Sunday, 13 February 2022

0939 : Burn And Bridges (12/2/22)

After a week at work, I tend to look forward to getting out birding at the weekend. Although there are more people and dogs around (along with potential disturbance) at weekends it is still great to be able to get out and about for a mix of exercise, fresh air and most importantly, a chance to unwind. Some weekends the weather forecast seems to make this difficult which can be frustrating when you've been stuck inside in a room with no windows during most of the available daylight. Despite a rather poor forecast for the weekend, it appeared that there might be a few hours of a window available to squeeze in some birding on Saturday morning. I wanted to pop back to where I'd seen the Snipe the previous weekend but I also wanted to try to add Kingfisher to the Dundee 140 list. I decided I would walk a 4 mile stretch of the Dighty Burn from Trottick Ponds to West Pitkerro Industrial Estate.

Goosander

Having spent longer in my bed than I intended (not for the first, or last time) it was 0925 when I headed out, meaning the window of opportunity had narrowed and there was a chance the rain would arrive before I returned home. Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Feral Pigeon was a fairly typical start to the day's list followed soon after by Blue Tit, House Sparrow and Starling. I debated which route to take to Trottick Ponds, eventually settling on going via Mains Loan and down through Caird Park. Black Headed Gull, Jackdaw, Blackbird and Greenfinch were all noted on the way to the park. 

The first Long Tailed Tits of the day were added once I'd crossed the Kingsway along with Chaffinch, Coal Tit and Robin. A quick check of the ponds produced the expected Mallard, Moorhen and Grey Heron but no Kingfisher. There were a few Bullfinches around which were heard calling to each other. I cut across the 9-hole golf course where a Buzzard was stood at the edge of one of the fairways but it took flight before I could stop to extricate my camera from the bag. I reached Trottick Ponds around 30 minutes after leaving home. There were still some Goosander on the ponds along with Coot, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan and Tufted Ducks and the regular flock of Black Headed Gulls.

The first Dipper of the day was heard singing down on the Dighty Burn and photos showed the bird to be colour ringed. Further round the path I was able to note Wren, Dunnock, Great Tit, Goldfinch and Siskin while I checked the reedy area again. Before I was able to check using the thermal imager a pair of Snipe flew off despite me being some distance away from where they lifted off from. With the scope I found a couple of birds that despite knowing where they were, I was unable to see with binoculars. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get anywhere close enough to check if either was a Jack Snipe. I tried the other vantage points I'd used last weekend and noted the Roe Deer pair watching me and another 2 Snipe flew off.

A skein of Pink Footed Geese flew over as I walked back to have another look of the ponds, concentrating on the most likely Kingfisher perches. Needless to say, this proved fruitless. I followed the Burn eastwards but birds were in relatively short supply other than the occasional Tit flock feeding in the trees along the banks. A Pied Wagtail was heard near Finlathern Park and a Sparrowhawk appeared from the Fintry Gardens area, its presence advertised by the local corvids and gulls. The rest of the walk through Finlathen Park was very disappointing with not even a Dipper to provide a distraction, though I did briefly stop to film a trio of Long Tailed Tits with my phone. It was a similar story on the stretch from Pitkerro Road to Drumgeith Road with birds in very short supply.

Thankfully, things picked up along the next section of the walk. Though some of the football pitches were in use there were a good number of Common Gulls, Black Headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Woodpigeons and Oystercatchers on the quieter ones further east. Another Sparrowhawk was added overhead. The area where I have had Water Rail in the past seemed to have largely dried out and I failed to add anything else there. Dippers provided the main interest along the next mile or so, with singing birds and pairs both easily found. At least another 3 or 4 of these birds were colour ringed, with another only having a metal ring and another 2 being ring-free.

The stretch of the Burn beyond Sainsbury's held a few Mallard and a single Goosander. The fields beyond had a large flock of Oystercatchers feeding and I spooked a Grey Heron from the opposite bank. A Buzzard was chased by a couple of Carrion Crows and yet another Sparrowhawk appeared overhead shortly afterwards. I added a pair of Goldcrests to the list as I walked back along the same route to Drumgeith Road. At one point, there was even a little piece of blue sky visible but it vanished again within a minute or two. I weighed up my options having failed to add Kingfisher along the Burn, which wasn't overly unexpected given that it was quite windy.

I decided I would route through Eastern Cemetery in the hope that there might be a lone Fieldfare in there somewhere. There wasn't - or if there was, I didn't see or hear it. There seemed to be very few birds bar a few Carrion Crows and Woodpigeons. I did add a Grey Squirrel though. My next choice was between Baxter Park or Swannie Ponds for my final stop on my last leg homewards. I chose the former though I didn't think there was much likelihood of adding anything at either place. It was all very typical at the ponds though I did manage to photograph a Norwegian ringed Black Headed Gull (white JMK7) which is a regular wintering bird. A yellow ringed bird moved a bit fast to confirm but appeared to be 2CA6 - another regular. A very streaky headed Herring Gull was photographed and perhaps has some potential to be an American Herring Gull but will need much better views, especially of the open wing - so will no doubt vanish before I get the chance for a better look.

I made it home before the rain arrived and conditions even brightened up substantially once that had passed though the rain returned overnight to make Sunday a write-off for birding, as had been expected. Although I failed to add anything new for the year or Dundee list, among the 37 species noted, it was still a worthwhile exercise. The number of Dippers seen in particular seemed worthy of mention and the population on the Dighty does appear to be quite good. At some point soon I hope the almost constant strong winds which have been a feature of the start to 2022 will finally drop away, and hopefully provide better conditions for finding Kingfisher in Dundee. When it does I have at least another similar walk to look forward to, at some point over the coming weeks and months. With a bit of luck, it will produce a Kingfisher, and maybe something else of note. Here's hoping....

Goosander
Dipper
Snipe
Snipe
Snipe
Snipe
Pink Footed Goose
Snipe
Roe Deer
Siskin
Long Tailed Tit
Dipper
Dipper
Dipper
Dipper
Dipper
Carrion Crow & Buzzard
Grey Heron
Grey Heron
Dipper
Goosander
Starling
Oystercatcher
Sparrowhawk
Dipper
Dipper
Grey Heron
Roe Deer
Black Headed Gull (white JMK7)
Goosander
Goosander
Black Headed Gull
Black Headed Gull (yellow 2CA6?)
Goosander (& Herring Gull)
Mute Swan
Mute Swan
Black Headed Gull
Goosander
Goosander & Tufted Duck
Herring Gull
Herring Gull

Birds - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Coot, Dipper, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Siskin, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Mammals - Grey Squirrel, Roe Deer.

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