Sunday, 29 August 2010

Wknd 28-29 August

Trip to Dundee Saturday so missed the first BigVis count - tried Sunday though, from Ferny Ness - unfortunately developed to very blustery conditions, which limited passerine migration (well, there was one bird, and I failed to ID it!). Link to full counts, nice to see skuas heading west, normally we can detect but a tiny proportion of those reaching Hound Point in Upper Forth which are en route to overland migration to the west coast (though on arriving home I found more and better ones had been seen from Musselburgh, as is typical). An adult Med went throo SW with BHG over the car park just after dawn.

Earlier in the wk, 2 Med Gulls by the Seton Burn again on Wednesday (including red-7P8, the other adult depicted here), rather eclipsed by a stunning display by an adult male Peregrine, which circled and stooped into the gulls and small waders twice, missing a Turnstone by a whisker.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Wknd 21-22 August

Friday checked out a Sedge Warbler nest found first wk August by Tranent Mains, one bird heard but nest empty save for an unhatched egg (above). Mossy nest woven around grass stems by at edge of a patch of willow herb, cup quite shallow.

Fortunate considering the name of this blog, they are definitely one of my favourite passerines, an attractive bird with great spirit, witness their incessant nocturnal songs particularly after first arrival; most will be on their way by now.

Bit of a breeze Saturday so watched the sea off Cockenzie, but very little moving, 1/2 dark Arctic Skuas (full counts).

Seton prom held 84 patchy Golden Plover amongst which at least one juv (right in photo), 3 f/imm Goosander and the first fresh Shag darvics of new season (red-PLZ, blue-USC).

Swans have begun to arrive back on the Seton Burn, post moult, as they did last year - 12 this week still present today.

Stuck in house till late on Sunday got to the Seton Burn where Cherry Blossom arrived at c. 19:40hrs. Took 50 mins stalking to confirm her ring - very lucky it was low tide so for once the flock was not flushed by a dog or yoof, nevertheless they are touchy and Cherry herself has a habit of constantly running throo the flock, normally away from me! During this got another adult which must have arrived c. 20:30hrs, and perhaps the same or a third on other side of roost at last light, 21:00hrs.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Wknd 14-15 August

On Saturday, Knowes Farm was thick with House Sparrows as usual, minimum 120 around the shop and cottages, and conceivably double that number in the neighbourhood. A quick seawatch off Dunbar for an hour from 16:15hrs produced just two Arctic Skuas and 4 Manx, all N. En route home a gathering of gulls in stubble by Redcoll Lodge held at least one ad-win Med Gull (this is 1.5 miles from the coast).

Sunday round WeBS - this young Kestrel (juv male) was catching insects on Drem airfield; East Fenton held a juv Little Grebe, proving they can fly while still stripey; a Painted Lady (top) there the first I'd seen this year; no show from last month's Mandarin at East Fortune, and the Mutes have clearly failed yet again (at least 6 yrs in a row) despite their massive stick nest!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Banchory trip

First trip "home" to Banchory in a long time, via the A90 where in Angus road-kill Tawny Owl, Barn Owl and Buzzard were spotted on the north verge within the 5 miles west of Brechin.

The Tawny was a rufous morph and of interest for ageing, as per photos this is not a juv (no sign of narrow subterminal bands), neither does it seem likely to be a 1st-summer (which typically retain some juv feathers) hence must be an adult, though it is also unusual not to see any sign of moulting feathers in August, i.e. regrowing or missing feathers. All primaries on the left wing seem present and correct. These photos can also be compared with those of 1st-summer and juvenile Tawnies discussed previously on this blog, credit to Henk Jan Koning who provided all expert advice and the additional photos there.

No birding in Banchory but we did a circuit of my old patch, the Loch of Leys, spotting Jays out in the scrub and an Osprey hunting the fish pond (mobile phone photo taken from moving car!); latter may be regular there now but is certainly an addition to my old "annotated species list".

Down at the Bridge of Feugh large salmon were leaping at 2 or 3 per minute (one visible to the right of photo below) and a Dipper flew upstream. A Swift was seen over Strachan.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The tiny two - or not (small/medium Canadas, again)

A brief resurgence of interest in small Canadas, well, just Mr Thrower commenting on the current tiny two resident on the Seton Burn, encouraged me to post their photos today, as per here (though presumably he will have taken some too, which will be a million times better!).

Further to the previous discussion on Lothian Birding, focusing on the smallest, which has been called Richardson's by others (when it appeared at Aberlady the winter before last) what now are these two? As is often the case despite a basic similarity there is a clear size discrepancy, but both are on the small side and not long-necked. In absence of particular plumage features like collars or gular stripes the key to ID seems to be head shape - whilst these two have a slightly more blocky head that your typical large Canadas the forehead is nevertheless sloping and not very steep, neither are the bills particularly stubby. Thus they don't conform to a stereotypical Richardson's, let alone Taverner's, so I make them parvipes, hence part of the standard "Greater Canada Goose" (and not tiny at all!). Would be most interested in any opinions to the contrary!

Two broken links in the Lothian BirdForum posts, Danny Grandstand's Richardson's/Taverner's photos and the Bothal, Northumbs, Richardson's. I still find the latter puzzling as in many respects it looks like the Taverner's on the previous link, and completely inconsistent with the stubby bill/steep forehead on some Richardson's photos there, but then I'm not an expert...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Wknd 7-8 August

Main highlight was the migrant Coot heard over at night, as per garden birds log (species 89 for the in/from garden list, one of 16 species heard only, subset of 38 species only "over").

Went down to Longniddry shore on Sunday afternoon - not much moving though a bunch of 66 Swallows went throo SW, plus a few others, and 2 Whimbrels headed NE from Ferny Ness. Minimum 21 summer-plumage Red-necked Grebes on the sea (full counts).

Over the village, 60+ BHG and 2 Common Gulls were feeding on flying ants, their snapping bills clearly audible from below. Minimum 10 Swifts remained overhead.