Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year

No birding on New Year's Day but en route to the Seabird Centre one Short-eared Owl along the Fenton Barns to Kingston road (above on verge), last seen over Rattlebags Quarry.

On way back, 2 Woodcock flushed from verges near Dirleton, ticks for NT58G/H. The latter hovered over the road in front of the car - on the stretch btwn the village and Linkhouse Wood, and returned to road after flushed by other vehicles. Former was by Newhouse Wood resr track.

Saturday, Pinks on grass at Cantyburn, Longniddry - viewed throo hedge:

A Magpie was nest-building at Seton Farm, so obviously not badly troubled by the weather. At Seton harbour between snow showers, one lost Pinkfoot offshore associating with sea duck, a male Stonechat on the shore (unusual), and Lucy (LBB) present amongst generally low numbers of large gulls (below, on wall). Many Herring Gulls now going into breeding pluamge, beginning to lose winter head streaking, some already very white, examples of variation shown below.

Sunday did another atlas roving tour of the snow-covered hinterland, pictured, picking up a Woodcock in flight down Castle Road, Windygoul, Tranent - last seen heading SW over Co-op. Lots of useful atlas ticks and good views of birds battling in the weather - 80 Skylarks digging for food in a few inches snow at Muirpark, with partridges there also digging vigorously with feet, tossing out plant matter from deep under; but how many of each species must get predated when they are so obvious in the vast white expanse? Greenfinches on rosehips, Linnets still on docks as per Christmas wk. Jays at New Winton and Redcoll limekilns.

Down at Seton harbour, unusual visitors included a Snipe was on the tiny burn in the west basin, a Golden Plover on the beach and 2 Skylark feeding on the shore. Longniddry c/p 2 produced 2 more Snipe and a tiny patch of beach at the burn-mouth held single Ringed, Grey and Golden Plovers, Lapwing, Redshank, Pied Wag and 2 more Skylark, all feeding on tideline.

Had a shock whilst driving along the coast road and spotting a hooded gull in flight with Common Gull wing tip pattern; stopped and found the bird shown on beach, this being a more extreme example of the fairly frequent winter-plumage variant of this species, which can have extremely dark streaking on head and nape; more typically the dark streaking also extends onto sides.

Monday (4/1) saw a Grey Wag on Longniddry shore with a large gathering of thrushes still in buckthorn, plus 4 Bullfinch. Herring Gull in snow at Seton harbour, I reckon this is a candidate for a 3rd-win argentatus, cf. gull-research pics, but might actually just be an advanced 2nd-win argenteus, like these.

On Tuesday (5/1) another Woodcock over Redcoll - think that's 9 now spanning 9 different tetrads (NT47ABIMST, NT58CGH) since Christmas day! 600+ Woodpigeons in fields behind Longniddry, digging for food in snow. Afternoon view from Bangly Hill below, where a Reed Bunting was still present on a dung heap in snow. With fresh snow lying a final foray into Longniddry Dean in evening produced the best of all Woodcocks hovering in light from torch over the burn, a truly memorable experience. 10 up on the Twelfth Night (2 missing?!), of which 7 were atlas tetrad ticks. Together with records from elsewhere the coastal squares map has been transformed in a few days, latest online here.

Wednesday - 16 Skylark still surviving at Redcoll, digging in deeper snow, several inches, and Barn Owl over road btwn Old Craighall and Wellington Farm on way home and another at 22:10hrs hunting the verge at Gosford Sands.

Thursday - Snipe in flight over Wellington Farm, Old Craighall, in morning.

Friday - negative on reported "Crested Tit", Elcho Road, Longniddry, in morning!

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