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Bird Report for 2010 (by Donald Omand)

1st June 2013

This article was first published in the Caithness Field Club bulletin 2011

The Little Bunting that was seen at the end of 2009 stayed at Ham throughout the winter, eventually leaving in early April after 110 days, which may well be a record for Britain.
Another unusual winter visitor for Caithness was Great-Crested Grebe, with birds seen in January on Loch Watten (2), and a single bird in Thurso. Other noteworthy winter highlights were two grey Plovers at Murkle (January), a Hawfinch in Reiss (February). In March there was a Bonaparte's Gull at Thurso, and a male King Eider in Dunnet Bay. Spring migration was relatively quiet again.

The breeding season went badly for some species, the main Kittiwake colonies on the east coast having an especially poor season, but others did moderately well. Nest box species also did well, but breeding waders such as redshank and lapwing appear to have continued their decline. A number of petrel species were seen in summer, including many sightings of Manx Shearwaters in the Pentland Firth, an early Sooty Shearwater on 19th July, and a rare Great Shearwater was sighted near the Beatrice Field on 31 August.
The autumn migration saw a large influx of Lapland Buntings in early September, but perhaps the highlight of the ornithological year was the arrival of unprecedented numbers of the spectacular Waxwing. Flocks were seen across the county, with one of over a thousand birds seen in Murkle which must be one of the largest flocks ever seen. Finally, a Black-Throated Thrush was seen over the border in Melvich on 2 October.

Records of any bird are always welcomed, rare or common, to keep the picture of the county avifauna current. This coming summer sees the final season of the UK-wide Bird Atlas project, and records of any breeding birds are especially important, even garden species such as blackbird, swallow and house sparrows. Records may be logged on the www.birdatlas.net website, or sent to the Caithness Bird Recorder, (Stan Laybourne, Old Schoolhouse, Harpsdale), or alternatively emailed to myself at btocaithness[AT]yahoo.co.uk

 

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