Sunday, 25 September 2011

Wknd 24-25 September

By the bramble patch at Ferny Ness this (presumed) Fox Moth caterpillar, enjoying balmy conditions mid-afternoon Sunday (they hibernate Sept to March); NBN shows just one dot in East Lothian (NT48Q, Aberlady), but I guess they could actually be quite widespread.

Scanning offshore 12 moult migrant Canada Geese flew west past with 2 Greylag hybrids, then several groups of waders, total 400+ Golden Plover in a few minutes, then the reason appeared with a probable juv f Peregrine off Craigielaw; watched it over the next half hour as it initially headed west well offshore, probably got to about 3 miles offshore, at times flying very low and rapidly, then rising up high apparently playing over the sea, a fine sight; then came back in south towards Cockenzie power station, hurtling in low towards the shore; the Golden Plovers went up again but the bird did not pursue them but rose high over the powerstation, with havoc down below amongst the 100-odd Feral Pigeons; bird circled, at one point getting close to the tops of the chimneys, but no stoop; then a second bird appeared and there were two aerial contacts, perhaps an intruder was being seen off? They separated, one heading SE, last view of presumed original bird continuing high SW towards Musselburgh 15:45hrs. In pic below the Peregrine is the tiny black dot below the left hand end of Edinburgh Castle, range c. 3 miles!

In the morning 8 Crossbills went SW low over the house, the first for a while.

Monday morning saw 3 more Crossbills during school run, Mipit was only other migrants. Chiffs still constantly calling in gardens around the village.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Three in a row

No mention of any gulls or white birds in last post, to compensate here's a hattrick of first-winters at Seton on Tuesday. A different and more subtle Med to that at Musselburgh earlier in the day. There were also 2 adults by burn in the Seton pre-roost, both unringed.

Nordic?

Continuing the substandard subspecies theme, with which Geoff has whole-heartedly joined in, I offer these pics of a candidate for "Nordic" Jackdaw; picked up as I was driving down the Niddrie Mains Road towards dusk, not the best spot for digiscoping and it was quite active along the main road, it was noticeable that the white stripe varied in impact according to viewing angle, as per pics below. Front view shows the "headlamp" effect noted by Geoff in January.

It is certainly not as obvious as some, moreover it would not seem to be a good time for Scandinavian arrivals - Jackdaw is a late autumn migrant, main movement picking up from the middle of October and continuing to late November (trektellen graph). Perhaps it's just a turrium intermediate, as suggested by Geoff for his Irish birds?

Subsequent records of presumably same bird in same neighbourhood: 31/10/11 (Niddrie, S Welch); 4/11/12 (Craigmillar, by Geoff Morgan, his first sighting); 30/1/13 (Niddrie, S Welch); again by Geoff around Craigmillar March, August and September 2013 (paired); 19/12/14 (Niddrie, S Welch) [photo on Twitter] (also some time in 2014 independently discovered by Martin Scott)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Wknd 17-18 September

WeBS Saturday: various geese evident, c. 2080 Pinks in stubble at Drem, 90 moult migrant Canada Geese at East Fenton included one dark individual (could it be Dusky Canada Goose (occidentalis), or Richardson's?), another stocky necked bird with white spots on forehead (characteristic of maxima, but probably not big enough), plus 5 Greylag hybrids and one domestic hybrid (i.e. the usual mottly crew for a Canada Goose flock), 290 Greylag at East Fortune; drake Pochard at Chapel.

En route back 4 Whoopers (first back?) at Aberlady, with another 2k+ Pinks already there, many arriving from S (pic below). Scanning the geese for white birds, as per Ross's seen this time last year, suddenly two stunningly white birds did appear flying low over the flock, spooking Pinks - then alighted to feed on mud - the two Little Egrets! Old hat for everyone else, but my first in Lothian, actually Scotland (can't count for self-found lists though).

On Sunday, not able to get to the North Sea coast to join the fun at the seabird fest (4 species each of Shearwater and Skua, not to mention the Sabine's and Black Terns ystdy) had a quick look off Cockenzie and Seton as usual; several skuas, well offshore, the only definitive ID was a dark Arctic W; first Slavonian Grebe (for me) back off Ferny Ness, where also 5 RTD, 2 RNG; and this sleepy juv Common Tern on the rocks, perhaps from the Leith colony.
Even our own exciting seabirds rather pale compared to counts from further afield, from Bridges of Ross on Saturday: 865+ Sabines Gulls past today (!); also 10,000 Arctic Terns, 76+ Long-tailed Skuas, 38 Leach's Petrels, 26 Black Terns, 11 Little Gulls, 145 Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 150+ Arctic Skuas and 3 Pomarine Skuas; or 27k+ Manx, 1586 Sooty, 650 Poms, 357 LTS, 3 Wilson's Petrel and a Fea's in Galicia! Hmmm, seems Lothian is not that well positioned for seabirds!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Wknd 10-11 September

Gulls at Seton on Saturday - Great Blackbacks on harbour wall (above), a 1st-win Med came to drink at the Seton Burn (below), and a red-ringed adult, presumably 7P8, feeding on the mud at dusk. No comparison with the report of 8 ads + 4 juv from Buckhaven last week, doubling the Scottish record established last year at Seton, congrats to them! Indeed it was odd to find only one adult amongst a large number of small gulls this evening, looks like they have nicked some of ours :( This all follows the huge total of 59 at Newbiggin, Northumbs, on 20 August - significant increase there, so we might have expected some sort of influx too.

At Wrecked Craigs had a quick look at the moulting Eiders and was surprised (again) to see two different birds with obvious "sails", a required feature of northern (borealis) Eider (see previous record here). Thereafter distracted by the Shags colour rings, 35+ there included red-CFZ, red-EPD, red-PLZ (seen last year), red-TJI, green-UBU, green-UBZ, green-USS, a good start to new ring-reading season.

Another second record was the Red Arrows, bit of a surprise when scanning the Forth!

Sunday - minimum 10 Eiders with obvious sails off Wrecked Craigs rocks at Seton, amongst 50 odd checked (>200 present including females), a few pics below:

Offshore a continuous passage of Kittiwakes in a decent breeze, a feeding flock of 30+ well offshore held an ad/sub-ad Little Gull; a dark-phase Arctic also had a go at a tern with same gathering before proceeding W; Shags included green-AZT & green-UBZ; gulls on shore included Med red-7P8; and 19 Pinks came in off from north, tracked over Longniddry (below with Gosford/Berwick Law beyond) continuing S over Setonhill. Lots to see!


Monday morning as the wind cranked up another dark Arctic Skua off Cockenzie, also a sailed Eider sailing past in the evening but not much moving in blustery WSW6 wind.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Wknd 3-4 September

Comma on thistles at Ferny Ness this afternoon. Seem to have seen less butterflies than usual this year, but comma are now easier to find than some others.

Down at the Seton Burn, an adult winter Mediterranean Gull was on the shore by the burn; after taking a couple of (poor) shots it was joined by a second individual; after a few minutes was able to read her right leg colour ring, red-7P8, thus confirming Cherry Blossom's 8th return (now 10+ yrs old). The red colour-ringed bird first spotted here on 29 July this year was probably the same, if so just a couple of days earlier than last year. She has a rather yellower tip to her beak this time (click on pic and magnify) - also a dark subterminal band (this is contra BWP, where stated "According to Mauersberger (Mauersberger 1970), dark band a remnant of immaturity (3 years old)").

[NB - clearly I'm useless at photographing this bird, but on the seaweed the digiscoping setup cannot cope with the dark/light contrast; she's much more photogenic on the sand; by contrast butterfly photos always seem to work quite well via digiscope, with a nice blurry background, but my images from photographing same close up are always poor.]

End of previous week had a quick look from Ferny Ness on Thursday morning; took a while to check throo over 4000 birds visible, though c. 2450 were BHG; amongst which one ad Med on shore west and 14+ Red-necked Grebes on the sea; very little vismig.

Sunday - stuck home clearly some movement was underway in fine weather with steady Mipit passage and first Siskins for a while. Redpoll on Monday morning. Clive in Angus had a big passage Sunday, trek link.