Saturday, 15 October 2011

Wknd 15-16 October

Above is a small part of a flock of c. 9500 geese in stubble btwn Muirton and East Fenton, filling the fields there mid-afternoon Saturday. Having started counting by 10's found them an indigestibly large number so tried again by hundreds and made it 9600. A series of 16 digiscoped photos of whole flock, like one below, enabled me to try again at home and after an hour with the clicker and a spreadsheet it came out at 9502! I'd still say plus or minus a thousand or so (would be interesting to know the official Aberlady count!).

Mainly Pinks obviously, but also 178 Barnacle Geese; just a single grey collar shows that they are quite rare now; remarkably, an adult male Peregrine was down on prey in the midst of the geese, plucking something with pale feathers, perhaps a gull, flock came with 20m of it! Finally I spotted the dark goose visible in images above (can you see it amongst the c. 680 Pinks?), but I wasn't fooled as I recognised it as the dusky Canada that had been at East Fenton last month (originally thought it was an aberrant or had some hybrid influence but now wonder whether just stained?) When the guns started and the whole flock flew this individual circled forlornly before finally going into East Fenton to join its friends.

Other geese included a few Barnacles on Gosford shore, 291 Greylags at East Fortune including one of our old domestic hybrid friends (previously speculated is Greylag x domestic Swan Goose, like this) shown below.

On the swan front had estimated 40 "cygnus sp" in the same stubble from the Intercity train on Monday so it seemed something of a coincidence to find 39 Whoopers (2 juvs) on Chapel resr - these were initially feeding in cereal at Fenton Barns.

Elsewhere, 2 RNG, 3 Slav, 6 LTD and several skuas (mainly Arctic) off Ferny Ness, also f/imm Stonechat there; 480 Lapwings Drem; drake Pintail East Fortune; another Pintail, resident Little Egret and 4 Ruff at Aberlady, where high tide coincided with dusk (below).

A rare trip to Tyninghame on Sunday, generally quiet birdwise (one Crossbill, one Chiff in Links Wood) but this dragonfly was a surprise on the beach, was not sure what it was but have been informed it might be a Vagrant Emperor (imm m?). This is a species resident in sub-Saharan African, and very rare vagrant to Britain, it would apparently be the 3rd or 4th record for Scotland! More info in this BirdGuides article (has also reached Iceland, the Caribbean and recently, Canada, not bad for an African dragonfly!)

Otherwise: 6 Greenshank on Tyne Sands beach, 3 more (or same) by the embankment. A fantastic display by a young Peregrine. Offshore c. 3300 Kittiwakes feeding over the sea in area east of Bass Rock, a single skua having a field day in the midst of them! 14 Barnacle Geese on estuary and 27 Whooper Swans (family of 5 juvs, below), all unringed, flew to roost in estuary 17:20hrs.

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