Thursday, March 31, 2022

πŸ“– Monthly Update ~ March 31/2022

The second part of March has been a bit of a mixed bag weatherise with high pressure dominating for a short while last week producing some glorious sunny and warm conditions.

Sunrise at Dalmadilly Ponds on the 28th ~ pre cold front

However, as I pen this post on the final day of the month a cold front has sunk northwards over the past few days with frosty mornings and snow showers the order of the day. Mind you as I've learnt over the past 18 months, that's the nature of the beast up here in northeast Scotland.

Common Toads in Amplexus

The warm spell did entice a few butterflies out on the wing with Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral all recorded. During a visit to Muir of Dinnet on the 21st, it was almost impossible to put your foot down on the paths, which were awash with Common Toads making their way to the many spawning ponds here. 

Great Crested Grebe on Loch Davan

On the same day, I managed to catch a glimpse of a Great Crested Grebe on Loch Davan, one of the few places in Aberdeenshire these days to find one. Strange really having moved up here from the midlands where around my old birding area at Draycote Water they are often into high double-figures!

Ross's Goose at Portlethen prior to it's final departure on the 25th.

After the excitement of the Portlethen Ross's Goose which hung around until the 25th and was then seen and photographed over Lieurary, Caithness, on the 27th heading north there have been a few highlights. 

Red Kites over Dalmadilly on the 21st.

Chiffchaff's now well established on the local patch.

One, in particular, was while taking a 'patch' walk around Dalmadilly Ponds on the 21st, where I noted six singing Chiffchaff, a pair of displaying Red Kite, along with my first Sand Martin of the year which suddenly appeared overhead, but no sooner seen than gone! I had hoped this may have been a precursor to the onset of spring migration but other than six returning Sandwich Terns fast asleep on the banks along the Ythan Estuary on the 24th things have remained pretty static. 

Black-tailed Godwit (An uncommon passage migrant here)

During the same visit, I also recorded seven Black-tailed Godwit, year firsts and a count of eight Pintail from the Waulkmill Hide, both apparently listed here as uncommon passage migrants!

Siskin has now joined the morning chorus.

Despite the lack of summer arrivals, there are still plenty of signs of spring with the volume of the dawn chorus now beginning to increase with Siskin and Redpoll joining the chorus, along with the now established Chiffchaff's

Hare's-tail Cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatus) at Muir of Dinnet

At Muir of Dinnet, my walk around the boardwalk produced plenty of toad spawn and lots of Hare's-tail Cottongrass is starting to appear on the wet boggy ground.  

So as we move into April there's plenty to look forward to with the imminent arrival of many of our summer visitors and for me, a two week trip to Hungary at the back end of the month to look forward to!

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

Monday, March 14, 2022

πŸ“– Mid-Monthly Update ~ March 14/2022

If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb. Is there any truth to this saying? Weather folklore sayings are as colourful as our imagination and if true climate change has certainly put paid to most!

Thankfully the first half of March has certainly not roared in like a lion and for the most part, has remained mild but a little breezy, although early morning ground frosts are still a regular occurrence. Generally, the winds have continued to come from the south, mostly direct but have on occasions backed around to a more southwesterly direction. 

As for spring bird migration, it's obviously a little later up here in the northeast of Scotland but there are a few reports, including a Northern Wheatear up as far as Mull, Argyll but that's the west coast and Sand Martins at Baron's Haugh RSPB, Clyde. This, of course, is only my second spring living in Aberdeenshire and any migration patterns have yet to unfold, in fact, my first Sand Martin in 2021 wasn't until the 29th.

Gannets moving through

Over the last few weeks, I've enjoyed my usual local walks and made visits to Glen Dye, Girdleness and the Ythan Estuary. The sea is beginning to bustle with noticeably more Guillemots and Razorbills found bobbing around below the cliffs. Gannets are now passing in greater numbers and both Kittiwake a Fulmars are fishing regularly and setting up territories along the sea cliffs.

Nothing like a good scratch! ~ Male Common Crossbill at Glen Dye.

On the 2nd I visited Glen Dye near Banchory, around a 40-minute drive. Open moorland at the top, through planted conifers, other woodlands, upland farms and the Water of Dye produces some amazing habitat for long walks. My walk was certainly springlike with drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers and singing Coal Tit and Great Tit. I had hoped for displaying Goshawks but it wasn't to be but I did have a close encounter with a stunning male Crossbill. Other notables included Dipper and displaying Ravens.

A visit to Girdleness on March 9th produced some wonderful Bottlenose Dolphin activity in the stiff breeze with many breaching during my stay. 

Ross's Goose (right) with Pink-footed Goose ~ My photo which has been featured in Birdguides 'Review of the Week'

However, the best of the month thus far for me has to be Ross's Goose on the 11th which spent its time with Pink-footed Geese between Newtonhill and Portlethen for several days, the county's first in 10 years. Looking back at my personal records my last Ross's Goose was on Texel in 2009 (the largest north sea Island in the Netherlands) while twitching a Caspian Plover

More images of the 'Month Thus Far'...

Redshank sporting a spot of bling on the Ythan ~ Still awaiting feedback.

Uncropped image of Dolphins at Girdleness

Ross's Goose ~ Portlethen

Ross's with the Pinkies

Common Crossbill at Glen Dye

Happy Days for this Harbour Seal ~ Although not for the fishy!

Returning Lesser-Black-backed Gulls after their winter break from northeast Scotland

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