Monday, 30 July 2012

Wknd 28-29 July

Out of the area for a week our M6/M1 journey this year produced more Kestrels than last year but greatly outnumbered by Buzzard. Road kill Buzzards, Tawny and Sparrowhawk. In Luton, Swifts were impressive, also Crossbills moving.

A701 over Beeftub produced a GSW on one of the bare trunks left in lunar landscape near source of Tweed, a tetrad tick NT01N, also confirmed House Martins in further tetrads (one of which, at Hearthstanes, could be confirmed by typing that word into Google, clicking twice to "Street view" on Google Maps and viewing image on screen, perhaps more UN can be found that way?!). Fledged Swallows right up to watershed at 450m. 670 large gulls at cut hay by Blyth Bridge were mainly LBB, a darker Herring type probably merited more attention but couldn't stop!

Back at Seton Burn on Monday pleased to see first returning ad Med Gull, disappointingly unringed (red-7P8 was back at Musselburgh 10 days ago, deserting us the second year running!), but compensated by two colour-ringed birds, orange-1787 Herring Gull (back for 4th year running, we only missed it in 2008 after it was ringed at Seamer Carr on 30/11/07), and the first Forvie Sandwich Tern chick of 2012, seemed to be light-green over white right (amongst 19 juv, 27 ads).

Tuesday morning - 85 Sandwich Tern by Seton Burn, many juvs, whilst at dusk amongst c. 1300 gulls (1050 small gulls) were 3 ad Med Gulls, too dark to see rings though. Also 7 bright Turnstones back - one can only imagine where they have been since last seen in May.

Wednesday - same tiny ad f Med Gull (smaller than adjacent BHG, see below) and orange-1787 HG by burn, "better" photos now added above.

Thursday - a different ad Med at Seton in morning, and a 2nd-win plus 2 ads there at dusk including a familiar shape, indeed a Med Gull of superior elegance also sporting a right-leg red ring - seems Cherry has seen sense and returned from Musselburgh as she did last year - this her 9th year in residence (12+ yrs old), welcome back.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

More atlas and nocturnals, etc.

Despite good progress on atlas some large gaps in maps for nocturnal species remain - one identified was the lack of LEO records from their former strongholds between Livingston and Linlithgow, i.e. the network of minor roads through mainly coniferous woods and open/rough ground in Bathgate/Riccarton Hills, including Ravencraig (NS97V), Beecraigs (NT07C) and Longmuir (NT07G) all of which have confirmed breeding records this century!
Together with Harry and Mark we got out there for an evening on 18 July, no wind but rain did not really help us. Nevertheless 3 nice views of perched Tawnys and 4 others hooting, then finally a Long-eared Owl perched by road, amazing views in headlights at range of 10m until we decided to move on and it flew. Poor record shot here. No Woodcock, checking Lothian database we have not had roding birds after 8 July and BS3 suggests that roding ceases by mid-July (though had a couple roding on Islay on 13 July last year). So will have to wait till next year for those, with still very poor map.

Tried at Seton Chapel yet again for Tawny but still negative, last summer's single there seems to have been a one-off; interesting that this prime habitat seems not to be occupied right now, though there are plenty of mobbing birds there, large numbers of Jackdaw that also occupy tree holes and Kestrels in another. At dusk at Blindwells two Grasshopper Warblers still in a singing contest, got within 5 feet of one in song by the west bog but no sign of a family; still hope to prove breeding in NT47C.

The Penston Yellow Wagtail seems to have gone though, had a good look on Thursday both Penston and flooded fields south where still good numbers of gulls, Oycs, Lapwings etc. Surprised to find a juvenile Wheatear at the big dung heap there, still looking very immature, but presumed migrant as no sign of any family and quickly disappeared. Also confirmed Buzzard there at Hodges - now at probable/confirmed in all but 2 tetrads in NT47 (NT47A, NT47Z).

Good news per George of a brood of Quail seen at Torness, a rare local breeding confirmation.

Over the house - Dunlin heard in early hours of Friday, Sparrowhawk with probable Starling prey NE over so presumed nest in Gosford (new) and Crossbill movement picking up, single W over on Wednesday and 8 W including obvious juveniles on Friday.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Wknd 14-15 July

Shag ringers have been busy - 9 of 21+ mainly juv/imm birds at Wrecked Craigs rocks on Saturday morning were darvic ringed (imms blue-ZLP, red-CWE, green-ADN, AZL, KDD, JUT, TLA, USS, XLZ; ad green-SCZ?) - my second best haul here.

In evening single Red-necked Grebe, 2 RTD in Gosford Bay, diving flock of 130+ Common Scoter off Craigielaw Point, 156 Barwits on Gosford Sands.

Sunday - now 31 juv Sandwich Terns in only 80 birds on Seton shore, one catching its own fish but most waiting to be fed; this time 3+ juvs and some accompanying ads had metal rings only, suggesting they might be from the Farnes - some chicks were on the wing there by 10 July. Dave tells me that Sandwiches red-ENL and white-EAP were at Tyninghame on 12 July (more from Forvie). Some beautiful breeding plumage waders there too with 62 Barwit, 14 Golden Plover, 7 Dunlin (all ads) and 1 Knot, latter still reddish; even the Curlews have some nice rufous on them (pics above and below).

Breeding atlas - back to Seton golf course margins for Grasshopper Warbler, another half hour and this time neither sight nor sound of any of that species. Nice to see 4 Grey Partridge there, also to confirm Goldcrest with ad m FF in the pines around the caravan park (now 49 species confirmed NT47C, 4 more easy ones to go: Greenfinch, Mistle Thrush, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, plus Gropper!). Also got Swift entering a house on Castle Walk at junction of Fishers Road, a new site for me.

This view is the south end of Aberdour in a bright evening light, digiscoped from Gosford (17.5 miles ENE).

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Wknd 7-8 July

A sentinel Oyc here with large chick being tended by mate just beyond on derelict car park at Oak Tree, Haddington (first spotted earlier in week by Abbie!); another Oyc on roof of Commerce Centre, perhaps that's were the nest was?

Siskins everywhere at present locally - seems wherever you stop one can be heard; saw 10+ at Letham Mains with juvs, most likely bred there but hard to prove now.

At Seton Chapel drew a blank yet again on Spot Fly so early June record perhaps just passing through? More positively in the remaining rough ground between Seton Chapel woods and Seton Sands caravan park singing Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Bunting and Skylark, also Sedge Warbler there and Goldcrest and Stock Dove in song nearby. Gropper song post just inside NT47C where not yet confirmed - last year's success was on same slope about 200m E. Did a stake-out but after half an hour had not even sighted the singing bird, never mind proof of breeding. In the interim very loud disco music had started booming out of the caravan park "...everybody look to the left, everybody look to the right...", Mr Gropper ignored it. A further compensation in finally locating the local Kestrel nest and seeing 4 well grown juvs begging as an adult came in with prey, one was out on a branch whilst another still had a couple of bits of down on back of the head - they will fledge very soon hopefully.

Deja vu with the disco music, Yellow Wag stake-out a couple of weeks ago was accompanied by a full pipe band which struck up in a shed in Macmerry industrial estate just near where I was standing. And before that going to remote tetrad NT45E in April and finding the whole area overrun by scrambler bikes!

Sunday - 355 Sandwich Terns on Gosford Sands were making a racket mid-afternoon, many still courtship feeding and now 19 juvs amongst them begging for food! Seems this is the highest first half of July count since 1992 (634 Aberlady 12/7/92, 1/3 juvs). An Ythan red darvic again and two banded light-green over red (2008 Forvie chicks). 3 ad RNG off Ferny Ness, also a raft of 55 Velvet Scoter there. Off Seton harbour 9 RTD together on sea and 25 Common Scoter flew past.

Atlas additions included Sedge Warbler confirmed at Longniddry c/p 2 bog - saw FF bird which came out to scold a Stoat which appeared on the path in front of me! Early morning also got a juv Tawny calling in Barebanes Wood, Whitekirk, also Crossbills and Jay there. The Peffer Burn was way higher and wider than I've ever seen it:

I usually leap over here, sometimes with a run up, or if I chicken out cross at a sluice where the level drops several feet. There was no sign of the sluice gate today, just a ripple on the surface:

Monday morning - back at Penston in the rain, Yellow Wag appeared in song flight as soon as I did my Quail whistle (hmmm, must be a poor impression, perhaps that's why no Quails ever respond?!) - flew a long way south dropping into sheep field towards Boggs (NT47K) presumably to feed there. From office window confirmed Goldcrest breeding in pines directly opposite, just 2nd confirmation in NT27 (Edinburgh).

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Wknd 30 June - 1 July

Three red "alpha code" Sandwich Terns on Wrecked Craigs rocks on Saturday morning, the rising tide brought them in sufficiently to read and confirm by photos the codes EHD, ELK and EKL - a good job too as the latter pair might have gone down as a transcription error had the view been brief and fleeting! One previous record here was white-EVD at Ferny Ness in September 2010, c/o Abbie. EHD is a Farnes chick from 2005, this and the two others were caught on the Ythan 29 July, 30 July and 1 August last year, respectively. Per Grampian Ringing Group blog another of this batch was subsequently recorded in Namibia, a rather more exciting sighting! [PS - EHD subsequently recorded at Knott End, Lancs on 19/8/13]

Shags today were red-CWE, blue-ZLP and green-USS, all resident/returning.

Waders included a returning Common Sandpiper, 3 Golden Plover and just 5 Barwits, but a couple of those in breeding finery.

Quick WeBS circuit on Sunday, arriving at Chapel could hear a Quail calling from fields N, perhaps same as that reported by Jim earlier, then on S side had heard two more bursts of calls before pulling up at resr, then nothing. This has happened before, I suspect the car sets off calling. Very little on waterbodies, East Fortune Mutes had failed yet again (as every year since last success in 2006); Drem pair had 3 small young though. Moorhen chicks were in a deep concrete tank at Drem sewage works, did not try to rescue as per recent Mallard as they looked healthy and tank was swarming with insect life - they may be better in than out!

House Martins were occupying 2 nests at East Fenton workshop, a third nest nearly complete with a ring of wet mud at top - first time I have seen this species here in 8 years of visits; also used nest of this species at Fenton Barns.

As per garden log, was pleased to finally see an Osprey in Lothian in the morning, one right over the house; have spent countless hours on look-out for this species over last 8 years and had a couple of near misses, nevertheless the vast majority of sightings in Lothian seem to be concentrated at Musselburgh and the North Sea coast, also a good number Aberlady. As far as I know there have been 3 others seen over Longniddry since 1991 by other local birders. I'm sure the fact that visibility was poor this morning is no coincidence, any self-respecting Osprey never ventures near us otherwise!

Now on to my other Lothian bogey bird, Hen Harrier!