Friday, 18 March 2011

Wknd 19-20 March

At last, a Cormorant darvic, white-HAN, from Grampian Ringing Group (ringed as chick at Forvie, 15/6/08); on Seton harbour wall where I had missed one previously; got disturbed and flew off strongly west. By curious coincidence within an hour had a ringing return from the very same group, for Golden Plover DD59907, seen at the very same site, also on a Friday afternoon (ballet run), just 3 months previously; ringed as a nestling at the Lecht on 23 May last year. Not been to the Lecht since skiing there on school trip nearly 30 years ago! Also 4+ Slavs on sea, one full summer, and one RTD.

Back at work news of a White Stork came out, had been over KB in the morning at the same moment that I was dashing from my office to a lecture - missed it! Since it was in a field that I occasionally drive past on way home, just in case anything (like a Stork) is about, we made the detour and called past - a fine beast too (better pic by Ian). Nice to see it for myself, having previously had a split second view (from train) of what must have been the same bird on 3 May 2009, in a similar field just 2 miles north-west at Queen Margaret University.

Surely this is the same as the wanderer we have had in previous springs most notably at ASDA in Dunbar, where a photo was taken showing a closed metal ring on the same (left) ankle (same immediately before that at Blair Drummond safari park). Further digging suggests it may well be one and the same as the individual which has been roaming central Scotland since at least January 2001, when a bird with a red ring was at Ayrshire Central hospital; ring noted again when at Mersehead/Caerlaverock in spring 2004 when BirdGuides reported "this bird is ringed and is one of the free-flying birds from Harewood House, West Yorkshire". Harewood has a "stork and heron" enclosure, where White Storks have nested (2005 pic); more digging found more evidence of Harewood birds at large elsewhere, mainly Yorks but also Durham & Northumbs, including this one at Ossett, south of Leeds, in March 2009, so presumably it winters south of the border? Summary in LBN post.

[Postscript - same Stork had been seen at Ormiston, the night before, 17/3; by 27/3 it seems it may have relocated to Pilling, Lancs - same ring but plumage features inconclusive, so perhaps another from same collection? From obvious plumage features, and reported narrow red/metal ring on left leg, the same then appeared at in Banchory on 13-14 April, where it roosted on top of a car park light at Tescos (moving upmarket!); into May it relocated to Devon (photos); a further summary of its spring travels here, does get around a bit!]

Was getting dark by the time we reached the Seton Burn, but in the gloom amongst c. 2700 small gulls out on the shore was the unmistakeable profile of a Sandwich Tern; eventually showed nicely as it flew and alighted deeper in the throng. Was curious to know if it would go out on the sea with the gulls but there was still a crowd on the shore at 19:20hrs when it was far to dark to make out what was what. Seems it could be the first in Scotland this spring. Reminiscent of a previous March record here also amongst the small gulls, LBN post.

Saturday update - checked Eider off Seton harbour for sails, total 315 birds present and 70+ males confirmed with no sails. The earlier bird is looking like beginner's luck! The gull roost was quite impressive, with birds stretched all along the coast, c. 2k on Seton Sands, 1k on sea, 300 on Longniddry shore and 700 on Gosford Sands. 3 Meds were gathered fairly close off the caravan park, with another on the east end of the beach, 2/3 unringed; all in full-summer, one still with some white flecks. The pale-backed Common Gull was near the latter bird, but overall BHG were in the ascendancy with perhaps 3k in total, a surge of migrants. 7 ad graellsii definitely the most this year. No further sign of Sandwich Tern. Other b&w birds included 20 Sanderling on Longniddry beach and min 65 Pied Wags over SW in small groups after sunset (cf. 66 over SW on 19/3/08); presume these roost somewhere around Musselburgh, but have not noted the Esso roost recently.

Back to Seton Sunday to check for wagtail passage and try to get a proper count - negative, just a single, so birds ystdy may have been migrants looking for a roost, now moved on? Quick look on the harbour wall for the Cormorant also negative but amazed to see two darviced imm GBB standing next to each other there! Seven years of looking and only a single previously, which same as the first Cormorant darvic had flown off before I could read it. Well these two promptly did the same, faced with two to read I'd hardly started when they went. But lucky the harbour was busy and eventually got both, orange-WC7T (ringed at Pitsea by North Thames Gull Group on 9/1/10), above, and yellow-E29 below (ringed as a chick in Berriedale, Caithness, on 22 June 2009). Also 6 Purps on the harbour wall and viewing down the shore to Seton Sands a single adult Med could be seen before a spaniel flushed the majority onto the sea.

Monday morning - ad Med and 19 ad LBB with gulls following plough in fields at Old Craighall just south of A1.

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