Monday, 8 April 2013

Wknd 6-7 April

Been neglecting my Port Seton "patch" in favour of rookeries of late, so no surprise when last weekend heard of another good bird dug out by Keith when I was off duty, a drake Surf Scoter. Presumably one of same as had been seen on same patch of sea in 2010 and last year, those visits being well into May, there were also mid-April records in 2009 and 2010 for Gosford Bay. Finally got round to looking on way home from work Friday and was surprised to see two drakes there, not that far offshore c. 1km. Brief rising display then a chase round on the sea with lots of splashing; hope they impressed the single associating female scoter, presumably a Velvet but would have been nice to see closer! Then resumed diving. Exceedingly poor record shot showing two white napes below.

Called in again the following morning but by the time I arrived the action was all over, missed a juv Glaucous which had been on sea, flew to harbour and north. Also heard that a Great Northern Diver had passed. Mipit passage was well underway though, accompanied by Siskins and a single Pied Wag, a Shelduck flew east. My usual deserted corner of the prom had five guys with scopes and after half an hour one drake Surfie was detected amongst a small bunch of Velvets, probably a good mile offshore. Prior to that I had had a glimpse of white nape amongst 4 scoter much further out, not far below the horizon, but could not confirm - however the two had been present earlier.

Not aware at the time but the wintering drake Surfie had still been at Ruddon's Point on 2 April, so presumably our second drake is that bird - how did it find the other? I made a small chart of late spring Surfie records in the Forth which shows their patterns of occurrence, after a period of some stability more changes of late. All gets very messy when assessing under self-found listing rules, needed to be >10km from other sighting of same (OK, c. 22km), also >6 days since previous report, so strictly I could have added this in 2010 (20 days gap) but did not feel right!

Rest of Saturday back on rookeries, first young heard and some colonies still expanding, one small one also found abandoned. Still 15 Mute Swans at Rogarth.

Sunday - nearly 7 hours in Longniddry's Dean Wood (finally fixing the rope swing), hoping that Chiffchaffs might finally be back too - only one heard very briefly early afternoon, interestingly sang just once, then 10 seconds later a good distance north and not again, clearly a true migrant hurrying on.

Back to Friday, Pencraig rookery recounted at 36 nests and a decent one spotted at Monkrigg, not counted but 30+ nests. Also observed a presumed pair of Stock Doves performing a sychronised high flight for over a minute, rising and falling in parallel over a wood by the Tyne at Sandy's Mill, near Haddington, and finally descending to a large tree - this type of behaviour seems not to be included within descriptions of display flight in BWP.

Back to Thursday - out of the area on trip to Banchory, saw 16 Waxwings there at the top of Arbeadie Road, was lucky to detect them via hearing the trills of flock in a back garden as car windows were shut - a gentle call but can be far-carrying. Only Barn Owl noted was a casualty on central reservation of A90 at Nether Careston just south of Brechin. Also saw a juv Whooper Swan on Forfar Loch, no Sand Martins.

Earlier last week, a fresh Barn Owl casualty on A1 westbound, on the embankment opposite entrance to Queen Margaret University, sadly crushed.


  1. Nice chart! I figuer I more or less know there's a Surfy at Ruddon's i never count it as self found. Feels like cheating

  2. Thanks; just updated the chart as the Fife data is now on Scottish Bird Reports site - all except 2000 - were there really none that year or was it not uploaded?