Monday, 17 July 2017

The Young Ones (16/7/17)

Saturday's weather made venturing out not worth the potential hassle so with better weather forecast for Sunday I wanted to get out and about somewhere rather than spend another whole weekend indoors, having done so more than enough lately. Thankfully, birding buddy Jacqui got in touch and suggested a trip to the Angus Glens to see what we could find. With wader breeding season more or less over I thought what we would most likely find would be lots of young birds. We were both hoping that a decent view of Redstarts would give us photo opportunities. We arranged an early start of an 0800 pick-up.
Wheatear
I headed out at just shortly before 0800 to meet Jacqui nearby. A Swift was zipping around high overhead while a Collared Dove landed on a lamp post as a Herring Gull glided over while another called from a roof. A single Feral Pigeon was huddled up on another roof. We added Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon plus Lesser Black Backed Gull on our way out of Dundee. Buzzard, Common Gull, Black Headed Gull, Rook, Swallow and Jackdaw were added from the car before we reached our Glen of choice, though Starling and House Sparrow were seen as we passed through a small village first.

A Chiffchaff was heard singing before a Robin flew up from the side of the road as we passed through a wooded area near the start of the Glen. A Pied Wagtail was next as one flew across the road. A Song Thrush was in a garden of a roadside cottage and a family group of Great Tits flew into another further on. There were still a small number of Oystercatchers in a few of the fields and the first Meadow Pipit of the day flew alongside the car from another field. A few House Martins and Swallows swooped low over the fields and road as we passed. Traffic was still light though I expected that with decent weather the road would get rather busy eventually. We had decided to head to the end of the Glen first and to work our way back so as to avoid the worst of the traffic and walkers.

As well as Oystercatchers there were smaller numbers of Lapwings around with the odd one or two sharing fields with farm animals and Oystercatchers. A small bird flew across the road towards a stand of trees, the rufous tail and brown back giving us our first, albeit fleeting, view of Redstart of the day. A Greenfinch flushed from a roadside tree and Jacqui spotted a Stock Dove on the road ahead of us. A large party of young Pheasants scampered along the edge of the road and we stopped for photos. No doubt many of these birds will end up as roadkill. There was another large number of them in a garden across the other side of the road suggesting they had only been released from their breeding pens this very morning.

Our first Spotted Flycatcher of the morning was seen a short distance later. We added Chaffinch, Goldfinch and even a Treecreeper from the car as we progressed up the Glen. Despite it being mid-July we found an adult Cuckoo on overhead wires in an open bit of the Glens and then Jacqui spotted a family group of Red Grouse split between her side of the car and mine. We bothe had trouble with our lenses while trying to get photos, although I wasn't helped by the youngsters on my side of the road deciding to scurry across to the rest of the family on Jacqui's side. A Raven flew past and we saw a few more Spotted Flycatchers and fleeting glimpses of Redstarts before we reached the car park at the end of the Glen.

A couple of Willow Warblers were in the trees near the car and we heard a Blackcap or a Garden Warbler singing but were unable to see it. Our first Lesser Redpolls put in an appearance. We had close views of a couple of Spotted Flycatchers with one in particular giving us a choice of perches to photograph. Walking on I stopped to scan for a party of Long tailed Tits I could hear and eventually succeeded in seeing them moving through the trees near the track. A couple of Common Sandpipers shared a pebbled bend in the burn with a pair of Oystercatchers and an adult Pied wagtail with a couple of youngsters. A pair of young Teal were on the water. A Tree Pipit was seen in the trees while a Meadow Pipit perched on some wires. A few Ringlet butterflies and a Chimney Sweeper moth were seen.

A field held a couple of young Wheatears. We scanned the hillsides for Ring Ouzel but drew a blank. A Buzzard eventually appeared flying across the Glen. Jacqui spotted a Dipper flying low over the water and there were Sand Martins and House Martins hunting insects at a similar height. A Siskin flew over and I got photos of another Lesser Redpoll perched on overhead wires. A young Sand Martin was perched on another length and a nearby field and drystane dyke was alive with Meadow Pipits. I spotted a distant and unexpected Grey Heron roosting some distance away across the Glen. A Wren showed well in a tree by the track as we started back for the car. Coal Tit and Blue Tit put in appearances along with even more Redpolls and we eventually found what was surprisingly our first Mistle Thrush of the day as one foraged in the same area as a Song Thrush. Dunnock and Curlew were added as we neared the car.

Stops on our way back down the glen gave us more photo opportunities with Red Grouse at very close distances, Wheatear and a variety of young birds but Redstarts restricted themselves to very brief views barely long enough to identify the bird let alone raise a camera and take a photo. A large Hawker type Dragonfly hovered near the car at one stop where we spotted a Redstart close to the road but it flew off into trees. A Small Heath butterfly was seen. Jacqui dropped me off back in Dundee at Swannie Ponds so I could add a few more species to the list - Mallard, Coot and Mute Swan. There were a total of 5 young Coots and 2 adults - 4 together at a nest and a single youngster with 2 adults on the water at the end of the island well away from the birds at the nest. A Grey Heron fished in the water between the island and the path but flew up onto the island after I took a few photos.

We managed to see 55 species in total and had a pretty good day out in the sunshine with some rather good photo opportunities. Having not really visited the Glens at such a late date too often I wasn't certain we would see much and we were both pleased to have seen such a variety, though raptors were limited to just a trio of Buzzards at one place and another single bird later, which given the Angus grouse estates reputation is potentially worrying, especially with how close to the start of the Grouse shooting season we are. I hope that there are other reasons for the apparent lack of raptors in what were pretty much ideal soaring conditions, but I have my suspicions. Only 2 single sightings of Ravens too.

Pheasant

Lesser Redpoll

Cuckoo

Cuckoo

Willow Warbler

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Pheasant

Meadow Pipit

Sand Martin

Meadow Pipit

Lesser Redpoll

Oystercatcher

House Martin

Meadow Pipit

Teal

Mistle Thrush

Swallow

Song Thrush

Siskin

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit

Curlew

Red Grouse

Red Grouse

Red Grouse

Red Grouse

Wheatear

Wren

Grey Heron
Species seen - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Common Sandpiper, Coot, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dipper, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Lesser Redpoll, Long Tailed Tit, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Red Grouse, Redstart, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Sand Martin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Tree Pipit, Treecreeper, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren.

2 comments: