Monday, 31 July 2017

Musselburgh, 31st July 2017

Having arrived back in Edinburgh from Helsinki the previous evening and with Ingrid occupied with packing to move back south, I took the bus to Musselburgh for one last visit. Nothing especially unusual, but Skylark and Ringed Plover were trip ticks and there was an increase in Velvet Scoter numbers offshore, with 96 counted, along with just six Common Scoters. Other bits included 92 Goosanders, a Red-throated Diver, a Great Crested Grebe, 182 Bar-tailed Godwits, seven Knots, two Common Sandpipers, four Greenshanks, a Puffin and a couple of Razorbills. A juvenile female Peregrine tried its luck with putting the waders up but didn't manage to knock anything out of the sky.

juvenile Greenshank
Dunlins and Oystercatchers
Common Sandpiper
Harbour Seals

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Finland, 24-30th July 2017

I spent an absolutely lovely week in Finland with Ingrid and her family. Based on the island of Vessö in the Baltic near Helsinki, we fished, birded, boated and cycled our way around this serene landscape, as well as birding whenever I could fit it in. Apart from one visit to a nature reserve on the edge of Porvoo (where there were many Wood Sandpipers and Ruff) and a trip to the Central Park (a failed quest to see Flying Squirrels, but producing several Wood Warblers), all of the birding was done on our island and 88 species were totted up. Among the birds easily encountered were Red-backed Shrikes, Cranes, Caspian Terns, Woodcocks, Crested Tits, Willow Tits, Pied Flycatchers, Spotted Flycatchers, Fieldfares, Redwings, crossbills, Lesser Whitethroats, Yellowhammers and Tree Sparrows.

More isolated sightings included a White-tailed Eagle, a summer-plumaged Black-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, a Green Sandpiper and a magical evening encounter with a Long-eared Owl. Oh, and I finally saw my first Black Woodpecker! 

♂ Red-backed Shrike
a tranquil Baltic island
♀ Red-breasted Flycatcher
adult and young Crane
Baltic boating
Privet Hawkmoth
Barnacle Geese blocking our boat landing
Mealy Redpoll
adult Caspian Tern
juvenile Wheatear
the Baltic
Arran Brown?
the daily cycle
a bit of fishing
we nearly ran over two Grass Snakes on our bikes in one morning
Dark Green Fritillary?
Wood Warbler

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Musselburgh, 23rd July 2017

Squeezed in a final quick trip to Musselburgh before heading to Finland tomorrow morning. A loose gathering of 20 Knot was a surprise on the scrapes, where the adult Little Gull, two Black-tailed Godwit, nine Shovelers, a Turnstone and three Greenshanks were among the other birds present. A Yellow Wagtail flew over and the male Peregrine flew by with what was apparently an unfortunate Knot in his clasp. This clean killer is in and out so quickly that the birds barely have a chance to panic, so it's easy to miss a hunt. The ENE breeze seemed to have brought a few birds into the Forth, an adult pale morph Arctic Skua, a Bonxie, 10 Manx Shearwaters, 30 Puffins, six Fulmar, 32 Velvet Scoters and 70 Common Scoters the highlights. 


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Musselburgh, 22nd July 2017

Managed to slink away to the lagoons for an hour. I'm glad I did as, on the approach to the wader scrapes, I heard a distant Grasshopper Warbler reeling. I carried on walking and eventually pinned it down to the pathside about a hundred metres along, where to my surprise it actually appeared in the open for a minute or two! Another pleasant surprise was in store on the scrapes, with two Ruffs representing yet another site tick. The adult Little Gull was showing again, as were two Greenshanks and four Whimbrel of note.

Grasshopper Warbler

Friday, 21 July 2017

Musselburgh, 19-21st July 2017

Some highly enjoyable short visits to Musselburgh over the last three days. A quick summary for each:

19th. A Peregrine knocking a Dunlin out of the sky was the biggest pulse-raiser of the day while the best 'rarity' value came courtesy of a fly-over Wood Sandpiper, hesitant to touch down. A juvenile Yellow Wagtail crept around the margins again, as did two Grey Partridges, and two Red-breasted Mergansers offshore were a site tick for me.  Other birds on the Forth included two Red-throated Divers, 110 Goosanders, 127 Mute Swans, 17 Common and just one Velvet Scoter. Further waders included three Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, 109 Bar-tailed Godwits and, again a new site bird for me, a Whimbrel. A party of Shoveler and pair of Shelduck were also site ticks.

20th. No time to look offshore. A stonking adult Little Gull and an apparently different juvenile Yellow Wagtail were on the scrapes, where waders included a Knot (site tick), 10 Whimbrel, four Greenshanks, two Black-tailed and 135 Bar-tailed Godwits. Another site tick came when a redpoll flew over.

21st. An afternoon trip revealed its highlight late on when a flock of 10 Manx Shearwaters flew east along the Forth. Two Little Grebes on the boating lake must have always been there but it evidently took me eight visits to notice them! The adult Little Gull was again on the scrapes, along with 13 Whimbrel, the Knot again and 169 Bar-tailed Godwits. Other bits included 600 Eiders, 80 Goosanders, 17 Common and three Velvet Scoters, a Grey Partridge, two Red-throated Divers, a Turnstone and 110 Sandwich Terns.

A flock of Whimbrel heads out from the scrapes on the ebbing tide this afternoon
the adult Little Gull on the scrapes yesterday

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Musselburgh, 18th July 2017

The day started with a Siskin over the Edinburgh garden - another quick Musselburgh trip was then in order for the morning before other stuff later in the day. Highlights today included two each of Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit. Other bits included 480 Eiders, 117 Goosanders, 102 Mute Swans, the Wigeon, four Common and 12 Velvet Scoters, two Red-throated Divers, a Fulmar, 83 Bar-tailed Godwits, 97 Dunlin, representatives of all the common auks and a lone Grey Partridge. Several juvenile Herring Gulls and a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull were at the River Esk mouth.

chilling Goosanders
Red-throated Diver

Monday, 17 July 2017

Musselburgh Lagoons, 17th July 2017

Another nice quick morning visit to the lagoons. Came across visiting U.S. birder Bernard and managed to find him a few lifers. There was an increase in the number of Dunlin and Bar-tailed Godwit present on the scrapes, with 47 and 90 counted respectively. Two Greenshanks, 11 Black-tailed Godwits and three Common Sandpipers were also seen. The biggest surprises while scanning the margins, however, were a Yellow Wagtail and a pair of Grey Partridges! A raft of around 20 Velvet Scoters was offshore, along with a Puffin and some other usuals; Eiders still numbered over 300 but only 29 Goosanders were logged. A lone Wigeon was also new for the trip and a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull put in an appearance.

In the evening in the Edinburgh garden, two Oystercatchers, three Swallows and a Sparrowhawk put in overhead appearances.

Bar-tailed Godwits and Curlew heading out to feed on the falling tide
a lone Wigeon
Grey Partridges visiting the scrapes
juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Lothian, 12-16th July 2017

In Edinburgh for a while, I'm managing to fit in a little ornithological activity here and there, through ringing in the garden and local trips. The single net stretching over the lawn has had its moments, catching a Bullfinch, five House Sparrows and a Coal Tit of note so far. Musselburgh Lagoons is the best site within easy reach and welcomed me back with a Wood Sandpiper on Thursday, this being among a good variety of expected waders. Activity in the adjacent Firth of Forth has also provided much interest (for my southern inland eyes at least), with Goosanders peaking at 97, Eiders at 300, Velvet Scoters at 14, Common Scoters at 60 and seabirds such as Red-throated Diver, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Gannet featuring. A trip to Aberlady Bay on Friday produced my first two Scottish Little Egrets and a Lesser Redpoll.

2cy female Bullfinch in the garden on Wednesday
Wood Sandpiper at Musselburgh on Thursday
adult Black-tailed Godwit at Musselburgh on Thursday
Little Egret at Aberlady Bay on Friday, a Scottish tick for me
Lesser Redpoll at Aberlady Bay on Friday
juvenile Sandwich Tern at Musselburgh on Friday
some kind of escaped butterfly at Musselburgh on Friday

one of five House Sparrows caught in the garden yesterday
part of the mass of Goosanders at Musselburgh today
adult Kittiwake at Musselburgh today
eclipse drake Eider at Musselburgh today
some of the 96 Mute Swans at the River Esk mouth at Musselburgh today

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Beddington Farmlands, 9th July 2017

A great evening session with Christian C, with a few anticipated and less expected highlights! A Water Rail swimming across the main lake came under the latter category, as did an early Yellow Wagtail overhead. A small number of large gulls on the main lake had a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, a juvenile Herring Gull and a striking 2cy Norwegian-ringed intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull in their midst. Two Sedge Warblers showing in the southeast corner of the main lake were the first we'd seen on site for several weeks. Over on Hundred Acre, Green Sandpiper numbers around Jim's Pit had grown to 11 while other waders included singles of Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover on the southern lake

Water Rail
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

striking intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull bearing Norwegian ring
Green Sandpipers building up...