Sunday, 30 January 2011

Wknd 29-30 January

Seton shore held a good gathering of small gulls both evenings, tide right out and many going to roost on Long Craigs rocks; estimated 4400 on Sunday (70% BHG, 4 with black hoods though none yet fully complete, one bird very pink flushed below), with one ad-win Med Gull on rocks, and the old faithful pale-backed Common Gull ghosting in late on; 3400 birds on Saturday, with 2 ad-win Med Gulls, one with right-leg red darvic presumably Cherry Blossom (also perhaps same as reported earlier from a ploughed field south of Pencaitland, about 5 miles south). Also there, 170 Barwits.

Saturday a quick tour for wildfowl/atlas produced 134 Whoopers @Rattlebags (NT58G near East Fenton), plus 32 @Knowes and 27 @Gleghornie, latter two are the Tyninghame birds. Taiga Bean was still there in its favoured field at Waughton - have checked this site regularly over recent years, the same location where swan casualties occurred a few years back which led to getting the markers fitted on overhead cables, c/o Scottish Power, most recently mid-Jan the wknd before Bean found, and never seen anything of particular interest! Still, a very nice addition to this minor WeBS site (site is centred on the nearby resr where wildfowl roost, but feeding area with cabbage/rape fields are included).

4 coveys Grey Partridge seen, thankful to see they have survived the deep snow, and amazingly confirmed breeding at New Mains by way of eggshell. Also a 10km tick for NT68 but regular nearby every year when I do BBS there.

Also did the RSPB's BGBW, mainly the usuals, but a Goldfinch alighted above feeder, first I can recall coming into garden; after observing the sparrow scrum and seeds from above, turned up its nose and made off again. An influx of 30+ Greenfinch in the neighbourhood was also unusual.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Wknd 22-23 January

Dusk on Saturday a Barn Owl hunting a favoured area at Yellow Craigs in Garleton Hills, unfortunately just 100m from the boundary of the obvious remaining atlas gap in this area. Another recent report of one by A1 at Blindwells. Never ceases to amaze me, how did they survive weeks of snow cover? Perhaps some day in future technology attached to birds will reveal their secrets, but for now we have to be content with glimpses in the night.

Sunday was the Rocky Shore count (Lothian & Borders) - we had the first stretch Gullane Point to Black Rocks. Tedious work counting sea duck - made it 363 Eider, 270 Common Scoter, 71 Velvets, 18 LTD, 3 RBM, 3 RTD. Lovely views of 23 Sanderling and 45 Dunlin on the shore. Also as we arrived at the Bents c/p 430+ Fieldfare flew over and shortly after 2 Waxwings alighted by the path to the beach and seemed to have a nibble at buckthorn berries. Even though some buckthorn has been removed and there may have been hundreds of thrushes there all winter I'd be surprised if they've eaten more than one percent of the available berries!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Wknd 15-16 January

Sunday around WeBS, good influx of wildfowl again - East Fenton/Chapel held 230 swans (190 Whooper), 109 Mallard, 33 Goosander (new record), 31 Tufties, 26 Wigeon, 2 Coot (exceptional here), and adult drakes of Goldeneye, RBM, Pochard and Gadwall (site first), plus 4 Redshank. Surprisingly no Scaup! Most initially on East Fenton but while at Chapel must have been disturbed there and sawbills flew in to join single Goosander and Goldeneye initially there. 145 Whoopers were in cereal behind Chapel Farm, flew to Prora; 45+ juvs in total = 24%.

At East Fortune still 600+ Greylag (photo top); 9 Mutes and 5 ad Whooper at Waughton in oil-seed again; 1460 Pinks in cereal on the plain NW of East Linton, scanned but a bit dark; finally 27 Tufties at Markle fish pond, still no Pochard there needed for NT57.

per Abbie, news of a Whitefront amongst 1800 Pinks on edge of Garleton Hills. Photo seems to show an adult European race.

Not much seen on Saturday, many auks and a few Fulmars back on their nest cliffs at Craigleith and per Seabird Centre cameras.

On Friday, thanks to Craig for tip off via this blog relocated his 150+ redpolls in Butterdean Wood. Spooked when first disturbed, but remarkably tame as I walked quietly in with the whole flock pouring over woodland floor feeding on ground, glimpses of white rumps indicative of Mealys in their midst. Throo more stalking got scope on several groups at birch catkins, 2 or 3 in 35 birds were Mealys and one seen well enough, fluffy white rump, to write the required description! Suspect there may have been over 200.

Also in the area, 4 Woodcock, flushed two at a time and Blue Tits immediately uttered their high squeak/whistle alarm on both occasions - clearly disliking the cryptic plumage. Also 3 Jays, 2 Bullfinch, GSW and Treecreeper.

Later while pulling up by the wall at Seton harbour to view shore for gulls saw a flash of blue moving to far rock pools, my first Kingfisher for the site; bird proceeded to plunge into a rock pool and seemed to have got something by bill movements. But this species has a history here, present Feb 03, Sept 04 and Oct 07 - same bird, or just a coincidence? Longevity of 21 years has been recorded so it's possible.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Wknd 8-9 January

Sunday circuited Drem area at dusk, finding 16 Bramblings at Chester's Hill. Abbie also relocated the Bangly Hill flock, plus pr Twite on nettle seeds there, and the pleasing gathering depicted above in her garden. 133 (36 juvs) Whooper Swans (including JP3 with UH3, and the red-ASB juv) in winter cereal at Fenton Barns; also 1810 Pinks there. Earlier added Collared Dove to NT47K, Boggs, so now all the tetrads in NT47 are 40 species plus (except NT47E which is 2km offshore). Also found the imm GBB still in Seton harbour but now with foot badly swollen, I'm now thinking this is the same bird that had red (elastic?) bands on its legs earlier, if so a real act of cruelty.

Back on redpoll quest Saturday walked to Colstoun Old Mill from Gifford Vale, throo fresh snow; negative again, also a dedicated atlasser who walks his dogs there regularly reported having seen none (in 3 winters), so I wonder now whether the original flock might be one and the same as that located at Whiteadder resr 7 miles ESE, which proved to contained various interesting redpolls. Dippers again, also Goldcrest and Treecreepers with tit flocks, all still alive.

Boobook, Oz owl

This little chap above appeared in an East Lothian garden during December's hard weather; detective work kept me busy for a few hours, first establishing it is a Southern Boobook owl, native of Australia (or possibly the related Morepork from NZ, TBC) and then tracing it to a local breeder, whose aviary had been damaged by the snow; not seen again though and I suspect a sad end to the story. [Postscript, I'm informed c/o Pete Morris & James Eaton that it is indeed a Morepork (New Zealand Southern Boobook)]

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

Kicked off along Seton shore, as usual - 210 Velvet Scoter on sea and an ad graellsii Lesser Blackback on Seton Burn. This hefty young Great Blackback was alone in a deserted Seton harbour, though had a damaged foot. It's a 1st-win with most scapulars replaced by 2nd generation feathers, as is typical for this species. The bill has a fair amount of pale showing, some 1st-win are entirely black.

Sunday afternoon, in search of NT56 target Kingfisher, checked Colstoun Water downstream of Gifford; negative, but came across large flock redpolls near Eaglescairnie; could not pin them down, but throo bins most were apparently large and pale, also the calls were reminiscent of Crossbill, so Mealys were probably in there.

Monday - Seton roost back to normal 3k+ including leucistic Common Gull, pale-mantled, an old friend, first noted here 8 April 2006, and also known from Muss, now 8+ yrs old.

Tuesday - 2 Dippers on Colstoun Water, Bolton to Gifford (tetrad tick, along with Mallards), but no sign of any redpolls - note to self, never venture out without scope even if it's woods and you think there will be nothing much to see! Probably not going to give up on these redpolls but stuck now with back to work.