Wednesday, 17 November 2021

0908 : Early One Morning (13/11/21)

Keith Edwards messaged me on Friday morning to let me know he'd found a Barred Warbler at Riverside Nature Park. Unfortunately I was stuck at work and with heavy rain forecast around lunchtime there was little enthusiasm to attempt to try to see it on Friday. As things transpired, the bird has actually done a disappearing act while Keith was trying to put the news out. However, given the skulking nature (at times) of Barred Warbler I figured that an early start on Saturday morning might give me a chance of seeing the bird. As well as the warbler, I hoped that Woodcock, or even an owl, might be possible using either my IR scope or thermal imager if I made it to the park early enough. Any new addition would be my 100th species at the park in 2021 - which would also be my best total for species noted at the park too.
Bullfinch

It was a struggle to get up at 0400 when the alarm went off, but after a few minutes of failing to fall back to sleep again, I got up and got organised, making it out into the pre-dawn darkness around 0540. Needless to say birds were in rather short supply along my route though Robin, Blackbird, Carrion Crow and Herring Gull were noted. My route took me through a disappointingly quiet Balgay Cemetery where I thought there might be a chance of at least a Tawny Owl or a Fox. I considered detouring through Ninewells Arboretum to try for Tawny Owl there but decided that going in the eastern entrance of the park would give me the best chance at Woodcock or a hunting owl.

Although I arrived at the park around 0645 there was already a faint glow to the east and the darkness was less than absolute. A Wren was heard calling by the entrance and a few Rabbits were picked out using the thermal imager. Continuing into the park I added Blackbird, Robin and Herring Gull before the first skein of Pink Footed Geese headed eastwards along the Tay. More birds were added, mostly initially by call though with an almost clear sky it was possible to make out the birds in some cases without having to resort to either of the IR or thermal options. Redwing, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon and Goldcrest were spotted before I reached the Lochan where not unexpectedly I found Mallard, Moorhen and Teal.

A quick look over the bay and upriver added Oystercatcher, Great Black Backed Gull, Redshank, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit and Curlew. Also around were Goldfinch, Siskin, Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit and Song Thrush. Out on the river were thousands of Pink Footed Geese which departed to head inland in large waves over the next hour or so. I checked the likely areas for the Barred Warbler finding Blackbirds, Song Thrush and Chaffinch before both Keith and Graham Smith arrived. Skylark and Sparrowhawk as well as few Fieldfares and Linnets were noted but there was no sign of the target bird despite the additional eyes. In the bushes behind the hide I did manage to find a Blackcap though views were brief. A Grey Wagtail also flew over.

The Belgian birder we'd met during the guided walk a few weeks ago and Jonathon Patullo also arrived to look for the elusive Barred Warbler. Lainy also joined us a little later but despite much searching we all failed to refind the bird. A scan over the bay from the hide however did add a few more species - Dunlin, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Goosander, Greylag Goose, Stock Dove, Feral Pigeon and best of all, a group of five Snipe spotted by Keith. This was my 100th species at the park this year and also a year-tick for me. Cormorant, Common Gull, Greenfinch, Starling, Rook, Dunnock, Long Tailed Tit and Bullfinch were all recorded before defeat was more or less admitted and everyone headed off elsewhere except for Lainy and myself.

We checked and double checked the same areas which did add another Blackcap but nothing else particularly of note. We did some further exploring which gave us Coal Tit, Yellowhammer and a slightly unexpected Meadow Pipit. A pair of Stock Doves and some distant Jackdaws were also spotted before we headed back down to the car park to meet up with Lainy's husband, Adam. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was noted from there. There was some discussion of plans for the rest of the day. I decided that as I'd made such an early start and with sunset around 1600, I might as well try to do a pre-dawn to post-dusk visit. Although I suspected my chances of adding too many new species for the day were relatively slim, I figured I'd give it a go anyway. Lainy and Adam headed off and I made an unproductive lap of the lower half of the park.

A Great Tit was seen as I headed back into the top half of the park. Mute Swans were a welcome addition at the Lochan. I headed back to the hide to see if the tide had receded far enough to add anything new among the waders, or perhaps the Mediterranean Gull. I was joined shortly after I got there by a birder from Fife whose name I have managed to forget (possibly Ian Morrison?) and then a little later by local bird recorder, Jon Cook. As Jon had his scope with him, I asked him to see if he could conjure up the Mediterranean Gull but with the sun already behind the birds to some degree it was trickier than it could have been. Jon drew a blank, as I had. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in the trees over by Invergowrie. There was one further addition to my list for the park from round by the picnic tables where a few Bar Tailed Godwits were seen mixing with their Black Tailed cousins.

Having been on my feet since around 0540 my enthusiasm was flagging, especially knowing that I had at least an hour's walk home to look forward to, at least some of which would inevitably be uphill. I made a rather tired lap of the lower half before calling it quits around 1410. The long walk home did manage to add a number of species to the 'outwith the park' list, though most had been seen already at the park. Magpie, Feral Pigeon, Long Tailed Tit and Blue Tit were noted on the walk up to Balgay Cemetry. Oystercatcher, Goldcrest, Siskin, Coal Tit, Jay, Nuthatch and a Grey Squirrel were seen around the cemetery and hill. Black Headed and Common Gulls were on the football pitches in small numbers.

Goldfinch, Starling, House Sparrow, Jackdaw and a final Pied Wagtail were seen between Ancrum Road and home taking the total number of species for the day to 58 species of which a rather surprising 55 had been noted at the park. Winter visits can often be frustrating with not much either heard or seen, however despite missing out on the main target and the other likeliest additions, this particular visit was very much a success with my first century of species in a calendar year at the park achieved. That the bird was also a year-tick (in bold) was a nice bonus. It was a very long day though and I paid the price for the early start and the length of time spent on my feet by requiring another early night and a very long lie the following day. On balance it was worthwhile, and I will eventually do the dawn to dusk thing at the park (probably around Christmas).

Pink Footed Goose
Pink Footed Goose
Pink Footed Goose
Pink Footed Goose
Black Headed Gull
Song Thrush
Woodpigeon & Feral Pigeon
Blackbird
Carrion Crow
Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Buzzard
Snipe
Snipe
Black Headed Gull
Starling
Goosander
Teal
Greylag Goose & Mallard
Robin
Redshank & Dunlin
Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank & Dunlin
Dunlin
Goosander, Teal, Redshank & Dunlin
Rook
Greenfinch
Greylag Goose
Starling
Skylark
Teal
Long Tailed Tit
Carrion Crow & Buzzard
Long Tailed Tit
Curlew
Blue Tit
Robin
Long Tailed Tit
Long Tailed Tit
Yellowhammer
Mallard
Magpie
Yellowhammer
Skylark
Stock Dove
Stock Dove
Meadow Pipit
Chaffinch
Greenfinch
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Magpie
Stock Dove
Coal Tit
Great Tit
Teal
Jackdaw
Black Headed Gull, Redshank, Dunlin & Curlew
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Carrion Crow & Buzzard
Herring Gull
Dunnock
Herring Gull & Oystercatcher
Black Tailed Godwit
Bullfinch
Black Tailed Godwit & Bar Tailed Godwit
Cormorant
Goosander
Goldfinch
Oystercatcher
Chaffinch & Goldfinch
Herring Gull, Common Gull & Black Headed Gull
Grey Heron
Carrion Crow
Siskin

Birds (outwith park) - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Carrion Crow, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Nuthatch, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Siskin, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Mammals (outwith park) - Grey Squirrel.

Birds (at park) - Bar Tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Linnet, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Redshank, Redwing, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Siskin, Skylark, Snipe, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Teal, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.

Mammals (at park) - Rabbit.

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