Sunday, 11 April 2021

Back Again To Balmossie (7/4/21)

My intention for birding on Wednesday was to make an early start and head for Balmossie to catch the tide coming in which would hopefully bring birds closer in and with a bit of luck maybe some new for the year-list amongst them. In addition there would hopefully be a chance of Wheatear on the beach if I was early enough, or maybe a Sand Martin or Swallow or two. Needless to say, the early start failed to materialise owing to the relative warmth of my bed compared to the predicted wind-chill outside. With high-tide around lunchtime I decided to take a direct route to Balmossie to save time, missing out Swannie Ponds and Eastern Cemetery.

Redshank

I headed out around 0915, well wrapped up against the cold. A Pied Wagtail was an early surprise and a Grey Wagtail was added a few minutes later - the Grey being the more common of the two so close to home. Most of the other species seen as I headed for the Stannergate were either the large common species (pigeons, gulls and crows etc) or the common garden bird species (tits, finches, thrushes etc). Meadow Pipit was heard flying over and as I headed down Craigie Avenue a Cormorant headed inland in the opposite direction. I had to stop to remove a layer as I was getting a bit too warm.

Around 30 minutes after leaving home I was walking from Stannergate along the waterfront towards Broughty Ferry and Balmossie. Oystercatcher, Curlew, Common Gull, Black Headed Gull and a pair of Mallard were seen on the river close in to shore. Near the yacht club slipway I spotted a lone Ringed Plover down by the water's edge. At the end of Douglas Terrace a trio of Redshanks hunkered down on the outflow pipe. A slight surprise further on was a Collared Dove which flew down over the construction works to the shoreline. There were a couple of Turnstones and a few Redshanks roosting at the lifeboat jetty. Cormorants and Eider were roosting on the rocks by the castle.

As I headed east along the Esplanade to the east of the castle I spotted a pair of Grey Herons over the railway line though they were partially obscured by trees. A Chiffchaff was noted in the same area. I had hoped to reach Balmossie around 1100 and I was more or less on target when a hirundine sped past me at head height and just a few feet away. It had to be either a Sand Martin or a Swallow but as my views were head-on for the split second from when I spotted it or from directly behind as it continued on it was proving tricky to decide which it was. Thankfully it arced up showing off the underside and confirming my first Sand Martin of the year before it continued on westwards.

As I reached Balmossie I spotted a flock of Wigeon in flight over the estuary. Redshanks and Turnstone were resting on some of the pebbles in the mouth of the Dighty Burn. I scanned offshore for a while before finding a flat stone to sit on and use my small scope for a better view. Goldeneye, a pair of Mute Swans and a single Red Breasted Merganser plus hundreds of distant Eider were noted but the light and distance made things tricky at times. I did succeed however in picking out a Gannet far across the river. Another year-tick. A single bird on the water below the Gannet was ID'd from photos as a Great Northern Diver and a suspected Kittiwake was also confirmed from photos - both being new for the year and taking me through the 100 species mark for Dundee and the year. A flock of Bar Tailed Godwits crossing the estuary from Fife were seen distantly. A surprise was an apparent Sparrowhawk well out over the river being harassed by gulls.

As it appeared I was unlikely to see anything else new I decided to head into the small nature reserve where I was actually able to add a few new species for the day's list including Bullfinch, Robin, Long Tailed Tit and Song Thrush as I chatted to a woman who was a near neighbour of mine from years ago. A Sparrowhawk gave us good views as it circled above for a minute or so and a Grey Heron flew low overhead. I headed on back to Broughty Ferry where a Jackdaw flew inland by the castle. I continued on slowly along the waterfront. I picked up a Buzzard being harassed by a Rook and watched the Buzzard get higher and higher in the sky until it was just a dot. I spotted a second bird close by, but also very high. A single Rabbit was noted on the small piece of wasteground just beside the railway line at the end of the harbour area.

I decided to cut up through Eastern Cemetery where I found a single Stock Dove preening in a tree but I failed to get a clear enough view to make attempting a photo worthwhile. Swannie Ponds was visited to add a few final species for the day with Tufted Duck and Coot being the new additions there. Despite the later than planned start, the day's birding was a definite success with the decision to take a small scope with me proving to be a big plus allowing me to pick out 3 of the 4 new year-ticks (in bold) among the 53 species noted. I also managed to get a reasonable selection of decent photos too, which were a bonus.

Herring Gull


Curlew


House Sparrow


Mallard


Black Headed Gull


Ringed Plover


Ringed Plover


Cormorant


Redshank


Eider, Cormorant & Herring Gull


Eider


Cormorant


Pied Wagtail


Goldfinch


Mute Swan


Wigeon


Redshank & Turnstone


Herring Gull & Lesser Black Backed Gull


Goldeneye


Red Breasted Merganser


Herring Gull


Gannet


Great Northern Diver


Turnstone


Turnstone


Wigeon


Goldeneye


Turnstone


Oystercatcher


Redshank


Redshank


Turnstone


Goldeneye


Wigeon


Redshank & Turnstone


Sparrowhawk


Red Breasted Merganser


Kittiwake & Eider


Robin


Greenfinch


Blue Tit


Grey Heron


Bullfinch


Bullfinch


Chiffchaff


Long Tailed Tit


Sparrowhawk


Blue Tit


Herring Gull


Jackdaw


Carrion Crow


Cormorant


Starling


Oystercatcher


Herring Gull


Carrion Crow


Oystercatcher


Redshank


Turnstone


Oystercatcher


Oystercatcher


Buzzard


Buzzard & Rook


Buzzard & Rook


Grey Heron


Mallard


Rabbit


Herring Gull


Herring Gull


Herring Gull


Herring Gull


Birds - Bar Tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Eider, Gannet, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Great Northern Diver, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kittiwake, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Red Breasted Merganser, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Sand Martin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Tufted Duck, Turnstone, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Mammals - Rabbit.