Sunday, 27 June 2010

Wknd 26-27 June

Overdue WeBS from last wknd found 3 cygnets at Drem Pools together with one stripey Little Grebe (new breeding record) and 2 fluffball Moorhens. Mutes had failed, yet again, at East Fortune but family of 3 juv Herons there, perhaps fledged from Balgone? At Knowes all three hirundine species were in the air, with Swifts too, I can't recall seeing this full set before but I guess it happens at Musselburgh.

On Aberlady mud flats 4 discrete families of Shelduck, largest group having 17 identically sized smallish young attended by a single pair of adults. This species lays typically 8-10 eggs so this may be an instance of two females having laid in same nest, apparent quite common (BWP mentions 35 instances of two or more from Kent studies, max 32 eggs in one nest, v 95 single female clutches). From Aberdeenshire studies is also the salutary statistic: 65% survived to day 12, 43% to day 18, 37% to day 25, 29% to day 33, 25% to day 43, 24% to day 50 and fledging. These looked to be less than a week old so on average only 4 will make it, perhaps less with only 2 active parents guarding.

A rare visit into Borders on Sunday, non-birding but noted in Eyemouth: one medium-sized bat flying over the river bank just upstream of the harbour at 12:20hrs; Mute Swans on nest there - mainly reeds but with a few bits of plastic bags etc for decoration; also one Curlew arriving in-off the North Sea from well offshore, presumably part of the current Curlew movement now underway post-breeding (see vismig yahoogroup).

Finally back in Longniddry, 35 Swift feeding over Fernyness Wood mid-evening; these I presume mainly non-breeders as we have only a handful regularly, the curious thing being I am yet to see the "residents" enter a possible nest; every year we have 2-8 daily and they regularly scream past low over the road just west of us, which is what they do past occupied nests at colonies, but the more I look the less I see them entering anywhere!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Black Stork!

Wow - midweek news has emerged of Black Stork twice near Longniddry on Tuesday, recalling the first Lothian record of an individual near Longniddry on 29 May 1946 and at Port Seton on 2 June 1946 (the only other record being Dirleton on 18 June 1983). Wouldn't it be interesting to know if this is the same as the Hungarian bird which has recently wandered northern Scotland. Aberlady would look a good bet - initial sighting S over A1 btwn Macmerry and Haddington fits an Aberlady departing bird flying S over Coates at west end of the Garleton Hills, whilst NE direction over Redcoll is heading straight back there. Let's hope it's refound and confirmed whether or not it has colour rings!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Wknd 19-20 June

Seton harbour, 22:00hrs above - only a few imm gulls there and still no confirmed breeding of gull species on roofs here, perhaps I'm missing them, they were there in the last atlas?

Unable to join the atlas foray to Craik, managed to get my repeat visit done to NT47C (Blindwells). Unfortunately I was asked to leave the site due to the heavy plant moving around, but not before noting that the area favoured by shingle-nesting species had been unearthed in their activities. More heartening was observation of a fledged Stonechats again, first atlas confirmed breeding of Stonechat for the 10km (though b5 there on 3 August 2008, just "out of season" and tetrad not known), and a Lesser Whitethroat in song alongside the main road at the turn to Seton farm shop. The latter was a surprise, since I've passed several times, and many times in the past, not having heard one there, and is only fourth recorded in NT47, all being single records, perhaps unpaired wandering birds. 4 Sand Martins over the pool was also a surprise, though have seen there several times now, just possibly they are breeding in a bank somewhere in one of the working areas or elsewhere in the neighbourhood. Tetrad totals reached 82 species with 29 confirmed, with at least 10 more which are certainly there and still need confirmed.

Sunday did my repeat visit to the fragment of land in NT47I spanning Longniddry Bents. Plenty young Willow Warblers at large now, also Whitethroat breeding proved and families of small birds Wren, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit and Coal Tit and heaving with Blue Tits as everywhere this year. Least expected was pr Siskin in pines by c/p 2, presumably wandering failed breeders. Final tetrad totals 80 species with 21 confirmed, not many more likely.

Out of the area sad news that the ancient (20+ yrs) female Osprey at Loch of Lowes is down, her two chicks still some way off fledging, blog post. One of my first notebook bird records was seeing Ospreys at this site 35 years ago, when I was as old as my daughter is now. By midweek it seems she is recovering.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Wknd 11-12 June

At Duddingston on Saturday, swans LAY x LSD with b7 cygnets, and Canada Geese also with b2 scruffy young (not a common breeder in Lothian, only here and Musselburgh confirmed so far). A very pink-billed hybrid Greylag x Canada was also present and the Great Crested Grebes were tending at least two stripey young.

Earlier a TTV in NT47U took me back to Maggie's Waas Wood by Aberlady; best birds were encountered just after getting out of the car with a family of Garden Warblers in snowberry bushes; also there, Tawny betrayed in yew trees by Blackbird alarm, a rufous individual. Others confirmed breeding included Blackcap (FF), Chiffchaff (FL) and Lotti (FF), total 19 now confirmed in 60 species. 13 singing Wren, which together with 18 on early visit to different part of tetrad, gave me a current TPE (tetrad population estimate = guess) of a healthy 70 adults, i.e. don't seem too badly affected by the winter, unlike on higher ground were most have apparently been eliminated. Also good to hear Nuthatches, still present after detecting them on winter visits, but a key target, Jay, eluded me.

Sunday did some atlas roving around Macmerry and added a few including Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat both FF in scrub by entrance to industrial estate. Oystercatcher alarm suggested chick on a roof.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Wknd 5-6 June

With young birds at large all over the place, prime time for atlas top-up work (young Starling right in garden, prior to creeping Pitta-like around flowerbed, surprisingly black but I guess plumage fades quickly). Started in Fernyness Wood attempting to confirm Treecreeper, still needed for 10-km, but after several pursuits failed to see any food carrying, most of their time way up in tall trees! Did add Goldcrest though, taking total confirmed in my home tetrad to 27.

Afternoon visited tetrads in south of NT47, adding 9 confirmed (including Blackcap and Chiffchaff) at New Winton (NT47F, previously none confirmed after 2 TTV's, for whatever reason!) then targeting Tyne for Kingfisher. After 2 or 3 hours hanging around had finally given up and nearly at car when heard one calling, new species for NT47 taking total to 143 (minus 2 grouped species = 141, minus hybrid crow = 140, minus White Wag = 139, minus domestic Mallard, Black Swan and Indian Peafowl = 136 proper species).

Rain commenced during the evening, set to continue for 24 hrs, putting a damper on things, but a flock of moult migrant Canada Geese heard low N over house at 23:38hrs certainly the highlight of the day, being a garden tick (species 86)!

Sunday, following up a few leads, fresh Barn Owl pellets found in Garleton Hills then a Woodpecker nest at Craigmoor Wood, Balgone, missed during recent TTV (also re-examined egg shells there and now suspect Buzzard, not Tawny Owl).

Later on coast Manx Shearwaters NE past Ferny Ness and Port Seton (2), also a Canada Goose on sea at latter location. Also off Ferny Ness, 25 Common Scoter SW past, 2 RTD and a Puffin with a beak-full of fish setting off NE for its burrow, which if on Fidra would be a journey of c. 7 miles/12 km [BWP "most birds feed close to colony, probably c. 2-10 km away; at Skomer, most apparently within 8km, 85% within 3 km].

Also last week, Quail article published on birdinglothian, but just at the same time a new set of local atlas maps published showing lots more records (6 new tetrads in east which I was not aware of, and the single West Lothian record referred to in both my articles now vanished!).