Tuesday, 1 March 2022

0944 : Down The Dighty, Up The Tay. (27/2/22)

The weather forecast for Sunday was much more promising than Saturday's had been. Having failed to get out of bed early enough on Saturday I wanted to ensure that I didn't repeat the feat on Sunday. With Kingfisher very much my main target for the day, I suspected my best bet would be to get to the stretch of the Dighty Burn where Lainy had recently photographed one as early as possible, before too many dog walkers were out and about. I had decided to further investigate the stretch between West Pitkerro industrial estate and Linlathen Road before continuing on to the eastern extremes of the city and following the Dighty Burn down to where it meets the Tay estuary at Balmossie, then I would follow the river back to City Quay and then home, no doubt rather tired but hopefully happy with the return for my efforts.

Kingfisher

When the alarm went off I'd only had around 4.5 hours sleep and I was struggling to get out of bed. I dozed off again. Thankfully I managed to wake up again after another 30 minutes or so of sleep. I got up and organised and was out around 0715 just as the sun was clearing the horizon. Although the sky was cloudless it didn't feel particularly chilly and thankfully there was no sign of any frost. A Blue Tit was first onto the day's list followed by House Sparrow and Herring Gull as I headed up Court Street. Magpie, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Oystercatcher, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Blackbird and Starling were also noted before I reached Clepington Road. Jackdaw, Song Thrush and Collared Dove made it onto the list before I reached Swannie Ponds.

I didn't linger at the ponds but managed to get the usual suspects with Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goosnader, Coot and Moorhen all seen. Only a Robin was added between there and the Dighty Burn where I arrived a little more than 30 minutes or so after leaving the house. The initial stretch from Drumgeith Road past the football pitches proved to be rather quiet with only Long Tailed Tit and Wren recorded before I spotted a Roe Deer across the other side of the burn where I'd seen them previously. The reedy area seemed relatively dry compared with earlier in the year but thankfully a bird I suspected I might see there was around and posing nicely in the sun. My first Dundee Reed Bunting of 2022.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker called loudly from the top of a relatively small tree but it flew off when I drew level with the tree. A Pheasant called from the other side of the burn. As I walked along the slightly raised banking near where I'd met Lainy the previous week, I heard what sounded like a Kingfisher calling. It also sounded like it was headed my way. Rather than lift the camera, I waited to see if I could spot the bird. It flew past me heading upstream showing nicely in the early morning sunshine. My second Dundee 140 list bird of the day and it was still rather early.

Grey Heron and Buzzard were both noted along with Chaffinch and Goldcrest before I spotted a Grey Squirrel running into the trees on the opposite side of the footpath. As I searched around below the trees I heard the distinctive call of Whooper Swans. I made my way quickly back to the path just in time to see a flock of around 20 birds head over rather low in a northwesterly direction. The swans were a rather nice surprise and it appeared that my luck was most definitely in. A pair of Dippers were spotted on the burn with at least one of the birds carrying nesting material. There was a bit of territorial dispute between another few individuals down towards the junctions of the two burns by the road.

I found another prospecting pair of Dippers on the stretch beyond the dual carriageway, as well as a pair of feeding Bullfinches. The trees behind the industrial estate were very quiet though I added Great Tit at the end of the road. Another Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the trees there with a short burst of drumming heard as well as a few 'chink' calls. Out in the sheep field I could see Oystercatchers and Curlews once again. A Pied Wagtail flew past before I set off along the side of the field to investigate the grassy field to the south. Thankfully the small fence at the end was easily negotiated. I decided to follow the line of the wall eastwards rather than head down to the burn.

What appeared to be a dead and largely eaten sheep carcase was being tucked into by a pair of Great Black Backed Gull and some Carrion Crows while other sheep lay around seemingly unconcerned nearby. A Buzzard winged its way over pursued by more crows. A pair of Skylarks dropped into the field after a brief spot of song-flight. I could hear a Yellowhammer singing but failed to see the bird. I spooked a flock of Redwings from the corner of the sheep field but unfortuantely there were no Fieldfares with them. I crossed the small bridge over the burn and continued up the track past the side of the houses. A Coal Tit was noted in the trees but things were relatively quiet.

I crossed the dual carriageway and headed along Balgillo Road to rejoin the Dighty Burn. It is a long time since I'd been in the area around the Seven Arches bridge and things have changed massively in that time. I stumbled upon what appeared to be the beginnings of a Heronry with 2 birds present on a nest and 2 others spooked from the trees. Continuing on I found a single Rook in a tree with a Greenfinch loitering in the treetops opposite with a few Starlings. A Long Tailed Tit posed nicely in the sunshine. The first of a few wrong decisions saw me follow the burn a bit too closely as it passed below the Seven Arches. A few fallen trees made things slightly tricky but I did have brief views of a Treecreeper.

Unfotunately I then had to double back on myself. The water from the burn had filled the section on the landward side at the end of the long spit I was on. The water was too deep to paddle across the short distance and the launch area for any jump attempt was soft squidgy mud. Carrying the gear I was meant any attempt at a jump was doomed to fail so back I went. A Grey Wagtail gave me good views on the track ahead of me back on the route I should have stayed on below the bridge. Staying on the Dundee side of the burn meant another long way round moment when I found what had appeared to be a short stretch of path to the main road on Google Maps was now blocked by a fence. The detour required was around 0.4 miles that I could have done without. I did add a Goldfinch to the list though.

The tide was almost all the way in when I crossed the footbridge over the railway line at Balmossie around 15 minutes later. There were a few Redshanks and Turnstones already on the concrete outflow at the burn mouth. A small flock of Wigeon were close in to shore. Scanning further out added Eider and a trio of Goldeneye were actively fishing among the breaking waves at the mouth of the burn. A pair of Rock Pipits flew past, as did another Grey Wagtail. Scanning out over the river only produced a distant Cormorant. There was little point in hanging around so around 1100 I headed westwards. As it was a lovely sunny morning there were lots of walkers around.

I checked out the nature reserve adding Stock Dove to the list there. There were a few birds around but overall it was very quiet. A passing dog walker asked me a bit about wildlife photography and what was likely to be seen around the reserve. I then had another quick look at the river but failed to see anything I hadn't already seen. The beach was really busy with lots of people on what was left of the sand. Continuing on I found the stretch from the car park to the Castle fenced off. I wandered along the beach and round to the other side of the Castle. Unfortunately, the road from the Castle along the side of the harbour was all fenced off so another detour was required though thankfully much shorter than the previous ones.

I stopped to photograph Turnstones and gulls near the pier just east of the lifeboat shed. I had a seat for a few minutes and while checking out a distant aircraft I spotted a distant bird crossing the river at height. For a second I thought it might be the White Tailed Eagle but photos showed it to be a corvid. A very heavy front ended corvid at that, a Raven, which was yet another new bird for my Dundee 2022 list. The walk back along the waterfront to the Stannergate was mostly birdless though I did find a pair of Ringed Plover on the pebbles near the sailing club sheds, along with a few more Turnstones. Common Gulls and Black Headed Gulls were photographed as they flew along a few feet beyond the railings as I neared the Stannergate. A single Grey Seal and a pair of Cormorants were seen in the lee of the docks. A few Rabbits were in their usual spots near the large storage tank. A male Bullfinch and a flock of Goldfinches were in the bushes nest to the buildings being refurbished at the end of the road near the railway line. I spent a bit of time photographing the Bullfinch in the sunshine.

A Rabbit lazed in the sunshine on the slope just behind the fence near the beginning of the cycle path behind the docks. The walk to City Quay was also relatively short on birds though a Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were both seen circling over the trees to the north a few minutes apart. Things were very quiet at City Quay though I did eventually find a pair of Cormorants and an Oystercatcher loafing around on one of the pontoons near the lightship in Victoria Dock. I then rather wearily trudged up the hill homewards having recorded a total of 60 species of which 3 were new for my Dundee 2022 list, 1 of which (in bold) was also a year-tick. I had also taken around 700 photos, a lot of which I was quite happy with. I had walked just short of 15 miles in all but had once again really enjoyed the birding in very nice, almost Spring-like conditions. They made a pleasant change from the plethora of grey and windy days we've had in 2022 so far.

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Grey Heron
Grey Heron
Wren
Goldcrest
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan
Kingfisher
Kingfisher
Dipper
Song Thrush
Dipper
Carrion Crow
Buzzard
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Dipper
Dipper
Song Thrush
Roe Deer
Roe Deer
Curlew & Oystercatcher
Great Black Backed Gull & Carrion Crow
Skylark
Common Gull
Common Gull
Redwing
Wren
Redwing
Blackbird
House Sparrow
Grey Heron
Grey Heron
Long Tailed Tit
Long Tailed Tit
Starling & Greenfinch
Great Tit
Treecreeper
Grey Wagtail
Goldfinch
Goldeneye
Wigeon
Bullfinch
Coal Tit
Magpie
Oystercatcher
Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit
Eider
Turnstone
Starling
Herring Gull
Raven
Turnstone
Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover
Turnstone
Turnstone
Common Gull
Common Gull
Common Gull
Black Headed Gull
Carrion Crow
Common Gull
Common Gull
Black Headed Gull
Grey Seal
Rabbit
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Oystercatcher
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Oystercatcher
Rabbit
Sparrowhawk
Pied Wagtail
Cormorant
Cormorant
Oystercatcher
Cormorant

Birds - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dipper, Dunnock, Eider, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Ringed Plover, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Rook, Skylark, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Treecreeper, Tufted Duck, Turnstone, Whooper Swan, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.

Mammals - Grey Seal, Grey Squirrel, Rabbit, Roe Deer.

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