Monday, 28 September 2009

Colour ring update

This evening both Cherry Blossom (red-7P8) and the Belgian green-3LV5 were in the Seton roost, plus another adult with more dark above ear - probably unringed and different from unringed adult seen at wknd; plus a 1st-win bird which was observed apparently begging from an adult Common Gull feeding in shallows! Pre-roost checks not complete when flock disturbed by walkers.

Also on the shore, another (presumed) Forvie colour-ringed Sandwich Tern (one ring was light-green).

Also, interesting to hear of further sightings of Shags seen during August:

* red-LLZ at Seton on 8 & 30/08/2009 seen on 26/09/2009 at New Aberdour (NJ886648)
* blue-NSF at Seton 26/08/2009 seen on 27/09/2009 at Aberdeen Harbour (NJ963057)

Link to detailed records.

Wednesday update - a beautiful evening, with gulls covering the shore until again disturbed by walkers, Cherry Blossom in a similar location plus an unringed ad and 1st-win Med. Very few terns.

Thursday update - more of the same, Meds red-7P8, green-3LV5 and at least 1 unringed ad (2 seen, but possibly same bird moved - flock flushed several times) and presumed same 1st-win. No terns. Of most interest a very dark-backed Common Gull, though not particularly large.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Wknd 26-27 September

Photoless again, new camera away for repair! Working back, a red-ringed Med in Seton roost on shore west Sunday evening, probably PJU6 but flushed before confirming. An unringed adult was on the shore earlier, plus still 43 Sandwich Tern.

In the afternoon (b/day party duties) enjoyed great views of a dark-phase Arctic Skua doing circuits off Portobello beach/Leith, repeatedly flushing a small gull flock out near Inchkeith; also 1+ Manx shearing NE past there.

In the morning did the Big Vis count at Ferny Ness, fairly typical seabirds movements and virtually all passerines well offshore, full counts. Always a pleasure to see hirundines battling throo in strong winds, but not a patch on those over the water with 300+ past the Fife sites, e.g. Cullaloe. A diver sp with big feet probably BTD.

Saturday was spent on the swan darvic circuit around Holyrood park, with the highlight perhaps seeing the juv grebes (Great Crested, and several Little) still on Duddingston.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Pinks return

Out in East Lothian doing WeBS on Sunday small groups of Pinkfeet were flying in all directions, many coming up the Forth. A group of 670 near Coates included grey collar PCN.

Various others en route: a f/imm Wheatear at Drem; a Herring Gull in Gullane Bents c/p with metal ring GG82491 [ringed as a nestling on the Isle of May, visible 25km ENE, 6633 days previously on 24/7/91], and on the sea there a Red-necked Grebe, RTD (+ 2W) and 4 Wigeon W; a dead juv Tawny Owl on the road by the entrance to Luffness Links clubhouse (sadly, probably one of those heard in the summer).

Towards dusk over 800 Pinkfeet were at Aberlady for the roost, presumably with many others still to come.

Monday evening update - a red-ringed Med on shore NE of Longniddry c/p2 at dusk was clearly not Cherry Blossom, having a bigger and angled ear patch, which means it was probably the new Polish-ringed bird PJU6; flew onto sea for the roost before I could check. A young male Peregrine also dashed along the shore in both directions giving brief alarm to assembled gulls and waders.

Hard work on gulls all week due to high tide corresponding with dusk, and no opportunity to scrutinise birds on the shore, hence no great surprise the YLG was not relocated (also an adult reported at Hogganfield today, just possibly the same). One adult Med (unringed) was standing in the Seton burn on Wednesday morning, one new Shag darvic Thursday, and a 1st-win Med (unringed) on the Longniddry beach at dusk on Friday, amongst just a handful of small gulls on the exposed sand. Offshore large gulls were literally hurtling past in strong SW winds in their evening roost movement, and a single Sandwich Tern was battling up into the Forth.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Hybrid "Yellow-legged Gull"

Great views of the [presumed*] ad YLG on the Seton Burn this morning, watched preening from about 100m before flying off strongly S as on previous occasions, but again tricky to photograph. Did manage some more showing the band on P5 (e.g. below) - P6 is still growing, the same length as P5 so hidden below, but obviously with a wider band. P7 is even shorter and P8 may be missing. P9 seems to have no mirror and on closed wing entirely covers the large mirror on P10.

Also, f/imm Pintail on the burn with another influx of Wigeon, now 40 birds (up from a handful at wknd). 7 pale-bellied Brents and Cherry Blossom (red-7P8) this evening.

Thursday update - no sign of YLG at 09:00hrs but again in pre-roost at 18:30hrs (below). Brents have departed.

Friday update: 2 new Shag darvics Wrecked Craigs (now 38, including some re-reads), plus a green left-ringed Med on shore NE of Longniddry c/p2 at dusk, presumably 3LV5.

* "presumed", but subsequently rejected by SBRC (8/3/10) on account of lack of certainty as to which primary tip is which for a moulting bird, with no photo of the spread wing, which is a fair point, though I was sure of which tip was which based on observations! [Now with more experience I'm more confident this was a hybrid based on structure, primary tips are details...]

Monday, 14 September 2009

Gull update

On the Burn tonight, the YLG again present and showing very well. Appeared just after 18:00hrs, went first for a drink then to beach; thereafter very busy, preening, running back to wash, and moving around amongst the roost, but later on more docile and still present at dusk 19:30hrs. Quite a distinctive individual and easy to refind. Apart from characteristic mantle shade, also rather diminutive, particularly for a YLG, but must just be a small female.

Also on the shore, the Med shown above and a juv Med again, both unringed.

Finally, a pale-mantled dark-beaked large gull appeared which I dismissed as an aberrant Herring, but now wish I'd not been so hasty...

Tried again Tuesday, with an unprecedented 5 birders present, but in flat calm and bright conditions the roost was very slow to build. A left green-ringed Med matching photos of 3LV5 appeared and displayed a bad limp (hopefully not from the rings) but the YLG did not show to 19:40hrs.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Hat-trick of Med darvics, and a (probable) YLG

Exciting to find a new colour-ringed adult Med Gull on the shore btwn Seton Burn and Wrecked Craigs this evening, code PJU6, also a red right leg ring (like Cherry Blossom) but a rather different looking individual with a darker ear spot and blunt rear end with primaries growing. This bird is also Polish ringed - caught as an adult on 12 May this year at Mietkow resr, Wroclaw, SW Poland (map), this being the first resighting. Stood on a small rock just offshore very close to a 1st-win (unringed) individual, in idyllic conditions with a full sunset behind - but my camera packed up!

Saturday evening pleased to find over a thousand gulls on the shore at the burn, and soon spotted an adult Med, legs hidden - whilst moving to check it a lady in a BMW decided to set her dogs loose - a couple of scenthounds or lurchers which proceeded to chase every bird in sight right off the shore, pursuing them a distance into the shallows, over a distance of half a mile (including the assembled wildfowl, e.g. Wigeon and Goosanders). The dogs then ran wild over the grass and scared my daughter on her bike. So we moved down to the Prom playground where the local youngsters had been smashing glass. In front of my daughter (5 yrs) they (c. 10 yrs) conversed almost entirely in swear words, while I removed some of the glass. All typical for the neighbourhood, though at least they didn't throw things at us today. As the sun set the (48+) Sandwich Terns appeared very restless, often rising to circle, and a pipistrelle bat came out to hunt the shore.

Sunday update - just after 16:00hrs located a yellow-legged type gull on the Seton Burn, not large overall, but showing a blocky all-white head and bulky undercarriage, tapering rear, yellowish legs, mantle just darker than typical Common Gull, but crucially a narrow black band on what was apparently P5; in flight, outer primaries seen to be in moult with probably P6-P8 re-growing, together with an indentation at secondary junction. Photos (on new mobile) proved poor (see above - right central seated bird, and below - most distant bird showing contrast with Herring and LBB) but it turned out a fellow birder had got some better shots of the same bird at lunchtime, clearly showing the P5 band on at least the outer web. Possibly not enough for acceptance though, with no good photos of the spread wing, and the bird then flew off strongly inland over the caravan park at 18:00hrs (in a very similar manner to the previous individual here on 16 August). While watching this bird noticed a juv Med on the shore, then Cherry Blossom arrived, managed to read first digit on her ring to confirm not red-PJU6. Since (remarkably!) yet another new darvic (green-3LV5 - Belgian 2002 chick, seen previously in Cork in August 06) and an unringed adult had also been seen there earlier that made 4 Meds for the day, and at least 5 for the wknd, with a record hat-trick of darvics which will be hard to beat!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Checking the (gular) patch

After heavy rains overnight floods closed the coast road at the Seton Burn. Finally making it to Wrecked Craigs was reading Shag darvics (2 new) when this distinctive smaller cormorant caught my eye. Continental Cormorant (sinensis) is rare in Scotland, though probably overlooked and it is accepted that gular patch angle is the only reliable ID feature, though there is some overlap, i.e. only obvious individuals can be safely identified, see ID discussion. On this individual, the angle was very close to 90 degrees, though it has not come out well on the pictures. Worth looking out for again. Interestingly, a confirmed sinensis bird was seen at Musselburgh on 1 August (photo, 8th row).