Tuesday, August 31, 2021

πŸ“– August ☁️ 31/08/21

A pretty mundane August weatherwise ended with high pressure firmly in control and sitting directly over Scotland. Ordinarily, this means warm sunny days and this is true for a lot of the country currently, with record-breaking temperatures but here on the east coast, it means cloud and lots of it! There are some bonuses with high pressure and cloudy mornings though, the air flows outward and thus creates a clockwise air circulation resulting in a northerly or northeasterly airflow. Almost perfect for sea watching at this time of year.

The View East from the drivers seat

With this in mind and my final post of the month an early start today at Peterhead for a few hours, arriving just after 7:30am. It was a somewhat chilly start in the brisk breeze, around 18mph from the north, northeast, and I was thankful that it's entirely possible to view the area from the comfort of the car. 

This passing Great Skua is close enough for a record shot.

Plenty on the rocks below before settling in with WheatearGolden Plover, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, and the odd passing flock of Dunlin. Once I began I didn't have to wait long until the first Great Skua passed north, one of sixteen observed today.

There was a constant passage of Sandwich Terns throughout my stay and plenty of juvenile Kittiwakes to search through, sadly I couldn't deliver a hoped-for Sabines Gull, always on my 'A' list of possibilities. 

Close in Fulmar in the gloom

are always a treat to watch as they skim low over the water and today the conditions were perfect for them. 

Gannet heading into the wind

Plenty of Gannet activity too with both adult and juvenile birds making the odd theatrical dive, always a treat to watch. Although an enjoyable few hours it wasn't as busy as I'd hoped for and my final counts are: (3) Red-throated Diver (south↓) (5) Sooty Shearwater, (3) Manx Shearwater, and a single Arctic Skua. Also of note a small movement of Wigeon and Teal, plus a Minke Whale, which breached briefly while scanning but too far for any images.

Both Bar-tailed & Black-tailed Godwit (photo) along the Ythan today.

Stops along the Ythan at the Waulkmill Hide and Snub Layby before heading home produced the usual hoards of Waders, which included Spotted Redshank but I'm still waiting to register my first  Little Stint or Curlew Sandpiper for the Ythan. Two Ospreys, which for me are always a bonus, despite, dare I say, common here at this time of year!

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

πŸ“– Ythan Estuary ☁️ 14C ~ Wind ↘ NW@18mph 25/08/21

Despite the record-breaking temperatures in some parts of Scotland today my morning visit to the Ythan Estuary was draped in cloud. Add to this a strong northwesterly and it was quite a dreary mornings birding with temperatures struggling to reach 14C.

A party group f 14 Ruff from the 'Snub' layby

That said there's always plenty to see and point the camera at around the Ythan! Having parked up at the 'Snub' layby I managed a count of seven Little Egret all hunkered up along the opposite bank. A record for the area I'm led to believe. As I counted the Egrets a party group of fourteen Ruff passed by, thankfully my camera was primed and ready.

A single Knot just below the layby during a very brief sunny interlude.

My normal commute between here and the Waulkmill Hide produced a good selection of waders: Redshank, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Knot, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Curlew, some of which are photographed below. A single Osprey was also noted from the Waulkmill Hide.




Ringed Plover

1st Wheatear of the Autumn at Cransdale car park.

A short drive to Collieston for a brief sea watch away from the Ythan produced my first autumn Wheatear along the rocks from the Cransdale car park. Also while here at least three Rock Pipits and a passing Kestrel.

Red-throated Diver

Out to sea four Red-throated Divers among the many Razorbill and Guillemots. Several fish shoales were being bombarded by Gannets, Kittiwakes and a selection of Gulls, plus three Great Skuas. At one stage a single Manx Shearwater passed through and while following with the scope a large Cetacea breached briefly, possibly a Minke Whale but it was away off and unfortunately, I didn't connect again.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

πŸ“– Laidback Weekend ⛅ 19C ~ Wind ↗ SW@15mph 14/15/8/21

It was a pretty laidback weekend with an enjoyable drive out to the Lecht Ski Centre on Saturday with Dazza. Then a brief sortie into Moray to take a look at the old Lecht Mine. 

Just a short walk to the old mine which is a former iron and manganese mining site. Originally the mine was worked for iron ore in the early eighteenth century, but the building standing today dates to a period in the 1840s when the area was worked for manganese ore - it was the largest such mine ever worked in Scotland.

Common Hawker ~ The yellow edge to the wing (leading wing vein) is an ID feature!

The walk down to the mine runs alongside a fast running burn where a Grey Wagtail was busy feeding. In the long grasses my first Small Copper Butterfly of the year, thanks to Dazza, plus several Scotch Argus. Having seen them several times this summer it was also my first opportunity to actually photograph a Common Hawker. They never seemed to land when I spot them, until now!

Juvenile Black Tern at the Ythan River Mouth

With Dazza swimming on Sunday, I took the opportunity to head across to the Ythan Estuary mid-morning for a look at two juvenile Black Terns, which have been feeding here since Friday.

Black Tern

It was a very low tide today at 1.30M and I eventually found them fishing at the very extreme of the Ythan Mouth, well worth the walk though!

More Black Tern action.

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

πŸ“– Muir of Dinnet ⛅ 17C ~ Wind ↖SE@21mph 12/08/21

A drive over to Muir of Dinnet NNR mid-morning for a couple of hours before the cloud rolled in and the breeze got up! 

Scotch Argus looking quite worn.

There were plenty of Scotch Argus on the wing today, although most looking a bit worn now. So too the odd Speckled Wood I came across. Very little else to report except for Large White and two Green-veined White.

Female (above) and male Black Darters along the boardwalk.

It was very breezy around the boardwalk and the only Dragonflies encountered were Black Darters. A few Emerald Damselflies were also noted but being so delicate and such weak flyers, you had to feel for them getting blown from pillar to post in the stiff breeze. 

This could quite well be my last Sedge Warbler encounter of the year!

The birding was particularly slow today, with just a couple of Chiffchaff, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker and the usual Coal Tits. However, a close encounter with a Sedge Warbler was the highlight from a birding perspective.

Tawny Grisette

With the onset of Autumn, a few fungi are now beginning to appear and one specimen in particular took the eye today. Amanita fulva, commonly called the Tawny Grisette or the orange-brown ringless amanita.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

πŸ“– Ythan Estuary ⛅ 19C ~ Wind ↗ SW@10mph 10/08/21

The last few mornings have been spent scanning along the Ythan Estuary a few hours before high tide and remarkably on both occasions, I've managed to dodge the torrential downpours. I've spent my few hours commuting between the 'Snub' layby and the Waulkmill Hide, both offering superb views across the upper reaches of the mudflats. 

The Ythan is currently awash with Redshank

Just sitting and listening to the calls of a huge amount of Redshank which reside here, occasionally mixed with Curlew, another species in good numbers and Greenshank, also into double figures is a joy in itself but at this time of year, there is always the possibility of other waders dropping in at any time. 

Greenshank just below the 'Snub' layby

Although some do winter here along the Ythan Greenshank numbers are beginning to rise and on both visits, I was well into double figures.

Record shot of Spotted Redshank feeding on the sandbanks

Other waders recorded included my first Spotted Redshank of the year, several summer plumage Knot, Bar-tailed Godwits, Snipe, Oystercatchers, Lapwingssingle Ruff and no less than four Little Egrets, the latter a particularly good number for the area! 

One of three Ospreys during today's visit.

Of course, there's more to the Ythan than just waders and today three fishing Osprey's, the above photographed sporting a blue colour ring with the identification JF3, likely from one of the Scottish Osprey projects.

Other Images of the Visits...

Record shot of single Ruff seen Monday

A Yellowhammer drops in during one session

Another Osprey image

Colour ring JF3

Bar-tailed Godwit

Sunday, August 08, 2021

πŸ“– August Update 2021 ~Week 1

August began as July ended on an unsettled note with low pressure firmly in control producing torrential and sometimes prolonged downpours. However, there has been the odd respite with long sunny intervals giving me the opportunity for a few coastal walks.

Another juvenile Stonechat along the coastal paths.

One species, in particular, that appears to be having a successful year is the Stonechat. I've encountered quite a few over the past few weeks ramblings, mostly in family groups and often still being attended to by the parents.

Grayling at rest within the sand dunes ~ This one appears to have a tick issue!

When the sun does shine there are still plenty of Butterflies on the wing and despite seeing them on a few brief occasions recently I finally managed a snapshot of a Grayling at rest. A predominantly coastal species the cryptic colouring provides the Grayling with excellent camouflage, making it difficult to see when on bare ground. The wings are kept closed when not in flight and the forewings are usually tucked behind the hind wings, concealing the eyespots and making the butterfly appear smaller than what they are.

Dark Green Fritillary

Another species I regularly encounter at most sites I visit is the Dark Green Fritillary and there were a good few to be found during my walks last week.

Male Red-backed Shrike along the golf course at Girdleness.

Catch me if you can!

On Saturday 7th a Red-backed Shrike was located at Tory Battery, Girdleness early morning but with plans in place visiting Daaza's old school in Aberdeen followed by lunch, I resisted the urge to travel straight over. Fortunately, when we did eventually get across to the harbour late afternoon we found the bird with little effort in gorse along the golf course fairway. Although flighty we managed a few record shots before heading home. If it stays longer I may try for some better images but it's a nice addition to my new Scottish Birding List.

Red-throated Diver from a short watch Collieston

From a seawatching perspective, there have been some lucrative southeasterlies during the middle part of the week with a few notables being reported locally. These have included Sooty Shearwater and Long-tailed Skua but personally, I've only managed two Great Skua and a single Manx Shearwater during my brief watches but I'm hopeful of spending a little more time in the coming week. 

A Few More Images of the Week...

Oak Eggar Caterpillar

Juvenile Eider Duck

Juvenile Little Tern

Arctic Tern at rest

Floral Encounters...

Marsh Woundwort

Sea Rocket


Mossy Rose Gall Wasp ~ 'Robin's Pincushion'

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