Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Garden bird log for Longniddry, Lothian

This is a log of the more interesting species seen and heard in, and flying over, a small garden on Douglas Road, Longniddry, Lothian, Scotland (map), since August 2004. The garden is in an estate within 500m of high water - Firth of Forth. Unfortunately there is no view out to the sea, or indeed anywhere beyond the neighbouring houses in the estate.

Annotated species list
Detailed records (spreadsheet) - updated 1/1/18


Clear Sandpiper call 01:44hrs 15 July, - not high pitched like Common, nor any hint of disyllabic k-yuk in Green, so I think it was a Wood Sand, no recording though so one that got away.

Bumble bee total falling last week of June as buddleia flowers dried up, totals much lower than last year but Tree now ~40% of total.

Another Crossbill calling over Saturday 16 June, just before heavy downpour.

Hedgehog in garden early June. Bumblebees ramping up on buddleia globosa, Trees already in double figures, become the dominant species!

Kestrel hovering over golf course to N, Sunday 10 June.

Sedge Warbler in song, barely audible, just the piercing high notes, c. 440m WNW at Longniddry c/p 2 bog early hours of 14 May; Moorhen call 00:30hrs, near but could not see; single high pitched 'peeee' from Common Sandpiper 01:30hrs.

Yet another Coot, probably E, 22:50hrs 9 May, in rain, actually 11th record.

Yet another Moorhen, E, 02:50hrs 5 May, Whimbrel calling 04:03hrs.

2 prs Buzzard very high over in sun on 28 April, some display, mewing calls only faintly audible.

Willow Warbler, Chiff and Blackcap singing 24 April.

Old hat these days with nocmiggers reported huge flows of nocturnal migrants, but a Moorhen low over our house at c. 21:40hrs on 21 April was recorded the old fashioned way.

Blackcap apparently absent 2-6 April but showed again on 7 April!

Fatball vacated and no sign of wintering Blackcap on 31 March, but back again on 1 April in its usual spot, dodging the Robin:

Amazing to think it could soon be out over the sea - after months lurking in a hedge.

Blackcap still 28, 29 and 30 March, lurking in same gap in hedge where present since 27 January.

First bumble-bee of spring 25 March.

Blackcap right at kitchen window 21 March, wonder when it will be off?

Another batch of snow 17-19 March - ad f Blackcap still present on bird table; also during 18 March first 2 LBB NE over, and flock 20 Greenfinch.

Weather beginning to ease 3 March but still lots of snow - Blackcap regular all day and mid-morning a Peregrine passing over to the SW, at c. 30m altitude, a loop with a bit of flapping, such an awesome bird to witness. Joanne also saw it from her room, her second for the garden after one he spotted herself 13 years ago when aged one (confirmed by dad)! As per many others, thrushes suffering - had a Song Thrush literally at the front door eating a snail it had recovered from leaf litter against wall of house, gave it a good bashing first.

Snipe - great view, had bins ready, flying low NE along line of Forthview Road during severe snowy weather on 1 March, species 104 for the list. Blackcap still present on bird table, though subordinate to the Robin. Also Fieldfare in garden. Later while standing in kitchen amazed to see a snipe sp. approaching from SW, flew low over garden hedge before veering S, as if looking to land; naked eye view so if had not seen it earlier may have thought it more likely a Jack Snipe by behaviour (seen on occasion 400m NNE where tiny Braid burn which runs c. 50m W of our house enters the sea).

f/imm Blackcap took up residence late Jan, eating bread on bird table and going to feeders in neighbour's garden, poor cropped shot right; this species fairly commonly reported from Edinburgh gardens these days, but this is only our second here after mid-October, 3 on 25 November 2016 was first "winter" record. Also recorded on 1 February by Christina Welch as "an unusual bird" (forgot to tell me till the following day when I saw it again), will be her first bird record in the Lothian database!

Pinks again moving at night on 2 February.

Pinks moving late evening 6 January - spring migration is underway! Tawny hooting from Longniddry Community Centre trees 01:05hrs, first there since 20/2/13 and 28/11/07 (also passing our house itself on 27/7/08 (family) and 3/9/14).


Overview of the year 2017

75 species recorded is second only to 77 in 2010, with a single addition to the list, being Red-throated Diver (total now 103), also notable second records of Little Egret and Nuthatch, and third of Quail. 1294 weekly peak counts were logged totalling c. 15k individuals with an average weekly list of 24 species. A new weekly list record of 45 species seen in/from the garden in week of 5th November. Also, a new high of 27 species were recorded *in* the garden during the course of the year, out of 41 in total for all years*, quite a surprising total given the tiny extent of the plot, the back lawn is about 5x5m, but for example hosted 40+ Starlings one day in May, and Rooks in late April - and Herring Gull has regularly plundered that bird table; Barn Owl may be hard to believe, but I could have caught it flying low over our garage a few years ago.
Some highlights of 2017: the year started well with a few Waxwings and a Nuthatch calling nearby. A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly overwintered in garage and came out on 9 April. Further records of nocturnal migrant Moorhen and Coot in spring, also Sandwich Tern in late May. The calling Quail was heard at 02:19hrs on 9 June, but aside from often daily Sandwich Terns, nocturnals were fairly poor in late summer, one more Coot on 8 July and Dunlins on 24 July and 10 August. Down in the garden, bumblebees peaked at 85 mid-June including a new record of 13 Tree Bumblebees. An interesting sounding Crossbill flew over on 8 October. Geese were prominent in autumn with over 10k Pinkfeet logged and several flocks of Barnacles and Whoopers, but it seems like I made a bad error in ID of the first flock of swans on 29 October as possible Bewick's - was not aware then of a Fife record two days previously but it now seems impossible that mine could have been, must have been deceived by the distance! No doubts on the Little Egret flying down Douglas Road the same morning, and vismig efforts during the same spell also revealed a strong Siskin passage (up to 70/hr), and just the second migrant Brambling, but not the hoped for Hawfinch.

Quick analysis of two species pairs, shows Grey Wagtail increase (often daily in autumn/winter, may even roost near Braid Burn bridge), and Greenfinch bearing up after trichomonosis, though clearly it is suffering at a national level. Clearly these graphs can be significantly impacted by even a single resident breeder, at it seems this year we had Greenfinch and Goldfinch breeding somewhere nearby, while Grey Wag was absent from early March to mid-July, so clearly bred elsewhere, but often heard daily after that. Nearly all Pied Wags are recorded in roost movements, concentrated in autumn.

* All species seen in garden (or low airspace): Sparrowhawk, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, Common Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Bullfinch

Full records: Excel s/s.

Older records (to end 2017)


  1. Hi
    apologies for getting in touch via blog comments. Thought you could help re BH Gull darvic rings. Ad Esk Mouth 29/8/11 white ring J1J4 and Ad Esk Mouth 30/8//11 black ring P834. Also had 2nd winter Med Gull with white ring but no details - watched for 2 hours with no luck!
    all the best
    Stuart (

  2. Thanks Stuart, good to hear from you and these seem to be Norwegian (white) and Lithuanian (black) - I'll chase them down.

    Your Med would be 32A4 reported on LBN* at Musselburgh 20 August*, a new one - ringed as a pullus on 24/06/2010 at De Kreupel Island, Ijsselmeer, Noord-Holland, also reported in Wexford on 06/04/2011; in general white is for Netherlands/Belgium/Denmark:


  3. J1J4 ringed Frognerpark, Oslo, 1/4/00 - thus a friend of metal-6158812, ringed same place same day and present at Eskside last December (see blog post*). Perhaps the colour ring had dropped off the latter bird? NB - same seen again at Musselburgh this evening (per Ian Andrews).