Tuesday, December 01, 2020

📖 Ythan Estuary ☀️4C ~ Wind → W@ 4mph 01/12/20

🌊 High Tide ~ 13:50 @4.19m ~ ☀️ Sunrise 8:23am Sunset 3:31pm 

I began my visit at Inches Point around mid-morning with the tide now on the turn. I was greeted with the usual cacophony of sound, Curlew, Oystercatcher and passing flocks of Dunlin. Three Bar-tailed Godwits were feeding in the shallows along with two small groups of Knot. By far the most abundant wader was Redshank. A good selection of Gulls was noteworthy but despite an extended search for 'white-wingers', I drew a blank.

Drake Eider looking magnificent in the winter sun

The resident large groups of Eider were mostly asleep but occasionally disturbed by a passing Seal. Thankfully, the odd one would drift by and the light today was excellent for photography.  

Walk from the west car park to Tarty Burn.

My next stop was the west Waterside Bridge car park, where I enjoyed an extended walk upstream along the shoreline as far as Tarty Burn. Just a little further upstream is Inch Geck Island, which during the breeding season apparently holds the highest concentration of Shelduck in the north-east of Scotland. 

Red-breasted Mergansers along the Ythan.

There were a few around today but majorly outnumbered by Red-breasted Mergansers, again the light showing them off beautifully with four birds close by. Wigeon, Goosander and a Drake Goldeneye were also recorded.

Part of the huge flock of Dunlin displaced by the Peregrine.

At one point a Peregrine laid waste to the area throwing up some huge flocks of Lapwing and Dunlin and I also noted three Brent Geese which flew west and out of view. As is the norm at this time of year several skeins of Pink-footed Geese passed overhead.

Greenshank 

The same selection of waders during my walk as Inches Point with the addition of Lapwing and Greenshank, the latter of which I've established winter around this area. Along the treeline Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Song Thrush and Meadow Pipit in the nearby fields. 

A healthy colony of Tree Sparrow at Waulkmill Hide.

A brief stop at Snub layby to have my packed lunch, inadvertently flushing a Kingfisher, which I noticed too late as I drove in. My final visit of the day was to the Waulkmill Hide, stopping briefly to check out a distant group of Whooper Swans, arriving at the hide just on high tide. Close in were 15 Greylag Geese but the low sun at this time of day is a real issue and so I concentrated on the area behind the hide where there are feeders. There is a nice colony of Tree Sparrows with 23 counted today along with Chaffinch, Goldcrest and Yellowhammer around the feeders.

Linnet flock in the fading light.

In the field behind a large flock of Linnet were feeding on what looks to be a set-aside area, obviously being seeded. I spent a good 45-minutes searching for Twite, unsuccessfully and during this period a Sparrowhawk landed briefly just feet away! It was another enjoyable visit in the beautiful winter sunshine.