Thursday, 15 October 2020

Free At Last (14/10/20)

As I am still off work on holiday, I had been intending getting out birding on Tuesday but an issue with Virgin Media that should have been possible to resolve in a few minutes took up all of Tuesday without resolution. This meant that Wednesday's planned early start also had to be postponed. As the morning progressed without receiving the promised contact from Virgin, it appeared that Wednesday might also become a birding-free zone. Thankfully, due to help on the community forum part of the website by a Virgin staff member the problem was finally resolved around 1330. With sunset around 1800 at this time of year that didn't leave toomuch time for birding when actually getting somewhere worthwhile was taken into account. With high tide around 1330, I figured there might be a chance I could get to Riverside Nature Park in time to catch the receding tide, so I got organised and headed out.

Great Spotted Woodpecker



The main highlights on the 75 minute walk to the park were both seen as I passed the airport - first a Mistle Thrush called from the Botanic Gardens and then flew from the tree it had been in, then minutes later a pair of Buzzards tussled violently for a few seconds before 1 of the 2 flew off eastwards along the railway line route. I worked out that if I wanted to get home at a reasonable time that I could give myself 2 hours at the park and so I set myself a target of 35 species or more to see. It would need a bit of luck and a lot of paying attention but I figured it was achievable. Given the self-imposed time limit it was also enough of a challenge to ensure I put some effort in.

Rather than spend time slowly working my way round the park as I've done on recent visits, I knew I had to head directly for the hide overlooking the bay to catch the returning waders on the mud uncovered by the receding tide. A flock of Long tailed Tits were seen near the eastern entrance and a single Siskin flew over as I wandered deeper into the park. There were plenty of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes around as well as a few Chaffinches, but overall things felt rather quiet which didn't bode particularly well for reaching my target. Magpie, Woodpigeon and Starling were all seen in flight before the first Herring Gull showed in flight above the hill. At the Lochan. Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swans and Teal were added as a skein of Pink Footed Geese passed high overhead.

When I reached the hide the mud was still underwater and the only bird in sight was a Cormorant trying in vain to swallow a large flatfish. A few Black Headed Gulls flew in as the mud started to reappear and they were soon joined by some Common Gulls. A trio of Goosanders landed on the burn but despite a large area of mud appearing the waders refused to return. Time was slipping away from me but I needed some wader species to bump the list numbers high enough to reach my target. Eventually a pair of Redshanks flew in and landed by the pipe before flying off again. Then a single Black Tailed Godwit flew in, and straight back out again before 4 Dunlin did likewise. More Redshanks appeared before flying off to the area by the reedbed across the bay. A Grey Heron appeared on the pipe and with the time now around 1605, I had to admit defeat with the waders and head back into the main body of the park and see what I could add there.

A distant Buzzard was being harassed by Carrion Crows to the east and a Pied Wagtail flew past a Lesser Black Backed Gull I could see on the pipe. A pair of Lesser Redpolls overflew and a Curlew was heard but not seen. An unexpected Great Spotted Woodpecker flew up over the hill from the area near the picnic tables. The bushes bordering the path towards the car park were full of Wrens, Dunnocks, Song Thrushes, Robins and Blackbirds, as well as Chaffinches and Blue Tits, with the thrushes feeding on Elderberries. A Stock Dove flew over and Goldcrest was heard but not seen. I added Coal Tit on my way out of the park and the only new addition on the walk home was a Grey Wagtail near the Wellgate car park. I managed to see 37 species of bird in the park with 2 heard only (in italics), and 9 outside the park with only 2 of those (underlined) not being seen at the park. Probably not the most inspiring afternoon's birding but it did get me out into the fresh air and allowed me to get my blood pressure back down to somewhere near normal after the frsutrations of the previous day and a half.

Pink Footed Goose


Pink Footed Goose


Cormorant


Cormorant


Goosander


Black Headed Gull & Common Gull


Teal


Black Tailed Godwit


Redshank


Redshank


Grey Heron


Redshank


Buzzard


Great Spotted Woodpecker


Starling


Buzzard


Rabbit


Rabbit


Species seen at park - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Lesser Redpoll, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Redshank, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Siskin, Song Thrush, Starling, Stock Dove, Teal, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Mammals seen - Rabbit.

Species seen outwith the park - Blackbird, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, Mistle Thrush, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon.



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