Sunday, 13 March 2022

0949 : Grebe Expectations (12/3/22)

Lainy had messaged me earlier in the week to let me know that the Great Crested Grebe pair at Clatto reservoir had returned once again for the summer. Great Crested Grebe isn't a particularly difficult bird to catch up with in Angus or Fife but as Clatto is the only site in Dundee for them (though I did once see a bird on the Tay near the roadbridge in winter) I wanted to get them on the Dundee 140 list as soon as possible. Clatto is being increasingly used for watersports (canoeing etc) which means disturbance and potentially abandonment of the site is a possibility. The weekend weather forecast wasn't overly promising with showers forecast for most of Saturday. I decided that I would take the chance and attempt to get the birds on the list just in case despite the chance of getting wet.

Treecreeper

I headed out around 0950 into a rather dreich sort of day. It didn't look too promising for birding but as my only real target was the Grebes all I really had to do was get myself to Clatto, anything else would be a bonus. There was a slight chance of Chiffchaff as birds have been turning up already at various sites across Scotland. Woodpigeon, House Sparrow, Herring Gull and Magpie got the day's list started. A Grey Wagtail was a nice bonus near Tannadice Park (Dundee United's stadium). Carrion Crow, Starling, Blackbird and Dunnock were next as I headed to Clepington Road. Things slowed down from there on with Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Coal Tit added before I reached the edge of the city and the track into Clatto from the east.

A Song Thrush was singing loudly behind the houses and I found a tree with Bullfinches, a Yellowhammer and a Great Tit in it. A skein of Pink Footed Geese passed by. Further up the track I found a flock of around 25 Linnets perched on the wires running parallel with the track. Scanning over the fields to the north I added a Skylark. A male Reed Bunting showed nicely by the 'new' house and a pair of Siskins were in the top of a nearby tree. A Pheasant called loudly to the south but I failed to see it. I decided to cut down the track where I'd found Grasshopper Warbler last year in the hope of maybe finding a Chiffchaff there. A Buzzard was perched atop the power poles but it flew off when it saw me, though I did manage a few decent photos.

I failed to find a Chiffchaff and headed back down towards where I'd found the Linnet flock earlier. I retraced my steps back along the track which borders the building site for the new houses. Rather than continuing along past the 'new' house again I continued along the track through the trees to where Lainy and I had watched the Garden Warblers she'd found last year. A female Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in the trees before I stumbled upon a Treecreeper which showed nicely and allowed me to get some pretty good photos from just a metre or two away.

A Lesser Black Backed Gull flew over just after I'd photographed a Grey Wagtail on the muddy track to the east. I cut across the diagonal track towards the gate near the northeastern corner of the reservoir. A Goldfinch and a Wren were added before it began to rain. I sought shelter below the conifers inside the gate until the shower abated enough for me to venture out to check the reservoir. Goldeneye, Mute Swan, a single Moorhen, a few Coots and some Mallards could be seen out on the water. There were also Black Headed and Common Gulls plus Lesser Black Backed and Herring Gulls. I checked through them for something less common but had no luck.

The little 'beach' at the northwestern corner of the reservoir held 2 male Pied Wagtails and a pair of Oystercatchers as well as a small group of Carrion Crows. More scanning across the reservoir added Tufted Duck and Wigeon to the list as well as a Great Crested Grebe among the gulls. The second bird joined it shortly after before relocating to the eastern end of the water for a while. I decided to check the wood to the north though stupidly I'd chosen to leave the thermal imager at home. As it turned out I failed to add anything other than a Jay in the wood. There were two pairs of Robins by the 'Kingfisher' shed and another skein of Pink Footed Geese were seen to the north. A flock of around 20 or so Linnets - which may or may not have been the same birds as seen earlier, were feeding in the corner of the field on the west side of the wood but were rather flighty.

I then wandered round the reservoir towards the car park stopping to check the gulls which were coming to some food that had been put out. Among them I found the same red ringed Black Headed Gull I'd seen with Lainy a few weeks ago - red 2KN3, which was from a colony in Lanarkshire. I then checked some of the trees and bushes to the south before debating whether or not to check Templeton Woods. I did find a few Bullfinches but things were overall rather quiet. I heard a Curlew as I headed for the driveway back to the main road and spotted it high overhead. A few minutes later I heard a few more Curlew calls and spotted 3 of the birds going east.

I debated my options - check the Ardler Village pond, wander down to Trottick Ponds or head in the direction of home. I headed east but chose to head homewards from Strathmartine Road. I added Long Tailed Tits and Feral Pigeon to the list. When I reached Fairmuir Park I needed a rest as my legs were rather heavy so took a few minutes break on a bench. I pondered heading up Dundee Law to see if anything was flying around ( 2 Cranes had been seen in the morning over southern Fife, so there were migrants on the move). After some consideration I decided that going home made more sense. Surprisingly I'd managed to see (or hear) a total of 47 species with the target bird (number 89 for my Dundee 140 list) the pick of the bunch.

Dunnock
Yellowhammer
Great Tit
Pink Footed Goose
Linnet
Linnet
Linnet
Linnet
Linnet
Bullfinch
Reed Bunting
Bullfinch
Siskin
Great Tit
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Buzzard
Goldfinch
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Treecreeper
Treecreeper
Treecreeper
Treecreeper
Treecreeper
Treecreeper
Treecreeper
Treecreeper
Grey Wagtail
Song Thrush
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Pied Wagtail
Oystercatcher
Great Crested Grebe
Oystercatcher
Robin
Robin
Robin
Robin
Linnet
Great Crested Grebe
Wigeon
Moorhen, Common Gull & Black Headed Gull
Wigeon, Mallard & Coot
Tufted Duck
Moorhen
Black Headed Gull
Moorhen
Chaffinch
Common Gull & Black Headed Gull
Great Crested Grebe
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Mute Swan
Lesser Black Backed Gull & Black Headed Gull (red 2KN3)
Common Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Mallard
Common Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Song Thrush
Bullfinch
Blue Tit
Chaffinch
Curlew

Birds - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Coot, Curlew, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jay, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Reed Bunting, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Siskin, Skylark, Song Thrush, Starling, Treecreeper, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.

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