Sunday, April 30, 2006

It May get better!

Not at busy as it might have been today, but not a lot bird-wise either! Still 800+ Common Scoter offshore, and a few more Swallows around today, but no sign of any of the large numbers of White or Yellow Wagtails seen just down the coast in the last few days...

Never mind. May is imminent, often the best month of the year here. A good spring is marked by getting Garganey, Osprey, Wood Sandpiper and Marsh Harrier. Fingers crossed!

Rserve List: 133; Lothian Year List: 146

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Loch Leven - all in Vane?

An afternoon trip with my kids to Vane Farm RSPB - a nice Reserve, with a good selection of wildfowl to see, many close to the hides. The one drawback of taking a 7 year old boy into a hide is that he doesn't realise that farting loudly is not the done thing! Also, he did go on about being hungry the whole time..

Bird-wise, still lots of Pink-feet around, huge numbers of Tufted Duck as well as Gadwall, Shoveler, Great Crested Grebes and a good variety of other stuff. All this and in temperatures mild enough to be down to a T-shirt. Back to the grind, on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend tomorrow. Can't wait!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Justified and ancient...

42 today! Aaargh!

Very warm this morning, but not unpleasant, and although there was not much evidence of passage going on, a singing Lesser Whitethroat was a new arrival though it took a while to finally see it among the Sea Buckthorn. A Sedge Warbler, unfortunately, was less obliging.

Anyway enough of this. As a celebration of my advancing years, I'm off for a few beers....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A waste of time?

Spent most of today putting up a fence to prevent disturbance to any terns that may (but probably won't) nest. Even if they do there's a pretty good chance that they'll fail due to high tides/ sandblow/ food shortage/ fox predation/ crow predation/ kestrel predation/ egg collecting f*ckers/ human disturbance or possibly even loneliness. This has all happened in previous years...

Bird-wise, didn't really have time too see much today, not even the drake Ring-necked Duck down the coast at Seafield Pond (a good find for this area), but did actually see an overflying Tree Pipit today. 132 and counting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Swift Gropper!

Another day of strong westerly winds, though mild, but with a couple of heavy rain showers this morning. A brief pre-meeting visit to the Reserve was rewarded with a very fleeting glimpse of a Grasshopper Warbler, reeling away happily from the depths of a Hawthorn, then diving into a clump of reeds. This afternoon, a Swift flew west past the beach, making good headway into the gale!

A considerably better view than today's, but they all count!

So, despite less than ideal conditions, that's 10 new species in the last 3 days! Hopefully this will keep going for another week or so!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Ruff and the smooth

A strange day today! Heard a Whitethroat singing as soon as I got out the car, then saw a Whinchat and 16 Wheatears as the morning got warmer. Then, the wind got up and there was not much to be seen for the rest of the day, although I managed to avoid seeing a Tree Pipit & a Yellow Wagtail which did the usual fly-over-and-call-once thing!

Late afternoon and a smart summer-plumage Black-tailed Godwit and a moulting male Ruff had appeared. So 4 more year ticks. This is more like it!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunny Sundays

There used to be a character in "Viz" magazine called "The Parkie" (maybe there still is?). His catchphrase was along the lines of "I hate the b*****d sun 'cos all the b*****d scum come out". How true. Planes, microlites, helipcopters, dogs running about, folk wandering around disturbing innocent wildlife, and to cap it all, some arse who decided to drive his fancy pick-up onto the mudflats rather than walk the 100 yards to collect his kids...

Surprisingly, it was a pretty good day bird-wise. Finally got my first House Martin of the year, and a couple of Puffins offshore. Bizarrely, a few minutes later, a Little Auk flew past heading rapidly east. In a strong westerly at the end of April?? That would get thrown out by the rarities committee if it was on the list! This afternoon, a Little Tern appeared, fishing on the outgoing tide. Didn't get any last spring so that's a decent record. That's the Reserve list up to 125 now...


Saturday, April 22, 2006

So Swift I missed it!

Summer migrants continue to appear in a trickle, rather than the rush expected about now. Missed a Swift (early!) today, seen by a couple of folk in a group I was leading. Sometimes there's no justice! But definite visible migration today, with 1200+ Meadow Pipits W/hr as well as 30+ Swallows and 40+ Sand Martins.

A Tawny Owl flying through one of the small areas of woodland was an unexpected bonus and brings the Reserve list up to 121. 178 for the year is, however, looking decidedly optimistic!

Friday, April 21, 2006


Far too late in last night to write anything...

Yesterday, a bit more migration in evidence, with 18 Wheatears and a Common Tern (bringing the Reserve List up to 120). A light easterly wind for a change, but a bit wet in the afternoon. If this weather keeps up, we might finally get a few more arrivals eg. Whinchat, Redstart, Yellow Wagtail & Tree Pipit although the latter two usually just fly over, call once and are gone. A bit of luck may be needed to catch up with them!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Calm, warm and sunny...

... which must mean I was stuck in a meeting all morning. But at least there was cake!

This afternoon, pretty quiet - 1 Wheatear and a few Swallows were the only signs of migration, but it was very pleasant out there with a good flock of 77 Sanderling on the beach. Apart from the incessant buzz of overhead microlites. Do Scottish Natural Heritage grant-aid surface-to-air missiles??

"Noisy b******ds!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

All quiet on the Western Front

No dead Eiders today which is obviously good news. Not much else doing either though, with strong winds making seeing anything pretty tricky.

But on a more positive note, managed to get the Reserve strimmer working! Always a relief on the first attempt of the year.

This Eider's just about clinging on to life...

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's oh so quiet...

Strong westerly winds today, and not much to be seen. Just for a change. However, the second dead Eider here in two days, sent off for bird-flu testing is a bit of a worry. Probably won't find out result for a week though...

On an even more worrying note, it seems that a number of the local heavy birders are all going for a big Lothian list this year. This may threaten the Lothian record of 219 (which I hold!). Hope it's not too good a year then!!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Is this actually spring?

Another day of two halves! Out very early this morning in beautiful warm sunshine, lots singing (including my first Willow Warblers), a couple of Common Sandpipers, and a pleasure to be out. Then, the visitors began arriving...

Dogs running about, folk wandering through the middle of nesting Lapwings, low planes, even lower microlites and to cap it all, two escaped ponies apparently heading my way. Fortunately, they were caught before they got here!

So this afternoon was spent putting up a number of signs so that some of the more irresponsible members of our population don't cause too many problems. There also seemed to be a bit of migration going on, with 30+ Sand Martins and 11 Wheatears moving through. Hopefully things are starting to happen. Watch this space!

PS Missed another Osprey yesterday

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Swanning around

Another bird flu meeting. Dying swans that were actually just asleep on the nest. And so it goes on!

Not much moving today, other than Meadow Pipits, but 2 Rooks were the first for the Reserve this year!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dead ducks?

Got a call to go and check out two dead "ducks" incase they might be victims of THE FLU. They weren't. Nor were they ducks. In fact, a Guillemot and a Gannet...

Otherwise, 4 Sandwich Terns (at last), a Greenshank and a Snow Bunting (which I've missed a few of here this year) + a couple of Wheatears. Maybe migration has started at last?

Now on 115 for the Reserve this year.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Is anything still alive out there?

So, now we have to look out for sneezing, depressed, sniffly or dead birds. Already, the office has been inundated with phone calls, including reports of a dead pheasant on the road. Could this be a bird flu case? Bloody hell!!

It does appear that the disease has accounted for all summer migrants though. Not much doing today...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Up north

Just returned from a few days up on the west coast. Sometimes, you forget that this country is magnificient!

Ok, so the weather can be a bit dodgy, but a couple of days of good company, several beers and superb scenery is very uplifting. Didn't do a lot of birding due to persistent horizontal snow showers, but it's always good to see Black Guillemots & Ravens as well as see my first Greenshank of the year (11 of them in fact) at the head of a sea loch.


Back to reality with a bang though. Bird flu!! Hopefully there will be a few birds still alive when I get back to the Reserve tomorrow. Judging by the mass hysteria though, we're all doomed...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Two swallows...

But definitely not summer. Bloody freezing and still no migration going on, although the Brents have flown off. South probably...?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The north wind doth blow...

...and we shall have little or no migration! One Wheatear today, but on a more positive note, at least one Chiiffchaff singing (which I saw this time), and a female Goosander. So the Reserve list creeps up a little further, unlike the temperature.

Monday, April 03, 2006

One swallow doesn't make a spring...

Dry and bright, but with a chilly NW wind and a few nasty hail showers this afternoon. Still not the most encouraging conditions for the arrival of migrants (why does this seem to happen every year?). But, a [Barn] Swallow at last, as well as 4 Wheatears, a couple of Sand Martins, still the 8 Brents, a Short-eared Owl, and whole load of frisky Shelduck.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bloody typical!

First day off for a week, and an Osprey flies over the Reserve...

April Fools...

First day of the Easter holidays, and it's sunny. That can only mean one thing - lots of people, a fair few of whom have no comprehension what nature reserves are about. For example, a great place to let the dog have a run around; a wee wander down to the pond, scattering flocks of Teal everywhere; or perhaps to take a group of nine folk through an area you've got fenced off to prevent disturbance to nesting Lapwings? No!!! But they were all out today. There are days when a sniper rifle would be a useful bit of kit...

On a slightly more positive note, a Wheatear appeared at last. So they're not extict then! The Brents are still here, plus a few more Sand Martins. Reserve list up to 109...

Better late than never...
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