Thursday, 19 July 2018

A Walk In The Park (15/7/18)

With Sunday promising overcast skies and warm temperatures I decided I should probably venture out somewhere. The lack of direct sunlight meant that although it would be warm it shouldn't, in theory, be unbearably so as it can be when the sky is clear blue and the sunshine constant. Having managed to catch a B-2 stealth bomber over Dundee on Saturday afternoon, there was also a chance of perhaps catching Donald Trump's Air Force 1 Boeing 747 on its way from Prestwick to Helsinki if he left according to his supposed schedule. I decided to head for Riverside Nature Park.

Peregrine

I headed out just before 1000. Woodpigeon, Herring Gull and Swift  kicked off the list for the day followed by a fly-over Lesser Black Backed Gull. As there was a bus on its way doen the road I caught that into town, spotting Feral Pigeons on the way and then didn't have long to wait to catch a bus out to the Nature Park where I arrived at around 1025. Small White and Meadow Brown butterflies were plentiful among the vegetation bordering the path down to the railway underpass.

Carrion Crows were first onto the list for the park and there were plenty of Swifts overhead the park, certainly one of the biggest flocks I've seen this Summer of these charismatic speed-merchants. A Blackbird flew across the path in front of me and disappeared under a bush. A Herring Gull glided over and I spotted a Magpie on the grass. A Woodpigeon flew to Buzzard Wood. A Meadow Brown flitted along the edge of the path before a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over into the trees near where I stood before flying back to the trees at the back of Buzzard Wood a few seconds later.

A Starling was next to fly over followed by a number of Goldfinches as I walked up the side of Buzzard Wood to check out the flooded area. Here I spooked an almost fully-grown juvenile Moorhen which was a surprise. Unfortunately the vegetation was too thick to see if there were more around though calls did suggest the likelihood of at least another of the species. A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was photographed on a thistle. A male Yellowhammer sang from the top of a bush as I headed in the direction of the car park.

A Lesser Black Backed Gull sailed overhead while Green Veined White and Small White butterflies chased away competitors from their small patches of vegetation. A Willow Warbler was seen briefly in the bushes at the car park. Swifts provided the main entertainment as they zipped low over the hill as I alked slowly round to the Lochan. A juvenile plumaged Black Headed Gull was on the water, while Mallards dozed around the back edge. A trio of juvenile Moorhens, younger than the one seen earlier wandered around the edges and both adults were also seen. A few Swallows swept down for a drink.

A Buzzard was being harassed by gulls to the north of the park. As Donald Trump's departure time from Prestwick was supposed to be 1100 I headed for the top of the hill next. A flyover Oystercatcher, then a Skylark lifting from the hill and a family group of Reed Buntings were all seen before I got there. More Skylarks were seen around the hill as I sat and waited for a plane that never came. A Pied Wagtail flew directly overhead and scanning out across the bay and river I added Sandwich Tern, Curlew, Cormorant, Shelduck with ducklings and Grey Heron. A Kestrel hovered nearby before flying off towards the river to the south where it hovered and hunted.

Giving up on Air Force 1 as the already small patch of blue sky had shrunk down to almost nothing I continued back round the base of the hill to get a better look at the bay. I found a couple of Redshanks in the burn channel but no sign of any Teal or anything more interesting. Spotting my camera and binocular a couple sat at the picnic tables asked me what could be seen around the park and we chatted for a while about the park and the wildlife in, and around, it. As we were chatting I happened to look up at a bird flying past and realised it was a Peregrine. It gave us great views with one close pass in particular allowing me to get some decent photos of the bird.

I continued on to the hide overlooking the bay but the vegetation in front has rendered it almost useless. I was still able to add a bathing Jackdaw and a couple of Feral Pigeons before walking up to the railway bridge/flyover for a better view of the river. Unfortunately I was unable to add anything more interesting. Heading back into the park I heard and then found a high flying House Martin. A little further on I found a single House Sparrow. A Stock Dove flew past, almost catching me by surprise. Checking the times of the next bus I headed towards the exit at the eastern end of the park adding a few Long Tailed Tits with a flock of Goldfinches near the flooded area in front of Buzzard Wood. A Buzzard flew off as I headed for the bus. House Martin overhead while I waited for the bus back into town to arrive was the only further addition.

Not a classic visit to the park but I still found 35 species despite the time of year. All of the 6 species seen outside the park were also seen inside. By the time Air Force 1 left Prestwick it had clouded over completely and it routed northwards on reaching Perth, so views would have been rather distant anyway, had it been on time. Once again however, dogs on leads were in a distinct minority with only the couple I spoke to and 1 other dog walker with 2 dogs complying with the plentiful signs asking for dogs to be on leads/under control.

Blackbird
Small Tortoiseshell

Swift

Swift

Yellowhammer

Grass Veneer moth

Small White

Moorhen

Black Headed Gull

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Swift

Swift

Reed Bunting

Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrel

Buzzard

Curlew, Carrion Crow & Lesser Black Backed Gull

Herring Gull & Shelduck

Peregrine

Peregrine

Peregrine

Peregrine

Peregrine & Herring Gull

Peregrine

Meadow Brown

Rhagonycha Fulva (Soldier Beetle)

Goldfinch

House Sparrow

Yellowhammer

Moorhen

Black Headed Gull

Stock Dove

Black Headed Gull

Buzzard

Long Tailed Tit

Species seen - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Cormorant, Curlew, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pied Wagtail, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Feral Pigeon, Sandwich Tern, Shelduck, Skylark, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Swift, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Yellowhammer.

Butterflies seen - Green Veined White, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White. 

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Eden Afternoon(14/7/18)

Rather than stay in all day to avoid being out in 20 degree heat, which I don't enjoy, I decided that I might as well visit Guardbridge for a few hours. The tide would be coming in with high tide around 1600 so if there were any waders passing through the Eden estuary there was a chance of seeing them as the birds were pushed in closer by the rising water levels. I wasn't really expecting anything too unusual but I would certainly see more than if I stayed at home.

Canada Goose

It was around 1225 when I left to walk into town to catch the bus to Fife. As is commonly the case, Herring Gull was the first species onto the list with Swifts overhead rapidly following the gull onto the list. That was it however until I was on the bus to Guardbridge. Feral Pigeons were seen as the bus reversed out of the bus station stance. A Blackbird flew across the road in front of us as we turned onto the inner ring road. Cormorants were seen on Submarine Rock as we crossed the Tay. Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon and Linnet were spotted between the bridge and the 5 roads roundabout. Jackdaw and Collared Dove were once again seen in Leuchars. Small White butterflies flitted around by the roadside. House Sparrows and Swallows were added as the bus headed out of Leuchars and a small flock of Starlings were in the fields on the outskirts of Guardbridge.

Heading in to the surprisingly empty hide I was able to add a Dunnock and a pair of Chaffinches to the list. Blue Tits were on the feeders when I got inside while out front a Black Headed Gull stood atop one of the recently reinstated wooden posts. There were plenty of Mute Swans on the river and a Buzzard circled round to the north of the conifers opposite. A Great Tit joined its smaller cousin on the feeders. A pair of Canada Geese were upstream of the swans. Lapwings were dotted along the far shore. More scanning found the first Oystercatcher of the day as well as a Little Egret stood near a Grey Heron at the bend in the river.

Redshanks and Curlews weren't unexpected finds and dneither were the Goosander or Mallards resting on the outflow pipe opposite the gull roost. There were Black Headed Gulls including a couple of fresh youngsters, a single Common Gull, plenty Herring Gulls and at least 9 Lesser Black Backed Gulls. Tree Sparrow was spotted at the feeders. Small White butterflies seemed to be constantly active in front of the hide though bees were notably fewer in number. There were 3 Ospreys perched in their usual spots far out in the estuary, 2 on posts and a 3rd on a smaller stump.

Great Black Backed Gull was found in the usual spot on the red-brick ex-paper mill building alongside Herring Gulls and Feral Pigeons. A single female Eider was down by the bend in the river. It was more of the same for the next half an hour until a trio of summer plumaged Black Tailed Godwits appeared. A Goldfinch flew by and a small flock of Linnets were spotted on the fence opposite. A pair of Common Sandpipers put in a brief appearance as the tide rose, flying over the river to disappear just down to the right of the hide, hidden from line of sight from the hide by the vegetation.

The hoped for interesting wader never showed up though a final count of 21 Redshanks shows that numbers are on the increase. A trio of Shelduck were found round beyond the 'goalposts', and a small group of Sand Martins skimmed low over the water before joining a few Swallows higher in the sky. A Song Thrush flew off as I exited the hide at around 1510 to head for home and a pair of Pied Wagtails were seen while I waited for the bus to arrive. House Martins were added from the bus on the way back to Dundee.

Not a classic afternoon though a fairly standard mixture of species were seen. Photo opportunities were rather limited also. I ended the afternoon with 43 species which seems to be about the average for a Guardbridge visit in July.

Buzzard

Black Headed Gull

Grey Heron, Little Egret & Lapwing)

Buzzard

Canada Goose

Mallard

Black Headed Gull

Carder Bee

Linnet

Black Tailed Godwit, Grey Heron & Lapwing

Grey Heron

Little Egret

Redshank

Redshank

Grey Heron & Redshank

Grey Heron & Redshank

Herring Gull & Lesser Black Backed Gull

Grey Heron

Species seen - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Common Sandpiper, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Eider, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Tit, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Little Egret, Mallard, Mute Swan, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Redshank, Feral Pigeon, Sand Martin, Shelduck, Song Thrush, Starling, Swallow, Swift, Tree Sparrow, Woodpigeon.

Butterflies seen - Small White.

The rarest sighting of the day however happened once I got home. A USAF B-2 Stealth Bomber on its way back to the USA passing over Dundee. Only the 2nd time I've seen 1 from Dundee, and the 3rd time overall.
B-2A Spirit

B-2A Spirit

B-2A Spirit