Thursday, 2 December 2021

0911 : A Tale Of The Unexpected (28/11/21)

Having checked the Tay on Saturday and failed to see any refugees from the frozen north I figured there was likely little point in trying the same again on Sunday. Instead I decided to try a different tack in the hope of adding to the Grey Plover seen at Balmossie and taking my Dundee 2021 list to new heights. Although it was unlikely that I'd find a Waxwing flock or a Woodcock, I figured there was no harm in trying. Originally I thought about starting at Swannie Ponds then down to City Quay, out to Riverside Nature Park along the river, then home via Ninewells Arboretum and Balgay Hill. However, I figured that it made more sense to try something like that route in reverse.

Stock Dove

It was slightly later than the previous day when I headed out, at around 1040. Blackbird, another small skein of Pink Footed Geese, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Magpie, Feral Pigeon and Starling were noted as I walked in the direction of Dundee Law. I chose to continue along Kinghorn Road instead of going up and over the hill. It was still rather cold, though the wind had thankfully dropped a lot. A Robin, Woodpigeon and Buzzard were seen before a Greenfinch flew over. As I walked down the 'Law Steps' slope on the western side of the hill, I was very surprised to hear what sounded like a Raven's 'prukk' call. Looking up I saw a loose flock of six corvids and a couple of stragglers a little behind and offset to the main group. I grabbed the camera out of the bag and got as many photos as I could before the birds were hidden from view by the houses. Had the birds not called I would likely have missed them. Keith Edwards has had a Raven over the Nature Park in the past and the species is only a few miles away in a few directions these days, so although unexpected, it wasn't a massive surprise.

I added a Wren as I crossed the road at the bottom of the steps and at Balgay Hill I added Jay, Great Tit and Chaffinch. I decided to route via Ninewells Arboretum to try to add Nuthatch and maybe even a Brambling if luck was on my side. There was plenty to see around the feeders with Goldfinch, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, Goldcrest and three Stock Doves all showing well along with birds I'd already seen elsewhere like Carrion Crow, Magpie, Robin, Chaffinch, Great Tit and Blue Tit. A Redwing was heard flying over and Long Tailed Tits were around nearby too. I took plenty of photos as I had the place completely to myself and a steady stream of birds at the feeders.

I finally headed for Riverside Nature Park around 1230 and was at the park for around 1245. Woodpigeon was first on the list and a Buzzard was showing well perched in one of the trees near the railway line. Herring Gull and Feral Pigeon were also noted before I wandered down the track to the hide, stopping to add Goldcrest, Blackbird and Chaffinch in the bushes. With the tide already well out birds visible out in front were rather few in number though Mallard and Carrion Crow were noted. A small flock of Siskins dropped into the trees behind me before flying off again. A Wren called loudly as I wandered back to the path into the main part of the park.

I scanned the bay from further round, adding Redshank, Curlew, Cormorant, Common Gull, Great Black Backed Gull and Black Headed Gull as well as Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit and a flyover Starling. From the extreme southwestern corner of the park Teal, Dunlin and Bar Tailed Godwits were found as well as some distant Greylag Geese near Kingoodie and a lone Grey Heron out on the old outflow pipe. A Loganair flight leaving the airport flushed a flock of Linnets and a Magpie. A Stock Dove and two Redwings in flight were then seen as I continued round to check the Lochan. There were four Moorhen on a small patch of unfrozen water there along with a Black Headed Gull on an even smaller open area. As I headed for the lower half of the park a small group of Oystercatchers flew over and a Dunnock showed well as it fed on the ground.

The lower half was relatively quiet, though Greenfinch, Bullfinch and Goldfinch in addition to a couple of Jackdaws were all seen. As time and remaining daylight was by now against me I decided to head along Riverside to City Quay to see if anything had taken shelter there in the previous twenty four hours or so. There was a small group of Oystercatchers feeding on the grass by the entrance to the restauarant and Amazon depot. One had a white leg ring, suggesting that it was ringed in Aberdeen but I was unable to get a clear shot of the 3 digits. Another Buzzard gave me good views at the airport overflow car park before it noticed me and flew off. The football pitches were very quiet though out on the river both Cormorant and a Red Throated Diver were seen.

A Pied Wagtail and some Black Headed Gulls were noted along the seawall, with more gulls lined up along the roof of Tesco. A small flock of Goldfinches fed above the path, giving good views in the late afternoon sunshine. A Little Grebe was seen just offshore at the V&A though it moved further out when it saw it was being watched. Another flock of Goldfinches were seen behind the Apex hotel. I continued on to City Quay where once again Sinensis Cormorants were noted, including a first winter bird still showing traces of white on the front. The Oystercatcher pair were also in their usual haunt but otherwise it was still rather quiet. As the sun was dipping below the horizon I headed homewards.

A decent enough day out with the bonus Ravens being a Dundee 2021 tick as well as a new species for me within the city. In total I managed to see or hear 49 species, which was a reasonable number given the time of year. I suspect if the weather behaves on January the 1st next year I will likely repeat last year's route, with the 2nd being the western half of the city. A lot can change between now and then though, so nothing will be actually firmed up until Hogmanay, as usual. Although I would like to get further afield next year, I'm also tempted to try and better this year's Dundee total, meaning putting in additional effort over and above this year's exploits. With luck it might even be possible to reach 140 species as there are a few species I know I've missed this year - Yellow Legged Gull, Barred Warbler, Shoveler and probably a few others I don't know about too. Not long left to go now to finish 2021, and get 2022 started.

Raven
Raven
Raven
Raven
Raven
Raven
Grey Squirrel
Woodpigeon
Carrion Crow
Chaffinch
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Nuthatch
Nuthatch
Nuthatch
Coal Tit
Robin
Stock Dove
Dunnock
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Greenfinch
Stock Dove
Greenfinch
Stock Dove
Stock Dove
Stock Dove
Stock Dove
Greenfinch

Stock Dove
Magpie
Stock Dove
Stock Dove
Buzzard
Buzzard
Feral Pigeon
Redwing
Curlew
Dunlin
Bar Tailed Godwit
Linnet
Redwing
Redwing
Moorhen
Moorhen
Moorhen
Black Headed Gull
Oystercatcher
Siskin
Dunnock
Oystercatcher
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Red Throated Diver
Red Throated Diver
Red Throated Diver
Red Throated Diver
Goldfinch
Goldfinch
Goldfinch
Cormorant
Little Grebe
Little Grebe
Goldfinch
Cormorant (Sinensis)
Oystercatcher
Cormorant (Sinensis)
Cormorant (Sinensis)

Birds (outwith Riverside Nature Park) - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Cormorant (Sinensis and Carbo), Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Little Grebe, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Nuthatch, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Raven, Red Throated Diver, Redwing, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Starling, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Mammals (outwith Riverside Nature Park) - Grey Squirrel.

Birds (Riverside Nature Park) - Bar Tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Linnet, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Redwing, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Siskin, Starling, Stock Dove, Teal, Woodpigeon, Wren.