Bu Sands, Burray on 1st while 14 Red-throated Divers gathered in Widewall Bay on 22nd. Fulmars returned to Widewall from 19th after a longer than usual absence; birds were back on breeding ledges at Binscarth by 31st.
By far the largest Whooper Swan concentration was on Shapinsay where there were up to 94 during the month; other flocks in excess of 20, involved 31 on Stronsay on 2nd and 25 at the Sabiston Loch on 18th. The Greenland White-fronted Goose flock in the Birsay area peaked at 94 on 19th while two were on North Ronaldsay on 21st. Two European White-fronted Geese were at Mirkady, Deerness on 23rd. The only report of Pink-footed Geese was of 150 in Harray on 15th but there were numerous reports of Barnacle Geese with up to 130 in South Ronaldsay, up to 49 in Birsay, 18 in Tankerness, 17 at the Brig o’ Waithe, 15 on Papay and seven on North Ronaldsay.
Shelduck continued to return from their European moulting grounds with maxima of 33 in Widewall Bay, 21 at Rennibister and 19 on Shapinsay. 37 Pintail at Stronsay’s Matpow Loch was a good count, one – three being seen at four other sites. The peak count for Gadwall was 13 on North Ronaldsay during the last week while that island’s count of eight Shoveler was bettered only by nine on South Ronaldsay’s Liddel Loch. The Mill Dam on Shapinsay was a most unusual location for a single Long-tailed duck on 15th. Small numbers of Common Scoters appeared at Scapa (two on 9th). Herston (two from 19th) and Echnaloch Bay (five on 26th) while the commoner Velvet Scoter was present off Tankerness (up to 15), in Echnaloch Bay (up to five), in Kirkwall Bay (three) and Scapa Bay (two). Much rarer was the single Surf Scoter off Tankerness on 29th.
One – two Buzzards frequented South Ronaldsay all month while another was at Binscarth on 31st. The Greeny Hill Hen Harrier roost held at least 12 birds on 18th while up to six also used Cottascarth during the month. Red-legged Partridges are becoming a regular sight on Shapinsay following releases by shooting interests – three were at Furrowend on 12th.
The largest Golden Plover gathering was of 470 on North Ronaldsay but there were very few records of Grey Plovers – only one-three at three sites. 130 Ringed Plovers were at Warbeth on 25th. Few reports were received for Knot or Sanderling, the maximum counts coming from North Ronaldsay with 22 and 19 respectively. Purple Sandpipers were conspicuous on Papay with up to 400 during the month while as many as 200 were at the Point of Ness, Stromness. Ruff are most unusual in winter so that records of one at Widewall Bay and two at the Boardhouse Loch on 16th and four at Shapinsay’s Mill dam on 24th were of note. One – two Woodcocks were seen in four localities mainly in the Firth-Stenness area but there were only two Jack Snipe – in Stromness on 6th and on Shapinsay on 12th. The highest count of Bar-tailed Godwits was 140 at the Mill Sand, Tankerness but 35 – 60 were seen at three other regular sites while five on Egilsay on 16th were unusual. The only Black-tailed Godwit was one at the Mill Sand on 29th. Good counts of commoner waders included 785 Curlews at Widewall Bay on 16th, up to 520 Redshanks at the Boardhouse Loch and 171 Turnstones inland at the Swannay Loch on 14th.
Black-headed Gulls desert the north isles in winter so that two on North Ronaldsay on 13th were unusual. A very large gathering of Common Gulls (5000+) occurred at the Boardhouse Loch mid-month. The regularly-returning Ring-billed Gull was seen in Stromness for the first time this winter but on only two dates, 3rd and 5th. A big influx of Glaucous and Iceland Gulls from the Arctic occurred during the month, the first for many years. Up to five Glaucous Gulls were present on Egilsay, three on Sanday, three in Stromness, two on Shapinsay and two on Papay with singles in a further eight localities. Three Iceland Gulls occurred in South Ronaldsay, two on North Ronaldsay, two in Holm, two in Stromness and two on Shapinsay with singles at four other sites. Only two Little Auks were reported during the month, in Papay Sound on 4th and at Sandoyne, Holm on 26th.
A Collared Dove was sitting on its nest in Kirkwall on 27th but Rock Doves were still in winter mode with a flock of up to 550 in the Costa area late in the month. Up to eight Long-eared Owls were in a communal roost in Rendall while other roosts of one-three birds were located at four other sites. As many as six Short-eared Owls were hunting in Rendall on 31st while two spent much of the month in the more unusual locality of Papay’s North Hill. By far the largest gathering of Skylarks was of 68 on North Ronaldsay on 13th. Up to three Pied Wagtails frequented the Stromness area while singles were at Scapa and Finstown on 25th ; a Grey Wagtail was in Finstown on 16th.
A Robin was in song in the Hope by 26th and birds had paired up in Finstown by the end of the month. A long-staying Black Redstart on North Ronaldsay was seen again on about 20th. The largest Fieldfare flock was 53 in Costa on 9th and of Redwings, 90 at The Loons on 24th. A cock Blackcap was in Costa all month and another was reported from North Ronaldsay towards the end of the month. Amongst the corvids, there were 25 Ravens in Burray on 9th, 48 Jackdaws in Costa on 18th and 200 roosting Hooded Crows in Durkadale on 18th; single Carrion Crows were seen at Widewall and Burwick on 17th and in Rendall on 31st.
Up to 80 Bramblings frequented the Finstown area during the second part of the month while the same area also held up to 100 Greenfinches with up to 40 of the latter also in Costa. One – two Goldfinches were in Stromness from 12th to 25th. By far the largest Twite flock was of 500 at Dale, Costa on 18th where a Mealy Redpoll was also present until 18th. The Northern Bullfinch irruption continued to make itself felt with up to six in Burray, four in Stromness, two in Finstown and one on North Ronaldsay. Flocks of 50 – 80 Snow Buntings were reported from North Ronaldsay, Evie, Finstown and St.Ola. Up to 100 Reed Buntings were attracted to the new farmland bird crop being developed by Firth Primary School while 70 – 75 were at each of Dale, Costa and Viewforth, Swannay. A single Yellowhammer was a good find in Rendall on 26th.