Sunday, 6 March 2022

0947 : Watch The Skies (5/3/22)

Following on from Tuesday's successful visit to Riverside Nature Park where Lesser Redpoll and an out-of-season Little Stint were added, I was keen to get out birding at the weekend. The weather forecast for both Saturday and Sunday was remarkably good with sunshine and mostly clear skies predicted. The downside of those sorts of conditions is that everywhere is full of other people (and often dogs too). Trying to find somewhere to go that won't end up being too frustrating can be tricky. An early start can help but it doesn't take too long before people start to arrive. Having checked with Lainy earlier in the week and via my own records I was able to rule out a trip to Clatto Reservoir for Little and Great Crested Grebe. I decided that I would try something a bit different.

Peregrine

I headed out at around 1005 noting Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Starling and Herring Gull in my street. Magpie was added a little further on. Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch and Dunnock were around the Dens Road and Main Street junction. Blue Tit and Blackbird made it onto the list as I headed up Law Road towards the steps up Dundee Law. My plan for some relatively uninterrupted birding was to do some 'skywatching' from Dundee's highest point. Having done so in Autumn for migration movements I was curious as to what might be seen on a 'normal' day, and also a bit later than the early morning vis-mig times. I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary but I wanted to gauge what a 'normal' day was like for birds passing.

Things were rather quiet to start with. A heard-only Goldcrest singing was the only bird noted in the first 15 minutes. Then a Buzzard soaring well out to the west was the first of the morning. A Siskin was heard calling from the trees on the hillside. A Woodpigeon flew past eastwards. A Herring Gull circled overhead before I picked out a Sparrowhawk circling to the northeast. A large number of gulls were seen soaring up to the south though it was difficult to work out just how far south they actually were. A Buzzard was seen out to the west again around 1105 but continued towards the north, passing over the top of the hill around 5 minutes later. A very distant skein of probable Pink Footed Geese were seen heading north well out to the west. Once or twice I saw distant raptors that I couldn't conclusively identify though it is likely they were Buzzards.

Another Sparrowhawk sighting at 1121 resulted in the bird circling nearby before heading off to the west. Another Buzzard was picked up distantly to the northwest before another 3 were seen in the direction of Camperdown Park.  More geese could be seen out to the west and northwest in small skeins all heading roughly northwards. A very distant Buzzard was spotted off to the northeast at 1138, and another 3 were seen out to the west at 1141. Five minutes later another closer bird was seen again to the west. Another Buzzard drifted northwards from the south. A pair and a single relatively long winged Buzzard then drifted over the hilltop from the southwest. There was a spot of 'fighting' which may well have been displaying between two of the birds before I lost sight of all 3 high to the north.

Another Sparrowhawk was seen to the west of the hill as I was watching the passage of the Buzzard trio. Another 2 Buzzards were then seen out to the west over Balgay Hill. More geese continued to pass but always in relatively small sized groups. A Buzzard to the northeast and another to the west were next into the notebook where I was keeping times and directions. Around 1220 a Buzzard passed overhead heading west and another (or perhaps the same bird) was seen out to the west at 1228. A Goldfinch flew by at 1234. I happened to look up 5 minutes later and realised there was a Peregrine directly above me, and not too high either. I watched it circle over the top of the hill before it soared off towards the northeast.

Things got a bit quieter after that with a single Buzzard noted to the north at 1247. A Rook flew along the northeastern quarter of the hill at 1308 and a skein of Pink Footed Geese flew downriver before turning towards Fife around 1312. After 3 hours worth of skywatching I called it a day and headed for home adding Coal Tit, Long Tailed Tit and Wren on my way down from the hill. While there were no major surprises to be had from up on the hill, there was almost always something to see if often a bit distant. Buzzards not surprisingly were relatively numerous though it is impossible to say how many individual birds were seen. I suspect there were probably more than 7 or 8. There were both male and female Sparrowhawks seen and the Peregrine gave very good views. Despite only 23 species noted in total it felt like a worthwhile exercise and something I will probably attempt again as Spring migration gets underway, especially in decent soaring conditions.

Magpie
Carrion Crow
Buzzard
Sparrowhawk
Herring Gull
Buzzard
Feral Pigeon
Magpie
Pink Footed Goose (?)
Sparrowhawk (& Herring Gull)
Sparrowhawk
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Carrion Crow & Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Herring Gull
Buzzard
Pink Footed Goose
Buzzard
Goldfinch
Peregrine
Peregrine
Peregrine
Peregrine
Peregrine
Peregrine
Peregrine
Pergerine
Hoverfly sp.
Herring Gull
Rook
Pink Footed Goose

Birds - Blackbird, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Peregrine, Pink Footed Goose, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Siskin, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren.

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