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.

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