Sunday, 24 January 2010

Wknd 23-24 January

Confined to Edinburgh by duties on Saturday did the Holyrood Park swan circuit (30 darvics) and observed this adult female Red-breasted Merganser in the throng coming to bread at St Margaret's (right). In fact it was very adept at this activity, taking a whole slice by swift movement and diving to retain it as the rest converged. Not sure how common this is - though it is apparently now routine for Goosander at Hogganfield and elsewhere in the Glasgow area (Times online article), also nearby in Haddington. NB - this same bird is also featured in a forum post, and the observation was also subsequently featured in Birdwatch magazine (March 2010 issue, p. 23).

Further to above, Red-breasted Mergansers are typically not that frequent at inland waters at all, also preferring rivers to lakes, though there has been a spate of recent report on the Esk and elsewhere, and a record number also on farm resrs where they now seem to be routine in winter, so presumably hard weather drives some inland? This is a bit of a mystery to me, what benefit do they derive unless the sea is rough, which it hasn't been? BWP sheds no real light on either issue.

Also there old Greylag white-4AN - ringed as an adult at Loch Leven in October 1997 and first seen at St Margaret's in October 2001 (and annually in Holyrood Park ever since). Duddingston was still largely frozen, just a single Little Grebe remaining and 60+ Coots, many coming to bread with Jackdaws, amongst which one leucistic bird with pure white feathers in tertials. The corvid roost was rather modest, virtually all Jackdaw, with just 1200 birds present at sunset, all high in tall trees on south bank as usual. Three hours later none were visible in those locations so they must descend for the night roost.

Sunday along the Seton shore - no-one home! Harbour nearly deserted too, just a couple of crows on lobster pots, until a fishing boat came in with a few of the large gulls, c. 20 GBB (below).

Very small pre-roost at Seton Burn, including a 3rd-win argentatus Herring again and a 1st-win still begging from parent (fairly frequent observation even this "late" in the year), but then located the small gulls (c. 1800) feeding on the sea - taking some small items off surface - offshore from Longniddry c/p 1. One adult BHG with full hood, and a single adult graellsii LBB, presumably Lucy. The usual roost movements oberved, with Velvet Scoters heading up the Forth (where do they go - once asked this on LBN but no reply!) and large gulls heading for the islands.

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