Monday, 26 November 2012

Wknd 24-25 November

Owls were the focus this week as finally got round to doing something more concrete about the gaps mentioned in last week's blog. Summary of sightings on two nocturnal excursions with atlas interpretation:

* Tawny Owl, call, Tyninghame House (NT67E) - tetrad tick
* Tawny Owl, 2, call & in tree by A198, Bruce's Circle, Binning (NT68A) - count increase
* Tawny Owl, on telegraph pole West Craig, Redside (NT58Q)
No Barn Owls along East Lothian lanes, where already recorded in nearly all tetrads!

* Barn Owl, on fence by B6363 Penston (NT47L)
* Tawny Owl, on telegraph pole Nisbet Loanhead, Boggs (NT47K) - tetrad tick
* Tawny Owl, in tree by A6093, Easter Pencaitland, (NT46P) (shown above)
* Tawny Owl, in tree by Halkerston Glen, Middleton (NT35N) - tetrad tick
* Barn Owl, on fence by Pikeham Wood, near Rosebery (NT35I) - tetrad tick
* Barn Owl, on fence by B6372, Arniston (NT35J & NT36F) - both tetrad ticks
* Barn Owl, on fence by A198, St Germains (NT47H)

Also a fresh Barn Owl casualty recovered from A1 by Whitecraig A6124 bridge.

Rain made conditions less than ideal in early hours of Sunday, though seems not to deter hunting Barn Owls. Nice to find some of these in the identified gap in the map in NT35/NT36, clearly they are there and the recorded distribution is still mainly a reflection of coverage; numbers definitely still depressed in East Lothian though, seems a long time ago that I recorded 4 Barn Owls one night along the road to Drem, only 5 miles. The casualty could be a local bird or equally could be a winter migrant from elsewhere, it is well established that dispersing birds are far more likely to perish in this manner.

Missing Tawnies map now updated in last week's blog, still more work to be done in Midlothian. Interesting that one Tawny Owl (Binning Wood) responded to my poor imitation hoot - doubt it was fooled but something stirred it to call; departing from same spot another Tawny was perched not 50m away, it had not called but had perhaps come to investigate the noise?

Another curiosity was to see two Robins out on the road in Longniddry, during continuing rain, at 02:45hrs - presumably taking worms, Jim assures me this is a routine observation under streetlights before dawn.

Switching to white birds, nothing surprising found at Seton - pre-roost on shore at dusk on Saturday included ad Med Gull (probably ringed, but not confirmed), a white darvic BHG (probably one of those reported this autumn from Musselburgh, could not confirm code though), two "pink" Black-headed Gulls of which one was very rosy and two strongly hooded Common Gulls. Had another look for a Cormorant roost at Cockenzie on Sunday afternoon but not many birds there by 15:30hrs, <20.

Tuesday evening - yet again at Seton Chapel in search of Tawny (after several blank visits in the summer), after 10 mins heard a sharp "kwep" which sounded rather more like a Coot than an owl, tried some mouse squeaking and then by the full moon I saw an owl shaped silhouette flying up among the trees south of the east gate, my first confirmed nocturnal visual ID of Tawny Owl. So another is proved to be there where I always suspected it would be given the beautiful habitat, woe betide any mouse creeping around there on a still night like today.

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