Bird News 2021

PLEASE NOTE: while the obs remains closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, we are grateful for bird news contributions from island-based management staff of NatureScot and visiting research personnel from UKCEH. This page will be updated on a periodic but infrequent basis

Purple Sandpiper sheltering from the strong winds (David Steel)

Thursday 8th April Brent Goose (pale-bellied) 1 remains on Rona, Shelduck 2, Mallard 2, Teal 12 still on Rona, Woodpigeon 6. Iceland Gull 1 adult seen again sheltering along east side of island, Grey Heron 1 on Rona, Osprey 1 tracked north along the west cliffs of the island mobbed by Gulls and was the first of the spring, Peregrine 2, Crow 4, Wren 3, Blackbird 3, Redwing 1, Robin 1, Meadow Pipit 42, Linnet 1N

Wader count:  Oystercatcher 40, Turnstone 62, Purple Sandpiper 60, Redshank 6. Despite more strong NW winds, highlights including an osprey and the adult Iceland Gull reseen.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose on Rona (David Steel)

Wednesday 7th April Brent Goose (pale-bellied race) 1 on Rona and the second spring record which is unusual for the island (mainly an early autumn visitor), Greylag Goose 1, Shelduck 2, Mallard 4, Teal 12 together on Rona, Woodpigeon 6, Whimbrel 1 (over-wintering individual), Great Skua 1N late afternoon of north end of island, first of the year, Red-throated Diver 1N, Peregrine 2, Crow 4, Wren 3, Blackbird 3, Redwing 1 and Robin 1

Tuesday 6th April Mallard 1, Woodpigeon 6, Redshank 1, Common Gull 1, Crow 6, Goldcrest 1, Blackbird 2, Redwing 1, Robin 1, Dunnock 1, Meadow Pipit 5, Linnet 1, 

A second day of very strong NW winds bringing low temperatures and hail! Very little bird movement.

Monday 5th April Mallard 2 – pair remain on Loch, Woodpigeon 6, Oystercatcher 21, Redshank 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Crow 6, Blackbird 2, Redwing 1, Robin 1, Dunnock 1, Linnet 1, Siskin 1N.

Quiet day due to strong NW winds, gale force at times bring temperatures of -3 degrees overnight.

Peregrine on top of the Stevenson lighthouse (David Steel)

Sunday 4th April Greylag Geese 2 (pair remain on the island), Woodpigeon 6 (3 pairs prospecting), Redshank 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Peregrine 2, Crow 6, Goldcrest 1, Blackbird 3, Redwing 3, Robin 1, Dunnock 1, Meadow Pipit 82N, Linnet 6, Goldfinch 2N, Siskin 3N, Crossbill 1N – male flew low over Low Light and away north towards Fife and Reed Bunting 1N

Despite strong north-westerly winds some passage occurred including a male crossbill on the move.

Grey Heron juvenile in the Rona crossing gut (David Steel)

Saturday 3rd April Shelduck 6 together (3 pairs), Mallard 2 (pair), Teal 2 (pair), Velvet Scoter 2W, Woodpigeon 6, Whimbrel 1, Snipe 1 over, Redshank 2, Red-throated Divers 2W, Grey Heron 1 fledged juvenile, Sparrowhawk 1, Peregrine 2, Crow 6, Goldcrest 4, Wren 9, Starling 3, Blackbird 2, Redwing 1, Robin 3, Wheatear 2, Dunnock 1, Meadow Pipit 3, Linnet 3, Goldfinch 1N and Siskin 1N.

Friday 2nd April: Greylag Goose 2 still, Shelduck 1, Mallard 3, Common Scoter 1N, Woodpigeon 6, Common Gull 1, Red-throated Diver 1W, Peregrine 2, Crow 8, Goldcrest 1, Wren 5, Starling 2, Blackbird 3, Fieldfare 1, Redwing 2, Robin 2, Dunnock 1, Pied Wagtail 37 at roost, Meadow Pipit 21, Linnet 4, Goldfinch 2 and Siskin 1.

Overall quiet on the island as westerly winds continue to dominate

One of a pair of Greylag Geese which are lingering on the island (David Steel)

Thursday 1st April: Greylag Geese 2 remain on Rona, Shelduck 1, Mallard 3 all males on Loch, Teal 10 together on Rona, Woodpigeon 6 (3 pairs), Stock Dove one south over South Plateau (a scarce migrant seen on only four occasions in last ten years), Redshank 3, Red-throated Diver 1W, Sparrowhawk 1 still, Kestrel 1 late evening, Peregrine 2, Crow 7, Goldcrest 5 influx, Wren 8, Starling 3, Blackbird 2, Redwing 2, Robin 4, Stonechat 1, Wheatear 2, Dunnock 2, Pied Wagtail 41, Meadow Pipit 11 and Linnet 5.

A noteworthy Stock Dove record with a trickle of migrants through during the day

Adult Iceland Gull on Rona (David Steel) following an immature at roost on four previous dates this spring
Jackdaw one of two over… a scarce visitor from the mainland (David Steel)

Wednesday 31st March: Greylag Goose 2 still, Whooper Swan 58 north along east side of island, Shelduck 2, mallard 5 (four males, one female), Velvet Scoter 6 west, Common Scoter 29 north, Whimbrel 1 (over-wintering individual), Iceland Gull adult on Rona in morning (immature was seen two days previously),Short-Eared Owl 1 still, Peregrine 2, Jackdaw 2 (a scarce visitor with 3-4 records per year), Carrion crow 20 influx, Skylark 2, Sand martin 2 north, Goldcrest 1, Blackbird 4, Fieldfare 1, Redwing 1, Robin 5, Wheatear 2 male, Meadow Pipit 94, Linnet 9 north and Snow Bunting one north calling.

A productive day as the winds eased allowing migration to happen especially in the morning with some noteworthy early records.      

First Wheatear of the season (Bex Outram)
Barnacle goose (David Steel)

Tuesday 30th March

Barnacle Goose 1 (on Rona), Greylag Goose 2 (on Rona), Shelduck 1, Mallard 2, Teal 3, Eiders 53, Woodpigeon 4, Oystercatcher 56, Whimbrel 1, Curlew 22, Turnstone 64, Purple Sandpipers 73, Redshank 9, Sparrowhawk 1, Short-eared Owl 2, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 2, Crow 5, Sand Martin 2N, Chiffchaff 4, Goldcrest 1, Wren 6, Blackbird 3, Fieldfare 1, Redwing 1, Robin 4, Wheatear 2 (male by the hides and another on West Braes), Dunnock 2, Pied Wagtail 24, White Wagtail 2, Meadow Pipit 60, Linnet 7, Reed Bunting 1

Noticeable arrival of migrants as wind eased allowing birds to move; 2 Wheatears and 2 Sand Martins were first of the year and the martins were particular early for the island (see below). Also two White Wagtails whilst a wader count at high tide produced some noteworthy counts

Recent Wheatear first arrival dates: 28th March 2019, 30th March 2018, 22nd March 2017, 4th April 2016 and 24th March 2015

Recent Sand Martin first arrival dates: 18th April 2019, 19th April 2018, 8th April 2017, 4th April 2016 and 21st April 2015

one of two Short-eared Owl on the island (David Steel)

Monday 29th March

Mallard 2 (pair on loch), Woodpigeon 4 (2 pairs), Black-headed Gull 4 south, Sparrowhawk female, Short-eared Owl 2, Peregrine 1, Skylark 2 by Beacon, Chiffchaff 1 singing low light bushes, Starling 2, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 1, Robin 3, ‘White’ Wagtail 1 male first of the spring, Meadow Pipit 18N, Linnet 2, Goldfinch 1, Siskin 1 north,

Sunday 28th March

Mallard 2 (pair on loch), Woodpigeon 4 (2 pairs), Whimbrel 1 over-wintering individual, Peregrine 1, Short-eared Owl 2, **BARN OWL 1 flushed from low light bushes – second record this winter following an individual on 24th February – a scarce visitor to the island. Crow 4, Blackbird 1, Robin 3, Meadow Pipit 5, Linnet 2, Goldfinch 3.

Saturday 27th March

Mallard 2 (pair on Loch), Woodpigeon 4 (two pairs), Whimbrel 1 over-wintering individual, Purple Sandpiper 40, Redshank 1, Short-eared Owl 2 at roost, Peregrine 2, Crow 4, Blackbird 2, Song Thrush 1, Robin 2, Meadow Pipit 5, Linnet 2

Distant shot of the Iceland Gull on Rona

Friday 26th March

Shelduck 1, Mallard 2 (pair on loch), Woodpigeon 2 (pair), Whimbrel 1 over-wintering individual, Redshank 1, *ICELAND GULL 1 immature at roost on Rona (third date recorded following sightings on 22nd and 24th February), Sparrowhawk 1, SE Owl 1, Peregrine 2, Crow 4, Blackbird 1, Redwing 1, Robin 2, Dunnock 1, Meadow Pipit 10, Linnet 1N, Siskin 1N

Thursday 25th March

Pink-footed Geese 55N, Mallard 2, Common Scoter 5N, Woodpigeon 4, Whimbrel 1, Dunlin 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Peregrine 2, Crow 4, Skylark 2, Chiffchaff 3, Goldcrest 2, Wren 6, Starling 1, Blackbird 4, Song Thrush 1, Robin 3, Dunnock 1, Meadow Pipit 27, Greenfinch 1N (good record with only 2-3 per year), Linnet 1N.

First Chiffchaffs of the year arrived today on 24th March

Wednesday 24th March

Shelduck 2, Mallard 2 (pair again on loch), Goosander 2N – pair off the east side, Woodpigeon 4, Whimbrel 1, Woodcock 1 by Top trap, Common Gull 1 immature, Grey Heron 1, Sparrowhawk 1 male again, Short-eared Owl 1, Peregrine 3, Chiffchaff 2 (first of the year with individuals along Holymans and Bain trap), Goldcrest 1 (first of the year), Wren 4, Blackbird 3, Song Thrush 1, Robin 2, Grey Wagtail 1N along east side, Meadow Pipit 45N, Linnet 3N, Goldfinch 2N

Further northerly passage of Pipits, wagtails and finches although strong westerly winds blocking general migration. No sign of Whooper Swans despite good numbers recorded further south at sea

Meadow Pipit slowly increasing with birds heading north

Tuesday 23rd March

Shelduck 3, Mallard 2 (pair on loch), Teal 1 female, Woodpigeon 2, Whimbrel 1 once again, Dunlin 1 over Rona, Redshank 2, Grey Heron 1, Peregrine 3 (two immatures and adult), Sparrowhawk 1 male, Short-eared Owl 1 still, Wren 4, Blackbird 4, Fieldfare 1, Redwing 2, Robin 2, Meadow Pipit 45N, Linnet 2N, Goldfinch 1N

Very light northerly passage of Meadow Pipits and finches

Monday 22nd March

Woodpigeon 5, Whimbrel 1 (over-wintering individual), Redshank 1, Black-headed Gull 1 south, Short-eared Owl 1, Peregrine 2 over the west cliffs, still at roost, Wren 3, Blackbird 2, Dunnock 1, Linnet 1 N, Siskin 2N

Generally quiet due to time of year and westerly dominated winds. NatureScot reserve staff have returned to the island for the season but the bird observatory will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

18 March

Greylag Goose 1, Mallard 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Turnstone 7, Purple Sandpiper 17, Woodcock 1, Redshank 1, Puffin 1000  on land thousands on sea, Woodpigeon 3, Short-eared Owl 4, Carrion Crow 3, Goldcrest 2, Wren 3, Starling 1, Blackbird 5, Song Thrush 1, Mistle Thrush 2, Robin 3, Pied Wagtail 10, Meadow Pipit 7, Linnet 8. Small Tortoiseshell 1.

17 March

Greylag Goose 2, Mallard 3, Teal 2, Grey Heron 1, Turnstone 4, Purple Sandpiper 20, Redshank 2, Puffin 350  on land thousands on sea, Woodpigeon 3, Short-eared Owl 2, Carrion Crow 4, Skylark 2, Wren 2, Starling 8, Blackbird 4, Fieldfare 1, Robin 2, Pied Wagtail 10, Meadow Pipit 2, Rock Pipit 30, Linnet 2. Peacock Butterrfly 1.

16 March

Mallard 2, Grey Heron 1, Redshank 1, Puffin 350  on land thousands on sea, Woodpigeon 3, Short-eared Owl 3, Carrion Crow 3, Skylark 1, Wren 2, Starling 1, Blackbird 4, Fieldfare 1, Robin 1, Pied Wagtail 10, Meadow Pipit 1, Rock Pipit 30, Linnet 1.

15 March

Teal 5, Mallard 2, Grey Heron 1, Woodcock 1, Redshank 1, Common Gull 1, Puffin 50 at sea, Woodpigeon 3, Short-eared Owl 1, Kestrel 1f, Peregrine 2, Carrion Crow 2, Wren 3, Blackbird 2, Pied Wagtail 10, Rock Pipit 30.

2 March

First Brent Goose of the year was ashore in the Thistle Field.

Brent Goose 1, Mallard 3, Grey Heron 1, Cormorant 15,  Sparrowhawk 1, Lapwing 2, Whimbrel 1, Curlew 85, Turnstone 20, Woodcock 1, Redshank 2, Common Gull 1, Woodpigeon 3, Short-eared Owl 2, Peregrine 3, Carrion Crow 2, Wren 4, Starling 3, Blackbird 4, Song Thrush 1, Fieldfare 1, Robin 1, Rock Pipit 30.

Light bellied Brent Goose (Carrie Gunn)

1 March

Mallard 3, Teal 15, Grey Heron 1, Gannet 7, Cormorant 20,  Little Grebe 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Whimbrel 1, Purple Sandpiper 2, Turnstone 5, Woodcock 2, Redshank 2, Woodpigeon 3, Merlin 1, Peregrine 2, Carrion Crow 2, Wren 3, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 1, Robin 1, Stonechat 1m, Pied Wagtail 2, Linnet 1.

18 Feb

Pink-footed Goose 9, Mallard 2, Eider 10, Fulmar 100, Grey Heron 1, Cormorant 10, Gannet 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Oystercatcher 30, Lapwing 1, Purple Sandpiper 1, Turnstone 2, Curlew 180, Woodcock 10, Snipe 1, Redshank 2, Woodpigeon 2, Short-eared Owl 2, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 2, Carrion Crow 2, Wren 2, Fieldfare 2, Blackbird 6, Redwing 3, Robin 2, Rock Pipit 10.  

17 Feb

Greylag Goose 46, Wigeon 4, Teal 20, Eider 20, Fulmar 100, Grey Heron 2, Cormorant 15, Gannet 2, Sparrowhawk 2, Oystercatcher 30, Lapwing 1, Turnstone 2, Whimbrel 1, Curlew 25, Woodcock 15, Redshank 2,  Black-headed Gull 3, Woodpigeon 3, Short-eared Owl 4, Kestrel 2, Peregrine 1, Carrion Crow 2, Skylark 12, Wren 3, Blackbird 6, Redwing 2, Song Thrush 1, Robin 2, Rock Pipit 20.   

16 Feb

Greylag Goose 4, Shelduck 1, Wigeon 4, Mallard 2, Eider 10, Fulmar 50, Grey Heron 1, Cormorant 15, Oystercatcher 30, Purple Sandpiper 1, Turnstone 2, Whimbrel 1, Curlew 130, Woodcock 20 Redshank 3, Woodpigeon 3, Short-eared Owl 5, Peregrine 2, Carrion Crow 3, Skylark 20, Wren 2, Starling 7, Blackbird 4, Fieldfare 2, Redwing 7, Song Thrush 3, Mistle Thrush 1, Robin 2, Rock Pipit 20, Linnet 2.  

15 Feb

Mallard 2, Teal 1, Eider 12, Fulmar 10, Grey Heron 1, Cormorant 1, Oystercatcher 30, Purple Sandpiper 10, Turnstone 15, Curlew 16, Woodcock 35, Redshank 4, Kittiwake 1, Woodpigeon 3, Short-eared Owl 4, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1, Carrion Crow 1, Skylark 8, Blackbird 4, Fieldfare 6, Redwing 5, Robin 1, Rock Pipit 13.  

11 Feb

Lapwing 1, Woodcock 60, Sparrowhawk 1, Short-eared Owl 3, Skylark 16.