Sunday, 18 October 2020

Saturday Afternoon Stroll (17/10/20)

Having been intending on walking out to Broughty Ferry and Balmossie for a while now and never quite getting around to it I decided that I would finally give it a go on Saturday. However, despite my plan to get out of bed early I slept in again meaning a later start which was likely to impact on what birds and how many species I was likely to encounter. The weather wasn't too bad with relatively light winds and a not too warm/not too cold temperature when I headed out at about 1240.

Pied Wagtail


An odd call from one of the few trees I can see from my window drew my attention for a minute or so but went quiet when I tried to record it, though it was probably a Great Tit. I decided not to spend any time in any of the usual stops on the route so additions to the list were relatively few at Baxter Park and Eastern Cemetery. As I walked down Craigie Avenue the first Buzzard of the day flew over from the north to join a spiralling group of gulls which promptly headed off in another direction.

While checking the gull roost site at the wasteground at the end of the docks a police van drew up and asked me what I was doing as they'd been asked by the port security to check me out. They were happy enough with my explanation and headed off again, as I continued eastwards having only added a couple of Grey Herons. The Tay was relatively calm and it was easy to pick out quite distant birds on the water. There were a few Guillemots dotted around and a drake Eider. Much further on a single Great Black Backed Gull appeared on the river but overall it was pretty quiet.

The tide was further in than I expected it to be so the local Redshanks and Turnstones were all roosting at the lifeboat jetty. There was at least 1, possibly 2, Grey Seal(s) around towards the harbour though views on the surface were brief. I added Rock Pipit and Pied Wagtail by the castle and a Buzzard headed out across the Tay pursued by the local Carrion Crows. A female/young Mallard was in the harbour and a skein of Pink Footed Geese flew inland as I headed along to check out the small nature reserve. A single Linnet flew over just before I got there.

Things were relatively quiet at the small local reserve though I did find a small mixed feeding flock of Tits where a Coal Tit gave nice close views. A Mistle Thrush was perched high in a tree across the other side of the railway line. I found a Stock Dove alittle further on and with a bit of persistence a Bullfinch I had heard calling. A flock of Goldfinches circled round a few times before I exited the site along by the Barnhill Rock Garden. As the tide was well in I decided against adding any more distance to my walk by choosing to give Balmossie a miss. Instead I headed to what was left of the beach to scan out across the river. One of the jack-up rigs was being towed out to sea from the harbour and I had an idea for a photo as it was passing the castle, so with a bit of luck I could check the birds as well as getting the hoped for photo.

Out on the river I could see some distant Eider, a Cormorant and a Red Throated Diver. A trio of Goosander flew past and a small group of Wigeon were also spotted about half-way out. While trying to photograph the Diver, I discovered that there were actually three rather than just the one. Once the rig passed I headed back towards Dundee. A Grey Wagtail was seen in flight near the sailing club huts and a Wren was added at the Stannergate while a Razorbill was picked out far across the river towards Fife. By now my legs were starting to ache and my concentration was starting to wane. I decided to more or less double back on my earlier route rather than detour via Swannie Ponds (where I could add a couple of species for the day).

A Buzzard being harassed by Carrion Crows as I neared Baxter Park's eastern entrance did catch my attention. Seconds later I spotted a Sparrowhawk - as did a Jackdaw which set off in pursuit. The Sparrowhawk gained height but the Jackdaw wasn't giving up. I was able to keep the pair in view as I passed through the park though they were getting higher and higher in the sky. They were still tussling even higher in the sky - just 2 dots - as I reached Albert Street, though I did lose sight of them behind the buildings there and was unable to see them when I did have a more open vista. I made it home around 1715 having seen 43 species of bird and 3 of mammals but overall it was a slightly disappointing outing - though that was my own fault for not getting out of bed early enough, I suspect.


Common Gull


Guillemot


Eider


Redshank & Turnstone


Grey Seal


Eider


Black Headed Gull


Rock Pipit


Pied Wagtail


Cormorant


Rock Pipit


Rock Pipit


Buzzard


Buzzard


Mallard


Mallard


Pink Footed Goose


Goldfinch


Coal Tit


Coal Tit


Mistle Thrush


Goldfinch


Bullfinch


Red Throated Diver


Red Throated Diver


Pied Wagtail


Rock Pipit


Pied Wagtail


Rock Pipit


Guillemot


Cormorant


Species seen - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Cormorant, Dunnock, Eider, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Guillemot, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Linnet, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Razorbill, Redshank, Red Throated Diver, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Turnstone, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Mammals seen - Grey Seal, Grey Squirrel, Rabbit.

Butterflies seen - Red Admiral.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Sparrowhawk City (16/10/20)

As it was a rather overcast sort of day on Friday, I was tempted to not go anywhere but having spent a large chunk of the past fortnight off work sat in front of my PC I decided I should make an effort to go somewhere. Having been to Riverside Nature Park a few times recently I decided that I should probably go elsewhere for a bit of a change. Broughty Ferry and Balmossie was considered but I wasn't completely sold on the idea. I decided to not take my main camera gear but not wanting to risk missing something good, I decided I should still take a camera with me, which I did - one that weighed a bit less - though not that much less. Once again it was around 1300 when I headed out.

Sparrowhawk & Rook


I decided to have a wander to Swannie Ponds but first I would check out the wasteground just off Mains Loan. As I got closer to the area I could hear the distinctive calls of a flock of Long Tailed Tits and a minute or so later I saw the whole group fly across to another tree. A bird high overhead caught my eye and a quick check produced the day's first (but not last) Sparrowhawk sighting. A minute or so after the Sparrowhawk had vanished over the houses to the south, a small flock of Redwing passed over a bit higher than the Sparrowhawk had been. The bushes and trees on the wasteground proved quite productive with Blackbird, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Woodpigeon, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Goldcrest all noted before I continued my journey to the ponds.

At the ponds it was a normal mix of species with Mallard and Coots on the top pond, as well as 7 Tufted Ducks (the first I've seen there for a few months - though granted I haven't visited too often). The majority of Black Headed Gulls and a couple of Herring Gulls were on the lower pond as were a few more Coots (which seem to have now forced out the Moorhens that were always regular at the ponds) and the resident Mute Swan family. With nothing much doing I contemplated heading for Eastern Cemetery but instead I headed into Baxter Park to check the small now overgrown "Spring".

It proved tricky to see much among the greenery, though Blue Tits were relatively conspicuous as they dried off after bathing. Another Sparrowhawk was seen briefly above the trees to the north. A pair of Grey Wagtails flew over eastwards. Great Tit, Chaffinch, Coal Tit and Song Thrush were all seen, though none particularly well. A rather furtive Chiffchaff was also spotted as it moved around the bushes near a Blue Tit drying off. A Mistle Thrush flew over.

A flock of around 20-30 finches flew into one of the large trees but I couldn't decide what they were. The calls weren't particularly familiar and the rather poor photos I managed to get didn't 'make sense' when I tried to view them on the camera LCD screen. Once I got home and checked them on the PC it was obvious what the birds were - an unexpected flock of Bramblings (technically not a 'year-tick' having added them as 'heard only' recently at Kilminning, but my first actual 'sighting' of the species in 2020 - and the first time I've seen a flock of the species in Dundee).

A Magpie was added next and a female Sparrowhawk drifted over being harassed by a pair of Rooks (not a common sighting in this area either) before I wandered up to the ponds again on my way back homewards. A Lesser Black Backed Gull had appeared and had joined the Herring Gulls and Black Headed Gulls on the top pond. Just as a family were about to feed the birds all the gulls took flight. Looking up I spotted the reason - another Sparrowhawk, though circling relatively high in the sky.

Wandering back away from the ponds I added yet another Sparrowhawk (a male this time) circling above the old council bus sheds before it glided away towards the ponds. House Sparrows and a Wren were both heard but not seen before I reached home just over 2 and half hours after heading out. I managed to see 30 species and 2 species were heard only. The Bramblings were the main highlight though 5 Sparrowhawk sightings was quite unusual - though given the area covered there may have only been 2 birds involved (photos show a male and a female - though I didn't photograph the other 3 sightings).


Great Tit


Chiffchaff


Herring Gull


Mistle Thrush


Blue Tit


Brambling


Brambling


Brambling


Sparrowhawk & Rook


Sparrowhawk


Rook & Sparrowhawk


Sparrowhawk


Magpie


Chaffinch


Great Tit


Mute Swan


Mute Swan


Mute Swan


Coot


Tufted Duck


Tufted Duck & Mallard


Lesser Black Backed Gull & Black Headed Gull & Mallard


Tufted Duck


Tufted Duck


Coot


Coot


Coot


Tufted Duck


Tufted Duck


Tufted Duck


Coot


Species seen (heard only in italics) - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Brambling, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Coot, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Mute Swan, Redwing, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Tufted Duck, Woodpigeon, Wren.