Tuesday, 12 June 2012

More breeding atlas

Now in fifth season of six, some may assume local atlas work is all done and dusted but far from it! Though we have reached reasonable coverage for the commonest species in the most well visited areas many others are still well down, e.g. the updated maps (30 May) show common species like Wren, Dunnock and Song Thrush with many "losses" even in Lothian, particularly the West, where all tetrads visits are now done. The suspicion is that these losses aren't simply declines in status, though there may be an element of that too. Things are even worse looking at nocturnals with drastic "losses" for Woodcock particularly in the west still a cause for concern, likewise Tawny Owl is still poorly represented even in Midlothian.

Does it really matter, can't we just plot the results and forget it? The problem is if we cannot achieve broadly similar coverage we end up not being able to make a great deal of sense of the comparisons with the previous atlas - whilst significant losses and gains may still shine through, for others there will be a lot of doubt and difficulty in interpreting the results. Plus there are very few active workers now so there's still a lot to do!

Not able to find time during exam season finally got back to Preston Hall (more nocturnals of early May) and pulled up at same layby opposite Fleming's Wood just after 22:00hrs on 7 May - remarkably a Woodcock went over in roding flight with 30 seconds, and on its second transit sparked off a calling Tawny. This is mildly encouraging, with only a few minutes spent at this spot in these two visits Woodcock easy to find, now converted to "T" for permanent territory, and logged on first visit for 3 new tetrads - hinting that many/most of the losses on our maps are just lack of coverage, as suspected. Also had success later that evening with Tawny at Dean Bridge by New Winton, but no Woodcock there.

With local reports of Quail on the increase suspected they must be back in numbers locally but actually have drawn a blank on several visits to regular haunts up to 12 June - in particular on still evening of 10 June went out after dusk round Redcoll, Cottyburn back-road, Seton Mains, Seton Chapel etc - despite some time listening remarkably also not one owl heard and just a very distant Grasshopper Warbler at Seton (the many territories of Sedge & Grasshopper Warbler, plus Reed Bunting, all eliminated by the new golf course - though the latter has brought some welcome new fresh water pools, already well used by gulls and also Mute Swan & Mallard).

Tried again for Quail on Tuesday 12 June in daytime, some time around Redcoll limekilns were some very nice habitat for them, cereal crop up to several inches on gentle slope overlooking the Forth, also Laverocklaw, Elvingston, Hoprig, Macmerry and Penston, all negative - found here in last Quail influx but perhaps they have not penetrated to these areas this year?

However at the last location some compensation by way of a Yellow Wagtail, singing from the eastern-most shed roof (top pic above) - quite a rarity in Lothian away from their stronghold around Torness/Dunbar, which itself is the most northerly location of confirmed breeding in the UK (per last BTO bird of the day map for 19/4/11). Indeed it is only the second Yellow Wag I've been lucky enough to see locally (first was in adjacent tetrads of NT47S/X, but seen only on 11 May 2008, though perhaps also a couple of days previously per Abbie) and we have only two more reports further west in the local atlas. The current date would suggest it could be a resident bird so I'll check again to see if there's a pair and/or breeding attempt there. Checking archives to 1991 there are very few potential breeders away from Torness, confirmed in last atlas for Drem (1993) and a previous July record from Coates (2006), also May records for Athelstaneford (1991, 1997) and Prora (2000), a final late August record at latter site in 2004 perhaps also a migrant. Bird still present Wednesday, per Abbie!

No comments:

Post a Comment