Friday, 27 May 2022

0981 : Spring Into Summer.


The last time I posted a round-up of sightings from my walks to and from work was way back in early April when migration was just beginning to pick up and there was still plenty of birdsong providing a soundtrack to my morning commute on foot. In the intervening period things have quietened down a bit on the birdsong front though there are still some birds to be heard (and to test the Merlin app sound ID feature's abilities on). Although there is still a very slim chance of stumbling upon an off-course late migrant, for me once the Swifts arrive back then it is officially Summer....and when they leave again in early August that's when Autumn officially starts for me....but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.....

On Monday April the 11th I managed a total of 28 species including Grey Wagtail, Jay and Meadow Pipit as well as Stock Dove and Nuthatch both near nest sites. The following day's highlights were the Nuthatch and Stock Dove again among a relatively low 23 species. Collared Dove, Meadow Pipit, Nuthatch and Peregrine were the best birds on Thursday 14th from a total of 27 species. Friday the 15th was quite productive with a good total of 31 species noted including Bullfinch, Collared Dove and some unexpected Greylag Geese, as well as Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, Siskin, Sparrowhawk and Stock Dove.

The following Monday proved to be even better with 33 species seen or heard including a much anticipated new addition to the 'on foot commute' list. Buzzard, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, Siskin,  Sparrowhawk and Stock Dove were the best of the rest but the star bird for the day was a Grey Heron which overflew on its way towards Invergowrie Bay around 0720. Oddly, I had just thought about the species when I heard crows and gulls making a bit of a racket to the north as they mobbed a lone Grey Heron heading in my direction. The following day's 32 was also a good total with a broadly similar selection but adding Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Peregrine and Treecreeper while losing both the Heron and the Sparrowhawk.

Thursday the 24th only produced 27 species with another overflight by the Grey Heron, again from the north at more or less the same time as Monday. In addition Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Stock Dove were heard or seen around Balgay Hill. Jay, Peregrine, Pied Wagtail and Stock Dove rounded off the week as part of another 27 on Friday the 22nd. The following Monday I only made it to 24 species with Nuthatch, Bullfinch and Collared Dove the main attractions. Collared Dove and Stock Dove were the best among 25 species on Tuesday the 26th. I was then on annual leave from work until Thursday the 5th of May in the hope of adding some new birds to my Dundee 140 list.

I started May's walk to work lists with a decent haul of 31 species. Bullfinch, both Grey and Pied Wagtails, Siskin, Swallow, Sparrowhawk and Willow Warbler were the pick of that particular bunch. There was slightly less variety among the 27 species noted the following day with Buzzard, Siskin and Swallow the most notable species recorded. The total for Monday the 9th crept back up again to a nice round 30 species of which Bullfinch, Peregrine, Siskin, Stock Dove and Treecreeper were the stars. The following day however the numbers dropped back to just 23. I left work about 15 minutes early to be able to catch the post office where I had a parcel to collect. Although that meant I got caught in a heavy shower of rain, it did bring me my first Swifts (109 for my Dundee 140 list) of the year as I spotted 3 together not far from work. Bullfinch, Nuthatch and Pied Wagtail were the best of the rest on that particular day.

Thankfully, numbers for Thursday the 12th made it to a slightly more respectable 28 species including Bullfinch, Collared Dove, Jay, Peregrine and Stock Dove. Peregrine, Siskin, Swift and Treecreeper were the most worthy of mention amongst the 27 species recorded on Friday the 13th. I had another week's worth of annual leave to try to add more species to my Dundee 140 list before returning to work on Monday the 23rd when 26 species were seen or heard of which Jay, Pied Wagtail and Swift were all notable. Tuesday the 24th produced 26 species for the second day in a row though highlights were rather limited with Bullfinch and Stock Dove the best I could manage. Swallow and Pied Wagtail were the best among another low total of just 23 species on Thursday the 26th of May. Friday the 27th's main highlights were Buzzard, a rather showy Jay which was being filmed by a lady using her phone, and a Swallow near Tannadice Park among a total of 23 species.

In addition to the above species, both Chiffchaff and Blackcap were regularly seen or more often heard. Sightings of Grey Squirrels at Balgay Hill were also fairly regular during the period covered in this post. The Merlin app sound ID feature was extensively tested over the past few weeks. Although it did throw up some anomalies it did turn out to be surprisingly effective at ID-ing bird calls and songs, though it was certainly better with birds which were closer to the microphone on the phone. It highlights the birds which are singing or calling in real-time which can be helpful for learning the songs and calls. As the app is free and fairly comprehensive with regards species coverage it is well worth installing on a phone - though being aware that it is not infallible, or 100% accurate should make it easier to spot the 'should that really be in there?' moments when they arise.

During the time-span covered in this post I managed to record a total of 47 species (including 1 year-tick, in bold) while walking to and from work. Things will now start to tail off again over the next month or so, but the gulls will start to return to the football pitches soon enough and newly fledged youngsters will also begin to be seen more often (family groups of Blackbirds and Starlings have been noted recently). With the Summer equinox less than a month away, it won't be too long before the first of the failed breeders etc begin to move through again on their way back south. Hopefully, I will manage to pick up a few of these while on my way to work, to add to my Dundee 140 target. Time, as always, will tell. All photos used here are recent though none are actually from my commute.

Stock Dove
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
House Sparrow
Lesser Black Backed Gull

Birds - Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Swift, Treecreeper, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren.

Butterflies - Peacock.

Mammals - Grey Squirrel.

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