Wednesday, March 31, 2021

πŸ“– Dalmadilly Pond & River Don 🌧 7C ~ Wind ↓N @7mph ~ 31/03/21

We've lost the warm south-westerlies overnight as high-pressure builds to the north-west opening the floodgates to a chilly northerly airflow. When I arrived on the patch this morning it was just 7C and the skies were laden producing a heavy drizzle. A couple of Roe Deer darted across the road just as I arrived around 07:45.

The pond level continues to drop and the first species of note were (5) Whooper Swans on the larger of the two ponds, but they didn't stay long before heading off, circling once before flying north. 
(2) Oystercatchers flew through followed shortly after by (7) Curlew and the usual Greylag and Pink-footed Geese were feeding in the surrounding fields.

Little Grebe

Just before heading over to the small pond a final check across the water yielded a couple of Sand Martin, which fed briefly before moving on. Once again the only other wildfowl on both ponds were (29) Tufted Duck in total and (2) Little Grebes on the small pond.

Two Chiffchaff singing today and a look down towards the river produced a single Dipper. While here (3) more Sand Martin and a group of circa 20 Fieldfare passed overhead. I keep hearing a Greenshank calling but similar to the other day I still frustratingly haven't managed to connect! 


Reed Bunting

Other species of note during my 90-minute stay included: Lesser Redpoll, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Greenfinch, ChaffinchGoldcrest, Reed Bunting, Song Thrush Great Spotted Woodpecker (heard drumming only)

Sub note.... Driving past the ponds mid-afternoon 20+ Sand Martins feeding over the water.

Monday, March 29, 2021

πŸ“– Dalmadilly & River Don ☀️ 14C ~ Wind ↑S@ 13mph ~ 29/03/21

BST ☀️ Sunrise 06:46 ~ Sunset 19:43 ~ Day Lenth 12hrs:57mins:53sec

Unlike England, we have to wait until the end of the week before we can venture further afield so an early morning local walk to Dalmadilly Ponds and then on to the River Don, west of the road bridge at Kemnay. An amazingly summer-like morning with a warm southerly airflow and almost clear skies, the temperature on arrival was already 14C, so no coat required today!

A gorgeous Sunrise over Dalmadilly Ponds & a full moon setting behind to the west

Nothing unusual around the ponds today with (25) Tufted Duck and (3) Greylag Geese the only waterfowl to be found, although there was a constant movement of Pink-footed Geese overhead for the duration of my stay. A small group of gulls mid-water contained both Common Gulls and Black-headed Gulls.

(3) Singing Chiffchaff the highlight at the ponds today.

Yellowhammer, Linnet & Mistle Thrush were all in song today but the highlight was at least (3) Chiffchaff, likely the same birds I recorded here last week. A quick look down onto the river produced (5) Goosander, including one Drake, Buzzard and (2) Mute Swans, plus a calling Greenshank but I never managed to connect. 

A Skylark in full voice

From the road bridge at Kemnay, a walk along the river away from the Fetternear Estate. Here a real feel of spring with numerous Skylarks displaying, along with smaller numbers of Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit. Then, always a delight and eagerly anticipated, my first Sand Martin of the year appeared and fed for a while over the river before moving on. 

These six Oystercatchers part of a group of over twenty birds on the river bend

On the sandbanks a group of over twenty Oystercatchers and in the surrounding fields Lapwing and a count of (17) Curlew. For the second time today another call of Greenshank but frustratingly I never managed to connect once again. A male Stonechat and (26) Whooper Swans feeding on a distant field was also of note during a superb few hours birding before heading home for breakfast. 

  BUBO Listing
NEW Scottish Life-List Since Relocating Permanently to Aberdeenshire in October 2020

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

πŸ“– Dalmadilly Ponds ☀️ -2C ~ Wind ↗SW@ 4mph ~ 24/03/21

☀️ Sunrise 06:05 ~ Sunset 18:28 ~ Day Lenth 12hrs:22mins:30sec

The weather over the past few days here in Aberdeenshire has been amazing, with clear blue skies and temperatures reaching the balmy heights of 16C. In fact, over the weekend the garden produced our first butterfly of the year when a Small Tortoiseshell dropped in. Today a very early morning walk around the village ponds.

Aerial view of the Ponds ~ Photo from the Kemnay community page

Just five minutes from the house Dalmadilly Ponds were originally agricultural farmland. In 1993 work began on quarrying the land for sand and gravel aggregates and when extraction was completed the quarried area was allowed to flood naturally in accordance with the existing water table. The surrounding land has been restored to form a wildlife area for birds and a recreational area for walking and bird watching. This has been accomplished by the planting of hundreds of indigenous trees, the formation of footpaths around both ponds and finally, two substantial bird hides have been erected, one at each pond. This is an excellent habitat with lots of potential for the odd rarity but I get the feeling you need to arrive here exceptionally early before the local dog walkers get out and about. 

Today I managed to walk both ponds without seeing a soul. On arrival around 6am, I was greeted by a couple of singing Yellowhammer, the constant passage of Pink-footed Geese overhead, now gathering in huge numbers and my first singing Chiffchaff of the year (in Scotland).

On the water, there were several battling Coots, (4) Goldeneye, (2) Little Grebe, (12) Tufted Duck and a pair of Goosander. The pools it would seem are currently over their normal water level and it will be interesting to see whether after they recede it becomes a suitable habitat for waders. Having said that, a couple of Oystercatchers attempted a landing but continued on to the nearby fields. It was an interesting visit with a good selection of species and I look forward to many more visits to come. 

Stonechat nest building

Before heading back for breakfast I took a stroll along a few of the nearby lanes, in particular, to take a look at a couple of flooded fields, which although promising were sadly devoid of anything of interest. However, I did come across a pair of Stonechats and enjoyed a wonderful half-hour in their company watching them building their home. 


More Images of The visit...

Common Redpoll


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

πŸ“– Service Resumed

Since my previous post, which seems like an age ago, my main focus has been on house and garden upgrades, local daily walks and has even included a short trip back down to England for medical reasons. Although my trip was essential, the biggest problem with travelling back to England is that with all flights currently suspended into Birmingham Airport from Aberdeen I had little choice other than to complete a gruelling 850-mile round trip by car!

Anyway, 'Service Resumed' I'm back now and with the onset of spring it's all systems go in preparation for some intense birding, provided of course that the current lockdown restrictions on local travel are eased sometime soon.

One of the long-staying Great Northern Divers in the gloom at Draycote Water

As I was staying close to my old birding ground back in England it did provide the opportunity for some extra year ticks while enjoying my daily exercise at the nearby Draycote Water. These Included Great Northern Diver, Black-necked Grebe and a few species that are a little harder to find up here in North-East Scotland, for example, Great Crested Grebe, Canada Goose, Gadwall and Lesser Blacked-backed Gull although the latter are now beginning to return after their winter absence. 

It was also nice to see a few Chiffchaff around Draycote Water, including one singing.

My local birding continues to provide plenty of variety and I'm still getting used to the fact that observing species such as Dipper and Tree Sparrow on most of my daily walks is normality. During one walk in particular a Corn Bunting was perched singing from the phone wires, another species apparently not uncommon to the area!

Greenland White-fronted Goose on the nearby fields

The Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese continue to feed up for their big exodus and in amongst a local flock of mixed Greylag/Pink-Footed, I was able to connect with both a single Barnacle Goose and Greenland White-Fronted Goose, thanks to another local birder getting the news out swiftly.

Brambling in the treetops of the local 'Green'

The kitchen window continues to deliver as I look across to the treetops of the local 'Green'. One session while enjoying breakfast produced several Brambling and Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Bullfinch are all regular visitors.

Finally, my first couple of 'Nocmig' sessions has produced of interest Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, Oystercatcher and Curlew, plus the many skeins of geese that pass regularly overhead.