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Send details Of Bird Sightings in Caithness for inclusion on this web site to bill@caithness.org

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RSPB Forsinard 

Osprey Live Web Cam 2008
From the nest site at Loch Garten.
More Seabird Web Cams

7 September 08
Sparrowhawk In Wick Garden
Marion Sutherland spotted this Saprrowhawk on the hedge at the bottom of her garden at Bayview in Wick.



16 May 08
Caithness 2008 Birds Spring Migration One Of The Best

2008 spring migration in Caithness has been one of the more exciting in recent years. Although there hasn't been a 'fall' of commoner passerines of any significance, following the steady decline over the past 10-20 years in the county, the arrival of a variety of unusual species from March to May has been noteworthy. Some of the highlights included:
Common crane - the 3 remaining from the original flock of 14 in January (Scottish record) were last recorded in April near Hastigrow. [photos Martyn Elwell
A (Barn) swallow on 15 March seen in Reay was the earliest ever recorded in the county by several weeks;
Bonaparte's gull - Thurso River/Bay - present intermittently through March/April
Mediterranean gull - St. John's Pool from 24 April - 7 May with 2 on 15 May;
Little gull - St. John's Pool - 2 May
Spoonbill - Loch of Mey - 4 May was the 2nd county record - only previous
one was at Loch Scarmclate in 1975
Bee eater - Loch Calder - 11 May. 4th county record
Lesser scaup - adult male on St. John's Pool on 13 and 15 May

Other migrants of note during May included:
Yellow wagtail of the race 'flavissima' at Gillock, with another of unidentified race (flavissima/flava) at Loch of Mey;
Garganey up to 5 at Loch of Mey and singles at St. John's Pool
Wood sandpiper at St. John's Pool

5 May 08
Sandwich Tern May Have died Due To Oil At Sinclairs Bay
The photo below shows a Sandwich Tern found at St John's Pool with oil in its feathers.  the other photo shows Sandwich Terns as they should be. the dead Sandwich Tern arrived at St John's Pool on 30th April and was dead by 1st May.
Oil Spillage At Sinclair's Bay, Wick
The public is being advised to keep off the beach at Sinclair's Bay, near Wick, following the discovery of tar balls, which have been washed up along the length of the shoreline. The Highland Council is working with other agencies to clean up the beach. There is no evidence of oiling of birds or other wildlife. A spokesman said: "This is not a major incident. However, we have erected signs at either end of the beach advising the public to keep off until we have completed the clean up, which involves collecting the tar balls by hand. We will be working with the Maritime Coastguard Agency to identify the origin of the oil, which appears to have been at sea for some time. We are also checking other nearby beaches for evidence of these balls of oil."

Check The Bird Forum for Lost Of Bird Photos In Caithness
24 April 08

Unusual Visitor To Caithness - A Mediterranean Gull

Seen At St John's Pool

20 April 08
Bonapartes Gull and Mandarin Duck
River Thurso and pond at Thurso

20 April 08
Kittiwakes At Duncansby Head

Bird Books From Whittles Publishing
Flight of the Wild Geese
Follows the migration of wild Barnacle Geese from their over-wintering grounds on the Solway Firth across northern seas to Svalbard in the Arctic Circle - and back
more Information


A Life of Ospreys
Personal stories from the man most closely associated with the osprey in Scotland - An accurate account of the species Complemented with stunning photos and informative visual material ... more Information


21 March 08
Broubster Leans

Broubster Leans 7km south west of Thurso features in the March issue of RSPB North of Scotland News.  The short article gives details of the new bird reserve in Caithness that sits 7km south west of Thurso.

22 January 08

NORTHERN Constabulary  yesterday (21st January 08) hosted Scotland’s first ever multi-agency training day for all those organisations responsible for investigating and combating wildlife crime.

Around 40 delegates attended at the Force Headquarters in Inverness to share their expertise and knowledge in relation to the illegal use of pesticides against wildlife in Northern Scotland.

Wildlife crime officers from Northern Constabulary, Tayside and Grampian Police were joined by a host of experts in the field including Bob Elliot, the lead investigator for the RSPB in Scotland and representatives from the Scottish Government Rural Payments Investigative Division (SGRPID).

Also attending to offer their expertise were representatives from Scottish Natural Heritage and the SSPCA (Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

Police Forces in the Highlands and Islands, Grampian and Tayside are responsible for Policing some of the most rural areas of Scotland and it made sense to Grampian Police’s Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator, PC Dave MacKinnon, who came up with the concept of the training day to start the ball rolling in one of those three areas.

Northern Constabulary Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator, Chief Inspector Paul Eddington, who hosted today’s training day said: “What today is about is talking to like minded professionals about issues they are dealing with in relation to wildlife crime and how we can improve the way in which these incidents are investigated.

“Wildlife crime, and particularly poisoning which is the focus of today, is an extremely serious issue and I believe the fact that so many people are willing to attend this event and discuss the ways in which we can go forward is testament to how seriously the Police service takes the issue of wildlife crime.

“Today we are looking at the prevalence of offences, types of offences and a range of other issues including evidence gathering. There has never been a forum at which to look into these issues in such depth and it can only benefit officers across Scotland in the future.”

PC Dave McKinnon added: “It’s difficult for one agency, i.e. the Police, to deal with the issue of wildlife crime on its own.

“We need the expert assistance of groups such as the RSPB and SSPCA to tackle this issue and I believe the best way to do this is through closer partnership working.”

The lead investigator for the RSPB in Scotland, Bob Elliot, said: “In 2006 in Scotland there were 60 confirmed poisonings, which is the highest figure ever.  2007 figures are not yet available"

“In historical time we lost some species due to poisoning such as the Sea Eagle and Red Kite, although they have now been successfully re-introduced in a number of areas.

“It is crucial that we continue to get our collective heads together to tackle the issues of wildlife crime. The killing of Golden Eagles for instance has been rightly described as a ‘national disgrace.

“For us it’s crucial to educate people about the seriousness of this type of crime and take the line right through the enforcement stage. Although I do believe that sentences must be tougher for those who commit wildlife crime to act as a greater deterrent.”

Northern Constabulary and Grampian Police have both had suspected cases of Golden Eagle poisoning in the past two years, both involving the suspected use of the illegal poison – carbofuran.

3 December 07
Caithness locals urged to help Swifts
Members of the public are being invited to join Highland Council's Countryside Rangers to build bird boxes for Swifts, at the Seadrift visitor centre, Dunnet this Saturday (8th December 2007).

The Swift Box Day has been organised by the Council's Rangers in the Planning and Development Service and after the event, volunteers will be rewarded with coffee and baking at the local hotel. The build is one of the local Biodiversity Projects taking place around the county and features in the Caithness Countryside Volunteer programme of events.

Funding for the event has been obtained through the local Biodiversity Project as part of the Highland BAP Implementation Programme, financed by the European Union under the North and West Highland Leader+ 2000-2006 Programmes, Scottish Natural Heritage and The Highland Council.

Marina Swanson, Highland Council's Caithness East Ranger said: "Results from a Highland Swift survey carried out in 2006 found that one of the factors affecting Swifts is a loss of nest sites due to refurbishment and repair of old houses. By building boxes we can help ensure that visiting Swifts will have a better chance to locate in Caithness next summer."

The survey results of the Swift Survey are available on the Highland Biodiversity website at: www.highlandbiodiversity.com

The local Biodiversity Group is working on a range of other exciting projects and the Caithness Countryside Volunteers are always looking to recruit additional members. If you wish to find out more about either of these groups or wish to book a place for the swift box build, please contact Marina Swanson on 01955 607758/01847821531 or e-mail marina.swanson@highland.gov.uk

4 November 07

The Scottish Ornithologists Club and the British Trust for Ornithology have launched the biggest bird survey in many years, the Bird Atlas 2007-11. The aim of the project is to record the species of birds seen, and their distribution and abundance across the entire country, both in summer and in winter.

Anyone who has an interest in birds can record their sightings on the BTO website at www.birdtrack.net , or by recording the information on "Roving records" forms. This form, and more information on the project can be found on www.birdatlas.net

Those of you with a more in-depth knowledge of birds can also help in the Tetrad Visits, which involve two visits to a particular area of the county in winter and in summer. Information on the Tetrad element of the survey can also be found on the birdatlas website, or by contacting the Caithness Bird atlas organiser on btocaithness@yahoo.co.uk  who will be happy to answer any queries on the Atlas generally

18 June 07
Highlanders Urged To Provide Homes For Migrating Birds
People in the Highlands are being urged to take up the offer of free nesting boxes by The Highland Council to provide homes for visiting swifts. Results from a Highland Swift survey carried out in 2006 found that one of the factors affecting Swifts is a loss of nest sites due to refurbishment and repair of old houses. To try and minimise the effect of this, sixty Swift nest boxes have been built for this year’s swift survey. Householders in key Swift areas are being invited to install a box on their houses. In Caithness boxes are available from the East Coast Ranger in Wick.

12 June 07
Fulmar Photos From Duncansby Head
Thanks to Samuel De La Haye for these photos of Fulmars at Duncansby Head.  Duncansby Head is renowned for the sea birds crowding the cliffs at this time of year.  It is so packed with nesting sites it is often referred to as Sea Bird City  Due to the Geo formation there are excellent vantage points on one side looking across to the cliffs on the other side - great for looking with binoculars and taking photos of individual nest, birds or whole colonies.

9 June 07
Local Bird Expert Julian Smith Says Its At Grasshopper Warbler

Bill has recorded the sound for all to hear after local expert confirmed the bird is a Grassgopper Warbler and not a Nightjar.  The Bird was found at March Road, Wick.  Listen to it HERE
For more information about the Grasshopper Warbler click HERE

3 June 07
Rare Bird Visits Caithness - A Baltimore Oriole At Huna
Hitting the headlines across the bird watching world this rare bird in the UK is ending up being mentioned on web sites.  Baltimore Orioles as the name suggests are form the USA.  See the Birdguides web site for more on this topic.

3 May 07
HERONS  - The 2007 Census - Can You Help?
As a predator at the top of the freshwater food chain, Grey Herons are excellent indicators of environmental health in the countryside.  The British Trust for Ornithology's Heronries Census began in 1928 and is the longest-running breeding-season monitoring scheme in the world. The aim of this census is to collect annual nest counts of Grey Herons Ardea cinerea from as many sites as possible in the United Kingdom. Historically, there are records of 16 Heronries in Caithness, but in 2005 only one colony was reported. If you know of any Heron nesting sites in Caithness, please report this to btocaithness@yahoo.co.uk , including the date you visited, the estimated/actual number of nests, and where the colony is located. Ideally, give an Ordnance Survey grid reference. Any records from previous years are very welcome. For more information on the British Trust for Ornithology see www.bto.org
Donald Omand
Caithness Regional representative
British Trust for Ornithology

7 January 07
Local Caithness Bird Names By Robert H Walker
This article from the 2002 Bulletin of Caithness Field Club gives some interesting information on Caithness names for many birds.

16 October 06
Some October Sightings

12 September 06
Swallows Overflow The Nest In A Barn At Mill House, Stainland
The fine weather is encouraging birds to hang around the county and as can be seen in this photo the swallows have done well this year in some parts of Caithness.  There is certainly not much room left in this nest.


17 August 06
Highlands and Islands Swift Survey
Here at Caithness.org we have just discovered this survey going on this summer.  Although it is probably too late to take part some of you out there may be interested in the material and information on the Biodiversity web site.

18 June 06
Latest Birds Seen In Caithness
Red-rumped swallow This extreme rarity in Caithness (second record) was seen by most of the patrons of the Castle of Mey Arms in Mey for a short time around 2pm. It's finder was a visitor who also happens to be the Bird Recorder for Tanzania ­ where it's a regular garden bird for him!  Latest photos include a Marsh Harrier, Wood Sandpiper and a Barn Owl

8 June 06
End Of May And Into June Sightings
A Whinchat and a Sanderling are among latest photos by Nigel Fairney forwarded by Julian Smith in his latest report on bird sightings.  The last few days of May and into June are included in this update.

4 June 06
Seagull Chicks

27 May 06
From Islay McLeod At Thrumster
You had an article about Scandinavian type rock pipits. Lance Nicolson, gamekeepr at Thrumster, picked up a dead small bird about a year ago, ringed in Stavanger. It turned out to be a rock pipit. Hugh Clark tells me it is only the second to be recorded as that type of migrant in Scotland.  Also attached pictures from Iceland, newspaper dated 25th May, where some of our winter migrants are having a fairly horrendous time of it, with the following message: "The cold is terrible here. We have not had such a spell in late May since the 19th century. Many small birds such as plovers, snipe and thrushes have died on their nests in the North-East where it is coldest and others have broken off their nesting. Larger birds such as eider and geese try to stay on their nests, neck deep in snow. Ravens and skua are of course having a feast on abandoned eggs and dead birds." - Islay MacLeod

23 May 06
Baby Birds At Shinval Garden Centre, Glengolly Near Thurso

Baby Robins      Baby Blackbirds
The birds obviously like the Shinval Garden Centre and are happy to use anything for nesting such as the baby robins in an old grobag or the baby blackbirds in a small Christmas Tree in a pot tied up to fence to stop it blowing over.

20 May 06
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is calling for anyone walking Scotland's high tops before the end of August to look out for Ptarmigan and report any sightings to them. The information will be fed into Project Ptarmigan, BTO Scotland's monitoring study aimed at gathering information on this charismatic bird.

The Rock Ptarmigan Lagopus mutus is Britain's only truly resident montane bird and is at the altitudinal and latitudinal limits of its global range in Scotland. As such, it may be particularly susceptible to a number of influences, such as increases in generalist predators, changes in grazing regimes and, of course, climate change. Since the Ptarmigan is thought to be sensitive to these changes, it will be a key indicator of the condition of Scottish mountains, habitats that are recognised as a high priority under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

The results of Project Ptarmigan will be used by BTO Scotland to develop a strategy for long-term monitoring of Ptarmigan and potentially other montane birds. This should give a clearer picture of the condition of specific mountain areas as well as helping to unravel the effects of changing conditions on Scotland's mountains and its wildlife.

For more information on Project Ptarmigan, or if you would like to participate please check the project website or contact BTO Scotland on 01786 466 560, email scot.info@bto.org

18 May 06
Osprey Spotted At Sandside
Nigel Fairney captured this image of an osprey being mobbed by gulls at Sandside on Wednesday 17 May 2006.
Larger Image


16 May 06
As a predator at the top of the freshwater food chain, Grey Herons are excellent indicators of environmental health in the countryside.

The British Trust for Ornithology¹s Heronries Census began in 1928 and is the longest-running breeding-season monitoring scheme in the world. The aim of this census is to collect annual nest counts of Grey Herons Ardea cinerea from as many sites as possible in the United Kingdom. Historically, there are records of 16 Heronries in Caithness, but in 2005 only one colony was reported.

If you know of any Heron nesting sites in Caithness, please report this to btocaithness@yahoo.co.uk , including the date you visited, the estimated/actual number of nests, and where the colony is located. Ideally, give an Ordnance Survey grid reference. Any records from previous years are very welcome.

For more information on the British Trust for Ornithology see www.bto.org 

Heron Spotted by Bill Fernie 4 March 2006 on the Wick river - Remember that snow we had

Wildlife Encounters
For two weeks at the end of May (20th May- 4th June 2006), Highland Council Rangers and RSPB staff will provide unique opportunities to observe Highland Wildlife in Caithness and Sutherland. "Highland Wild Encounters" will offer guided walks, minibus tours and boat trips to enable people to get close to some of our rare, beautiful and unique wildlife. This will be the fifth year of the Highland Wild Encounters in Caithness and Sutherland and the programme is as promising as ever. Andy Summers, Highland Council's Senior Sutherland Ranger said: "Caithness and Sutherland boasts some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities anywhere in the United Kingdom: from the dazzling Black-throated Divers and soaring Golden Eagles to the frantic Puffin colonies and the extraordinary lekking Black grouse.

Competition  - closing Date in September 2006
Focus On Nature And Art - Introducing A New Caithness Photographic Competition
£150 In Prizes To Be Won - Artsmith Exhibition & Studio Now Open

If you have an interest in Nature and Art but have no idea here or how to start bringing them together then a series of opportunities have been brought together by local Artist Julian Smith and widely acclaimed local natural history photographer Ken Crossan.  First a Caithness Natural History Photographic Competition with the chance to have some first hand instruction from Ken Crossan.  Julian Smith will also be running a drawing class for beginners on animals and birds or you can check out the Artsmith exhibition at his studio which has now started.  Leave time when visiting his studio and visit St John's pool there to see the fantastic range of wild birds.

6 March 06
2006 sees the introduction of a much needed facility for Caithness birdwatchers and visitors alike.  A new web site St John's Pool devoted to bird watching has been set up by Julian Smith a well-known artist and graphic designer who has created a bird sanctuary at the pool near St John's Loch.

St John's Pool

A web site for birdwatchers in Caithness.

Latest Birds Spotted

16 March 06
Bird Platforms

At St John's Pool

Birds Found At Dunnet Bay Area

Birds Seen in the Burnside Area of Scrabster from 1989 – 1999

Forsinard Nature Reserve
Events At Forsinard

More Birds On Caithness.org
To see more birds found in Caithness have browse through the Biodiversity Photo Collection

For Bird Walks
Check The Caithness What's On

Bird Links
British Trust For Ornithology
BTO Links

Links To Help Identification
Birds By Family - RSPB
British Garden Birds
Bird Guide Photos
Birds Of Britain
Countryside Info
Recording Birds In Scotland
Bird Guides

Other Links
Scottish Natural Heritage

Bird Photos On Caithness.org
Albino Meadow Pipit

American Wigeon
Baltimore Oriole
Barn Owl
Black Headed Gull
Black Headed Gull
Black-tailed Godwit
Black Throated Diver

Dunlin - Possible Arctica

Garganey - Male
Garganey - Pair
Geese At St Johns Loch
Geese Feeding
Geese Feeding

Glaucous Gull

Golden Plover
Golden Plover

Greenland Wheatear - Female
Greenland Wheatear - Male
Greylag Geese
Guillemots At Skirza Head
Guillemots At Skirza Head

Hen Harrier - Male
Lesser Whitethroat

Iceland Gull
Mallard Duck
Mallard Duck

Marsh Harrier
Northern Lapwing
Osprey - Mobbed by Gulls
Osprey - Mobbed By Gulls - closer
Oyster Catcher
Oyster Catcher
Oyster Catchers
Oyster Catchers
Oyster Catchers
Oyster Catchers And Sanderlings

Ravens On The Nest
Ravens On The Nest
Reed Bunting
Ringed Plover

Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit

Ringed Plovers
Sandwich Tern
Shags Resting
Short Eared Owl
Short Eared Owl

Snow Bunting
Swallows In The Nest

Tree Pipit
White Tailed Eagle
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swans Feeding

Wood Sandpiper

Odd Couple

Sounds Of Birds In Caithness
Grasshopper Warbler

At March Road, Wick 8 June 2007

On Caithness.org - Other Places
Skua - St Kilda

Scottish Seabird Centre