On Friday evening Lainy messaged me to offer me another opportunity to get out and about with her and Adam in the camper van for a spot of birding on Saturday. Cuckoo, Redstart and Tree Pipit would be the main target species though anything we managed to see would as always be very welcome. I decided I would have an early start again - this time for Sedge Warbler around Clatto, before meeting up with Lainy and Adam around 0800. The weather forecast was reasonable to start with, though cold, but deteriorating later. The alarm was set to allow me to get out before 0600.
I headed out around 0545 and set off along a similar route to the previous weekend. It was a similar story to the previous week though without some of the 'better' birds but still a wide variety of the 'garden birds' noted - Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Feral Pigeon, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Starling, Dunnock, Collared Dove, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Greenfinch, Blackcap and the not particularly garden, though increasingly urban, Oystercatcher. I reached the outskirts of the city around 0625.
A singing Song Thrush, a few Skylarks and a Pheasant were noted as I began the walk up the track towards Clatto. Yellowhammer, Linnets and Willow Warbler as well as a rather showy Whitethroat were seen around the edges of the field. In the field itself were a pair of Stock Doves. I decided to continue up the side of the field below the trees to where I'd seen Grasshopper Warbler the week before. Wren, Chiffchaff and Swallow, as well as Robin and Great Spotted Woodpecker were added to the list. I doubled back slightly with singing Blackcap and Willow Warbler found before I picked up the sound of a Grasshopper Warbler just to the west of the 'new' house. It was rather loud, so obviously quite close but as there were parked cars between me and the bird I chose not to linger.
Siskin, Common Gull and a male Bullfinch joined the growing list of species before a small flock of Sand Martins were noted hawking over the area adjacent to where the Grasshopper Warbler was found the previous weekend. A Magpie high in a tall tree and a Greenfinch near the metal gate were next. I saw a Willow Warbler 'flickering' its wings in a small tree and while trying to get a photo, a Jay and a Blackcap, as well as a Long Tailed Tit were also spotted in the same tree. I spooked a couple of Roe Deer a few minutes after watching a relatively showy Grasshopper Warbler a bit further east from last week's sighting. A Rabbit ran ahead of me as I wandered down to the Reservoir for a quick look before meeting Lainy and Adam, having drawn a blank on Sedge Warbler.
Coot, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck and Moorhen were all on the water at Clatto but overall the reservoir was very quiet. I reached the car park at the same time as Lainy and Adam did, and once I'd put my mask on, I joined them in the van. Our first potential target was to try to get me Grey Partridge as Lainy and Adam had again seen the species while out and about locally earlier in the week. Swallow, Stock Dove, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch and Carrion Crow were around but once again we drew a blank on the Partridges. Woodpigeon, Black Headed Gull, Pheasant and Brown Hare were seen however.
We headed next for Backwater Reservoir where Cuckoo can sometimes be seen on the wires that run parallel to the road for most of the length of the reservoir. Jackdaws were in the field with Sheep near the T-junction. A bird in a tree made us stop the van. Year-tick number 1 for me - a Tree Pipit, singing and making short display flights. Unfortunately, as I was trying to open the door of the van I spooked it. At the dam, there was a sizeable flock of Common Gulls around as well as a few Herring Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, as well as Oystercatchers and Common Sandpipers (another welcome year-tick). A pair of Tufted Ducks were out on the water and a flock of Sand Martins were feeding low over the surface.
Meadow Pipit, Roe Deer and Mistle Thrush were all seen from the far end of the dam, as well as a heard-only Cuckoo (my third year-tick of the day). Willow Warbler and Mallard were followed onto the list by Bullfinch, singing Skylarks and displaying Lapwings. A Goldeneye was quite distant but obvious at the northern end of the reservoir and Lainy spotted a Peregrine perched on a thin tree on the hill up from the car park. We watched a pair of Ravens pass by and on our way back down the road, Curlew was seen. A Goldcrest was in a small tree with a Willow Warbler during a brief stop and a small herd of Red Deer wandered along the top of the hill just south of the car park. Tree Pipit was again seen as we passed the area we'd seen the bird earlier as we left the reservoir area.
We headed next for the Balintore Road, still hoping for a sight of a Cuckoo, despite having heard one. Wheatear was another possibility. The first Buzzard of the day was perched in a dead tree near the road. We'd only gone a short distance up the Balintore Road when Lainy found the first Wheatear perched up on a drystane dyke. Pied Wagtail and Red Legged Partridge were in the roadside fields. We pulled in at a spot overlooking some fields, a burn and conifers behind us. A Grey Heron flew past, and an unexpected skein of Pink Footed Geese headed over a bit higher. A male Siskin showed well fter landing in one of the conifers while a large number of Jackdaws were in the fields. Our next stop at a small roadside pool gave us views of Lapwing, Curlew and Common Sandpiper.
At a stop much further on along the road we watched a number of Buzzards circling up along the ridge of a hill. Eventually we counted 8, though the number was constantly changing. Lainy thought she'd seen a Red Kite but a Buzzard moulting the central tail feathers had her doubting herself. However, a short distance along the road we stopped again. A Buzzard was perched on a fence at a farm up the hill, and another 2 raptors circled over the hill to the west. One was a Buzzard and the other was a Red Kite - likely the same bird Lainy had seen, minutes earlier and not too far away. A Dunnock flew into the bushes and a trio of Roe Deer were along the fenceline near the small burn.
As Redstart was one of our targets I suggested detouring to Glen Prosen where I've seen the species before. Unfortunately, large areas of trees had been felled and with the weather being very overcast and grey, birds - other than Pheasants and Red Legged Partridges seemed to be very few, though I did add Blackbird as we passed a farm. We decided to head for Kinnordy where a White Fronted Goose had been reported. It would be a very short visit - I would pop into the Gullery Hide while Lainy and Adam waited in the van, make a quick scan and then leave again. Although it was a short visit I was able to add a few new species to my year-list - Marsh Harrier, White Fronted Goose and Snipe.
A Blackcap was seen in the trees behind the hide and a limit of 4 people in the hide at a time meant the couple ahead of me couldn't go in together as there were already 3 in the hide. They chose to head for 1 of the other hides and I was able to go into the socially distanced hide. In addition to the year-ticks already mentioned, a hunting Osprey (blue ring CR9), Greylag Goose, Pink Footed Goose, Moorhen, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Rook, Starling, Reed Bunting, Rook and Teal were all noted. There were also plenty of Sand Martins zipping around as well as Redshank and Lapwing on the bogbean along with a few Black Headed Gulls. The light was poor and though I was sure I'd caught a glimpse of white on the face of one of the geese, it took photos to confirm I had.
We made a brief stop by the small airstrip opposite where the Auchindorie pool had been. There had been a small fly-in event held and we watched a Piper Super Cub depart in the rain, before we took a scenic route along the back roads to Newtyle and back to Dundee. Pheasants were numerous. Lainy and Adam dropped me off at home after a very successful day's birding. Despite not seeing the hoped for Sedge Warbler, I managed to add 6 year-ticks (in bold) among the 75 species of birds noted. In addition, there were 4 species of mammal noted too, with Red Deer being a new one for my growing mammals list. All in all, a very good day out once again - with lots to see, plenty of birding chat and laughs, despite the deteriorating weather conditions as the day progressed.
|Great Crested Grebe|
|Pink Footed Goose|
|Red Kite & Buzzard|
|White Fronted Goose & Pink Footed Goose|
Birds - Blackbird, Blackcap, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Common Sandpiper, Coot, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Grasshopper Warbler, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Raven, Red Kite, Red Legged Partridge, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Sand Martin, Siskin, Skylark, Snipe, Song Thrush, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Teal, Tree Pipit, Tufted Duck, Wheatear, White Fronted Goose, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.
Mammals - Brown Hare, Rabbit, Red Deer, Roe Deer.