Saturday, 30 April 2011

Wknd 30 April - 1 May

Glorious weather continues. Swift over King's Buildings, Edinburgh on Friday is my first April record for the site.

Whimbrel and Golden Plover over the house towards midnight (coincident with high tide).

Saturday morning a Grasshopper Warbler in song from hedgerow on B6363 opposite Longniddry Farm, a tetrad tick (NT47M) - now in 14 out of 22 land tetrads in NT47, but yet to confirm breeding!

Midday Saturday a Common Sandpiper feeding on the rocky shore by Cockenzie harbour, above.

Saturday afternoon hirundines on Tyne at Abbeymill included 10+ Smartie and 3 House Martin, Mistle Thrush FF. Kestrels either side of Garleton and more fine views from there, Fife just visible throo haze over the Forth.

Sunday saw first Greylag broods (b7, b6, b6, b4) in Gosford, and a surprising Red-breasted Merganser hauled out by ponds. Also 6 late Pinks there, per Abbie.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Easter week

Very little activity recently, a few bits and bobs including some atlas ticks:

Tue 19/4 - Grasshopper Warbler in song, m + 4f Wheatear on rocky area, 3 prs Coot, all at Blindwells; Wed 20/4 - again at Blindwells Tree Pipit heard amongst 50+ Mipits morning, Grasshopper still, 2m + f Wheatear on rocky area, 2 at MTS, Whitethroat in song evening, 120 Pinkfeet SW over; Thu 21/4 - Whitethroats in song either side of Falside hill with pr Wheatear in cereal north of Myles Farm; Good Fri 22/4 - m + 2f Wheatear Ferny Ness; Sat 23/4 - pr Mute Swan Blindwells MTS, feeding on silt ponds (right), plus House Martin there; Easter Mon 25/4 - 3 summer plumage Red-necked Grebes from Ferny Ness, 2 in head-shaking courtship display, 1 summer Slav Grebe, 44+ smart Long-tailed Ducks, 60 RBM, 1 RTD; Lesser Whitethroat in song Craigy Hill, Garleton midday; 44 Rooks nests counted Fernyness Wood opposite Longniddry station, 40+ adults present

Monday, 18 April 2011

Wknd 16-17 April

Saturday - 2 Sandwich Tern on rocks off Wrecked Craigs, Port Seton - a month since the first which must have been en route north.

Sunday - WeBS & swan survey produced very few water birds; 24+ Wheatear (12m, 12f) around small sheep field immediately west of Drem pools included one obvious Greenlander male and a probable female. Field south of East Fenton held another 10, plus 2 males at farm itself. Presumably looking closely in all other cereal fields along Peffer valley would have yielded dozens more?! 1120 Herring Gulls @ Chapel. White Wag at East Fortune resr. Mistle Thrush FF at Drem was only atlas tick but Lapwing display over Merrylaws was also nice to see.

All wintering swan flocks had evaporated and every last Whooper vanished :(

Quick look in Gullane Bay revealed 385 Common Scoter, mainly off Black Rocks. Missed the WTE, still not seen one in Lothian...

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Wknd 9-10 April

Friday vis saw 24 Smarties W offshore from Seton harbour in 40 mins, accompanied by 2 Swallows (details). First singing Blackcap Longniddry station. First waterbird on Blindwells MTS, a drake Mallard! Also 5 Buzzard up over Dalkeith Country Park.

Massive clear-out of Whoopers across UK (WWT update 8/4) so went to check if we had a remnant, just 3 on grass at Muirton; sad to see them go again.

Willow Warbler in on Sunday (Bankton roundabout) and seem to already be widespread in area with high densities in places.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Wknd 2-3 April

Warm afternoon Saturday so cycled down to beach to do some vismig while kids played; within a minute of arriving a Sand Martin passed offshore and Mipit passage was well underway; total counts for 90 mins not high but OK for an afternoon; 5 Red-necked Grebes immediately offshore and 19 fine Long-tailed Ducks.

[Post-script - news now that a Common Swift passed Torness midday - assuming it was coasting would have passed us c. 1pm, wish I'd started earlier now; who knows what would pass if you could watch for all day? Some clue in the historical spring Mipit counts from Aberlady, peak 2100/hr 27/3/02; Aberlady has 6 of top 25 peak Mipit counts, most others north Norfolk with a similar constraining coastline geography]

Seton roost such as it was: 875 Common Gull (c. 15% imm), 28 Herring Gull, 15 BHG (5 ads), 6 LBB, 1 GBB plus c. 300 on sea presumably mainly Common Gull, total 1225. Interesting that the BHG's have completely evaporated whilst Common Gulls are only down to a third or so, presumably some of those that breed further north? However, BHG heard from shore in small hours of night and 380 BHG at dusk on Sunday so they are still around.

Also Sunday - 2 hirundines over house 15:30hrs, one was a Swallow, more Sand Martins later. Late afternoon at Blindwells more of same with Swallow and 6 Smarties, plus 4 Wheatears, 3 males and a female (photo).

At the far end of Blindwells there is now a series of 3 ponds for the Minewater Treatment Scheme, as per below. These have been planted up with water plants (rush/sedge) and look like they may well be attractive to migrant waders, though margins are a bit steep. Also, though fairly narrow, at approaching 500m long effectively double the water area visible on the whole site, assisted by the original pool now being maintained at a very high level adding c. 100m to its length too. Together with the pool at St Germains (where once had spring Gadwall) there is now water stretching nearly 1km. Plan to check new ponds, unfortunately not quite visible from adjacent layby at Seton East (railway between), and hopefully others will too - we are sorely lacking in open water in lowland East Lothian, the only two dots north of the Tyne shown on this habitat map are Blindwells (NT47C) and Markle fisheries, which is just a collection of fish ponds (NT57T).

Together with the new pond at Dunbar quarry these are mildly encouraging developments, though can't replace the natural flood pool at Lochhill on Garleton edge, my former WeBS site, which was drained by the landowner. This was a gem of a site with 37 WeBS species (14 waders) and formerly ranked second in Lothian sites (after Firth of Forth!) in terms of numbers, due to the goose interest (see "Principal sites" list on p. 162 of latest WeBS report, 08/09). Still have not really got over its sudden loss in September 2009, about which nothing could be done :(