Sunday, 20 September 2020

A Change In The Air.

 As Autumn progresses, so the variety of species being seen (and heard) on my walk to and from work is changing. Robins are singing everywhere, though not always visible while they do so. The Pink Footed Geese are beginning to arrive and the birds moving through are also increasing in variety, with Siskin and Meadow Pipit still appearing in good numbers but also Lesser Redpoll, Pied and Grey Wagtails numbers increasing while Swallows and House Martins dwindle away. The gull numbers at the football pitches are increasing, though I've yet to find a Mediterranean Gull amongst them - plenty time yet.

Robin


The week covered in this post had a bit of everything with both summer and winter migrant birds noted. On Monday the 14th of September I recorded a total of 25 species with Lesser Redpoll probably the highlight. Swallows and House Martins were seen as was a very high flying skein of Pink Footed Geese. Meadow Pipits and Siskins were also still passing through and Common Gull and Black Headed Gulls numbers were increasing on the football pitches. Things seemed much quieter on Tuesday the 15th with only 16 species on the list for the day. A Jay over Ninewells Avenue was probably the best with Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipits the only migrants.

Things picked up a bit on Thursday the 17th with a total of 24 species, though some were heard only with a calling Nuthatch in Balgay Park the best of those. A low flying Jay over Byron Street in the afternoon from the direction of the Law was interesting and unexpected (possibly a migrant/dispersing young bird). Best of the rest for Thursday were Bullfinch, Buzzard, Meadow Pipit, Pink Footed Geese, Siskins, Song Thrush and Sparrowhawk.

A singing Chiffchaff at the Law was slightly unexpected on Friday the 18th among the 24 species for the day. The Nuthatch was calling once again in Balgay and I even managed to see it, perched high up in a tall tree., by the junction of the 3 tracks on the south side of the hill behind Royal Victoria Hospital. Migrants seemed to be much in evidence with 7 Lesser Redpolls, a Grey Wagtail, lots more Meadow Pipits (a constant stream on my way to the Law) and a Pied Wagtail all passing over. Bullfinch, Song Thrush and a Sparrowhawk were the best of the rest, taking the total number of species seen this week to 35 species.

The Nuthatch being a bit more vocal is welcome as it would normally be a bird that is easy to overlook as the trunks of trees rarely get any attention while there is still plenty of foliage around. It will be interesting to try and ascertain how many Nuthatches are around as the trees lose their leaves - though my opportunities to do so will be hampered by dwindling daylight available to me. All photos here are older ones.

Magpie


Carrion Crow


Bullfinch


Sparrowhawk


Pied Wagtail


Herring Gull


Blackbird


Woodpigeon


Rabbit


Common Gull


Black Headed Gull


Grey Wagtail


Buzzard


Species seen - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Lesser Redpoll, Magpie, Meadow Pipit, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Swallow, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Mammals seen - Grey Squirrel, Rabbit.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Waders On The Wanted List (7/9/20)

As Ian and I were both off work on Monday we arranged for another attempt to see the birds we'd missed out on in Fife 2 days earlier, when the Cattle Egret that had been reported in Aberdeenshire failed to linger long enough to make it worth our while to try to catch up with it. An earlier start of 0730 was arranged which would hopefully mean we would catch the receding tide and see the wader species we were hoping for before they moved further round in the river making them harder to pick out.


Peregrine

We arrived at Guardbridge around 0750 and headed to the wooden shelter next to the hide, spotting a Sparrowhawk on our way in. The mud was already largely exposed but fortunately for us the waders were mostly strung out along the shore opposite. Scanning through them I quickly found a few Curlew Sandpipers (there were at least 6 in total, possibly more) and Ian found a Ruff. Those were 2 of our target sppecies. In addition there were a few Black Tailed Godwits, 3 Turnstones, plenty of Redshanks and Dunlin as well as a few Curlew and Oystercatchers. A single Pink Footed Goose took off before landing back beside another 4 of the species over towards the base. There were still a few Canada Geese dotted about and I picked out a quartet of Brent Geese in the distance at Coble Shore.

There were lots of hirundines - House Martins and Swallows, passing over, as well as Meadow Pipits and Siskins with some of the latter dropping into the trees on the other side of the hide. Ian found an Osprey on the mud and later I found another, before Ian picked up a third fishing. A Buzzard was on a fence post over at the farm, and a young Peregrine caused a bit of havoc by aqttempting to catch some breakfast but failing, though we did get a rapid pull-up just in front of us as it chased a flock of Dunlin upriver. There were a mixture of gull species around - mostly Herring and Black Headed but also a few Common and Great Black Backed. There were also at least 5 Grey Herons and 9 Little Egrets which flew off eastwards towards the outer estuary. A party of 4 Mute Swans were picked out distantly.

We found some Mallard and Wigeon as well as two pairs of Pintail and a few Goldeneye, but strangely no Teal were seen. It took a while to get Goosander on the list too. Just after 0905 I heard an unfamiliar call just as a wader landed opposite. It had to be a Spotted Redshank, and it was - a bird Ian was hoping to see. We had decent views and were joined by a few other birders around 1000 before we set off for Crail. We decided to check Denburn Wood when we arrived there. Although areas have been cut back - improving the view a bit for potential Autumn visitors - we failed to find anything more interesting than a couple of Stock Doves and young Song Thrushes.

Kilminning was our next stop and I added my third year-tick of the morning when a single Golden Plover flew over. Things were relatively quiet at the top end though I did eventually find a single Goldcrest. Otherwise it was fairly standard fayre though there was a good sized flock of Goldfinches with a few Linnets feeding on the seed heads on both sides of the road down towards the karting track. I found a Silver Y moth and a larger flock of maybe 50 Golden Plover flew over before we headed down to the bottom end. There were a couple of  Roe Deer in the field but birds were few and far between. We headed down to Fife Ness around 1235.

Angus Duncan and another photographer were sat on the small wooden bench so Ian and I stood between the pillbox and hide to scope out over the sea. As with Saturday it was largely Gannets that were moving. A single Common Scoter headed past northwards - a species we hadn't seen on Saturday. Otherwise it was mostly a mix of fairly common species - Fulmar, Cormorant, Razorbill, Shag, Guillemot, Sandwich Tern and Kittiwake. Waders were similar to Saturday though a pair of Bar Tailed Godwits did add some variety. I picked up a distant Common Tern heading northwards around 1310 and a single Red Throated Diver high southwards around 1325. A small group of 7 Brent Geese passed northwards too.

Ian picked up a Skua low over the water heading south about half-way out. It had to be either a young Arctic or a Pomarine, and after checking photos against books at home I settled on it being an Arctic. Well out on the horizon I picked up a bird which was arcing up rather high, compared to the Gannets and Fulmars and at a much lazier pace and trajectory (more "bowler hat" curve shaped than a gentle arc). The bird didn't appear 'black' on the topside but there was quite a lot of heat shimmer and there was only really flight style to go on. It reminded me of my only Cory's Shearwater but checking the recent Shearwaters book and video Great Shearwater seemed a better fit for the flight style. As no-one elsewhere picked up a 'large' Shearwater, it will have to be one that got away. Another Common Scoter passed going south.

A Small White butterfly flitted by shortly before Ian picked up a distant Swift to the north around 10 minutes before we called it a day at 1530. The Swift was hawking around the car park area with House Martins when we drove past. A Kestrel was seen near the Fairmount golf course and a small covey of Grey Partridges flew over into a field as we neared the 5 roads roundabout. A Lesser Black Backed Gull was atop a lamp post at the Dundee end of the roadbridge taking the total for the day to 75 species including 3 year-ticks (in bold). All in all a rather good day out, despite the slight disappointment of the one that got away. Had one of the more experienced Fife sea-watchers been with us the outcome may have been different but given how successful we had been with the waders in the morning we can hardly complain.

Ruff & Redshank

Redshank, Turnstone & Dunlin

Pink Footed Goose

Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper & Ruff

Redshank & Curlew Sandpiper

Peregrine

Dunlin, Redshank & Ruff

Dunlin

Little Egret

Dunlin & Turnstone

Grey Heron

Spotted Redshank

Spotted Redshank

Ruff

Curlew

Spotted Redshank

Peregrine

Peregrine

Redshank & Dunlin

Dunlin

Magpie

Redshank, Spotted Redshank & Dunlin

Pink Footed Goose

Grey Heron

House Martin

Goldfinch & Linnet

Golden Plover

Swallow

Goldfinch

Linnet

Golden Plover

Golden Plover

Goldfinch

Woodpigeon

Grey Heron

Cormorant

Red Throated Diver

Arctic Skua

Arctic Skua

Arctic Skua

Arctic Skua

Arctic Skua

Arctic Skua

Dunlin, Knot, Turnstone & Bar Tailed Godwit

Common Gull

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Eider

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Grey Seal

Gannet

Gannet

Swift

Cormorant

Species seen -Arctic Skua, Bar Tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Brent Goose, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Common Sandpiper, Common Scoter, Common Tern, Cormorant, Curlew, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Eider, Fulmar, Gannet, Goldcrest, Golden Plover, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Partridge, Guillemot, Herring Gull, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Kittiwake, Knot, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Little Egret, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Mute Swan, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Pintail, Razorbill, Redshank, Red Throated Diver, Ringed Plover, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Ruff, Sandwich Tern, Shag, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spotted Redshank, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Swift, Turnstone, Wigeon, Woodpigeon.

Butterflies seen - Small White.

Mammals seen - Roe Deer.

Moths seen - Silver Y.