Sunday, 26 January 2014

Wknd 25-26 January

Back on Seton coast Saturday pm after rain had eased - a Black-throated Diver remained there, also on sea off harbour a dusky Red-necked Grebe and 3-4 Slavonians. c. 20 Velvet Scoter were mainly females, 1 1st-win drake detected, just 3 Common Scoter feeding off Cockenzie, 5 Long-tailed Ducks, 50+ Eider but as usual no oddities! Whilst scanning the shore east I noticed waders flushing and soon had an adult female Peregrine heading straight for me; as it approached nearly filled the scope view, but too quick for my camera :(

Gulls included the ad graellsii Lesser Blackback attending sea duck offshore - presumably our wintering resident (Lucy?), two very pale juvenile plumage Herring Gulls perhaps argentatus at same location, and at Seton Sands at dusk a tarrock Kittiwake, a Black-headed Gull with full though not entirely dark hood, a Common Gull with a very clear "hood" and an adult Mediterranean Gull roosting by the pipe (Mike had earlier seen red-7P8 flushed off the shore by the burn). Quite a typical haul, and as usual nothing rare in the pre-roost on the shore, though rather low numbers overall, perhaps due to the wind. Red-breasted Mergansers gathered again on sea amongst gulls to roost.

During week took a train south and confirmed crow in NT06K and NT06R, and Magpie for NT16T (Currie). Whilst down in Lancs spotted an all white (!) crow from the car south of Kendal, turns out that a leucistic individual has apparently been in that area since at least 2009; feeding with a standard edition crow in black on this occasion, you do wonder what its mate thinks of it!

Back on the coast on Sunday - 45 Velvet Scoter, 8 Slav Grebe, 2 Red-throated Diver off Seton, 1 Red-necked Grebe off Ferny Ness and another 115 Velvet Scoter way out in Gosford Bay; 217 Bar-tailed Godwits feeding in the shallows at the south end of Gosford Sands.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Wknd 18-19 January

Seems to be a theme developing here, with yet another great rarity reported from a local site that I feel is in "my area" if not patch - a Glossy Ibis in flight NE over Ballencrieff steading on Thursday! Mark tipped me off that it had been submitted on BirdTrack, I was able to discuss with observer who got a mobile phone photo - the flight profile is pretty distinctive but at only 20x10 pixels that alone won't be enough for SBRC! Got to the site Sat pm, a suitable muddy pond/flood by the resr there, would have been very nice for it; thereafter trawled usual areas NE, but no sign of course.

In same area wildfowl seen included - c. 110 Whoopers at Prora/Chapel, with 42 (4 juv) north of Fenton Barns (mixed in with 16 (5 juv) Mute Swans), pr b1 East Fenton, pr b2 upper Mill Burn (south of Dirleton), total c. 160 Whoopers; c. 500 Pinks Redside, 500+ Aberlady; pr RBM East Fenton, plus a drake on East Fortune resr; 3 drake + 1 female Goosander Chapel; 126 Teal East Fortune.

Also at Drem in cereal with corvids a single Nordic-type Jackdaw out of 50+, an obvious whitish neck stripe, some others with hints of pale stripes but falling short. Best was a female Merlin hunting fields at Brownrigg, a regular site for them in recent years.

Atlas confirmations for crow in NT58V and NT48Q, still failed to find one in NT58G. During week confirmed Magpie in NT37Q on Wallyford Bing, 3 nests there, also added a new rookery in elms on north of this site, remains of 9 nests (another breeding confirmation). Blackbird NT67J was an obvious gap in East Lothian, plugged by nest below in hawthorn by the inner bay path, many birders must have traipsed past this bush! Total now 147 confirmations since mid-Dec, plus another 10+ harvested from submissions to recorder (along with a lot of useful winter records).

On the coast late Saturday a few standard Velvet Scoters off Seton harbour; been looking at these birds for close on 10 years, but now lurking doubts - have I been checking them properly, could I have missed that nobbly "white-winged" Scoter bill?! (No expertise on these but I am persuaded by the Garner analysis). I did also check the Eider west of Fidra in late November when confirmed Woodpigeon for NT58D, looks like I did not scrutinise those carefully enough either :( Our sea duck are often pretty distant though, and it can be hard work trying to check each individual to ensure it is not some fabulous rarity - but with the recent spate of rares in Lothian looks like we need to!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Christmas and New Year

Happy New Year to all readers!

Blog somewhat neglected of late, still working on nests for atlas! Have logged 130+ tetrad-nest records since mid-Dec, 60 Woodpigeon, 49 Crow, 5 Magpie, 4 Buzzard, 2 Blackbird, singles of Song Thrush, Goldfinch and Swallow (many more individual nests seen). Of these 100+ are confirmations for atlas, mainly in southern West Lothian and down the A7. Amongst these got first confirmation for NT44R which we seem to have overlooked! Recounted several rookeries with just 4 dispersed sites now not covered: NT25W Moorfoot Farm, NT35N Sowburnrig, NT67R Woodhouse Dean, NT77G Thornton Glen (latter to be counted by Mark). Also picked up two groups of Bramblings whilst in West Lothian on Boxing Day, at Harwood (NT06B) and Newhouse (NS96V), both on beech mast.

Managed a few brief looks at the coast, failed to join the rarities feast but got one or two late additions for sadly neglected patch and year lists (patch map above, patchwork challenge rules): 235 Velvet Scoter Gosford 24/12 and imm m Peregrine W along shore (belatedly added Knot for patch); 185 Common Scoter Gullane Bay 25/12 (and confirmed Woodpigeon for NT48K/R), an exceptional 235+ Kittiwakes feeding mid-Forth 27/12 after gales (only one double-figure December count in Lothian 1991 to 2010, 15 Silverknowes on 3/12/06, but many in late December 2011, peak 50+ from Gullane Point; NB - a minority winter in the North Sea); on 31/12 at Prestonpans, the Black Guillemot (mainly breeding plumage, flying in from east late morning, definitely a sight for sore eyes and only my second in Lothian) and a Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-necked Grebe at Cockenzie harbour with 2 off Seton Burn, 2+5 Goldeneye in flight west (patch tick!), 2 ad + 5 juv Gannets, still a few Kittiwakes feeding offshore (mainly tarrocks), an adult graellsii Lesser Blackback (reminiscent of "Lucy") and a Great Northern Diver off Ferny Ness, the latter a late addition to both lists! The resident Mute Swans on the burn, below, they are fed there which ties them to the site thus effectively removing them from the wild breeding population, but that food together with seaweed diet certainly seems to keep them in good nick.

Finally at dusk on New Year's Eve, whilst confirming some nests around Dunbar, had a Raven cronking NW over Seafield pond, pic below, a surprisingly late addition to the year list. Final total for patch is a mere 122 species, 15 down on equivalent for 2012 with worst omissions being skuas (after so many in 2011!) and Purple Sandpiper, not seen in the harbour in recent visits. Lothian self-found also about 10 down on recent years at 148. Normal service should resume some time in 2014!

New Year's Day - brief trip out to the roost produced a single Med Gull out in the bay off Longniddry c/p 1 16:00hrs, more foul weather and very poor light by that stage.

Update 2 January - a final visit to NT36 and NT06/16/17 added 75 more nest-tetrad records, now 98 Woodpigeon, 72 Crow, 15 Magpie, 7 Buzzard, 3 Blackbird - altogether 100 confirmed additions. Updated Woodpigeon improvement, final season (click and toggle maps below). Still a few easy gaps but time for a rest from nests! A Raven at Clove Craig, Carlowrie (NT17M) was the best other sighting.

Crow improvement is less noticeable, but at least a good number of possibles now eliminated:

Sunday 5th - nothing new, but apparently same GND diving offshore N from Ferny Ness and a graellsii LBB amongst 2200 gulls on sea off Seton Sands by 16:00hrs, presumably same later on sea off harbour after a trawler came in.