Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Forty Eight Hours.

We've had a bit of a heatwave recently here in Dundee meaning that I haven't done too much birding, except for during my walks to and from work. However, the birds are still around and even when I'm staying at home in what should be cooler conditions (but aren't always) I can watch some of the local birds coming and going. We have a bit of a Herring Gull colony growing larger by the year around here which does mean a lot of extra noise both day and night. In addition the local Swifts can often be seen racing around screaming loudly. For me that is the sound of Summer and the season starts and ends for me based on the arrival and departure of these birds - my second favourite species these days (Red Flanked Bluetail kind of has to be the number 1). As I've mentioned previously, although there are birds to be seen from my living room window, the surrounding area is mostly concrete and brick/stone with a few trees dotted around and a few small areas of grass. It is a very urban location and is far from ideal for birding from home. The reason for this post is because of a rather unusual 48 hours where it seems that luck was really on my side with regards my sense of timing.

Kestrel

On Saturday evening I was aware of a bit of commotion outside with the local Feral Pigeon flock all taking flight and a cacophony of gull calls - both Herring Gulls and Lesser Black Backeds. I was expecting a Sparrowhawk, or perhaps a Buzzard when I had a look outside but instead I spotted a Peregrine circling. I grabbed my camera, opened the window and grabbed a few shots before the bird disappeared out of sight. Having seen Peregrine twice recently in this area - once from home and once from outside, it was good to finally manage to photograph one from my living room. I've also seen what is probably the same bird in a number of locations on my walks to and from work (Ancrum Road, Lochee Park, Cox's Stack and Byron Street) suggesting that there are hungry youngsters needing fed.

I posted the photos on Twitter (@SFBirding) and in addition I decided to post photos of the other species of raptor I've seen from my window over the past 12 months - White Tailed Eagle, Osprey, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. Around 1230 on Sunday I happened to look out of the window and movement high in the sky caught my attention. I grabbed the binoculars, and quickly replaced them with the camera, when I realised that it was a White Tailed Eagle adult being harassed by a few Herring Gulls. Although I'd seen the species back in late March and early April from home I still really wasn't expecting to see one in July. There are two wing tag attachments just visible in the photos which could mean that it is the female from Fife - which I saw at least twice earlier in the year from home. I asked on the Fife Bird Club chat group if anyone had any recent photos of the Fife birds to compare the feather wear/moult but bar a favourable comment from Sam Taylor the post failed to elicit any response at all.

A few hours later, there was a lot of disturbance outside and I grabbed the camera quickly and managed to grab a few photos of a Buzzard being harassed by the local Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls and a few Carrion Crows as it flew over the roofs opposite fast and low, for obvious reasons.  I did wonder if there was any chance of perhaps adding a Sparrowhawk to my raptor haul for the weekend and an hour or so later I happened to look out of the window again just at the perfect time to see a Sparrowhawk, untroubled by any of the locals, circling round before it too disappeared out of sight. 4 species of raptor from home within 24 hours was a surprise, but a very welcome one. A little later I looked out again and saw a Sparrowhawk a bit further to the north and heading in the opposite direction. It was impossible to get a photo to be able to tell if it was, or wasn't, the same bird as earlier.

The sky was still rather blue after work on Monday and I periodically glanced out of the window, wondering if there was any likelihood of a raptor passing again. A Sparrowhawk or a Buzzard were the likeliest though the Peregrine was also not impossible. However, I figured I'd used up all my luck with the 4 species over 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday. On my 3rd or 4th look out of the window I spotted a bird circling up behind the Swifts I was watching. Sparrowhawk? It didn't look quite right for one. Peregrine? No, the shape was wrong for one of those too. I took some photos as the bird circled higher before disappearing over my roof. A rather unexpected Kestrel and my 5th raptor species in less than 48 hours from home and my 6th since last July (when I saw a very welcome Osprey) and overall (with the exception of Tawny Owl).

All the photos here are of the birds taken from my living room window over the 48 hours covered in this post, except for the Osprey photos which are from July 2020 and the second batch of Sparrowhawk photos which were the only raptor I managed on Tuesday after work. Unfortunately, the majority are rather poor as I was experimenting with Auto ISO which has resulted in rather grainier shots than I would have had from my normal settings. As I wasn't actively birding there is no species list with this post. This post does show that no matter how unpromising a location may be, it pays to listen to what the gulls and crows are getting agitated about and if the local Feral Pigeons all take flight - try to see if you can spot what has caused the panic. It can be worth it.

Peregrine (& Swift)

Peregrine

Peregrine

Peregrine

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

White Tailed Eagle (& Herring Gull)

Buzzard

Buzzard (& Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull)

Buzzard (& Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull & House Martin)

Buzzard (& Lesser Black Backed Gull & Carrion Crow)

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrel

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

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