Tuesday, 22 March 2022

0952 : Over The River (19/3/22)

Greylag Goose

Ian got in touch last midweek to see if I fancied a trip to Fife on Saturday. There hadn't been too many birds of particular interest around though that was to change before the weekend arrived. An Avocet at the Eden Estuary turned up on Thursday and with a Garganey at Cameron Reservoir we had a couple of target birds to attempt to see. Having only visited Fife once so far in 2022 it was also likely I would be able to add a few more common birds to my year-list, even if we didn't manage to catch up with either the Garganey or the Avocet, or even find anything unusual for ourselves. Ian arranged to pick me up at 0730. The weather forecast was relatively good so fingers were crossed for a successful day's birding.

We set off for Fife at 0730 as planned, arriving at Guardbridge around 15 minutes or so later. We spent the next hour and a bit scanning from outside the hide. The early morning sun made things a little bit tricky but there was plenty of variety to be had out across the estuary. Unlike Invergowrie Bay, there were plenty of Shelduck around. There were also 2 or 3 Little Egrets dotted around and a few Lapwings. There was a flock of Whooper Swans sleeping out on the mud with a few Pink Footed Geese. Ian spotted an Otter near the bend where the Motray meets the Eden and we watched it swim closer. Despite us being stood beside the hide and in full view the Otter left the water below us and disappeared out of sight. A nice way to start the day.

Pink Footed Goose
Great Black Backed Gull
Mallard & Herring Gull

Tree Sparrows were in the trees behind us and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard along with a Chiffchaff from somewhere across the river. A Meadow Pipit and a Grey Wagtail both flew past. Ian found a Goosander in a small channel to the north before we decided that we appeared to be out of luck with the Avocet which was nowhere to be seen. We headed for Cameron Reservoir next via a rather circuitous route due to a road closure. Stock Dove, Jay and a flyover Raven were seen on the way there. The car park at Cameron was rather busy but we managed to squeeze the car in. We then scanned from the eastern end path picking out the male Smew we'd had difficulty with back in early January. Little Grebe, Wigeon, Cormorant, Coot, Teal and Mallard were easy enough to see but there seemed to be no sign of the Garganey.

I wandered down to the southeastern end of the path and scanned from there, hoping to be able to see parts of the north shore that weren't visible from further along the path. I suspected that despite the Garganey having been found with Tufted Ducks it was probably more likely to be spending its time with Teal. I found a small group of Teal on the north side in a small bay. A few seconds later the light caught the white supercilium of the Garganey among them. I shouted to Ian who was around the halfway spot on the path and he hurried along to join me. It didn't take long to get him onto the bird and although the views were distant they were good enough for us. We decided to head for Largo Bay next to try for Slavonian Grebe. 

Garganey, Teal, Wigeon and Tufted Duck
Mute Swan

We parked at the Temple car park in Lower Largo and scanned out over the Forth. There were plenty of birds around - a few Red Throated Divers, a pair of Guillemots, a number of Razorbills, lots of Eider and Red Breasted Mergansers. Ian managed to find a Slavonian Grebe and I managed to find what was likely a second bird. There were a few Gannets passing and a couple of Long Tailed Ducks were seen a bit further out. A Sparrowhawk drifted over the car park before we headed for the mouth of the river at Leven where a Red Necked Grebe had been seen earlier in the morning. Shag and Common Scoter were seen from there but there was no sign of any Grebes. The local Starlings did pose nicely for photographs tough at times they were too close for the DSLR.


We headed along to Buckhaven in the hope of getting a Mediterranean Gull or two there. There were more Common Scoters and Gannets seen from the small car park as well as most of the other species we'd already seen out on the Forth. I spotted a gull that looked interesting but when I checked the photo on the back of the camera I dismissed it as a Common Gull. Only later at home did I discover that it was actually the hoped for Mediterranean Gull, as I'd suspected when I'd taken the photo. A Little Gull had been reported at Kilconquhar Loch so we decided to try there next.

Mediterranean Gull

It proved relatively easy to find the Little Gull at Kilconquhar as it hawked over the Loch. The black underwings and rounded wingtips helping to pick it out. There were also a few Great Crested Grebes there as well as a few Moorhens. Collared Dove and a trio of Snipe were seen at a rather muddy Barnyards Marsh. Weighing up our options we decided to try the Ladybank area. A Green Winged Teal had been seen recently at The Wilderness though the reports had dried up recently. Nothing ventured, nothing gained so off we went, arriving there around 40 minutes later. The vegetation made viewing difficult from the wall but we were able to see some birds including a Pintail pair and some Gadwall. Needless to say there was no sign of any Green Winged Teal.


We tried Angle Park next where there were more Gadwall but no Shoveler. Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting were spotted around the animal pens by the road. Letham Pools was our next stop and as we arrived we could see there was a large flock of Pink Footed Geese on the eastern side as well as a smallish group of Whooper Swans on the water. We kept our distance and scanned through the birds from well back from the water. I stumbled upon the black marked belly of what had to be a preening White Fronted Goose and when it raised its head I was able to confirm the ID. Shortly after that the bird took flight along with the closest birds, following on from a previous group that had flown in the direction of the fields to the southeast. Eventually the bulk of the flock had flown off with them and the Whooper Swans had also set off. One of the Whoopers had a strangely kinked neck. We drove the short distance to the pools and scanned again.

There were lots of Gadwall around on both pools but yet again there were no Shoveler, nor Pochard to be found. We called it a day around 1650 and headed back towards Dundee. The flooded fields at Luthrie however caught our attention and we stopped there for a look. There were hundreds of Wigeon and a nice mix of other birds but we failed to add anything new. As we turned back out onto the main road I spotted what looked like it might have been Grey Partridges but they could easily have been something else entirely given how brief my view had been. I ended the day having seen or heard 87 species (Ian had seen 2 Canada Geese in a file near Drumoig that I missed due to the hedge along the field edge blocking my view) of which 8 (in bold) were new for my year-list (now on 121). All in all, another very good day's birding with Ian - even if the Avocet did reappear on Sunday at the Eden.

Whooper Swan

Gadwall & Teal
White Fronted Goose & Pink Footed Goose

Birds - Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Common Scoter, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Eider, Gadwall, Gannet, Garganey, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Guillemot, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Linnet, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Gull, Long Tailed Duck, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Mediterranean Gull, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Pintail, Raven, Razorbill, Red Breasted Merganser, Redshank, Red Throated Diver, Reed Bunting, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Rook, Shag, Shelduck, Siskin, Skylark, Slavonian Grebe, Smew, Snipe, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck, White Fronted Goose, Whooper Swan, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.

Mammals - Grey Seal, Otter, Roe Deer. 

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