Friday, 4 March 2022

0946 : Early Start At The Park. (1/3/22)

Having had a rather disapointing few hours at Camperdown Park on Monday afternoon I decided that I would make the effort to get up early and to be at Riverside Nature Park for sunrise on Tuesday. As anyone who reads this blog regularly will likely know things don't always go to plan but with a very decent weather forecast for Tuesday with blue skies and little wind I really wanted to get to the park as early as I could. Ian Ford had let me know that a Sanderling had apparently been seen at Kingoodie and as it is a bird that wouldn't normally venture so far upriver we were hoping to get it onto the park list. With a rather large high tide around 1400 or so, I knew I would need to hang around until sometime after noon in the hope of picking out the bird if it was indeed still around. I packed my small collapsible scope just in case.

Skylark

When the alarm went off at 0500 I actually managed to get out of bed and got organised to head out for around 0600. Sunrise was around 0705, so I knew I would have to make good time to get to the park on time. I headed out into the pre-dawn gloom. The clear sky meant it was possible to make out birds. Blackbird, Robin and Herring Gull were not unusually the first birds onto the day's list. It took a while before others were added with Carrion Crow, Dunnock and Wren noted around Byron Street. Coal Tit was seen around Logie Street. House Sparrow and Woodpigeon were in their usual spots on Ancrum Road. Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Song Thrush and Goldcrest were all rather vocal and obvious within Balgay Cemetery.

Oystercatchers were heard from the direction of Ninewells Hospital and what was surprisingly the first Magpie of the day was seen in a garden on Glamis Road. Greenfinch was heard calling from trees further down the hill and a Feral Pigeon flew over Perth Road from the Botanic Gardens area. Siskins were added as I walked out along Riverside Avenue towards the park. A Cormorant was spotted well out on the river and a distant skein of Pink Footed Geese were seen off to the west. It was just before 0705 when I made it to the park, more or less on time. It was a lovely morning, with a clear blue sky, a bit of frost on the grass and not much wind.

Wren, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Redwing, Carrion Crow, Herring Gull, Song Thrush and Goldfinch made for a rather busy start to my park visit with bird song and calls seemingly all around. I set my small recorder going so that I could listen back to hear what I might have missed among the dawn chorus. Greenfinch and Magpie were next before a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen as I checked out a distant Pink Footed Geese skein heding north. A pair of Cormorants overflew eastwards. The first Skylark of the day dropped out of the sky and landed just beyond where I was stood out in front of Buzzard Wood. The formerly rather boggy area is almost completely dried out these days so it was a big surprise to flush a Common Snipe from the corner just beyond the Bullrushes.

The first Feral Pigeons were noted overflying and the Peregrine was rather obvious perched on the sunny side of the Ninewells chimney. Another dog gave me a bit of unwanted attention and I had to call to the owner who was too busy looking at his phone to see what his dog was doing (like so many these days, is it any wonder that walking anywhere dogs are regularly exercised requires constant checking of the ground ahead?) to ask him to get his dog, which he did, (and a lot quicker than the owner from Camperdown the previous day). He said he hadn't seen me, which wasn't a surprise as he did not once look at where his dog was or what it was doing until I shouted across to him.

Around the north side of Buzzard Wood I added Blackbird and a Grey Squirrel. A flock of Siskins were heard before I spotted a Bullfinch overflying. The first Long Tailed Tits of the morning were next onto the list. A small flock of Starlings overflew as I wandered up to the top half of the park. A distant Sparrowhawk appeared to be hunting to the west of the hill. A male Yellowhammer was singing from one of the bushes in the composting area. As I wandered round towards the bay, a few Goldfinches in a small tree caught my eye. With them was my first Lesser Redpoll of the year which showed nicely in the early morning sunshine. A Song Thrush sang loudly from the bushes opposite while Skylarks joined the chorus of birdsong as they ascended skywards above the hill.

The tide was well out but it was relatively easy to see Teal, Redshank, Curlew, Dunlin, and Oystercatcher down in the bay. Further scanning added Greylags across the other side of the bay as well as Black Headed Gull and Lesser Black Backed Gull. A Linnet flew past and was probably the bird I found a little later singing from the bushes to the north of the composting toilet. A distant drake Goosander could be seen sleeping in a small bay out at the edge of the mud. A Common Gull flew in to bathe in the burn outflow. Towards Kingoodie I could see a Great Black Backed Gull. There were a few Grey Seals out on the sand banks well out in the river.

Surprisingly the first Robin at the park took almost 2 hours to see, though later in the morning I watched as a male displayed to a female. Tail cocked upwards and breast fluffed out, the bird turned to the left and bowed, before turning to the right and bowing forward again. It repeated this while twittering away quietly as I watched from close by. I don't recall having seen this displaying behaviour before so it was interesting to watch. A Jackdaw flew over and more scanning out across the bay and the river gave me Mallard and Grey Heron. A Reed Bunting flew past and a Goldcrest was watched feeding in the bushes as I wandered anti-clockwise around towards the Lochan. A Long Tailed Tit pair were also nearby.

The Mute Swans and Moorhen pairs were both at the Lochan. A Rabbit showing signs of possible Myxomatosis was on the path towards the hide and after a fruitless visit to the hide I decided to pop up the hill to watch the tide coming in. There was plenty to see with lots of movements around the hill top including numerous Skylarks, some giving very close views and Yellowhammers foraging or singing. The Song Thrush continued to sing nearby and waders and gulls flew into and out of the bay. The first Buzzard of the day was seen towards the Hospital and a Stock Dove was spotted in flight well to the north.

By about noon the tide looked like it was just about far enough in that I would be able to scan through the waders from the hide, so off I went. It was mostly Redshank and Dunlin that I could see as well as some of the gulls but I focussed on checking through the waders carefully. I couldn't see anything resembling the hoped for Sanderling nor even any Godwits of either species. I had hoped there might be a chance of a Lapwing but there were none to be seen. A train went past resulting in a change of position for some of the birds. Among the Dunlin near the pipe I spotted a bird that looked different. It was shorter billed like a Sanderling, but it appeared well marked on the back. It also appeared to be a bit smaller than the Dunlin, ruling out Sanderling. It either had to be a Little Stint or one of the American 'peeps' but the light and distance weren't making it easy to get good views.

It didn't help that I hadn't notice there was a large smudge on the lens of my camera meaning that I wasn't getting sharp photos of anything within the area covered by this smudge. Only later at home did I realise the reason for so many 'bad' photos. However, there appeared to be enough detail to confirm the somewhat unusual occurence of an early 'Spring' Little Stint. Certainly not a bird I was expecting to see at this time of year and one that is far from guaranteed to get on my Dundee list in any particular year. Whether or not this bird was the reported Sanderling or not, I couldn't say one way or another, though apparently it took some time to decide on Sanderling as the ID for that particular bird which does seem a bit odd for what is usually a fairly easy to ID wader, even one out of context.

Once the combination of tide and passing trains had moved on most of the remaining waders a Pied Wagtail showed briefly on the pipe. Heading back through the park a Rook dropped in onto the hill. Having been at the park since 0700 I decided I was unlikely to add anything much else and headed in the general direction of the exit, though it was a slow and meandering journey to get there. Just as I was heading out of the park a small bird flew over towards Buzzard Wood, so I grabbed a photo or two which showed it to be a Coal Tit, a bird I hadn't already seen at the park that morning. A nice way to round things off. I debated my choice of route home, eventually settling for heading up to Balgay Hill to see if I could see anything of interest up there.

Goldfinch and Blue Tit were noted on the walk back along parallel to the railway line. I stopped for a seat at the top of the stairs by the bridge over the railway line and had just put my camera away when a Lesser Black Backed Gull decided to circle around above me. At Balgay Hill I had fleeting views of a rather camera shy Jay that flew off to the next tree everytime I raised my camera. A Nuthatch worked its way down the hill towards the eastern end and as I headed down the hill I stopped to photograph a Buzzard perched high in the tree above me. It seemed remarkably unconcerned until a Magpie flew in to harass it at which point it flew off.

As I neared the gate at the top end of Scott Street I was surprised to hear the Nuthatch calling from one of the trees along the edge of the park. I managed to see the bird eventually but it then flew off again in the general direction of the tennis courts. Thankfully it called again and I was able to find it as it foraged around among the still bare branches. I wasnt the only one who had heard the bird calling and I was joined by Keith Edwards who was as surprised as me to see the bird so far out from the hill. At one point the bird even flew across the road to a tree on the opposite side. It eventually started to head back towards the hill. Keith was heading to the Law to look for early butterflies and as I was heading in that general direction I joined him for the search.

Jackdaw, Starling and Long Tailed Tit were noted on the walk to the Law. A Buzzard circled above the hill. Although we failed to find any butterflies we did see a few bees on the lower slopes before we headed up to the top of the hill. A queen Tree Bumblebee was seen in front of the walled viewing area at the front of the hill. After a bit more searching and chatting we called it a day and headed in opposite directions homewards. I arrived home around 20 minutes short of 10 hours on from when I'd headed out in the morning. I'd seen or heard a total of 57 species of which 2 (in bold) were both new for the year and for my Dundee 140 list. All in all, another very good day out birding with lots of decent photos taken in great light (as well as lots of not very good ones of the Stint). Hopefully it won't be too long now until the Spring migrants start to arrive and the list can gather pace towards getting through the 100 mark.....

Cormorant
Skylark
Skylark
Skylark
Pink Footed Goose
Magpie
Peregrine
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Blackbird
Sparrowhawk
Song Thrush
Lesser Redpoll
Lesser Redpoll
Lesser Redpoll
Lesser Redpoll
Wren
Curlew
Dunlin & Redshank
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Black Headed Gull
Cormorant
Goosander & Herring Gull
Skylark
Common Gull
Linnet
Redwing
Yellowhammer
Yellowhammer
Skylark
Skylark
Grey Heron
Magpie
Skylark
Dunnock
Robin
Robin
Robin
Robin
Robin
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Bullfinch
Goldcrest
Mute Swan
Moorhen
Moorhen
Oystercatcher
Oystercatcher
Rabbit
Pink Footed Goose
Oystercatcher
Magpie
Greylag Goose
Redshank & Dunlin
Skylark
Skylark
Skylark
Curlew
Skylark
Carrion Crow & Buzzard
Dunlin & Little Stint
Little Stint
Little Stint
Little Stint
Dunlin & Little Stint
Dunlin & Little Stint
Dunlin & Little Stint
Jackdaw
Reed Bunting
Rook
Reed Bunting
Teal
Moorhen
Coal Tit
Chaffinch
Chaffinch
Nuthatch
Nuthatch
Nuthatch
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Robin
Nuthatch

Birds (outwith Riverside Nature Park) - Blackbird, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Cormorant, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Nuthatch, Oystercatcher, Pink Footed Goose, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Siskin, Song Thrush, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren.

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

Mammals (at Riverside Nature Park) - Grey Seal, Grey Squirrel, Rabbit.

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