Tuesday, 11 January 2022

0928 : Revisiting (8/1/22)

The weather forecast for Saturday morning had been improving gradually as the week had progressed. What had started as heavy rain into the afternoon had by the time Saturday actually arrived ended up with the rain stopping between 0900 and 1000. I didn't really feel like heading for either Balmossie or Riverside Nature Park with Wednesday's frustrations coupled with lots of other stuff  keeping my mood rather low. I knew that I had to get out and about, and if possible try to add to my Dundee 140 list, rather than moping about at home. I decided my main targets would be Pheasant and Kingfisher. I knew that both were likely to not be too easy, though both should still be potentially gettable.
Grey Heron

It was still a rather grotty looking day when I headed out at around 0940. I had no set route in mind, just a few spots that I wanted to check for my main target species. Anything else would be a welcome bonus. Feral Pigeon, Magpie, Herring Gull and Woodpigeon got the day's list off to an unspectacular start. Blue Tit, Blackbird, Robin and Starling were noted a little further on as I headed for Baxter Park. Unfortunately, Spring Grove proved to be very quiet. Black Headed Gulls were stood around on the grass and a few House Sparrows were in the bushes. There was a large flock of Goldfinches in the treetops but they flew off before I was able to get a decent look through them for something more interesting. Swannie Ponds was my next stop. Mallard, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and Coot were all found there along with the expected Black Headed and Herring Gulls, but there were no Goosander of Moorhen seen, nor any Common Gulls.

I had toyed with heading down through Eastern Cemetery and back up the Kingsway but I decided that it was likely just adding a bit more distance for very little return. Instead I headed for an area where I'd found Pheasants last year. An area of wooded cover on the north side of the Dighty Burn along the path to Drumgeith Park near the foot of Longhaugh Brae. Unfortunately, there was a lot less cover there as the site of the old Longhaugh Hotel was now a construction site and despite being a Saturday morning it was an active construction site. I drew a blank on Pheasant there, not surprisingly, though a Grey Heron was added stood at the burn, with some Chaffinches in the trees above where I'd hoped the Pheasants might be.

I wandered west along the Dighty between Fintry and Linlathen adding a few Common Gulls on the football pitches near Findale Street. Although the wider area around Finlathen Park has changed it is still rather familiar to me, as this area was where I spent a lot of my childhood years, either on my walk to/from school or hanging around with pals. The trees are all a lot bigger, some of the fences, building facades etc have changed but it is far from unrecognisable despite around 35-40 years of time having elapsed. Carrion Crow was added with the Common Gulls and I found a Dipper singing on the burn, near where a rope swing regularly used to dangle out over the burn. Further on, near where the 'Fort-ie' used to be I found a pair of Dippers together. They flew upstream away from me. The 'bridgie' I used to cross daily is still under repair so I had to detour up and round the end of it before rejoining the footpath.

Great Tit and Siskin were found among the trees and a Redwing flew over. A Sparrowhawk swooped out from a tree by the burn in front of the 'closies' at the bottom end of Fintry Road. Having found Kingfisher last year near the access road into Mill O'Mains from Claverhouse Road, I was less optimistic this time, with the water levels being a bit higher and the water less than clear due to the overnight rain. Sure enough, I failed to find a Kingfisher there. I headed up into Caird Park to try the ponds instead. There were at least 5 Moorhens at the lower pond as well as a small group of Mallards, but no Kingfisher. I checked the boggy area beyond for Snipe and Woodcock but not unexpectedly found none. It was increasingly becoming clear that my luck was elsewhere. Undeterred I crossed the Gelly burn and wandered past the rather unafraid Grey Heron stood between the muddy track by the burn and the footpath above.

Goldcrest was added in the trees by the old graveyard and I looked down onto a Jay in the trees just over the wall. I headed back down the hill to walk along the old road to Trottick Ponds. There was little to see or hear in the trees along the burn. A family were feeding the birds at the ponds, with a noisy group of Black Headed Gulls milling around, with Mute Swans and Mallards on the water. There were a few Moorhens hanging around too. On the other pond were a few Goosander as well as Tufted Ducks. A Sparrowhawk was doing the rounds overhead, but with so few small birds around, it too seemed likely to be out of luck. I crossed the burn at the Trottick end of the small nature reserve and continued along the path till it reached Emmock Road.

I contemplated continuing along Harestane Road to Strathmartine Road and following that to take the back way into Clatto Reservoir as I did a few times last year. The forecast sunshine was still refusing to show and my mood hadn't really lifted at all, with a run of disappointments along the route for the morning. I felt like I'd already walked far enough and decided to head for home via the golf courses in Caird Park. I would check some of the wooded areas in the hope of finding Woodcock. With lots of the fairways frozen solid, there were only a handful of dog walkers on the course. There weren't many birds either though I did add Oystercatcher to the list as I headed back towards the ponds again.

In below the trees on the 18 hole course I did manage to find something with the thermal imager, though it appeared to be a small mammal (a vole or a mouse) but I failed to see it with binoculars as it disappeared before I was able to see it properly. A pair of Grey Squirrels were seen before I headed up Mains Loan and homewards. In 3.5 hours I'd actually covered a distance of around 8.5 miles noting 32 species of bird and 1 of mammal. The camera had stayed put in my bag with only a couple of photos of the Grey Heron and a short video of one of the Trottick Mute Swans ripping bits of the reeds at the ponds being taken on my iPhone. Hopefully, this outing was a one-off and that I'll be a bit more fortunate on my next trip out. The photos for this post are all older photos.

Herring Gull
Carrion Crow
Black Headed Gull
Common Gull
Grey Squirrel
Blue Tit
Great Tit

Birds - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Coot, Dipper, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Tit, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Redwing, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Siskin, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Tufted Duck, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Mammals - Grey Squirrel.

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