Friday, 26 March 2010

Wknd 27-28 March

Friday saw a decent gathering of wildfowl on the Blindwells pool, which is quite flooded at present - 3 Shoveler (2m, f - my first for the site), 19 Teal (mainly males), 6 Wigeon, 6 Mallard, 2 prs Tufted Duck, pr + 1 Coot (nest building), pr Mute Swan; also Moorhen recently, and usual gulls, making the best gathering I have seen on this very minor wetland (where I do WeBS). How long many will stay is more debatable due to generally high levels disturbance - Shovelers flushed and circling over for a long period when man with dogs approached water but dropped back in later. 3 Sand Martins feeding over were my first of the year.

Also this morning, an imm male Peregrine powering along low over the sea at least a mile offshore from Cockenzie harbour; always a fine sight when hunting offshore and you can just imagine how the small gulls, LTD, etc feel when they see one approaching. Steady movement of Mipits SW low over the sea, with many more inland, still moving at c. 140/hr over the school at lunchtime. Blustery conditions SW4-5 with drizzle seems conducive to them moving - certainly they like to fly into a headwind - here the coast constrains them to move basically SW - and another theory on the vismig group is they generally like to move in grotty weather when feeding is harder.

Saturday - quick check on Blindwells revealed Shovelers and Smarties gone, a feeding flock of 130 Meadow Pipits presumably recent arrivals. In Garleton Hills (above) the Black-headed Gulls were back at their colony, 30 present, though too early for nests. On Seton coast at dusk a mere 600 Black-headed Gulls to roost, with another 400 still on Gosford Sands - a big decrease on the 3200 at Seton on Wednesday, apparently many birds moving throo at present. No Meds apparent on either date but seems they are all in Edinburgh - report of 5 off Eastfield for Friday evening, would be nice to know age breakdown!

Sunday - a hopeful sea/vis-watch off Port Seton in the afternoon produced just a few more Mipits and no hirundines or terns. "The" Red-necked Grebe remains off the harbour, now in beautiful summer plumage.

Coming back to the hard weather posts and observations of Woodcock over New Year, news from Borders says a shoot was organised on the day before the hard weather ban commenced and 91 Woodcock were shot on one estate. This probably exceeds the total number of records submitted to the atlas for this species during the same period, so is sad in a number of respects. For me, they were a memorable highlight of the winter's birding but it seems others have different "tastes" - and apparently they retail at 47 pence each - for which I would happily have forked out to save them!

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