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 :(

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