Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas week

WeBS highlights on Boxing Day* included 199 swans at East Fenton (150 Whooper, 42 juv including a new red darvic ASB (ringed in Iceland at Husabakkafloi in Skajafjordur on 1 August 2010), plus usual yellow PL5, UH3, X6C, J3P), 1930 Pinks at Chapel being buzzed by juv f Peregrine, 730 Greylag at East Fortune with 8 Whoopers. Plenty partridge digging in snow - 8 West Garleton, 15 East Fenton, 20 Chapel, 6 Brownrigg. Small birds included 180 Linnet at Drem, 260 Linnet at East Fenton, Brambling at both locations. A lot of Boxing Day shooting going on in the whole area, which considering the number of wildfowl about (total 2900 birds) is in violation, at least in spirit, of current wildfowling ban but presumably enforcement of such is close to zero?

Later, presumably same Peregrine took a Woodpigeon at Muirton at 16:00hrs (17 minutes after sunset) and set about consuming it voraciously, biting off large chunks and occasionally wiping feathers from bill with talons, a magnificent creature to observe; two crows approached but only to 10m, then thought the better of it! She finished eating suddenly, flew up then alighted again near prey, then off rapidly east at 16:25hrs presumably to roost. The carcass looked like a heap of sprout leaves, with breast, neck and one thigh entirely consumed, a raw version of a Christmas dinner! Residual weight of pigeon 190g, assuming a typical weight of at least 500g (per BWP), and allowing for a few uneaten bits of sprout, the Peregrine took c. 300g = 12g/s. BWP states feeding time as 10-30 mins, exceptionally 1 hour and daily food requirement of 141g for female, so this feed should keep it well nourished for a good day or so.

Monday, back at Chesters, Jays calling and 8 Lotti out in the snow, both tetrad ticks, and 8 redpolls flew over. 470 Pinks were feeding on oil-seed now revealed in the thaw on summit above Lochhill, also 180 Feral Pigeon and 800+ Woodpigeon around Spittal. Abbie tells me there were 2k+ Woodies in the area the following day.

Tuesday back to the Forth coast, usual haunts along Seton shore, a fair gathering of sea duck with 280 Eider and 56 RBM mainly off Seton harbour and 280 Velvet Scoter mainly in Gosford Bay. 6 Goldeneye, always scarce here. Meagre gathering of gulls at dusk by the Seton Burn but did include an unringed adult Med Gull, dark mask smeared up onto crown.

Wednesday went to do intertidal (low priority) tetrads in NT77 either side of Torness, NT77N and NT77W. Just completing former viewing out to sea from Chapel Point when a head-on bird appeared out of mist well offshore, not a gull but an owl! Intercepted by Herring Gulls before it reached the shore but fortunately kept on basically the same course S and flew right over our heads, revealing solid black wing tips, thus Short-eared Owl; most likely a migrant down the coast rather than a fresh arrival over the North Sea. Then we moved down to Cove where accessing the tetrad at Reed Point was rather precarious. 27 Wigeon were on the sea and again just before concluding spotted a fishing Great Northern Diver, proceeding steadily NW into Lothian. En route 40+ Waxwings over the A1 south verge just west of Beltonford.

Thursday, probably same ad-win Med Gull on Seton shore at dusk, has a bad leg; apparently 2 there on Tuesday so I clearly missed one. Only 1250 birds in roost by 16:30hrs, exceptionally low and seem to be missing many of the Common Gulls. Also one 3rd-win graellsii Lesser Blackback present. Earlier small flock Redpolls in Longniddry birches, departed before had a chance to check them.

Friday, Gosford Sands well covered with waders including c. 940 Knot and 376 Barwits, new 10km peaks for atlas. At dusk off Seton a f/imm Goosander fishing in the shallows around Long Craigs rock was unexpected and the first coastal record for the atlas in NT47.

* Technical note - Boxing Day refers here to 26 December, though strictly it probably was 27 December this year!

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