Saturday, 8 December 2012

Wknd 9-10 December

Friday started well with Waxwings visible from the house, initially 4 then 16 in back gardens further west down Douglas Road; beautiful light briefly but they flew before could get an image - not that my contribution is needed on this front! Early afternoon scanned the Forth from Seton harbour and soon after commencing a distant black speck with characteristic flight action of a medium skua appeared high over mid Forth approaching from NE; tracked it west for 10 mins, it is a tiny speck east of West Lomond (552m) highlighted in image above. Did not engage in any chasing, but not many gulls feeding in the Forth, 40 BHG went west and 20+ were feeding well offshore - certainly less activity than this time last year.

Saturday Waxwings were still present, probably 18+. Then had another look into the Forth, c. 105 Velvet Scoter visible from Ferny Ness, not many grebes though. A few waders on Gosford shore including 296 Barwits, 153 Lapwing, 150+ Knot, 115 Curlew, 53 Dunlin, of which Laps/Curlew were improved counts for atlas; also improved Rock Pipit to 2, this is species 104 for NT47P winter; also added one confirmed breeder with remains of a Magpie nest in the buckthorn.

Then off on ICG goose census - c. 2k Pinks Fenton Barns, c. 1k Prora (stubble)/West Fortune (winter cereal), with 110+ Whoopers at Prora and perhaps 100 at Muirton on grass. c. 380 Greylags at East Fortune, also a drake Gadwall, and 14 Coot the highest count there since 1997. 6 Whoopers on Lochhouses pond but no other Greylags found - none on Gosford shore over an hour after sunset. Definite highlight of the trip was an adult male Peregrine flying up from ploughed field at Brownrigg.

Meanwhile Geoff made a great discovery in identifying and documenting an apparent hybrid Herring x Lesser Blackback at Athelstaneford, surely the same bird I had seen there in February and quite possibly the source of some of the other "YLG" type birds we're seen in the area in recent years. Proof therein of the wisdom of the SBRC policy, in some other areas where Yellow-legged Gull is not rare this type of hybrid could be easily overlooked and reported as the genuine article!

Latest Barn Owl (Whitecraig A1) shown above, quite pale and spotless, may be a male. Whilst standing in Waverley station on platform 19 on Wednesday I was surprised to see directly opposite me on the track a freshly dead Tawny Owl, obviously a casualty struck by a train somewhere outside the station but must have fallen off as it slowed to a halt. This is the first proof I have seen of this, though had heard anecdotal evidence that it is common for Barn Owl, third hand report from railwaymen of "27 Barn Owl casualties on main line through to Drem", passed on to me in May 2007, presumably relating to line from Waverley but have no idea of duration. One report made the paper too.

Sunday - now 466 Greylags + 4 white and 2 grey on potatoes at East Fortune; dusk stake-out at Binning NE for Tawny (again!), negative but a Woodcock flew out to feed 16:10hrs. A Barn Owl perched on hedge by A6137 at Byres 17:20hrs.

Monday morning - Waxwings still present on Douglas Road, heard early morning, then 7 flying around a little later.

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