Monday, 30 May 2011

Wknd 28-29 May

Wind continues, so again scanned the Forth - constant movement of Kittiwakes, Gannets, Fulmars & auks offshore with 10 Manx (group 7 + 2,1) W off Seton (above) on Saturday and 8 W, 2E on Sunday. In force 6 wind Fulmars typically shear to vertical, Manx will do same but wings more flexible even if darker upper parts can't be seen - pics below:

Also on Sunday a summer plumage diver with bold dark flank line E off Seton came down on sea there but too distant/choppy to confirm as BTD. More positively a family of young Rock Pipits along shore by Cockenzie harbour.

Did a circuit of Redcoll to Cottyburn and back via Longniddry railway walk after dusk, Quail called up by whistle at Wheatrig. Good job they respond to whistling, my previously used tape and tape machine are worn out!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Wknd 21-22 May

57 Manxies into strong W wind off Gullane in an hour Sunday afternoon, plus a couple of Scaup dropping on to sea and showing nicely for a few minutes (full count). Not managing to squeeze in much time for birding at present, no doubt would have been a good total of Manxies coming into the Forth today, and chance of other seabirds. [Aside - sea-watching has always had the edge even on gulling or atlas for me, you just can't beat the spectacle of shearwaters doing what they do best into a strong wind, towering and skimming the waves.]

Only "breeding" record of note was a pair of Shelduck again near Drem pools - seen a few times now in recent years but never any young and presumably they are subject to predator pressures?

Wind strengthened to a force 8 gale on Monday, fantastic views out into Forth with many seabirds going west; main species was Fulmar with a constant flow way out at mid-channel, also a few Gannets and auks well offshore; many gulls closer to shore, mainly Herring and few LBB and Common Gull; terns all battling past close in, mainly Common but a few Arctic, one of which gave up after 5 minutes struggling to progress past Cockenzie harbour and appeared to blow away inland over Seton harbour; another 1-3 Arctic Tern off Ferny Ness.

For Fulmars, even the gulls, they clearly relish these wild conditions and seem to be in their element, using the wind (and hiding in the troughs of the waves) to move quite rapidly in the other direction!

Final sight was a crow which I spotted literally lying on the ground, beak into the wind, so as not to be blown away.

Tuesday - reduced winds, still Fulmar, Gannet, auks passing west off Cockenzie harbour, group 5 Manx and still several terns over the sea, most looked like Arctics but some well offshore.

Wednesday and wind dropped further - a single Quail was singing in the field by Longniddry Main Street, south of the Lorne Bridge, in the early hours.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Wknd 14-15 May

Bit of atlassing around North Berwick produced few breeding additions; offshore some continuing hirundine passage with 30 Swallows and a Swift within an hour. Great clouds of whirring Puffins coming off Craigleith quite impressive too. Busy on the Bass Rock too, obviously!

En route back Aberlady held 23 Ringed Plover, 40+ Dunlin, mainly northern birds in fine breeding plumage, and 4 lingering Pinks on the saltmarsh. [Postscript - must have been blind, Little Stint reported from same site this evening!]

Bit more success on breeding proof Sunday, with Rock Pipit FF at Seton harbour (NT47 tick) and various ducklings and goslings out - Mallard the first new breeder at Blindwells MTS, Greylags again at East Fenton. Also these busy Pied Wags there, male and female:

Friday, 6 May 2011

Wknd 7-8 May

Sunday's highlight was two roding Woodcock over the garden.

Did Whitekirk BBS first thing Saturday; some small passerine species seemed down, but Woodpigeon seemed up! Tree Pipit over was first recorded during BBS in 6 years. 2 Wheatear near club house. A 2 dead swans under wires south of New Mains, where Mute flock had wintered, but long dead and no sign of rings. House Sparrow pursued two House Martins into nest on the church, after 10 seconds of chattering inside the first martin was evicted, like toothpaste being squeezed, followed rapidly by the other, leaving the spug peeping out victorious; nest site conflict btwn these species is well known and the sparrow tends to win. This is same nest Tree Sparrows have previously occupied, perhaps they've been evicted too? Finally a beautiful leucistic Woodpigeon at East Fortune, surely the same as at Waughton the previous year (1.5 miles NE).

Friday afternoon - confirmed breeding of Kestrel at Seton, with male taking in a mouse from Blindwells; also Skylark FF at Blindwells, 3 female Wheatear and the 6 resident warbler species in good voice. No Garden Warbler yet though, neither at another traditional site checked near Elvingstone. The Blindwells MTS ponds have been disappointing so far, just 2 drake Mallard today, and indeed the entire complex held no waders today - none of the Wood Sands and Temminck's Stints seen elsewhere. It is also now apparent that the Stonechats which colonised in 2008, breeding successfully, have not returned and must have perished in the hard weather, so back to square one for them :(

Down at Seton shore, one drake Long-tailed Duck in the sea.

Quick look into the Monktonhall colliery site (by Newton Village) on way home produced 2 more f Wheatear, 2 Swift and a singing Grasshopper Warbler (in tussocky field by entrance road).