Saturday, 27 November 2010

28 Oct-The highlands, the lowlands and the wetlands

we had stayed the night with my Uncle, Aunt and two kid Cousins in Kirriemuir, Angus, and today Uncle Danny, Dad and Me went out around some of the spectacular areas of Angus. The first birds  we saw were 12 Pink-footed Geese, flying low over the house in Kirriemuir and honking all the time.

The first stop was Loch of Kinnordy RSPB. Out on the Loch we saw loads of Teal and Shoveler, quite a few Gadwall and a handful of Wigeon and Goldeneye, but not the Goosanders or redhead Smew put out on RBA the previous day. We also saw a few Fieldfares, while in the alders between Swamp Hide and Gullery Hide were a lot of Siskins and a few Redpolls. However, the absolute highlight was a flock of 40 WAXWINGS. They flew into one of the pine trees visible from Swamp Hide, and showed gorgeously in the early morning sun.
male Shoveler
two female Shovelers and a lady Teal (on the island at the back)

a few Mallard and two female-type Goldeneye

and a shitload of Waxwing!!

With Kinnordy done, we headed up into the mountains of Glen Isla. We stopped to eat luch on a small road through a mountain wood, with Siskin and Redpoll above our heads. A walk through the valley of Glen Isla had no birds, bar a few Buzzards, Crows and a flock of 15 Linnets. But no matter how Dipper-less were the streams, no matter how obviously Golden Eagles lacked from the mountain tops, it was a beautiful, scenic walk in some of the remotest country left in Britain.

October snow on the mountains

you see? not bad is it! kinda makes up for the avian dearth

Driving back to Kirriemuir, we were going through along a road through a mountain-side wood, when a RED SQUIRREL ran accross the road in front of the car! we saw it for about 30 seconds as it scampered away through the wood. This was the undoubted highlight of our two days around Kirriemuir.

following that, we headed back to Kirriemuir for a drink with Danny, in a deathly quiet pub. The only other humans were a couple of subdued alchholics, the only sub-human was an angry, sulky barmaid, and the only music was the morose, monotone noise that my generation seem to love for some unfathomable reason...

We bid farewell to Danny after this, and began the drive back to Edinburgh. With one stop along the way...

A Slavonian Grebe and a Greenland White-fronted Goose had been seen at Burleigh Sands, and we stopped along the way to keep a look. We saw 200+ Greylag Geese, a few Pink-footed Geese, 100+ Whooper Swans, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Wigeon and Gadwall and the highlight, 15 GOOSANDER and 3 Red-breasted Merganser (all redheads), but neither of our target birds. The Goosanders were a yeartick (no. 192)

After this it was back down to Edinburgh. We had one more day left before it was time to go home, and we saw a few mre good birds, as I shall write in the next post n the trip...

Monday, 15 November 2010

27 Oct 2010-up into real Scotland!

On October 27th, we drove up to Kirriemuir, where we stayed the night with my Uncle Danny, having a day in the Highlands (next post, prbably to be put on tomorra) before heading back down to Edinburgh the following afternoon...

We stopped off first at Fannyside Lochs, near Falkirk. Here were 160 TAIGA BEAN GEESE, in a faraway field with sheep onLuckenburn Farm. This, aside from being great birds, was the first time we've ever parked the car in one county (Clackmannanshire) and seen a bird in another (Falkirk)! The nearest place to the Bean Geese where we could park the car was in fact 20 yards over the border! A few flyover Redpoll and Siskin were also seen/heard. This was only the second time I've seen geese of this race, the previous time being in Feb 2008 in Suffolk.

Taiga Bean Geese, 27 Oct 2010, very distant photo!
The geese were my 190th birds of the year.

We later stopped off at Vane Farm RSPB. Here I had great views of 30 Whooper Swans, my 191st bird of the year. There were also about 300 each of Wigeon and Teal, several Tufted Duck, a few Pochard, 8 Goldeneye and a single male Pintail showing well on the water, and a flock of 80 Pink-footed Geese flying over the Loch fairly distantly, though still showing well until they dropped down on a marsh.

try and find the two Goldeneye and two Pochard in this photo!
The Whooper is a bit more obvious...
a lonely little Black-headed Gull

Whooper Swans, Mallards and a Tufted Duck

Grey Heron in the marsh
Driving along the small B-Roads to Kirriemuir, Fieldfares were in all the fields in brilliant numbers, and a few more flocks of Pink-footed Goose flew over, probably abut 300 overall.

Monday, 8 November 2010

around Edinburgh, 25-26 Oct

After a day out birding on the coast east of Edinburgh on the 24th, the nest few days were somewhat quieter, though with a great bird thrown in...

on 25 Oct, we spent part of the day in the Pentland Hills. First stop, with all the family, was Threpmuir Reservoir, where I can list all the species of note on one hand. 50+ Siskin, 4 Bullfinch and a few Goldcrest. The reservoir held only four species of bird, two of which were gulls.

Next stop was Leith Water. Here we had one particular bird in mind. We almost had a false alarm when a Grey Wagtail was seen on the stream, and then, we picked it up by its song, a scratchy tune oddly reminiscent of a Reed Warbler. This DIPPER stayed on show for 10 minutes, perched on rocks and doing the 'dipping' it is so famed for. Luckily, my camera has a video function, so I caught it 'in the action'

We also saw a few Redwings and Goldcrests along here, and a single juvenile Grey Heron

P.S unless you want my annoying voice ruining the peaceful tranquility of this video, I suggest turning your volume down right this instant...  Or sometime before you play the video. You know. Whatever...

26 Oct was a wet and drizzly day. We visited Straition Pond, a little reserve on the outskirts of Edinbugh. The fact we saw more pieces of litter than birds tells you what kind of 'reserve' this is. A few Redwing was as good as it got. Sometimes, you just gotta love the city birding...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

24 Oct-Midlothian birding

In the interests of my sanity, I'm using as little thought in writing this post as possible. Just a list of birds and pics for a change...

  • Several big skeins of Pink-footed Goose flew over, 1000+ overall
  • waders on the rocky shore were approx. 15 Redshank and the same number of Curlew, 40 Oystercatcher, 40 Bar-tailed Godwit and 40 Turnstone (unbelievably, a yeartick!!)
  • offshore were 20 Eider, 40 Common Scoter and a handful of Velvetines, and 2 redhead Red-breasted Mergansers

Oystercatchers and Curlew

a skein of Pink-footed Geese


Black-headed Gulls

and a few of my picks from the many Turnstone's I photographed

Next up was Aberlady Bay. Waders were the main feature here, with approx 300 Lapwing, 100 Golden Plover and Dunlin, 20 Redshank, Oystercatcherand Curlew and a single Grey Plover(yeartick 187 for Britain). The only wildfowl were 200 Pink-footed Geese, 100 Wigeon a few Shelduck and a single Common Scoter, picked out well flying well offshore...
Grey Plover and Redshank

scenic shots of Aberlady
The final stop was Mussleburgh Lagoons. Here, I had barely got out of the car when I saw a flock of 20 starlingesque birds, making a trilling call it took me a few seconds to recognise. The WAXWINGS gave us a flyby before landing by the lagoons. Out here were 400 Golden Plover, 50 Dunlin and a few Lapwing. As we went to check offshore, we saw a loose flock of 30 Velvet scoter in the distance, 5 Eider scattered accross the sea 3 female-type Goldeneye fairly close in, and 2 female LONG-TAILED DUCK flying west. Walking back, two more female Goldeneye were on the pond by the car park, along with 10 Tufted Duck.

As we drove back to Edinburgh, we saw 2 Roe Deer, in a field off the A720 near Tranent.
some of the Waxwings

various Golden Plover photos

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Road to Nowhere (22-23 Oct)

click on the title! :)

I do now know what The Talking Heads were headily talking about...

This post contains insights into a journey that can only be described as long. So long it took two whole days!

Friday 22 Oct was an inset day from school, so it was today that completed the first leg of a journey from Sussex-Edinburgh. We stopped off in Lincoln overnight, to stay with my dad's cousin, wife and kids.

Before we left Seaford, I heard saw of my last migrants of the year going over. A House Martin was lazily going over the house, a Redpoll gave it's call a few times and two Meadow Pipits went over together calling. The Grey Wagtail from Blatchington pond also flew over in a high circuit, looking to drop down by the pond again. I also took a few photos of the Starlings on the rooftops. All looking rather resplendent.

The rest of the journey was dominated by nothing. I read a book, listened to my MP3 and occasionally took the headphones out if anything good was on Radio 4. The single animal worth noting was a Roe Deer seen by the roadside somewhere along the M11 near Cambridge. Somewhere near here, we also stopped at Drayton Fen RSPB, for a walk. The birdlife was tedious, with a small hint of boredom. Apart from a flock of 80 Fieldfare, actually quite a good record for October, birdlife consisted of 40+ Tufted Duck, 3 Great Crested Grebes, a few Cormorant, 4 Meadow Pipits and 2 Green Woodpeckers. Cue distant and crappy shots of Mute Swans, with a few Wigeon if you look hard enough...
I also saw a Peregrine from the A1 neat Peterborough. But that was all...

Stopping off for the night with family in Lincoln, I swapped camera stories with Dad's cousin, a profeesional photographer. I left with a lot more knowledge, which I decided to apply in the future with my camera. Whether the results are really any different, I'll have to wait and see.

Saturday 23 Oct- we went from Lincoln to Edinburgh. Can't describe it much more interestingly than that! However, the further north, the more avain interest, it seems. a scraggy looking Raven flew over the A1 near York, and on the A68 through the Pennines, I saw a few Golden Plovers in the fields, alongside countless Lapwings.
At Derwent Water, we stopped for a half hour. In the wood by the reservoir were Goldcrests, Siskins and Coal Tits, and a flock of Pink-footed Geese flew over calling. My second yeartick of the day (along with, ridiculously, Golden Plover!!)
Following that, we stopped for another walk, in Kieltner Forest, in Northumberland. we saw 4 Crossbills, and a few of all the commoner pine woodland birds.
And then, at about 19:00, we arrived in Edinburgh. At long, long last!
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