Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Annotated garden bird list for Longniddry, Lothian

This is a list of the species seen in, and flying over, a small garden on Douglas Road, Longniddry, Lothian, Scotland (map) since August 2004. Longniddry has about 2500 inhabitants and is situated on the coast about a mile south of Gosford Bay. Unfortunately there is no proper view out beyond the immediate neighbourhood - in particular, no view of the sea, so a good proportion of the birds on the garden list have been recorded in flight overhead only.

The percentage of weeks that the regular visitors were recorded during 2005 is included in brackets following the species name as an indicative measure of each species abundance; species which were only seen overhead are marked with an asterisk * and those only heard overhead by a +.

  1. Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata) * - single NW over 07:30hrs 30 October 2017
  2. Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) * - single E over 08:00hrs 15 May 2013
  3. Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) * - occasionally seen passing overhead, mainly in winter; usually birds going inland at dawn or returning to coast at dusk
  4. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - occasionally seen passing overhead, less frequently attempting to come down in neighbourhood, to burn or garden ponds; 3+ records of nocturnal calls, all in late summer
  5. Little Egret Ardea cinerea) - single SW over 10:45hrs 9 August 2014, presumably from Aberlady; another low SW down Douglas Road on 30 October 2017
  6. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) * - a group of 5 birds over mid-Oct 2005, 2 in Oct 2006, 3+2 when cold weather hit late Nov 2010
  7. Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) * - a group of 4 flew over on 10 October 2007
  8. Pinkfoot (Anser brachyrhynchus) (10%) * - regular visitor in autumn, with large flocks sometimes seen en route between nearby roost at Aberlady and feeding grounds (peak count 7000 over at dawn on 8/11/04 in six flocks); often heard over during the night too; leucistic (all-white) bird seen on 29/10/05
  9. Greylag Goose (Anser anser) * - regular in small flocks over, to and from nearby Gosford Estate, especially late summer
  10. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) * - a flock of moult migrants N over at night on 5/6/10; 33 ENE on 24/8/12; 8 NE over 16/9/17; 20 SW over 11/8/19
  11. Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) * - four birds over in a flock of Pinkfeet on 29/10/05, several autumn records in 2006, including overnight passage; large numbers of migrants, peak 310, autumn 2010; nocturnal flock again on 23/9/19
  12. Wigeon (Anas penelope) * - one heard calling amongst loose flocks of 81 duck sp NE over on 2/12/10, hard weather
  13. Teal (Anas crecca) * - 3 over with loose flocks totalling 81 duck sp 2/12/10 with deep snow and sub-zero daytime temperature
  14. Mallard (Anas platyrhyncos) * - pr over on 25/02/07, and rising from tiny burn west on 13/04/09; group 13+ on 25/11/10; many amongst 81 duck sp over in hard weather on 2/12/10
  15. Goosander (Mergus merganser) * - single sawbill duck S over on 29/12/06 probably this species; redhead SW over on 2/10/10
  16. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - single SW over on 1/7/12 in drizzle
  17. Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (39%) - regular visitor, with up to 7 individual sightings in one day, and birds seen displaying overhead regularly in spring; a presumed captive bird heard as of summer 2006, eliciting calling responses from passing wild individuals
  18. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) (8%) * - occasionally seen thermalling overhead, up to 4 together
  19. Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) * - less than annual, flying over or hunting over golf course to north
  • Hobby (Falco subbuteo) - singles on 13/9/08 and 4/8/10 [neither accepted by LBRC, so not included in species total!], a further probable chasing hirundines over golf course on 4/9/18
  1. Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) * - less than annual: Christmas Day 2004, one chasing Wood Pigeons Nov 2005, then Sept 06, Dec 06, Jan 07, Oct 08, Feb 09, Nov 13, Mar 18; also large falcon sp. May 09, Oct 14
  2. Quail (Coturnix coturnix) + - a presumed migrant heard calling over at 00:47hrs on 1 June 2007; loud calls from a migrant circling low over 01:15hrs 10 July 2012; a clear set of 3 quic-ic-ic 02:19hrs 9 June 2017; calling bird moving NE on 22 May 2019
  3. Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) - single record of a male heard calling in May 2005, another mid-July 2014, latest calls dawn on 9 May 2016
  4. Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) + - nocturnal calls heard on two nights mid-April 2007, annual since 2011 (overall: 4 in April, 3 May, 2 in June, 1 July, 1 Sept)
  5. Coot (Gallinula chloropus) + - nocturnal calls heard on 7/8/10, 21/4/11, then four records 2012 (9 & 15/4, 13/7, 12/8), 20/5/13, 21/5/15, 26/5/17, 8/7/17, 9/5/18
  6. Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) (41%) * - observed (and heard) overhead daily throughout the year, but particularly in winter
  7. Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) * - heard passing overhead at night particularly in August and flocks, sometimes very large, occasionally seen over in winter
  8. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) + - single nocturnal migrant over in fog 5/9/05
  9. Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) + - nocturnal migrants over in May & Aug 2007, Aug 2009, Aug 2011 (2), one flying inland Feb 2012, Aug 2015, May & Aug 2016 (2) and Aug 2019
  1. Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) * - occasional flocks over in winter, peak 135 in December 2004
  2. Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) + - nocturnal migrant over on 2 August 2010
  3. Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) + - nocturnal migrant in rain on 14/8/07, another 29/8/11
  4. Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) + - 3 nocturnal migrants in rain on 14/8/07, 2 1/8/10, 1 29/4/11, 2 10/7/12, 1 20/7/14, 1 15/8/15, 1 27/7/16
  5. Curlew (Numenius arquata) * - small numbers over at various times in the year, typically nocturnal but also dawn and dusk, i.e. feeding movements; also audible on the coast 750m N in certain conditions
  6. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) + - two nocturnal migrants in rain on 14/8/07, then 19/8/07, 27/7/08, 30/7/10, two Jul/Aug 2011, 4,7,15,16/8/12, 20/5/13, 25/8/13, 28/4/14, 10/5/14, 12/5/15, 23/8/15, 20/7/16, 26/7/16, 14/5/18, 7/8/18 (am+pm), 16/8/18
  7. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) + - nocturnal migrant SW directly over house 01:28hrs 3/8/18 (recorded); a "clear repeated 'cooee hwee-wee', receding, 23:15hrs on 19/9/15 (also a single high "cheweep" call heard at 23:00hrs on 27/5/14 likely also this species, though seemed an unusual date, unconfirmed)
  • Wood Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) + - clear sandpiper call "k-SEE-soo...kw-see-see-see-soo" over 01:44hrs 15/7/18 [presumably this species, not high pitched like Common, nor any hint of disyllabic tlooit in Green]
  1. Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) - first record low NE over in severe weather on 1 March 2018
  2. Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) * - only record was two in roding flight excursion on 8/5/11, apparently formerly regular over Longniddry
  3. Redshank (Tringa totanus) - fairly regularly heard over at night, with a peak in August; commonly feeds inland in the village in mild weather
  4. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) + - three August records, one in early October, all nocturnal calls
  5. Dunlin (Calidris alpina) + - single nocturnal migrant in rain at 00:10hrs on 21/10/06, another in early May 2008, then 20 July & 4 August 2012, 12, 18 & 19 August 2015, 20 July & 6 August 2016, 24 July & 10 August 2017, 9 August 2018, 23 July 2019
  6. Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) (73%) - regular non-breeding visitor, rarely seen in late spring and early summer; occasionally over at night in summer
  7. Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) - adult over c. 100m west on 7 August 2015, on a daily commute inland with other small gulls
  8. Common Gull (Larus canus) (24%) - regular winter visitor, not seen in spring and early summer
  9. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) (97%) - present throughout the year with tens or hundreds passing overhead on some days en route to/from coastal roosts; frequently over at night in summer
  10. Lesser Blackback (Larus fuscus) (39%) - common summer visitor
  11. Great Blackback (Larus marinus) - rarely seen, but probably regular over in the morning commute of large gulls from roosts to urban Edinburgh in winter months, occasional at other times
  12. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) + - several were heard over on three nights in August 2006, including some definitely moving S, but perhaps returning N later; studies of this species on Teeside have indicated a SW departure at dusk taking birds over to Liverpool Bay (Ward, R.M., Ringing & Migration, 20, 19, 2000)
  13. Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis) * - small group of birds heard moving S overhead at night in rain on 13/8/04; again over in mid-August 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, late August 2011, several occasions 2012; typically adult and juv; can also be heard from the coast in the right conditions
  14. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) (31%) - erratic visitor, year-round; many racing pigeons fly along the coast on certain weekends
  15. Stock Dove (Columba oenas) * - a single in August 2006, then 2 on 3 July 2015
  16. Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) (98%) - very common local resident, which breeds abundantly in the village from at least Feb to Nov, and has successfully reared young in cypress hedge in our tiny garden; nocturnal song heard once, in early June 2015
  17. Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) (55%) - somewhat irregular visitor throughout the year; successful local breeding; resident in 2011, 2014-15; nocturnal song heard 01:40hrs 14/7/15
  18. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - screech call heard in early hours of 27/7/08, 31/8/09, 10/7/12 and 20/5/13; regular (daily) in summer 2014 with one seen flying between houses over our garage, just feet from my window; reduced in 2015, but heard April and July; as we are 200m from the edge of the village (golf course) this makes this a truly suburban owl; also, reportedly regular visitor in King's Park area of Longniddry
  19. Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) - frequently heard calling at night from Gosford Estate woods; regular in August 2006 with a juvenile bird heard; heard daily again through summer 2007; juvs found in Fernyness Wood summer 2009; regular calls summer 2012
  20. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - single NE over on 26/10/11, a bumper arrival from Scandinavia this autumn with many others seen locally
  21. Common Swift (Apus apus) (25%) - common summer visitor, (May to August); up to 10 birds regularly, now breeding in neighbour's house, and many more in occasional coasting "movements", including pre-departure gathering, e.g. 50 high over on 14 August 2007
  22. Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) - irregular, annual (except 2007); breeds in Fernyness Wood to NE
  23. Skylark (Alauda arvensis) (6%) * - regular overhead passage migrant, largest flock 25 in October 2005; occasionally heard in breeding season when singing birds drift over the village
  24. Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) * - 4W 15/4/06, 3W 3/4/11, 1W 15/5/12, 2W 18/4/15
  25. Swallow (Hirundo rustica) (24%) - regular summer visitor (mid-April to mid-September); unprecedented spring flock of c. 170 low SW over house at dusk on 10/5/15, perhaps from a pre-roost; single very late record early Nov 2008
  26. House Martin (Delichon urbica) (37%) - common summer visitor (April to September); breeds locally (and had attempted to build on our house); post-breeding gathering numbered 35 birds in 2004, but has dropped to less than 10 in 2006 and remained low, though plenty in other parts of Longniddry; once heard at night
  27. Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) (12%) - regular overhead passage migrant
  • Pipit sp.(Anthus sp.) - 2 low S over on 4/11/18 were not Meadow Pipits, based on single "ppzzzz" call most likely Water Pipit, but Rock also possible
  1. Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrelli) (10%) - irregular visitor throughout the year
  2. Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) (8%) - irregular visitor throughout the year
  3. Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) - recorded in mid-November 2004, max 17 winter 08/09 when a group often around the village as part of a large influx; again recorded autumn 2010, March & Nov 2011, max 18 in Dec 2012 and up to 13 on several dates in winter 16/17; 1 on 28/10/18, 2 on 9/12/18, 1 on 2/1/19
  4. Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) (35%) - irregular visitor throughout the year, less common in winter; more often heard than seen, nocturnal song heard once
  5. Dunnock (Prunella modularis) (82%) - common resident, present in garden in small numbers throughout the year
  6. Robin (Erithacus rubecula) (92%) - common resident, apparently absent in mid-summer
  7. Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) - migrant ad f perched on neighbour's roof 16 August 2016
  8. Blackbird (Turdus merula) (90%) - common resident
  9. Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) (8%) - uncommon winter visitor
  10. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) (37%) - regularly heard in song in spring/summer; rare at other times of the year though a few in autumn passage
  11. Redwing (Turdus iliacus) (10%) - autumn passage migrant (peak 220 birds in 15 minutes, September 2005), and winter visitor
  12. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - formerly very rare visitor with only 5 records in 2 years, but more recently heard/seen daily at times, particularly spring and autumn
  13. Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) - a territorial bird could be heard regularly in song from a location about 450m WNW of the house in mid-May 2006
  14. Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) - a singing bird at Longniddry c/p 2 bog reedbed barely audible at about 440m WNW of the house, mid-May 2018
  15. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (4%) - heard in song from community centre area most springs, autumn/winter records: f/imm 16/9/07, m 29/8/11, m 19/10/13, m 4/10/15, 2 m + 1 f/imm 25/11/16, m 14/10/17, wintering f 27/1/18 - 1/3/18
  16. Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) - first record a female in the garden in May 2010
  17. Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) - rare visitor, only recorded briefly in song in spring and on autumn passage
  18. Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) - rare visitor, only recorded on autumn passage
  19. Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) (4%) - rare visitor
  20. Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) (14%) - irregular visitor, often in company of other tits and normally associated with hard weather; visited fat ball in garden March 2006 and January 2009
  21. Coal Tit (Parus ater) (31%) - regular visitor throughout the year, but more in winter and less in summer
  22. Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) (80%) - common visitor throughout the year, especially winter when up to 14 attracted to peanut feeders, but no more than a handful in recent years (sparrows dominate seed feeder)
  23. Great Tit (Parus major) (59%) - regular visitor in small numbers throughout the year
  24. Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) - resident in Fernyness Wood, and bout of calls heard from there at dawn on 20 July 2016
  25. Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) - first record on 11/9/06 on ornamental tree in tiny front garden, second on 11/2/11 creeping up garden shed at back
  26. Magpie (Pica pica) (92%) - normally present daily in the neighbourhood, with one January council/social gathering of 23 birds in tree outside house (and 47 on one roof reported by a friend in another part of Longniddry); now much reduced due to removal by a neighbour
  27. Jay (Garrulus glandarius) - first record an apparent acorn-gatherer SW over on fine morning of 2/10/10, though followed reports of irruption out of Scandinavia; further records on 23 and 29/10/14, probably both also after acorns (2014 was the big year for movement in UK)
  28. Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) (96%) - regularly observed on aerials, throughout the year; peaks of up to 150 birds; breeds and roosts nearby with Rooks
  29. Rook (Corvus frugilegus) (35%) - regular visitor throughout the year; breeds and roosts nearby at the station
  30. Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) (92%) - normally present daily in the neighbourhood, and breeds nearby with 3 juveniles fledged in 2006
  31. Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) (100%) - ever-present resident, peaks of up to 150 birds
  32. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (100%) - another common resident and local breeder observed daily in numbers of up to 20 by the end of the breeding season; apparently stable
  33. Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) - first records on last two days of October 2010, with more regular occurrence in following winters, often in the garden with House Sparrows
  34. Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) (63%) - regular visitor throughout the year
  35. Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) - first record on vismig on 30/10/10
  36. Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) (73%) - regular visitor throughout the year
  37. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) (33%) - regular visitor throughout the year, always in small numbers
  38. Siskin (Carduelis spinus) (8%) - irregular visitor, mainly in spring/autumn (peak 55 birds, 29/10/05); once on nut-feeder in spring (27/2/05)
  39. Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) (20%) - regularly overhead, and not infrequently descending to feed in the area, once on the road outside
  40. Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) - regular in small numbers, mainly migrants, a few with 20+ redpolls feeding on birch catkins on 28/12/06
  41. Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) - at least 12, probably 16, with 20+ redpolls feeding on birch catkins on 28/12/06
  42. Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) * - regular post-breeding in summer, then again sometimes in autumn; first small flock over in early October 2005; also again during dispersal in July 07, July 08 and July/August 09; large numbers in second wave in 2010 (e.g. 35 on 30/10); recorded 6 wks 2011, flocks 13, 11, 8; 3 wks 2012, 6 wks 2015
  43. Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (4%) - irregular visitor, typically pairs in winter but resident for a few weeks in summer 2007 and again late summer 2009
  44. Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) single record, one high SW over calling on 12 December 2016


  1. Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) - single heard calling 27 July 2008; traced to local farm

[Not included, as a bit of a cheat, Gannet and Eider both seen in the Forth far to N by scoping through a tiny gap in trees; with a proper view several more species could be quickly added (Shag, scoters, LTD, Kittiwake, auks, etc.)]

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Sunset on Blindwells

Late March 2018 and the next phase of Blindwells development is suddenly underway, with clearance of all scrub from NW end of the site, including the willow "mangroves" at either end of the main pond and the wood between pond and railway. Hargreaves plan. Access is discouraged due to machinery for moving the timber etc, but a few shots here (some poor quality, as could only get in at dusk). [NB see previous blog for details and photos from previous years, there are a range of breeding birds on the site, including some very rare in SE Scotland.]

No idea on purpose of this bird scarer, the main users of the open area are Curlew (22 on 6 April) and corvids, not sure what threat they are perceived to be!

Updated shots from Minewater treatment scheme (MTS) below, some recent harvesting of reeds, nicer diversity of habitats in the three tanks with bits of open water and some denser reeds - Mute Swans look set to breed again, also with some other waterfowl. 120 Pied Wags were roosting in the top tank reed bed, site of a large Swallow roost last two years. These will hopefully continue, though increased disturbance round the MTS once houses on site will likely impact on some of the other breeding bird there, including ducks.

I'm now in contact with Stuart MacPherson, Biodiversity Officer at East Lothian Council, and have agreed to supply full bird data (#sescotatlas breeding birds, WeBS counts, etc.) - no requests have been received by me from developers; Bryan Hickman has also provided the following list of odonata (dragon/damselflies) at the main pond, where TWIC also had a recording day which we attended in 2009. An important colony of Grayling butterflies is also located in same area.

Emerald Damselfly ( Lestes sponsa )
Common breeding species every year.

Large Red Damselfly ( Pyrrhosoma nymphula )
Scarce breeding species not recorded every year but has been seen ovipositing.

Azure Damselfly ( Coenagrion puella )
Common breeding species every year.

Common Blue Damselfly ( Enallagma cyathigerum )
Common breeding species every year.

Blue-tailed Damselfly ( Ischnura elegans )
Common breeding species every year.

Common Hawker ( Aeshna juncea )
Small numbers breed each year.

Four-spotted Chaser ( Libellula quadrimaculata )
Small numbers breed each year.

Common Darter ( Sympetrum striolatum )
Large numbers breed every year.

Red-veined Darter ( Sympetrum fonscolombii )
Single record of this migrant species and the second for Lothian.

Black Darter ( Sympetrum danae )
Adults recorded one year only with a pair in tandem.

A number of southern species are moving north and with suitable management this area could be important in the future.

Concluding with some sunset shots from the top of the site at dusk on 4 April, stunning views looking out over the Forth, small video (MP4).

Postscript - it's all over, earthworks commenced mid-July 2018 and the main pond was filled in during fourth week of August, the end of an era for a great site for wildlife :(