Saturday, 3 March 2012

Wknd 3-4 Mar

Saturday - first success in virtual recording via Seabird Centre cameras - pr Peregrines seen at Bass Rock lighthouse, think female perched and male coming in to alight beside her; a probable male perched on Fidra, up on a rock platform facing SE, then on lower cliff edge with adjacent gulls holding fast but keeping an eye on it. Also managed to read 4 Shag darvics on SW rocky coast on Isle of May, red-HFJ, red-HFT, red-IDN and green-JUZ. Letters on HFJ worn to a white patch on one side so perhaps an older individual. First and last feature on Seabird Centre sightings as breeders there.

It's all over for the Prora potato-eating Whooper Swans, a plough was turning over the whole site along with whatever remains of the potatoes; 174 (40 juv) were at East Fenton with 6 flying in at dusk, this left 70 missing from last week, either dispersed or still feeding somewhere a bit further a-field. No rings read with birds on water but have received latest return from WWT and updated the histories summary spreadsheet, now 121 ring reads in East Lothian of 30 confirmed individuals, histories extend to 240+ records. A few more unconfirmed, very nice to get the 4*I ring confirmed as 46I in last return!

In Athelstaneford area - stacks of gulls for miles around in recently ploughed fields, but no further sign of last week's with yellow legs.

During the week - a Short-eared Owl casualty on the A1 at Dolphingstone, just over a mile west of the Blindwells bird in November (new one another male based on few bars on outer tail feather [per BWP: female "t6 more heavily marked with 4 (3–5) bars on both webs, sometimes rather irregularly shaped (♂ has 2–3 narrower bars, mainly restricted to inner web)"], but age tricky/impossible as central tail missing! [per BWP: Juvenile "probably best distinguished by t1: 10–15 mm of tip of t1 uniform buff or white, except for black-brown shaft streak which tapers to point at tip, frequently with some fine speckling in middle of pale tip or at border of shaft-streak (in adult, broad pale tip heavily marked dusky or tip almost completely dark, except for narrow pale fringe; dark shaft-streak, if present, not tapering and not quite reaching tip))"]. These are the first two casualties I have recorded of this species, searching the Lothian database I found only one other record since 1991, one on A1 at Dunglass on 2 February 1993; the only other in LBR's (1979 to date) was "single Macmerry (dead)" sometime in 1989, likely a casualty but no info on that. These recent casualties therefore consistent with an exceptional influx last autumn as suggested by records of live birds locally and in wider area. More positively, a Barn Owl hunting at the regular spot by Harperdean road up to Garleton from Haddington on Tuesday evening, Tawny calling at Seton Dean on Wednesday.

Friday - a sooty BHG by the Seton Burn, probably same individual first seen two weeks ago and presumed stained not melanistic as it was with a second bird. Plenty Herrings on shore (450+) but no sign of yellow-T:115 reported there last week (ringed as ad f on 22/07/11 in Aberdeen harbour, caught by hand). Several Kittiwakes and Gannets out in the Forth.

At dusk on Sunday c. 3000 small gulls at mouth of Seton Burn, with just a handful of large gulls, still only one ad graellsii LBB; careful scan revealed nothing else but at last light a white-winged bird went past NE to join a sub-group of 200 on Gosford Sands, presumed Med Gull. Nice sunset though.

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