A surprise under the feeders on Saturday morning
Woodpigeon has not been present here since the end of October and last year the first returning bird was 17th February with the majority not back until May. So not on the predicted FootIt list and a real bonus. Prior to that, a rather bleary peer out of the kitchen window had produced this...
I don't see too many Goldfinches in the garden each year, but they do tend to turn up in mid winter, another Foot It tick without even venturing outside.
I did walk the dog though and coming back to the garden a Sparrowhawk flew over the house.
Then it was down to Birsay to cover the seaside patch. One of the loose ends that needed tidying up was Grey Plover which I'd missed last weekend. They're not common here but this one had been faithful to the same patch of sand before the New Year and I'd hoped it might still be around. The single and rather elusive Snow Bunting was located on The Links as well, and when I drove away a Merlin flew across the fields.
View of The Brough (miscalculated the tides or I would have gone across) from Mount of Misery
Today dawned wet, it rained pretty much all day, I wasn't feeling very enthusiastic. Had to take the dog out though and in amongst the Linnet flock a familiar call was heard, Twite x4.
Two male Hen Harriers visited the garden or the neighbouring field mid morning, the second one spending a few minutes hunting through the veg patch. I was slightly uncoordinated when a wee beastie shot past the kitchen, just couldn't get enough to nail it as a Merlin. However, sitting down to lunch and a Peregrine made a close pass on a mission..
Late this afternoon Louise and I ventured out in the wet again, at least the wind had dropped, another very early bird for the year, a Shelduck on The Shunan, previous earliest 31st January. Moments later, with the dog on the lead but sniffing along the hawthorn hedge and out popped Short-eared Owl.