Saturday, 13 February 2010

Wknd 13-14 February

Started with recovery of yet another fresh Barn Owl. Apologies to those who find this news repetitive and depressing, but we have also to be realistic and recognise that despite the high rates of casualties these are not all of them, and also that this is evidence of significant numbers having survived the hard weather in this area. There has often been a late winter peak but it certainly seems worse this year, with rate significantly increased (6 casualties so far, versus previous 5-yr average of 1.4+2.0=3.4 for Jan+Feb). There may be various explanations for this, for example, wandering birds displaced from elsewhere (suggested by ringing recoveries last wk and a year ago) or local birds being forced to hunt longer due to poor condition and/or difficulty in finding food. A clue to latter will come from post mortem analysis of condition and diet, but some at least seem to be surviving well - tonight's bird weighs in at 350g which is a decent weight for a Barnie, and looks immaculate - it is really dead (broken wing)! Daylight photos here, a real beauty with the buff colour on neck sides, size and extent of spots, and darker grey in crown suggestive to me of a female - but the post mortem will confirm [was confirmed as ad f, body score 5/5, contained field mouse and voles].

On Saturday back at Seton harbour, nice gathering of gulls (above) included 2 whopping argentatus Herrings, 3rd-win and ad; dainty Lucy was still roaming the area, below on fish market, later along the high street at pub car park, but then attending Eider well offshore - first time I've seen her feeding offshore in this manner, though this is of course absolutely routine for many of the large gulls in the area which simply position themselves on the sea adjacent to diving Eider and try to steal their prey when they surface. A particularly large gathering of them today, 310+, though summer moult flocks here can exceed 600.

Last thing on Saturday, 2 Waxwings at council depot on Dunbar Road in Haddington, flew off towards town centre at dusk - perhaps some of the birds which had visited the nearby berry bushes on the bypass last year? Today they flew down to a small fir tree, but I could not see if they were taking buds or searching for insects.

Sunday, there were at least 217 Whoopers in rape at New Mains, Fenton Barns, amongst which I could only see three rings, P9P, J3P and UH3 - all shown in first pic below, second shows P9P. All these birds present in December, along with CX9 and PL5, latter last seen just a fortnight ago, which I may have missed today - nevertheless, one would have expected a few new rings with the increase in numbers, given four of the above present in only 107 birds early Dec; full darvic histories. But again could not locate the complement of the 270 reported a couple of weeks ago - these may have moved on, or possibly were a small incursion of Tyninghame birds?

At dusk, this 1st-win male Stonechat was feeding on the shore at Yellowcraigs - nice to see a survivor, hardy wee bird - and 1600 Herring Gulls gathered on Fidra with a few pairs of Fulmar on ledges.

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