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U3A Birdie Group - Oct 2019

by Sally Hallam - 12:57 on 20 November 2019
A small but enthusiastic group of five met at the Brough of Birsay Car Park at 10:00 AM. This was a good time to arrive as high tide was at 10:40 AM. This was a 3.07 metre high tide and it was hoped that this was high enough to push birds up the beach towards us and maybe on to the cliffs. Luckily, the weather was dry and sunny but cool in the wind.
The group made its way back along the road towards the village. Redwings were seen flying across the nearby fields, possibly just arriving!
Some shore birds were difficult to spot until they moved, such as Turnstones, that were perfectly camouflaged against the piles of seaweed. Unusually, Snipe were seen flying up from the shore.
The group kept to the coast taking the path behind the church which led to a viewpoint opposite where the burn runs out, a popular spot for shorebirds and gulls.
A small back track took the group between the houses and into Palace village, taking the coast path just past the burn. On this stretch of beach about 30 Ringed Plovers were seen and 3 Rock Pipits.
On the return walk, over 1000 Golden Plovers were seen rising up from one of the fields. Two Stonechats were seen near one of the coast hugging gardens just past the Zanzibar cottage.
Also, with the change in direction, waders were seen roosting under and on the cliffs. They were waiting for the tide to recede. About fifty Redshanks were there with the occasional Turnstone. 
The group decided to drive on to Marwick Bay to the car park near to the short back route to the Kitchener, to look for Snow Buntings and maybe a Peregrine.
A Raven, a Skylark, Jackdaws and a Peregrine were seen but no sign of the Snow Buntings. 
The Peregrine hung in the air looking for prey while being bombarded by other birds.
A quick trip to the bay yielded a female Red-Breasted Merganser and about 30 linnets.
In all, 29 species were seen at Birsay and 6 at Marwick, making a grand total of 35 species for the morning.
The full list of species was:
Eider, Great Black-Back Gull, Starling, Redshank, Herring Gull, Curlew, Redwing, Black-Headed Gull, Mallard, Turnstone, Hooded Crow, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Snipe, Common Gull, Oystercatcher, Gannet, Rock Dove, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Swallow, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Grelag Geese, Golden Plover, Stonechat, Raven, Skylark, Peregrine, Jackdaw, Red-Breasted Merganser, Linnet.”
Thanks to Tim for the photos of the Peregrine and Redshanks on the cliffs.

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