Get your 2019 bird list off to a great start by taking part in our bird race on Saturday 12th January 2019. Just a bit of fun and definitely NOT competitive with the short day length making it all the more exciting!
The object of the day is to go out birding – with a friend or friends – and try to find as many different species as you can. It is up to you and your team to decide who will drive and where you will go. It is even OK to venture into Moray….
We will all gather at the end of the day for a post-race get together over tea/coffee/whisky (buy your own) at The Snow Goose where we can collect in the results, present some prizes and have a chat about how your day has been. It will be great to have groups taking part from outwith the immediate Inverness area – maybe with outlying teams from Skye, W Ross, Sutherland, Strathspey and so on - and they can submit their records by phone.
A special ‘What’s App’ messaging group will be set up for the day so we can all keep in touch with our latest ‘finds’.
Don’t worry if you are on your own and would like to join a team, as I can put you in touch with other SOC members taking part.
Unfortunately………we have to have a few RULES……..
Have Fun and Happy Birding!
(written by Carol Miller)
A survey of the feral population of Barnacle Geese in Speyside last year on the 11th June revealed ten pairs breeding at Cromdale. Five pairs had 20 young in total in a creche, and one pair had a nest with eggs. Four pairs were not breeding or were failed breeders and there was a single non-breeder.
At the other population at the Highland Wildlife Park on the 18th June there were 27 pairs present. 7 pairs with eggs, 1 pair with 3 young and 19 pairs which were either non-breeding or failed breeders. There were 3 singles.
Photos below show one a female incubating on a nest trying to look unobtrusive, a a nest with five eggs and a creche with a mixture of broods.
Written by Peter Stronach
Golden Pheasant have never been proven to have bred in Highland (BoS 2007), although there have been previous records. In the most recent Bird Atlas 2007-11, there is a single summer record and a single winter record from different areas.
In October 2017, Sam Borthwick had an adult male Golden Pheasant feeding on the verge next to Mid Morile, Woodend in Strathdearn. Later on the 8th November 2017, a male Golden Pheasant was seen feeding somewhat amazingly on the verge of the A9 on the Moy Estate!.
This year there was a sighting on the 22nd September from Nick Weston, see the tweet below...
A brief survey of the area on the 26th September by Peter Stronach identified at least five birds present. There were two males, one adult and a 1CY, and three females, two of which appeared to be adult and were ringed. One of the females had a single flesh coloured ring on the right leg and nothing on the left, the other had a green ring on the right leg and flesh coloured ring on the left.
The birds were seen feeding on the grassy verge of the main Strathdearn road before retreating to the thick Rhododendron undergrowth adjacent, giving good views if you stay in your vehicle.
The best place to view the birds is a lay-by on the Strathdearn road directly adjacent to the Kyllachy Estate at 57.305126, -4.019580 or NH7844025666, if you stay in your car and look northeast along the road and check the grassy verge for feeding pheasants. There is currently (Sept 2018) a lot of construction traffic, so early morning at the weekends is probably the best time to try.
If you see these birds, please record numbers, sex and age of the birds and any rings seen, and send any data to the highland recorder. Also if you know of or have seen any Golden Pheasants in other areas of Highland please let us know.
Written by Peter Stronach
The Hoopoe in Cromarty is still present today, feeding as always on the short grass of the links and that surrounding the lighthouse buildings. It has been seen feeding mainly on Leatherjackets, the grub of the European Crane Fly, which live under the surface of the short grass turf.
The Hoopoe was first seen on the 7th September by Susan Patterson, who reported the sighting by email. It was typically elusive with the bird disappearing before Susan could get her camera onto the subject!. Luckily it reappeared, and has been seen by lots of lucky observers.
Hoopoes are a scarce migrant into Highland and occur annually, with at least one every year for the last 20 years. The numbers however vary from year to year, with 26 in the last ten years (2007-2016), it averages at just less than three a year. Most are only seen fleetingly, and its one of those species that is just as likely to be seen and found by non-birding members of the public.
There are two peaks of occurrence in the year for Hoopoes arriving into Scotland. In spring most occur in a period from April to mid-June with a peak in numbers in early May. In Autumn most are from September through to the end of October. Total numbers overall in spring and autumn are roughly equal.
However the picture is changing with Hoopoe becoming more of a bird associated with autumns than spring in Scotland since 1980. There are also signs that despite increasing observer coverage that the number of Hoopoes arriving in Scotland since the mid 1990's is declining, and this may reflect a further reduction on the west European population (BoS 2007).
Spring birds are overshooting breeding grounds in France and Iberia in suitable high pressure migration conditions. Autumn birds with more of an easterly bias are more likely to originate from Northerly populations and have been blown of course by easterly winds on southern migration.
written by Peter Stronach
A couple more photos from the recent Shetland trip with SOC Highland branch from David and Kathy Bonniface.
Red-breasted Merganser has been added to the list of species which are covered by the Rare Breeding Birds Panel. This is with immediate effect, so please send any breeding records from 2018 to highlandrecorderATgmail.com, thank you!.
Some excellent photos by Susan Seright of the recent long weekend field trip to Shetland!.
BirdGuides have reviewed the 2016 Highland Bird Report and you can see the review by Steve Holliday here.
The report is available to buy here.