Friday, 24 September 2010

Wknd 25-26 September

In recent days Seton Sands pre-roost (above) found to hold a minimum of 5 Med Gulls, perhaps 7 - max together was 3 adults and a 1st-win on Tuesday 21st. Strangely, very few Sandwich Terns this year whilst last year 40+ were regular in September. 150+ Golden Plover are back though.

Just after midnight on Friday the first yapping Barnacle Geese heard over the house, no doubt en route to the Solway, a week earlier than first nocturnal migrants heard last year. Some are satellite tracked and online maps show that one of those remains phenomenally far north, in north-east Greenland.

vis on Saturday morning produced 44 Barnacle Geese past Ferny Ness c. 09:00hrs (full count). 2nd national BigVis count follows tmrw, should be a few counting again in Fife and Angus, would be great to have some counters on the North Sea coast in Lothian too :)

Little improvement on Sunday with not much movement (full count), though a single dark Arctic moved E offshore before settling on the sea; an adult Med (unringed, above) was on Longniddry beach, as is often the case.

Later was in Dunbar, but only time for a quick look at the sea - nevertheless, what a contrast with far more passing offshore than in the Forth - various ducks and waders north, plus 4 herons, and a steady stream of Manx; 2 skuas, both very distant. The other contrast is the Gannets - not one adult in the 63+ logged in the Forth last 3 days but off Dunbar great streams of adults and the immatures a tiny minority. Do adult Gannets learn it is not worth venturing into the Forth, or are all those remaining still tied to the rock by young?

First Redwings over on Monday, following widespread reports from vismiggers in the Pennines and elsewhere on Sunday 26 September.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Wknd 18-19 September

On Seton Burn at dusk on Saturday an unringed adult Med Gull, soon joined by a 2nd-win with a lot of black in wing tips; later, though in poor light and with pre-roost on shore being disturbed as usual by both kids and dogs, an adult seen at other side of flock and an apparently different 2nd-win with only one obvious bar in wing tip, oh well, 2 possibly 3 were there for sure. These were accompanied by an influx of Herring Gull, 710 on shore, amongst which the usual range of oddballs and an interesting imm LWHG with dark bill and pale head, generally stocky.

Sunday got out late to do WeBS - very little around though an influx of Teal at Chapel, 60+, and a juv Pec Sand on East Fenton Farm resr, photos above. Seen to within 20m, also very well in flight, uttering its repeated "srrook" flight call. 3 wagtails there included at least 2 White Wags (ad+juv). The only other wader was a Dunlin at Chapel.

En route home called in at Aberlady to see the geese arriving and several thousand were on mudflats - clearly a significant early arrival this year (many reports from early last week, first over our house were on Thursday evening), boosted no doubt by favourable tailwinds from Iceland. Amongst a large flock arriving from SE were two small white geese which alighted well out and though nothing could be discerned due to poor light (19:30hrs) these must have been the pair of Ross's Geese seen there earlier. These presumably same as the "tiny two" which have been regular on east coast for a number of years now, and have indeed occurred in Lothian previously, but were deemed then as possible escapes (listed in LBR 07 Appendix 1 for Category E species). See also info for Norfolk.

Also during the week - a Great Crested Grebe on the sea just off Ferny Ness in stormy conditions on Monday, first I have seen there in a while and probably currently less often seen here than Black-necked Grebe!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Wknd 11-12 September

The wknd dawned fine and I knew the impressive mid-week falls would all have gone, nevertheless headed for Seacliff to have a wee look and check for skua passage into Forth. On arriving a Swift was drifting over the top wood where 50+ House Martins were assembled. The north den (above) is one of my favourite spots in Lothian, with beautiful habitat and thick with flying insects today (below); it is also a place I have repeatedly failed to find any evidence of grounded migrants, despite its apparently excellent location right on the corner, opposite the Isle of May and Fife Ness (which had held, for example, 40 Restart and 44 Pied Flys, respectively, mid week!). This Spot Fly (in dead tree, left) was therefore a welcome "first", perhaps a remnant of a larger gathering?

3 hrs watching the sea remarkably produced zero for skuas, full count. Nevertheless, the scene was spectacular, with the sea awash with Gannets; with good visibility Fife can seem remarkably close (Anstruther visible here, 11 miles distant), and individual Herring Gulls can be discerned on roofs, plus Gannets moving along coast, so how do so many skuas creep into the Forth unnoticed?

En route Aberlady held a hunting ad m Peregrine and the view out over Gosford Bay was atmospheric.

Sunday tried vismig at Ferny Ness, with very low expectation of any significant passerine movement despite promising conditions, but aware guys would be counting in Fife and Angus. True to form, just a handful of Mips (full counts), whilst Chris at Elie Ness had a great movement of them plus hirundines. If they cross at all their arrival must be very diffuse. But effort made worthwhile in seeing a f/imm Merlin coming over the Forth from well out, another "first". 2 Meds on Longniddry shore more expected, but included a very white-headed and beautiful adult, and a 2nd-winter. A different adult with dark mask had been on Seton Burn again on Thursday, also a Bonxie E past Seton harbour Friday (one hour count).

Evening the kids found a moribund immature Shag at Port Seton Wrecked Craigs, it followed them up beach but seems in poor way; they came to inform me having noted its ring (BTO 1452543) and though most have darvics it will be Forth Islands/Isle of May. Brought it home, though it had expired mid evening.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Wknd 3-4 September

3 pale-bellied Brents arrived with Shelduck on sea off Craigielaw c. 16:30hrs, climbed out onto Gosford Sands to preen, depicted at c. 1km distant. Two had obvious white neck patches, but could not make out on third so perhaps a family. This followed a frustrating sighting of 2 definite shearwater sp heading NE past on which I really could not make out any white; there was haze but the warmer brown of these birds suggested they might not be Manx, which is the only regular visitor into the Forth [PS - Sooties reported from Anstruther opposite early evening]. Anyone at Gullane Point would have had a clear view. Full counts.

During the previous wk, the Whinchat remained on Blindwells with the Stonechat family (3+) and stripy juv Little Grebes are out at last. House Martins fledged off the house opposite and we had 16 birds over the house, nevertheless less than half the post-breeding peak we have had in earlier years.

On the Seton shore a different adult Med Gull with a dark mask was present on Thursday. The Mute Swans remain, two darvics amongst them (LPT, LSY). Also saw my first Cormorant darvic (ringed this year on Forth island) on Wrecked Craigs rocks but could not get all the letters, will try again.