Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sticky moments

All a bit humid today! 24C and the continued threat of heavy rain which didn't quite materialise.

As usual (!), not much to report on the bird front - immature Great Northern Diver offshore again, as well as a lot of Puffins and 350+ moulting Eiders. Elsewhere, nearly stood on a Snipe, and had a brief glimpse of a Lesser Whitethroat, always a bit of a bonus after they've stopped singing. A fly-over Buzzard caused a bit of a panic among the gulls and waders, but I would have preferred a Marsh Harrier.

Managed to miss a Spotted Flycatcher yesterday while on a day off and today, got intriguing reports of a "large upright white bird, smaller than a heron" allegedly seen this morning - apparently not an egret. Better not have been another Spoonbill, 'cos I missed it...

A tiny policeman...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Summer time and the living is easy...

That's because there are absolutely no birds to look at. But the the upside of that I suppose is that you can spend more time looking at beasties and plants, all of which certainly add a splash of colour to the place.

Today, saw my first Ringlet & Meadow Brown butterflies, as well as two or three Dark Green Fritillaries and a couple of Silver-Y moths. Not many dragonflies around yet although there were lots of Common Blue damselflies over one of the ponds.

Bird wise, the brood of 18 Shelducks seen last week seems to have re-deployed into an 11 and a 6, with one AWOL. Maybe the adults with the 18 were just baby-sitting?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Fowlsheugh - fabulous

The noise, the constant activity, the thousands and thousands of birds coming and going. No, not a day at my patch (obviously!), but at the RSPB reserve of Fowlsheugh, about 20 miles south of Aberdeen. Popped in for an hour yesterday during a trip to the NE, and found it a wonderfully uplifting experience. Tens of thousands of seabirds - mainly Guillemots & Kittiwakes, with smaller numbers of Razorbills, Fulmars and Herring Gulls. A fly-by Peregrine caused thousands of Kittiwakes to take to the air briefly, while the constant arrival of birds at their nests and others leaving to go out to sea presented a very busy place.

I first visited this place about 25 years ago. It hasn't changed much and it remains a fantastic experience...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Autumn arrives....

Three Wigeon, a Greenshank, westerly gales and horizontal rain. I thought this was summer?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What are these people on??

Not much to report on the Reserve front at the moment, apart from our second brood of Shelducks, apparently of 18 chicks! I say apparently, because in previous years there has certainly been mass adoptions/kidnappings of young. Suffice to say there were 5 large young with 2 adults, and 18 with another 2 adults. How it will all look tomorrow is anyone's guess!

Sad to read today that the EC is about to permit resumption of the North Sea sandeel fishery. Ok, so there has been mass failures of breeding seabirds all along the east coast of the UK, Orkney and Shetland, and a huge reduction in stocks of cod, haddock and other fish species in the area over the last few years. Allowing the industrial catching of the species at the bottom of the food chain (ie sandeels) is bound to lead to a recovery in the fortunes of all the seabird and fish populations . Isn't it?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Eagle poisoned

I, like most other birders, was sickened to read of another incident of one of our raptors being killed in the interests of "sport". A Golden Eagle has been found poisoned using an illegal pesticide on an estate on Deeside. What gives the bastards responsible the right to do this? What would the thousands of tourists who flock to Braemar, Balmoral and Ballater think if they knew that if they took an innocent wander into the hills, their child or their dog could be killed if they come into contact with a deliberately poisoned carcass?

These people have been getting away with this for far too long. All estates where poisoning incidents occur should be publicised nationally and the landowners vilified for allowing this on "their" land. The wildlife does not belong to them, and they or their minions have no right to destroy our natural heritage. Perhaps these people should be fed with the same chemicals they poison our countryside with...

For more info:-

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cooler at last

A much more pleasant cooler day today, encouragingly beginning with a chance to go through a flock of small waders that had obviously come in overnight. Ok, so they were nearly all Ringed Plovers, but as well as a few Dunlin, there was also a moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper in with them. Another one for the list, now at 148. Only 30 to go. I don't think so, but you never know!

A few terns down on the beach were mainly Sandwich, but with 3 Commons including a very early fledged juvenile. Hopefully we'll get a nice build up of post-breeding terns here in the next few months...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

All at sea

Not much bird-wise on the Reserve today, but offshore there was huge numbers of auks, kittiwakes, gannets and a few eiders. One Red-throated Diver flying west was a bit unseasonal - even more so was a Great Northern drifting by on the current. Also, well offshore was a scattered feeding flock of 50+ Manx Shearwaters.

There may be few birdies doing "inland" but the flowers are fantastic at the moment and numbers of butterflies are building up nicely.

Anyone seen any Ragwort?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wader ID conundrums No. 1

Not much time out today. Two Little Gulls bathing in the burn near the car park were a bit unexpected - both immatures; a first-summer and a second-summer. Nice to see here at this time of year.

More perplexing were distant views of a wader feeding with a group of Dunlin & Ringed Plovers. Similar in size and jizz to the former, but not quite right - long winged and long legged, but long though I looked at it from 400m distant (as close as I could get), I couldn't turn it into anything more than a strange Dunlin in non-breeding plumage. But that one's going to nag away at me. Maybe I'll get better views at high tide tomorrow, if it hasn't buggered off...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Warm and sticky

Disgustingly humid today, with a continual threat of heavy rain which never quite materialised. Bird-wise still pretty quiet, though still lots singing and a lots of birds carrying food. Hopefully the warm weather over the last couple of weeks has allowed the late breeders to have a decent season.
Now a total of 7 Eider chicks (pretty paltry!), still just one brood of Shelducks but probably 12 fledged Redshanks which is pretty good, 10+ Lapwings with a few large young still to fly, and at least 3 juv Stonchats on the wing.

I guess that's spring migration over and done with, but this place has in previous years attracted a few ridiculous rarities during the "quiet" months of June & July. We'll see...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The heat is on...

One of those hot sunny Sundays that you just dread!

Loads of visitors, dogs running around, folk with fires, people wandering through fenced off areas and strange men wandering through the dunes with their dangly bits hanging out. Sad.

Surprisingly, the birding was relatively ok! A Yellow Wagtail seen flying off later re-appeared and turned out to be of the thunbergi (Grey-headed) race, possibly the same bird seen a few miles up the coast yesterday. A year tick for the site! Also, there were a few birds around at high tide - 13 Grey Plover, 10 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin & 7 Knot, as well as a moulting flock of 54 Mallard and 16 Canada Geese. Ok, so they're a bit loud and obnoxious, but we don't get them here that often and times are hard...

Friday, June 09, 2006

All misty eyed

Substantial drop in temperatures today, with a fine east coast haar (sea fog) which didn't clear all day. Obviously this also makes it rather difficult to see any birds, if there are any there to see. Unfortunately, there wasn't much doing, other than a pair of Dunnocks apparently trying to be fed by a male Stonechat. Bizarre!

"I am a Stonechat, honest. Please feed me!"

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Some like it hot..

I don't!

Birds just seem to disappear, all sorts of nasty biting flies and stuff seems to appear and it's horribly hot and sweaty wandering around with a scope, bins, camera etc!

But, worst of all is the apparent requirement of some of the ugliest specimens of humanity to shed most of their clothing, exposing parts of their anatomy that frankly should not be shared with the rest of the human race or animal kingdom, and allowing their skin to go from decidedly pallid to angry pink over the course of the day.

Monday, June 05, 2006

This is becoming a habit!

It transpires that Osprey No.3 of the spring flew over the reserve on Saturday after I'd left. This is getting a bit annoying.

Meanwhile, June continues to start with a whimper. A group of 30 Manx offshore were miles out, but it was nice to see a group of Sanderling in summer plumage on the beach. Also the first brood of (5) Shelduck is hopefully the first of several.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Plane stupid!

Not much to report today, just for a change! 6 Canada Geese flew N over the Forth, no doubt heading for the Beauly Firth, a brood of 4 Moorhens on one of the ponds and two fledged Stonechats.

Of more concern however is a proposal to build an airstrip less than 4 miles east of the Reserve, which is internationally important as a roost site for Pink-footed Geese in the autumn. The actual site is in the heart of their main feeding area. Overflying private planes and microlites already cause a fair bit of disturbance to birds using the site - this will undoubtedly increase if this airstrip goes ahead. Unfortunately, the "boys with toys" who use these facilities tend not to respect no fly zones. If this bothers you (and I hope it does!), check out the proposal on the link below, and express your concerns to the planning authorities.

The planning ref no is : 06/00328/FUL.

Let's get this nonsense stopped....

End of lecture!

Friday, June 02, 2006

The breezes return!

New month, same old story! Stuck in a hideous traffic jam yesterday morning so rather late getting started, and a bit draughty when I finally got on site an hour later rthan I'd hoped, but did manage to add a single Canada Goose to the Reserve's list for the year - now up to 146. My Lothian List for 2006 now stands at a paltry 162, although I've not really tried to add to this very hard. Slightly worringly though, one or two others are on 185+ already - a good autumn could see the record (219 - mine!) under threat. Might have to start suppressing stuff...

Only joking guys! Wish I could find something worth suppressing!

PS Thanks for all the positive feedback I've received.
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