Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Dundee 100.

2018 has been a very successful year for birding for me, having already surpassed my previous best year total by a not insignificant distance and with some time left to further add to it. I was curious to the breakdown by areas of my total and while looking into this via my Bird Journal records I discovered that using the app I had recorded 99 species in Dundee this year. Then I remembered the Canada Geese skeins I saw from the bus a couple of times when I wasn't birding, taking me to a nice round 100 species in Dundee.

Lesser Black Backed Gull
Considering how little I have actually birded in Dundee this year, and how few locations within the city I have visited it is a decent enough total though there are a few species missing that could even now be added. So how have I reached this total? On New Years Day I managed to see 54 species within the city, beginning with a walk up through Caird Park to the Dighty Burn. Kingfisher at the ponds in the park and Dippers on the Dighty Burn were the main targets that would be slightly trickier elsewhere. From there it was the usual route to Broughty Ferry via Swannie Ponds, Eastern Cemetery and the Stannergate and along the Tay to Balmossie and back.

Other than these locations the vast majority of the rest of my Dundee birding this year has been at Riverside Nature Park over the course of 11 visits. This has produced 77 species with the best being the unexpected Whinchat back in May, and the late Spotted Redshank that appear to be over-wintering, as well as an expected but still welcome Curlew Sandpiper in Autumn. Jack Snipe and Common Snipe have been searched for with varying degrees of success in the boggier areas at the park and Wheatear passed through again in small numbers on migration.

The river Tay at Broughty Ferry and Balmossie provided some of the other birds that are harder to find elsewhere in the city with Fulmar, Kittiwake, Gannet, Guillemot, Shag and Red Breasted Merganser seen out on, or over, the river. Most of the wader species were seen at Riverside Nature Park with the exception of Golden and Grey Plover and Sanderling. The winter visitors - Waxwings, Fieldfare and Redwings can turn up almost anywhere with Waxwings being completely unpredictable. In the early part of the year a small flock of Waxwings frequented a small tree in a suburban garden for a few days. The two winter thrushes are usually simple enough to find at Eastern Cemetery in winter along with Mistle Thrushes and were once again found here.

Only 4 species of raptor make the list this year with Buzzard and Sparrowhawk the most commonly encountered though Kestrel and Peregrine are far from unexpected in the city though neither is particularly guaranteed around the sites I usually visit. I did also see both Osprey and White Tailed Eagle from Monifieth on a single morning - with the Eagle perched on a post over the river in Fife at tentsmuir and the Osprey crossing the Tay in that direction. Both would have been visible from Balmossie but don't make this particular list.

Swannie Ponds tended to produce the same handful of species throughout most of the year - Coot (now firmly part of the avifauna here), Moorhen, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Mute Swan, as well as Black Headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull and Lesser Black Backed Gull (in Summer). Goosanders showed up in Winter. The city council ripping out all the bushes and chopping them down to stumps has meant very little in the way of smaller birds around though House Sparrows, Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits and Blackbird have still been noted here. Carrion Crow, Magpie, Feral Pigeon and Woodpigeon were also sightings here. A Grey Heron sometimes hung around and Sparrowhawk was seen overhead at times.

Mot of the smaller birds have been seen in the parks (Riverside Nature Park in particular, though also Caird and Camperdown), and also Eastern Cemetery and some of the wasteground around the city. Swifts coul still be seen from my living room window in Summer though cladding being added to the tenements nearby has reduced the availability of previously used nest sites and meant lower numbers around this year.

If anyone wanted to restrict their birding to just within Dundee then I think 120+ species in a year is probably achievable with between 90 and 110 more likely if enough time was spent out and about actively looking for birds. A lot of "good" birds have shown up within the city over the years including Red Backed Shrike, Hoopoe, Corncrake, Crane, Golden Oriole, Green Winged Teal, Hawfinch, Ivory Gull, Red Rumped Swallow, Rough Legged Buzzard and (Blue Headed) Yellow Wagtail. The list for Riverside Nature Park alone is at 143 species since 2011 and a provisional list I put together for the city from various sources has over 210 species on it. The city might seem relatively unpromising as a birding location but not that many people are actively and regularly looking. Anyone fancy trying to see how many species they can see within the city in 2019?

(Even if you don't live in Dundee, why not see how many species you can see in your own home town/city/village in 2019. Work out what species you could reasonably expect to see and set yourself a target number based on that for next year. Chances are you will surprise yourself with just how many species are around in your area, and it will give you an incentive to get out birding locally even if you only have a short time available).

The species I've seen this year in (and from) Dundee in 2018 with a few suggestions where best to look for them in the city....

1. Bar Tailed Godwit (BF, RNP)

2. Blackbird (PG)

3. Blackcap (RNP)

4. Black Headed Gull (SP, BF, CQ)

5. Black Tailed Godwit (RNP)

6. Bullfinch (RNP, PG)

7. Blue Tit (PG)

8. Buzzard (RNP, CP)

9. Canada Goose (RNP)

10. Carrion Crow (PG)

11. Chaffinch (PG)

12. Chiffchaff (RNP, CP)

13. Coal Tit (PG)

14. Collared Dove (PG)

15. Common Gull (SP, BF)

16. Coot (SP, CL)

17. Cormorant (CQ, BF, RNP)

18. Curlew (RNP, BF)

19. Curlew Sandpiper (RNP)

20. Dipper (DB)

21. Dunlin (RNP, BF)

22. Dunnock (PG)

23. Eider (OT)

24. Fieldfare (EC, RNP, PG)

25. Fulmar (OT)

26. Gannet (OT)

27. Goldcrest (PG)

28. Golden Plover (BF)

29. Goldeneye (OT, RNP)

30. Goldfinch (PG, CC, RNP)

31. Goosander (SP, CL, OT)

32. Great Black Backed Gull (BF, OT, RNP)

33. Great Spotted Woodpecker (PG, CP, RNP)

34. Great Tit (PG)

35. Greenfinch (PG)

36. Grey Heron (DB, RNP, SP)

37. Grey Plover (BF)

38. Grey Wagtail (RNP, CC)

39. Greylag Goose (RNP)

40. Guillemot (OT)

41. Herring Gull (CC, RNP, SP)

42. House Martin (RNP, LU)

43. House Sparrow (PG, CQ)

44. Jack Snipe (RNP)

45. Jackdaw (PG)

46. Jay (PG, CP, BF)

47. Kestrel (RNP)

48. Kingfisher (CP, DB, TP)

49. Kittiwake (OT)

50. Knot (BF)

51. Lapwing (RNP)

52. Lesser Black backed Gull (SP, RNP)

53. Linnet (RNP, CQ)

54. Long Tailed Tit (PG)

55. Magpie (PG)

56. Mallard (SP, RNP, BF, TP)

57. Meadow Pipit (RNP)

58. Mistle Thrush (CP, EC, RNP)

59. Moorhen (CP, SP, RNP, TP)

60. Mute Swan (SP, RNP, TP)

61. Oystercatcher (BF, RNP, SG)

62. Peregrine (RNP, BF)

63. Pied Wagtail (CC, BF, SP, RNP)

64. Pink Footed Goose (RNP, LU)

65. Red Breasted Merganser (OT, CQ)

66. Redshank (RNP, BF)

67. Redwing (EC, PG, RNP)

68. Reed Bunting (RNP)

69. Ringed Plover (BF)

70. Robin (PG)

71. Feral Pigeon (CC, PG)

72. Rock Pipit (BF)

73. Rook (RNP, BF, SG)

74. Sand Martin (RNP)

75. Sanderling (BF)

76. Sandwich Tern (OT, SG, RNP)

77. Shag (OT, BF)

78. Shelduck (RNP)

79. Siskin (PG)

80. Skylark (RNP)

81. Snipe (RNP)

82. Song Thrush (PG)

83. Sparrowhawk (PG, LU)

84. Spotted Redshank (RNP)

85. Starling (PG, BF)

86. Stock Dove (EC, RNP)

87. Swallow (RNP, LU)

88. Swift (LU, RNP)

89. Teal (RNP)

90. Tufted Duck (SP, TP, CL)

91. Turnstone (BF, SG)

92. Waxwing (PG)

93. Wheatear (RNP)

94. Whinchat (RNP)

95. Whitethroat (RNP)

96. Wigeon (BF, RNP)

97. Willow Warbler (PG)

98. Woodpigeon (PG)

99. Wren (PG)

100. Yellowhammer (RNP)

BF - Broughty Ferry & Balmossie
CC - City Centre
CL - Clatto Park
CP - Caird Park
CQ - City Quay
DB - Dighty Burn
EC - Eastern Cemetery
LU - Look up (mostly seen in flight)
OT - Over/On Tay (mostly off Broughty Ferry)
PG - Parks and Gardens/Suburban areas
RNP - Riverside Nature Park
SG - Stannergate
SP - Swannie Ponds
TP - Trottick Ponds