Thursday, 18 April 2019

Under The Weather Walk (17/4/19)

This Wednesday, I was feeling rather under the weather having gone to bed with a throat infection but woken up with the unwelcome addition of a rather queasy stomach. However as this is prime birding season I really didn't want to stay in all day but I didn't want to venture too far either, so by way of a compromise I decided to risk a visit to Riverside Nature Park in the hope of adding Willow Warbler and Blackcap to the year-list. There was also a slight chance of Wheatear or something more exotic.

Skylark

I headed out at around 1035 but there were few birds to be seen except a few Herring Gulls. I did eventually add a few more from the bus stop - Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Woodpigeon and Feral Pigeon. A Starling was seen from the bus out towards the park. The path to the rail underpass added Blackbird and Dunnock as well as 2 Chiffchaffs calling and showing relatively well. A Carrion Crow flew over. In the park things also seemed rather quieter than expected. A few small Rabbits were seen on the path but retreated back into the bushes when they saw me.

Chaffinches and Yellowhammer were seen before I was distracted by a Peacock butterfly in flight. I spotted a distant Buzzard circling up on a thermal off to the west before I found the second butterfly of the day - a Small Tortoiseshell this time, just beyond the car park. Jackdaws flew over while at the Lochan a few sleeping Mallards and a pair of Moorhens were the only birds around. I headed for the hide to check the tide state. A singing Willow Warbler proved elusive but a second bird in the trees by the hide showed relatively well, giving me a nice, slightly overdue year-tick.

There was little variety in the bay with only Redshanks and Teal to be seen and the tide still had a bit to go. I scanned through the Redshanks but found no sign of the Spotted Redshank. A couple of Lesser Black Backed Gulls flew past. I continued round towards the hill to kill time to let the tide come in a bit further in the hope that there were unseen waders around. I added distant Cormorants on the rock off Kingoodie and a male Linnet in a tree. There were plenty of Skylarks around, some of which showed well close to the path. A Pied Wagtail flew over before I headed back for a rather fruitless visit to the hide again.

A pair of Magpies were finally added in the area to the north of the composting toilet. A Kestrel hovered over the airport and was seen again from the car park much closer a few minutes later. A Blackcap was heard in the trees there but I failed to see it though a pair of Great Tits were watched as they investigated a nest box. A Robin was noted before I headed off to catch the bus for home. A House Sparrow was seen from the bus stop but was my final addition for the day.

Not the most productive visit to the park with only 29 species of bird seen in total - with 1 year-tick (in bold) among them, but it did get me out into the fresh air for a few hours even if I didn't really feel any better when I got home. On the plus side all the dog walkers were obeying the signs and keeping to the paths and keeping their dogs on leads in the area covered by the signs - though I did see a Skylark on the ground at the other end of the park. I suspect that at weekends when the park is busier the percentage obeying the signs will drop significantly, if previous years are any guide.


Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Goldfinch

Woodpigeon

Robin

Carrion Crow

Buzzard

Willow Warbler

Linnet

Buzzard

Buzzard

Skylark

Yellowhammer

Redshank & Teal

Redshank

Skylark

Skylark

Small Tortoiseshell

Great Tit

Kestrel

Skylark

Peacock

Species seen - Blackbird, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Cormorant, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Pied Wagtail, Redshank, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Skylark, Starling, Teal, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Yellowhammer.

Butterflies seen - Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell.

Mammals seen - Rabbit.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Montrose Mixture (14/4/19)

I was determined to make the most of Sunday with my returning migrant sightings lagging a little though it is still relatively early in the season. Among those I still hadn't seen, Osprey and Wheatear stood out as ones I probably should have seen by now. Scurdie Ness at Ferryden often turns up Wheatears and Ospreys have been seen in Montrose Basin on a daily basis over the past week or so. With high tide around 1000, I figured I could get the X7 to Ferryden, walk out to the lighthouse for Wheatear and a spot of seawatching before popping into the visitor centre for a look then heading round to the Lurgies if I failed to see Osprey from the centre. There would be a lot of walking involved but as it would be spread out across the day I figured it was a workable plan.

Little Egret

Just before 0800 I headed out. Blackbird, Herring Gull, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon and Feral Pigeon were all on show when I stepped outside. Starling was the next find on Dens Road. A little further on a Collared Dove flew over and landed on a lamp post. Goldfinch and a Grey Wagtail were added next while a pair of Magpies were on Dens Brae. Lesser Black Backed Gull and House Sparrow were the last additions before I reached the bus station. From the bus to Montrose I was able to add a few more species - Blue Tit, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Rook, Buzzard, Linnet, Kestrel, Jackdaw and Sparrowhawk.

I had a quick look over the Basin from below the railway bridge when I arrived at Rossie Island. Great Tit in the trees as well as Great Black Backed Gull, Eider, Curlew, Goldeneye and an unexpected Guillemot were seen. A little further away I spotted a couple of Mute Swans. More searching found Mallard out on the water. A Greenfinch displayed from the trees behind me and a Pied Wagtail flew past. Walking out through Ferryden I added a singing Dunnock, and a number of Razorbills in the water just beyond the harbour. A Rock Pipit displayed over the grassy slopes as I neared the lighthouse. Scanning out over the bay I was able to find a Red Breatsed Merganser and also a Grey Seal. A number of Meadow Pipits and a nice male Linnet were spotted before I wandered through the gate to look out to sea.

A few Common Gulls flew past as Eiders bobbed around in the choppy waters. I heard a calling Ringed Plover but found a trio of Purple Sandpipers first while looking for it. I eventually succeeded in seeing it (and another later, further along the shore). Things were relatively quiet offshore though Gannet, 4 Red Throated Divers, Fulmar and Cormorant were seen before I decided that there were no Wheatears around and headed back towards the harbour. A possibly injured Grey Seal was hauled out and sleeping on the rocks. Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Black Headed Gull all showed well on the walk back. A Shelduck flying out to sea to the south of the village was unexpected and a Magpie flying across the river was also a slight surprise.

It was now around 1130 so I headed for the visitor centre. A few Chaffinches were in the trees while a roost of Redshank and Knot were relatively close in below the trees. A Stock Dove flew over towards Craig as I reached the gate to the visitor centre. I wandered down for a look from the Bank of Scotland hide where a Moorhen was the only bird seen close by. A few Teal were around a little further away among the pools. Movement out over the Basin included around 20 Pintail, a few Redshank flocks and a few of Black Tailed Godwits. Wigeon was added before I decided to head up to the centre. A Wren showed briefly in the scrub behind the hide.

I had a chat to Alison O'Hara at the reception desk before looking out from the windows. A Sand Martin flew around, while on the feeders a few Tree Sparrows and a Robin were noted. The hoped for Pheasants were easily seen. Using the centre's scopes I was able to find a pair of very distant Scaup though a potential Osprey turned out to be a Cormorant. While looking for Snipe among the pools, one of the young volunteers spotted a Water Rail stood out in the open behind the duck nest post beyond the feeders. I was able to get photos of my first Water Rail of the year - a nice addition. The bird showed briefly again a few more times before I decided that if I was going to walk round to the Lurgies I had better go.

The forecast sunshine had so far failed to show up and instead the threat of a shower of rain came close to being realised, though thankfully the few drops of rain that did fall didn't amount to much and I didn't have to turn around and head back to the centre. Coal Tit was seen in trees near the junction at Maryton. A few Pink Footed Geese were seen in flight. There wasn't a huge amount to see at the Maryton Steps, nor at the Lurgies, though a Grey Heron was seen in flight. As I reached the area opposite The Slunks I spotted an Osprey coming down the river which from a quite low altitude made a shallow dive before pulling up a foot or so above the water before continuing on towards the Basin.

With no sign of anything else and my target bird in the bag I headed back along the path. A Long Tailed Tit and a pair of Chaffinches flitted around in the bushes before I had even closer views of the Osprey as it headed back towards the river, resulting in some decent photos. There was some shooting going on somewhere close by and a large skein of hundreds of Pink Footed Geese flew over from the west and landed out on the mud. I picked out a very pale Pink Footed Goose among the flock and atttempted to get better views but there were too many birds in the way. Photos also showed what appeared to be a White Fronted Goose but I can't be certain it was definitely one.

There was a bit of movement of the geese and I realised that I should be able to get a better view from Maryton Steps. A Little Egret flew over as I hurried along the path. By the time I reached Maryton Steps again, most of the hundreds of geese had moved closer to the river. The majority were Pink Footed Geese but I found a pair of Barnacle Geese among them. I eventually had reasonably good views of the leucistic Pink Footed Goose which worked its way through the flock and onto the water. A single Greenshank and a Redshank foraged in a pool in front of the geese. On the walk back to the visitor centre I watched a male Pheasant displaying and added Rabbit to the list of sightings but there were no new bird sightings, either on the walk back, or from the visitor centre. It was a similar story on the walk back to the bus stop and from the bus back to Dundee.

A very good, if rather tiring, day's birding with 2 new year-ticks in among the 71 species seen. Using Google Earth at home I measured the distance covered and arrived at 11.2 miles around Montrose and Ferryden plus a total of 1.5 miles to and from the bus station, so 12.7 miles in total. Thankfully it wasn't particularly warm, as that would have added to the exertion required and my legs would have felt even heavier than they did.

Razorbill

Linnet

Cormorant

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Ringed Plover

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit

Grey Seal

Red Throated Diver

Red Throated Diver

Eider

Eider

Eider

Meadow Pipit

Reed Bunting

Meadow Pipit

Guillemot

Carrion Crow (x Hooded Crow hybrid?)

Great Black Backed Gull

Guillemot

Black Tailed Godwit

Mallard

Pintail

Moorhen

Moorhen

Sand Martin

Great Tit

Water Rail

Water Rail

Redshank

Collared Dove

Yellowhammer

Skylark

Pink Footed Goose

Teal

Eider

Red Breasted Merganser

Grey Heron

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Pink Footed Goose (including leucistic bird)

Little Egret

Red Breasted Merganser

Pink Footed Goose & Barnacle Goose

Skylark

Barnacle Goose & Pink Footed Goose

Pink Footed Goose (including leucistic bird)

Pink Footed Goose (including leucistic bird)

Pink Footed Goose (including leucistic bird)

Barnacle Goose, Pink Footed Goose & Herring Gull

Pheasant displaying

Rabbit

Species seen - Barnacle Goose, Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Eider, Fulmar, Gannet, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Guillemot, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Knot, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Little Egret, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Pintail, Purple Sandpiper, Razorbill, Red Breasted Merganser, Redshank, Red Throated Diver, Reed Bunting, Ringed Plover, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Rook, Sand Martin, Scaup, Shelduck, Skylark, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Water Rail, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.

Mammals - Grey Seal, Rabbit.