While I was out and about on Saturday morning with Lainy and Adam, Mark Wilkinson had messaged me via Twitter to let me know he'd found a summer plumaged Spotted Redshank in Invergowrie Bay. Having only ever seen one summer plumaged Spotted Redshank (at Guardbridge) my mind was made up as to my destination for Sunday's birding. I would head for Riverside Nature Park and hopefully manage to catch the Spotted Redshank on the rising tide. Although there was a good chance that the bird would have already moved on, the weather forecast was pretty good and there was still a chance of a migrant or two passing through, or one of the regular summer visitors having newly arrived back.
Having made such an early start the day before, my 0810 departure for the park felt like it was much later. A Blackcap on Dens Road with a Goldcrest also nearby were reasonably good birds among the initial rush of species. Pied Wagtail, Chiffchaff, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Bullfinch and Long Tailed Tit were noted around the Law. Balgay Hill added Jay, Stock Dove, Buzzard and Nuthatch with Collared Dove and Song Thrush then added before I reached Riverside Nature Park. High tide was a fairly large one around 1400 or so, so I knew I had plenty of time to 'play' with until I headed for the bay.
It was a mix of the relatively common smaller birds that started off the day's list for the park - Blackbird, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Chiffchaff, Skylark, Blackcap, Wren, Starling, Great Tit and Long Tailed Tit as well as a few of the regular larger birds - Herring Gull, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon and Jackdaw. The first butterfly found was a Small Tortoiseshell. Wandering on around the lower half, I found a male Reed Bunting feeding next to the path. I was able to take a slightly wider route around the bird which allowed me to get some photos with the light in the right place asthe bird fed unconcerned. Feral Pigeons passed overhead and a Robin was spotted before I headed into the upper half of the park for a look at the tide state to allow me to assess the best time for having a scan through the birds in the bay.
A colleague from work was out for a walk round the park in the sunshine and stopped to chat. Although he walks through the park for something to do, now and then, he doesn't really pay much attention to what he's passing by. I decided to point out some of the birds that were around as we chatted. He was surprised by the variety of species we were seeing and impressed by me picking birds up on call then pointing them out. I told him I'd bring in a bird book for him so that he could look up any birds he happened to get a good look at while out walking. A pair of Buzzards were seen circling over the park, one quite high soaring on a thermal and another much lower.
I had a quick look at the waders down in the bay through my binoculars. Not unexpectedly there were Redshanks, Curlew and Oystercatchers and Dunlin. I spent what seemed like ages chatting to my work colleague and the tide had pushed in a good bit further bringing the waders parallel to the corner where we were standing. Another quick glance and there was the target bird - a Spotted Redshank in the full black breeding plumage. I grabbed a few photographs as the bird was on the Dundee side of the pipe and the sun was behind me. I didn't look at the photos as I was still chatting. We were soon joined by another birder with a scope - Graham from Perth, who it turned out had no idea there had been a Spotted Redshank reported. The tide had pushed even further in and most of the original wader flock had dispersed out of the bay. My colleague headed off on his walk again and I started scanning the bay again.
Goldfinch, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Mallard were all spotted - some close by, some much further away. Shelduck, Sparrowhawk, Teal, a single Black Tailed Godwit and a small group of Bar Tailed Godwit were found and pointed out. I noticed through my binoculars that the Spotted Redshank was stood just to the right of the Bar Tailed Godits and got Graham onto the bird with his scope. I wasn't expecting him to say "there's two of them" but out came my small scope to have a proper look and sure enough there were now two birds (checking my photos at home it turned out I had actually photographed both birds earlier but as I was only expecting a single bird, I failed to notice the second - though as my photos were literally quickly grabbed record shots - it wasn't overly surprising). Two pairs of 'chacking' Blackcaps appeared in a small bush right in front of us with one very showy male posing beautifully for us.
While speaking to my colleague earlier I had been convinced I could hear a singing Whitethroat just to the south beyond the fence and I eventually managed to see the bird perched atop a Buddleia bush singing. Year-tick number 2 for the day for me. A Willow Warbler sang nearby and a few Swallows swept past northwards having apparently just crossed the river. More scanning from a little further north along the path added Black Headed Gull and Common Gull and a Stock Dove before we headed for the hide in the hope that the Spotted Redshank pair would be visible from there. A Mute Swan was in the burn in front of the hide but the Spotted Redshanks were still hidden from view by the foliage. An Orange Tip and a Peacock butterfly were seen before we were joined by the local recorder, Jon Cook who was hoping to see the Spotted Redshanks.
I had just realised that a pair of apparent Curlews across the far side of the bay actually looked a bit smaller than they should be and was in the process of grabbing a few photos just as Jon was about to have a look at them when something spooked most of the birds in the bay and off went the Whimbrels - though the flight shots did confirm the ID. Thankfully not everything left but there was no sign of either the Spotted Redshanks or the Whimbrel. We were then joined by two young South American students (one Venezuelan, one Colombian) who were very chatty and curious about the birds - though the variety available was way less than would be expected in either of their countries. Graham let them see the Black Tailed Godwit through his scope before Jon headed off.
The two South American ladies eventually had to go too, as one of them was using a hired electric bike (and the price increases the longer you have it) and Graham also headed off. I had a slower wander back into the park stopping for a brief chat to Jon again near the Lochan. A displaying Greenfinch was watched as it flew overhead. At the Lochan a Grey Heron and a Moorhen were the highlights. Another couple of younger ladies stopped for a look and I explained about the Heron eating the newts and a few other bits of info about the park including the Skylarks breeding attempts on the hill and was able to show them a couple of the larks on the wing before they too continued on their walk.
I heard a Siskin flying over and had brief views of a male Yellowhammer in the hedge. A Sand Martin passed over just before I walked back down to the lower half of the park for another check of the bushes and trees there. A few Green Veined White butterflies and more Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells flitted along by the paths and fencelines, settling briefly to catch a bit of sunshine or to feed on a flower. While wandering back to check a bit of path I hadn't been down yet I was surprised to see a small skein of Pink Footed Geese struggling into the wind a bit before they turned back towards the river. A few minutes later they returned and headed north over the bay.
I eventually left the park around 1545 having added Rabbit, Coal Tit and Dunnock taking my park total to a respectable 52 species of bird. The walk back home added Coal Tit, Sparrowhawk and Siskin to the list for outwith the park taking me to 32 species. In all I'd managed to see or hear 59 species of bird, 4 of butterfly and 1 of mammal. I'd also done a LOT of chatting and really enjoyed the day's birding. Ignorant and irresponsible dog owners however were the one major black spot with one man in particular seen distantly allowing his dog to do its business by the path in the lower half before wandering off leaving it there, and who was later seen with the same dog off the lead in the top half of the park. Rules, and indeed the law, clearly don't apply to him and his dog, and sadly he is just one of the many - which increasingly appears to be the majority.
|Buzzard & Carrion Crow|
|Long Tailed Tit|
|Spotted Redshank, Redshank & Dunlin|
|Spotted Redshank, Redshank & Dunlin|
|Spotted Redshank, Redshank & Dunlin|
|Bar Tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank & Teal|
|Oystercatcher & Spotted Redshank|
|Carrion Crow & Grey Heron|
|Herring Gull & Lesser Black Backed Gull|
|Pink Footed Goose|
|Pink Footed Goose|
|Lesser Black Backed Gull|
Birds - Bar Tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Nuthatch, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Sand Martin, Shelduck, Siskin, Skylark, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spotted Redshank, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Teal, Whimbrel, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.
Butterflies - Green Veined White, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell.
Mammals - Rabbit.
Year-ticks - Bold.
Riverside Nature Park - italics
Outwith Riverside Nature Park - underline