Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Review of year 2012

Above pic is not a great shot but nice reminder of a good patch at Seton from mid-August, with a large tern influx including ringed Roseates, then Black Tern and also a new high count of 7 Med Gulls at the Seton Burn. Abundant rings to read on Shags, gulls, terns, etc! These were surpassed in the gale of 25 September which brought Leach's Petrels (2?) and various other good seabirds to Gosford Bay (and the Forth in general), an event that might not be repeated here for many years.

99% of birding confined to usual haunts in East Lothian, did not even manage any viewing at Musselburgh or Dunbar this year, just one nocturnal foray to West Lothian where we saw LEO. Much of this again towards local atlas, also usual WeBS, grey geese and swans surveys, etc. Concentration in local area perhaps the reason for lowest bubo total in four years at 155 (Lothian self found). c. 70 species logged on trektellen in 18.5 hrs timed counts included fire Marsh Harrier, plus the Pilot Whales, another memorable event. Garden annual total matched last year's low of 72, but did add Osprey and a remarkable nocturnal migrant Quail (2nd record), plenty of Waxwings recently too. 9 local Barn Owl casualties (all on A1/A720 between East Linton and Fairmilehead) is low, with only two in autumn, but an increase on last year; species remains very depressed locally based on owling excursions for atlas.

Being effectively confined to patch birding have decided to give patchwork challenge a shot and defined a 3km2 "patch" along the Seton shore to Ferny Ness, with excursion past Seton Chapel to Blindwells. Totted up 137 species for this same area for 2012, which gave me 177 points by their scoring system. Might not expect to match this with several locally scarce birds in 2012 but it is a target. Some others locally are going for Foot-it, but this requires time input in January which I will be short of! Patch or not, I now log my records in BirdTrack at tetrad level, as used in atlas, knowing how much more useful this type of info is when we come to plot general maps like those on the local atlas website for 1991-2006 LBR & BBR records.

Lists are OK per se, a bit of fun, but also of interest to see what is missing, even on a yearly basis. By pasting my bubo lists to a spreadsheet I can see I missed Green Woodpecker, Stonechat, Lesser Whitethroat and Brambling in 2012, but had first local Yellow Wagtail since 2008. My combined total seen *in and from* the 3km2 "patchwork" area is 169 species. Of species not yet seen there are historical records for the following: White-billed Diver (1955-56, 1991), Storm Petrel (1993, 2004), Black Stork (1946), Common Crane (2000), American Wigeon (1995-6), Western Sandpiper (1997), Turtle Dove (1992, and bred many years ago), Corn Bunting (to 1987), plus the following not (yet) submitted/accepted: Balearic Shearwater (2012), Red Kite (2007), another Black Stork (2010); from local records archives other more expected species which I'm yet to connect in the patch area include: Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Little Tern and Long-eared Owl. To this I would also add Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Raven which may have occurred and I think there is a chance of seeing, plus Hobby having seen at least two over the garden! Also more optimistically, perhaps King Eider, Water Pipit, Grey Phalarope and some rarer gulls including Yellow-legged. But realistically it would take many more years watching to reach 180 species.

In the wider area, inland in NT47 I can add 6 scarcer waders plus Dipper, Yellow Wag, Cuckoo (179 species), then Mandarin, RLP, LEO, Turtle Dove and Raven in NT58, and further beyond in East Lothian also Balearic Shearwater, Garganey, Goshawk, Red Grouse, Redstart, Red-backed Shrike and Hooded Crow (193 species). All based on "self-found", so Surf Scoter and Smew also remain targets.

Concluding this brief "review" with two sunset images, and wishing good birding to all readers in 2013!

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