Saturday, 24 May 2014

Wknd 24-25 May

1st-sum GBB black-JYK05 was on Seton harbour wall on Saturday morning, ringed as a chick on an islet off Frederikshavn at the very northern tip of Denmark on 2 July 2013 (movement map).

3+4 Manx Shearwaters flew east past offshore. Seems "our" Common Scoters have gone to Musselburgh, just 14 RBM inshore, and only a handful of Velvets visible too (checked those of Seton prom but unlike last year they were all Velvets, Surfie habits must have changed). Only 32 Sandwich Terns on Gosford Sands Sunday evening, some courtship feeding still occurring, also 22 grey geese, presuambly Greylags, at Craigielaw Point which flew off north over the Forth.

Best sight of the weekend was an adult Peregrine with a decent sized kill, perhaps Feral Pigeon or Jackdaw, flapping vigorously as it headed on a course for it's nest, if I'm right a journey of over five miles, quite a feat. BWP states "In north-east Scotland, most prey seems to be taken within 2 km of nest-cliff, though hunting range may be extended to 6 km or more when ♀ begins to hunt too (Weir 1978a); in continental Europe, breeders may feed up to 15 km or more from eyrie (Glutz von Blotzheim et al. 1971)."

Monday - a Grasshopper Warbler reeling at dusk from a field edge south of Longniddry farm, no Quail heard there or Redcoll/Hoprig. Another Gropper still reeling very sparsely, presumably paired, on the bank at the west end of Blindwells main pond. Also on Monday Canada Goose broods b8 (small), b8 (medium) and b5 (large) at Duddingston, their numbers must be shooting up at a fair old rate now! Counts/range now ~ Greylag in 1988-94 tetrad atlas, we can probably expect a local population of many hundreds in 20 years time.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Wknd 18-19 May

Gosford Bay dusk Sunday now deserted inshore with clear out of northern breeding ducks, just this couple (pair?) of Red-necked Grebes out on glassy sea with a tanker closer to Craigielaw than I've ever seen. Per BWP "Pair-formation starts on migration or on breeding waters.", so they could indeed be a pair, but since migration is always nocturnal overland but may be diurnal along coasts I guess it depends where they're going whether they will be able to remain together. Further out, still c. 110 Common Scoter in two groups, 87 Velvet Scoter with just 13 Red-breasted Merganser and a single drake Long-tailed Duck remaining in the shallows, also a pair of Shelduck which seem to linger every year and may possibly nest in Gosford? [Last weekend it was 320 Common Scoter, 220 Velvet, 20 RBM, 3 LTD and 1 RNG, also 2 Puffin, 1 RTD; 129 Bar-tailed Godwit on Gosford Sands.]

At Blindwells in the afternoon an odd singing Chiffchaff with double-units occurring in song every second or third element, but nothing else beyond that. Perhaps a mixed singer of some sort? Unfortunately mobile phone recordings failed. Also there 2 male Wheatear at the MWTS (1 male and 1 female last week, breeding possible?) and Grey Partridge in song a belated patchlist addition (species 114). Mute Swan nest, above, this year on the top MWTS tank, plenty of construction materials there!

A quite different nest, the lichen dome of Long-tailed Tit at East Fortune ponds - survising from last year - not an atlas tick as had detected young there but nice to confirm they had bred there. Very little on WeBS ponds, Mute Swan AWOL at Drem pools, where main pond now ringed by electric fences contra otters.

Stopped at 4 places on the way back from North Berwick to listen for Quail and had just one calling east of Rattlebags quarry, 21:50hrs. By contrast a good haul of Grey Partridge sightings recently, 1 in song from cereal behind Tesco at North Berwick, pr over road at the Heugh, 1 singing Fenton Barns, 1 on Drem airfield, 1 singing Seton East, 1 on track by Prestonpans railway station Thu/Fri, and 1 singing at Hoprig on Monday!

Not a complete post without a gull, this 2nd-sum LBB was scoffing tourist scraps in Princes Street gardens. Some 2nd-sum visit breeding colonies perhaps to learn the ropes, they may attempt to breed (gull-research).

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Wknd 3-4 May

On Saturday still 7 Long-tailed Ducks off Longniddry c/p 2, pair above with Inchkeith behind and a male below, also roosting with BHG. Hirundines passing at 25/hr.

During the week Sandwich Terns continued to gather on Gosford Sands on the falling tide at dusk every day reaching 182 birds by 2/5 (no further sign of the little one), with a large gathering of Common Scoter fishing remarkably close offshore, 260+ (140 m) on Wednesday, when also 77 Red-breasted Merganser fishing the shallows and 12 Long-tailed Ducks, some of the latter feeding amongst the scoter, and 2 Puffins (species 109 for patchwork, ended April on 129 points).

Dawn on Sunday saw the 10th anniversary of my BBS count at Whitekirk NT5981, pleased with two firsts - Jay in Barebanes Wood and a displaying Lapwing over fields E of A198. Wren now back up to pre-2010 numbers with 6 in song in the first 200m transect where many trees also felled. Grasshopper Warbler reeling by the Peffer Burn and a new rookery at Whitekirk village. Finally the bizarre sight of three Mallards in a mating scrum in the middle of the main road in Whitekirk!