Saturday, 16 January 2010

Wknd 16-17 Jan

Most of the snow gone along coast by Friday and Pinks again in winter cereal at Redcoll, towards dusk total 2440 with 3 Barnacles, amongst which an intriguing dark stocky "grey goose" (upper right in pic) which went unidentified - certainly not a Whitefront as had a band on bill near tip but not a particularly good match for Taiga Bean either and too dark to make out bare part colours properly.

Two fresh Barn Owl road-kills, one on the bypass at Newton perhaps same as bird seen over the road at Old Craighall a couple of weeks back, that night hunting over snow-covered fields, and another on A1 by Dolphingstone. Have collected a few of these in last few years, over 40 now, and got "used to it" to a degree, but the former, a near perfect specimen, is one of the saddest such instances. The only positive is that having successfully collected it we will get an insight into its diet during those snowy days, c/o post mortem from the vet. From totally unspotted appearance it's an adult male.

Another "one which got away" in 3 grouse-shaped birds in scrub at the top of Blindwells in the morning but silhouetted and no sign when checking later. Hunters were out a Redhouse Dean - a Woodcock emerged and flew into the small wood towards Spittal House.

International Swan Census this wknd 16-17 Jan - all sightings of Whooper needed! Email me and I will enter on forms if needed.

Saturday swans - c. 372 swans found in northern East Lothian (262 Whooper/110 Mute), of which 273 in the "Peffer Valley" (Drem pools, Fenton Barns, Muirton, East Fenton and Upper Mill Burn) and 99 at Lochhouses, where last birds left for roost at 17:06hrs. Photo above in rape with Mutes and Woodies near Drem sewage works. Unfortunately flying around a lot in both areas so these are minimum numbers and overall juv/ad ratio uncertain, though it seems to be high (20%+).

Also, on WeBS, record influx of sawbills (6 each Goosander/RBM) on resrs (rubbish photo - but shows ID of distant females can be obvious just from impression of head/mantle colour, Goosander (left) showing constrasting grey back, RBM (right) "merged"), plus f Scaup, f Goldeneye and the hybrid Canada x Barnacle back at East Fenton (last seen in Musselburgh). 2 Coot there, exceptional here - second record since 1999! 330 Greylags at Lochhouses included the domestic variants previously from September at East Fenton, Gosford and East Fortune, acting as a tracker on this bunch. Magpies at East Fenton and Chapel also exceptional - first record for either site. Another Woodcock at Lochhouses at dusk, probably 2 or more.

Great to see a surviving Barn Owl at Kingston cottages on way back, and even better Tawnys hooting near Luffness Mains, much needed NT48V tick at last (map).

Sunday had another look at Pinks past Redcoll - variation extended to one with an obvious white shield and the small dark individual depicted but all were well and truly Pinks as ystdy's bird must have been! Samuelston and Amisfield were checked for swans but only a further 21 Mutes found, JPX shown, last 2 shots c/o Abbie.

Back in Drem area similar numbers of swans (177+ Whooper, 74 Mute), latter with red, orange, green and white darvics, but a roost count proved impossible as the majority stayed on Muirton pools after sunset. The hybrid Barnacle x Canada is shown below, fewer sawbills. Finally, the day's Woodcock was provided by a bird over West Fenton on the way back.

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