Sunday, 15 December 2013

Wknd 14-15 December

Mainly white and black birds again this week! Bugged by this puzzling 46* Whooper ring, called in at Drem and found it amongst 92 in cereal immediately west of the B1345, no doubt about it yellow-46I. The source of the confusion is this bird's ring has moved up its leg from tarsus to tibia, in fact this seemed to have happened when it was at Prora last winter between Jan & Feb - which I did not notice at the time and has since made me think one of them was a mis-read (=an error!).
Moreover have never previously seen a bird with ring on tibia, and surprising how it could have moved up, but possibly this occurred when landing on water? This same bird is the one which wintered on the Blackwater estuary in southern Ireland for 3 winters from 08/09 and now back with us for the third subsequent winter, an interesting switch in habits. Originally ringed as a female cygnet at Jokuldalsheidi on Iceland in August 2003, and also there in August 2006. [All rings]

Also did a bit more roaming around checking the rookeries and logging nests. Recounted the rookery at Chalkierigg, by Cousland, nests now very obvious with 20W+19E (cf. 35 found in March), so not far off. At Ford 20 apparent (cf. 9 in March). Also rechecked Humbie (NT46L), no sign of any nests there this year. Some nests now beginning to disintegrate with strong winds, perhaps some have already disappeared? Other atlas additions were Buzzard NT46B, Crow NT46C and Woodpigeons NT46H, NT46S, NT56C & NT56D. On Sunday at Hailes castle added Jackdaw (below) and another Woodpigeon for NT57S. There were also 10 Swallow nests in the roof of the brewery/bakehouse, 8+ had been used this summer, and a used Song Thrush nest right next to the road (second below).

It should be noted that after the atlas data entry cut-off of end of October we now have the final download from BTO, so there is also no point in editing any records via the online system, e.g. in response to validation queries. All such corrections or additional records will now have to be made on our local database, anything for Lothian can be sent to me. We wanted to keep the door open for late records to catch any additions via annual records submitted at the year end, early submission of such will be helpful in allowing us to finally close the archive.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Wknd 7-8 December

Whoopers on Sunday totalled 145 (just 18 juvs=12.4%, very low), with the main flock of 95 in cereal at Drem pools which included darvics orange-ZBN (ringed Martin Mere early 2013), yellow-46I (formerly wintering in Cork, ring moved to tibia Jan-13) and a new one yellow-BVU (above, ringed Iceland last summer). There were another 23 at East Fenton (cereal) and 27 at Chapel/Prora (potatoes).

Grey goose census took me to East Fortune where over a thousand geese were lurking in fields just west - 815 Greylags, 310 Pinks and a Barnacle Goose, plus the usual feral/hybrid Greylags. On ponds a good number of duck, in fact made it 153 Mallard and 153 Teal, that one is going to look like a transcription error! One ad graellsii LBB at East Fenton.

On Saturday noted what are presumably this years brood of hybrid Greylag x Canadas surviving at Eskside, 4 or 5, quite dark backed. At the river mouth 800+ Knot put on a good display and nearly 1000 Oycs were roosting.

A few more atlas confirmations, Magpie NT57H, Carrion Crow NT47X, NT57G & NT58A. On airport bus during week added Woodpigeon (mainly multiples of) NT17L, NT17R, NT17W and NT27B, and Carrion Crow NT17L, NT27B. The previous weekend had added Woodpigeon to NT58D, Magpie NT58S, whilst House Martin UN at Sunnyside, Betony Hill was a tetrad tick for NT57P; also recounted rookeries at East Linton confirming upper end of original estimates (6 UN at Prestonmill). Unlike previous atlas winters which were very distracted by finding living birds it is clear that plenty of useful stuff can still be done for breeders via nests - may go for one more trip to West Lothian to log nests there too.

Nordic Jackdaws (Stockholm)

An apparently resident Nordic Jackdaw at Craigmillar in Edinburgh has previously featured on this blog, and Geoff's, so when at Stockholm airport this week I was on the look-out for this species to see what they look like on home territory. Spotted a few on the slushy pavement outside Arlanda terminal 4 but they flew off before I emerged, so spent 20 minutes trudging round seeing nothing more than a Hoodie and a Magpie. All of a sudden they were back and appreciated the remains of my breakfast, half a slice of black bread - thereby managed to get some photos of two birds with just a hint of a collar, though they seemed grey enough given the light. Two others had slightly more marked collars, none very pronounced though. Stockholm ought to be well into the range of monedula but clearly they can vary.

Second individual:

Have previously refered to the Offereins papers (1, 2) but also found these reports on a Pembrokeshire blog, including a resident breeder there which is clearly "Nordic". Despite the very small sample from Sweden, I feel more comfortable now about accepting that the Craigmillar bird is the real deal, I'm less confident about speculating on origins, instinctively I feel that rather than an individual wintering bird pairing and thus getting stuck in the "wrong" country it has to be more likely that our own resident population includes small numbers of birds matching this appearance?

On the other hand, no doubts about the purity of the Hoodies here, with no hint of dark in undertail coverts:

My trip also took me to LuleƄ at the head of the Baltic but in the short daylight the only additional species seen was Raven!