Friday, 17 December 2010

Wknd 18-19 December

Friday afternoon on shore by Seton harbour one Golden Plover with metal ring, apparently BTO DD59907. Submitted and will see if such a bird exists! 45 Fieldfare at Longniddry golf course. Fresh Barn Owl casualty at Blindwells, a very white male. More photos added, showing paleness of plumage; web search reveals relatively few similar examples, one bird that is more likely leucistic and a pale captive individual. BWP says "Some birds have tail very pale: t1 cream with traces of some dark bars on basal half ... other feathers virtually white except for some dusky specks or blotches", this is an example of such. For contrast see the opposite extreme in next pic of imm female from Wallyford, Oct 2005. Also the recent Tawny off the A1, this a rufous morph juv.

Have since heard of another Tawny casualty per Mike McDowall and as discussed in earlier posts, owl mortality clearly increases in this type of severe weather, snow on the ground for nearly a month now and night-time temperatures well below zero for an extended period. Who knows how they are now fairing, though recent report from Jim of a Barn Owl at Ferny Ness, new for my home tetrad (NT47N) despite frequent excursions in search of them, is perhaps indicative of one seeking refuge near coast? Also throughout the whole period we have had very calm conditions and this may have benefited them; in recent days with full moon also amazingly light nights, with a sort of perpetual twilight right throo the night - moon casting strong shadows and it was as light in our garden as it was in the kitchen with lights on dim (see photo from midnight, no artificial light or image edit). Whether this is of any benefit to an owl with all rodents below the snow is another matter. Only time will tell whether they can recover from yet another severe blow.

Saturday, Seton pre-roost was nearly entirely Common Gull, very few "hooded gulls" - most gone west/south? Looked carefully at "hooded" Common Gulls after recent debate about a hooded individual at Seaforth, and noted 4 in 600-odd with hoods that were mainly dark, but streaks still apparent, I think this is a typical ratio in mid-winter. At least one very similar to the Seaforth bird, first below. I previously had a bird with a very neat total hood, though the colour was much lighter. Shot added showing apparent variability in mantle shade, this is probably mainly down to angle to light (from west, left) but also reflects genuine variation.

Sunday not according to plan due to weather - a few inches fresh snow; some decent sized Skylark flocks low S over, 20+; at Redcoll a minimum of 1600 Woodpigeons were feeding in snow where some vegetation still protruding. 350 SW over at dawn on Monday.

4 Waxwings back on the Tranent A1 roundabout in Wednesday morning.

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