14 October 2013

NRBO Autumn Visit - Day 1 (13 Oct)

With the Autumn migration well under way I have come over to the Bird Observatory on North Ronaldsay for a few days with Claire, Stan and Margaret.

Having arrived at the Obs and dropped our kit off it was time to catch up on what was about and to have a spot of lunch before heading out. While we were having lunch I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker fly past the Obs heading for the quayside. It headed straight for one of the metal lighting towers and on landing, in true cartoon style, it slid down the pole as it realised it hadn't landed on a tree!!

The nets up at Holland House wouldn't be opening until 4pm so we headed over to the hide at Gretchen Loch just behind the Obs.

Here we saw a number of Teal and Wigeon, two Dunlin, a Redshank and a Golden Plover. A number of Snipe were also seen flying overhead. Also out over the East side of the island we could see a gathering of Gannets circling over the sea and a few of them diving down.

Leaving the hide we headed up the West coast towards the airfield. Along the way we saw three Jack Snipe, a Wheatear, a couple of Oystercatchers and a flock of about 200 Greylag Geese. Out of habit we scanned the flock and spotted two birds with Orange neck collars.

There has been a colour ringing project on Orkney for a few years now for Greylag Geese to try and understand the movements of the local population and on the whole they don't seem to travel very far from their breeding grounds although there have been a small number of birds that have found their way down to Norfolk for the winter.

So we wanted to read the rings on these two birds which we eventually did and got the ringing codes IBD and IBK. I thought I saw a third bird with a collar but before I could locate it in the flock something spooked them and they were away.

Continuing up the coast we saw a Grey Heron, a Goldcrest, a Peregrine and a life tick for Stan in the form of a Snow Bunting.

Snow Bunting
Out on the sea there were a few Eider and a couple of Black-throated Divers.

Turning inland we came out onto the road by Ancum Loch and set off towards Holland House. We decided to take the road down past the shop/post office and saw our first Redwings and Fieldfares. We located another flock of Greylags and a quick scan revealed that they were the same flock as seen earlier as I picked out IBD and IBK. I also spotted the third bird with a collar which was IBL. I have passed the details onto Al our Greylag colour ringing co-ordinator and will hopefuly get some info on them later.

A quick word with the Obs staff confirmed that they had colour ringed Greylags in the past but not this year.

We arrived at Holland House with about 15 minutes to spare so had a quick look around the area of derelict buildings at the rear of the property and the garden area alongside the main road. This is an area that can be good for small passerines and is always worth a scan when passing. Stan came up trumps when he spotted a male Northern Bullfinch.

The ringing session resulted in 25 birds being caught including seven Blackbirds, two Goldcrests, two Redpolls (one a Mealy the other a Lesser), a Robin, a Blackcap, a Woodpigeon, eight Linnets and three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, one of which was a new one and a new ringing species for me as the last one I handled was a retrap.

Mealy Redpoll - Carduelis flammea flammea
Lesser Redpoll - Carduelis flammea cabaret

The Lesser Redpoll is smaller and darker brownish when compared to the Mealy Redpoll.

The Redpolls were also a new ringing species for me.

A dawn start for tomorrow and maybe some Redwings.

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