Sunday, 14 October 2012

Wknd 13-14 October

Long-tailed Duck above, not a rare bird round here but rather erratic inland (only previous here was 11/11/07) - this one on Chapel farm resr on Sunday; think it's ad f. Also f/imm Pintail at Drem pools (first there since 1997) and Kingfisher at East Fortune (2nd record, after one in autumn 2008). I heard the latter last month but could not get a view of it to confirm; these ponds have no flowing waterway, nearest such is the Peffer Burn about a mile south but it's not big and never heard of any Kingfisher report there, so more likely from the Tyne c. 3 miles south - amazing to think of it zipping along over the fields! 52 Whoopers in stubble at New Mains included a group of 3 juvs. A total of only 4 Greylags found though, for the latest instalment of the (not wild) goose chase :(

Also popped in to Seacliff, first visit for a while, but where on many previous occasions I have failed to find any interesting drift migrants - same again today! Numerous Goldcrests in coastal buckthorn all the way to Chapel Brae very hard to estimate totals but sitting patiently eventually 5 or 6 would come into view at location of squeaking; amongst them a single Willow Warbler calling (not that common in mid-Oct), also plenty of Blackbirds and a few of Song Thrush but no Redwing. A male Merlin whizzed past S, whilst a juv f Peregrine came low overhead giving a brilliant view, also had a full crop so presumably just cruising around for fun.

In c. 30 mins watching offshore 3 Bonxies went NW inside the Bass Rock, plus 4 Common Scoter and an intermediate juv Arctic Skua was hunting. Just c. 350 Gannets visible on the rock, perhaps two hundred mainly adult birds over the sea; scarcely a juv in sight, yet just round the corner in the Forth it is almost the opposite with juvs dominant late in the year.

Hundreds of large gulls moving generally N over at dusk, some were headed out towards the Bass presumably to roost there, the rest rounded the corner towards the other islands. Also had a look at the Cormorants at dusk to see if any clue on their roosting, numbers on the rocks at Great Car had dropped from mid-afternoon so perhaps they had also gone out to the islands? Have previously logged up to 60 on Cockenzie power station pier at dusk, only on one occasion though (19/10/09), I suspect their roosting behaviour locally remains very much an unknown! A Scottish Cormorant roost survey has been mooted and indeed there is one commencing in Cumbria - so it would be nice to know where to look!

No birding Saturday (Little Grebe on pond of East Links family park!) but coming back a female Merlin put on a great show along the minor road west from Fenton Barns, perched 3 times by the road, then heading off hunting over the road, followed just 10m behind for a distance by an adult male Sparrowhawk - no apparent antagonism between the two and I guess they both knew the other might flush something - a wonderful sight of this fearsome duo. Seems our small falcons do very little by the way of cooperative/collaborative hunting, even Sparrowhawk pairs, though it is known amongst other falcon species - but I guess this observation was a pure coincidence.

Gosford shore at dusk on Saturday held a good block of 850+ Golden Plover.

Back to Friday and it seems the great thrush arrival on the coast passed us by - when there were many thousands passing along the Fife coast (Inverkeithing, Anstruther) and arriving at St Abbs. Having said that, interest in vismig and common migrants (contra rare birds) is generally very low so it may well be they were seen and not reported? Looking off Cockenzie early afternoon there were plenty birds in the Forth, including 4+ Little Gulls and a few Common Scoter passing - 3 Bonxies too, how many skuas could have been logged with a full day's watch?

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