Sunday, 5 September 2021

Twin Targets (1/9/21)

For the first day of my second week of 'Autumn' migration time holiday, I decided I would make an early start and head for Riverside Nature Park. I had 2 goals, to get that elusive 125th species for my Dundee 2021 list, and to attempt to beat my total for my most successful visit to the park when I managed a total of 63 species on August 31st 2014. The only potential fly in the ointment was a relatively small high tide which would mean the likelihood of birds being spread across the width of the bay, rather than being forced into the corner by the pipe. The limited view from the hide these days also would not be helpful - though to some degree the view from the bridge just outside the park can alleviate some of this particular issue (though it also suffers from the vegetation nearby blocking parts of the view).


With sunrise around 0620, it wasn't quite as necessary to be out of bed at "stupid o'clock" though it was still around 40 minutes after that when I did get up. I was out the front door by 0555 and with it still being before sunrise birds were relatively few. Herring Gull, Carrion Crow, Feral Pigeon, Magpie and Lesser Black Backed Gulls were the only birds noted in the first 5 minutes. Blue Tit, Robin, Woodpigeon and Dunnock soon followed though. Tree Pipit and Grey Wagtail overflew, which seemed promising for further migrants from the park later. I added Bullfinch, Wren and a Meadow Pipit before I reached the football pitches at Lochee Park where Common Gulls and Black Headed Gulls were relatively well spread out across the grass.

Great Tit, Nuthatch, Stock Dove, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch Goldcrest and Long Tailed Tit were also found around the hill and cemetery. A Sparrowhawk swept overhead just before I reached Glamis Road. Jackdaw, Starling, Sandwich Tern, Blackbird and Goldfinch went on the list before I finally reached the park at around 0655. The birds then came thick and fast once I was inside the park with almost 1 species per minute noted in the first 30 minutes. Wren, Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Robin, Goldfinch, Herring Gull, Swallow, Coal Tit, Feral Pigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Sandwich Tern, Chiffchaff, Curlew, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Mallard, Moorhen and Rabbit were more or less all expected and with the goal of seeing as much as possible, all very welcome.

A Collared Dove overflying from the direction of the airport was a surprise and only the 2nd record for the park. Having seen Peregrine on the Ninewells chimney the day before I had a quick look and found that it was there again. A small skein of Canada Geese flew over heading towards the bay from the east. A Grey Wagtail called as it too passed overhead. A Stock Dove dropped in at the Lochan where there were also a few Teal. At the bay I added Lapwing and Black Headed Gull while a Whitethroat was seen in the bushes nearby. Things quietened down slightly after the initial 30 minute rush though Pied Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Willow Warbler, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Grey Heron, Black Tailed Godwit, Cormorant and Great Black Backed Gull were also spotted either out in the bay or around the hide.

A few migrating Meadow Pipits were followed minutes later by a single Tree Pipit though overall things seemed fairly quiet on the migration front. I scanned from the picnic tables adding Song Thrush and Linnet close by and a Rook overhead with a single Knot found among the Redshanks down in the bay. The first Osprey of the day arrived for a spot of fishing which quickly proved successful. A Dunnock was in the bushes in front of me and another surprise was a single Guillemot near the pipe. A Goosander was also found further out on the river. A few Tree Sparrows and Linnets flew off together from the Buddleia bushes behind me. Greenfinch and Yellowhammer were then added and a Buzzard circled to the north. I watched another Osprey do some fishing before losing sight of it.

However, from the top of the hill I was surprised to find this bird was eating its catch perched atop some debris in the bay. As it did so, a second bird arrived above to attempt some fishing. More Canada Geese arrived from beyond Invergowrie to the west. A lone Starling flew towards Invergowrie as I made my way back to the hide. A Jay was seen in flight well to the north. Back at the hide I was able to add Common Gull, Jackdaw, Bar Tailed Godwit and best of all, a Curlew Sandpiper - my 125th bird species in Dundee this year. As is often the case with this species in the bay, it was beside the Redshanks rather than the Dunlin, though usually when I find one in flight it will be in among flocks of  Dunlin. A brief foray round to Invergowrie Station proved fruitless. 

A trip back to the hide again wasn't overly productive but I had a chat to a lady who was out to collect brambles but who had an interest in birds. I told her about the Ospreys and a little later from the bridge I was able to point out yet another attempting to do some fishing before it eventually gave up and flew off. As I headed back into the park I met one of the birders from Birdforum who I've spoken to at the park before - "Mikewander". I headed back to the hide to show him the Curlew Sandpiper but as we arrived the vast majority of the waders took flight for an unknown reason. A little later the likely reason became apparent with someone wandering around on our side of the burn, just to the right of the vegetation - possibly also collecting brambles(?).

Needless to say, the birds didn't come back, so Mike and I wandered back round to the picnic tables again to scan from there. A Common Darter dragonfly was hunting around the pool next to the toilet. By now it was very sunny and rather warm so we wandered up and sat at the top of the hill and watched from there. Unfortunately, we failed to add anything that I hadn't already seen other than a single House Martin. We headed back to the car park as Mike had things to do, and I had the lower half of the park still to check out. A Sparrowhawk was seen causing some panic among a pigeon flock to the north but it seemed that the sun was causing the majority of birds to stay in the shade and out of sight which wasn't particularly helpful.

More dragonflies were seen near the Lochan and I finally managed to find a few butterflies on the wing - Large White and Peacock both being noted. A flock of Long Tailed Tits did give me a new bird for the day's park list near the hide and as I wandered back out from there I looked up and saw another Osprey arriving for a spot of successful fishing followed by some pursuit by a young Gull. I spotted yet another Osprey well out over the Tay from near the picnic tables a bit later before I realised that among the Teal in the burn was a single Pintail. By this time I was starting to feel rather weary and felt I was unlikely to add anything new so finally decided to call it a day, though I did add Great Tit on my way out of the park at around 1525 after 8 and a half hours in the park. The walk home added House Martin, Swallow and Buzzard to the 'outside the park' list for the day.

Despite coming up slightly short from matching the previous best, by just 1 species, I now have a new 2nd place total and 2 visits with 59 each now dropping back to joint 3rd. Outside the park I managed to see or hear 32 species. The total overall was 65 species. I did succeed with my other target for the day - my 125th species of bird for Dundee this year (and a year-tick 'proper' too - in bold). Having succeeded with reaching that total, I will still try to get to as a high a total as possible - I think anything more than 133 or so is probably unlikely, though far from impossible. Time will tell how I get on between now and December 31st.

Feral Pigeon & Peregrine




Canada Goose & Cormorant

Black Tailed Godwit & Redshank

Redshank & Dunlin

Canada Goose

Tree Sparrow

Canada Goose

Grey Wagtail & Pied Wagtail


Stock Dove


Dunlin & Knot

Redshank & Dunlin



Meadow Pipit

Guillemot & Grey Heron

Osprey & Herring Gull





Redshank & Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Redshank, Sandwich Tern & Black Headed Gull






Redshank & Lapwing

Sparrowhawk & Feral Pigeon


Black Tailed Godwit

Bar Tailed Godwit











Beetle sp.

Birds (outside park) - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, House Martin, Jackdaw, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Meadow Pipit, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Sandwich Tern, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Tree Pipit, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Birds (at park) - Bar Tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Cormorant, Curlew, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Guillemot, Herring Gull, House Martin, Jackdaw, Jay, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pied Wagtail, Pintail, Redshank, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Sandwich Tern, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Teal, Tree Pipit, Tree Sparrow, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.

Butterflies (at park) - Large White, Peacock.

Dragonflies (at park) - Common Darter.

Mammals (at park) - Rabbit.

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