Friday, March 31, 2023

📖 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Spring Migration ~ 31/03/2023

A day out with the Aberdeenshire RSPB Local Group on Sunday 26th and a visit out of county to Angus and Forfar Loch with 26 members in attendance. A creditable 42 species were noted. After lunch, half of the group headed off to Monikie Country Park. A full report of the trip can be found HERE the highlights for me were displaying Great Crested Grebes, sadly only one site left now in Aberdeenshire where these charismatic grebes can be found, Osprey, Chiffchaff, (2) Little Gulls, and (5) Lesser Black-backed Gulls amazingly a species which only returns north in the spring to breed.

A likely new arrival Lesser Black-backed Gull

Closer to home an afternoon visit to Dalmadilly Ponds on the 28th to begin this year's search for spring arrivals. I wasn't too convinced after yesterdays dusting of snow that I'd be in luck but two singing Chiffchaffs brightened the visit but I still await the first hirundines of the year. Having been in Norfolk last week I have to remind myself that spring begins much later up here in northeast Scotland! 

Greenland White-fronted Goose at Dalmadilly on the 28th

Outward bound were (11) Whooper Swans heading north and just as I was about to depart a Greenland White-fronted Goose dropped onto the east pond along with (5) Greylags. Although I can't be certain I'm pretty sure this bird spent a few days around Dalmadilly during the same few weeks last year.

Ross's Gull from February 2022

On the 30th I took a drive over to Kinnaird Head to catch up with a rare Ross's Gull that's being seen regularly offshore from the foghorn. I'd managed some excellent views last February of the same species and amazingly from the exact spot. It was a lovely start to the day and I spent an hour or so tucked away on the rocks just below the lighthouse watching both Meadow Pipits and Rock Pipits displaying. 

A Rock Pipit takes a breather from its display flying!

The light wasn't particularly good today with a light mist over the sea but I eventually managed a scoped view of the bird. I was quite lucky actually as the bird flew directly through my scope while I scanned the sea and after a few dips onto the sea headed southeast and out of sight, still it was job done! A bonus was my first Swallow of the year over the lighthouse, can't remember the last time I saw a Swallow before a Sand Martin in any spring!

With the warm sun now burning off the mist a Gannet passes my obs point 

Along the coastline, numbers are beginning to build now as we head into spring with lots of Auks on the water and good numbers of Kittiwake heading through. Gannets are back and of course, it remains to be seen how devastating avian flu had on the colony at Troup Head just along the coast from here.

Monday, March 20, 2023

📖 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 South of the Border ~ 17th/03/2023

 ðŸ´ó §ó ¢ó ¥ó ®ó §ó ¿ Friday 17th March 2023 ðŸŒ¤ 🌨️ 9C ~ S @ 8MPH ~ The second of two days in Norfolk and a morning visit to Cley Marshes before the rain came in the early afternoon.

Long-billed Dowitcher on Simmond's Scrape

After paying my dues at the Nature Centre I headed straight across to the hides overlooking Simmond's Scrape and Pat's Pool. On route, I was told about a Black Redstart which had just been seen in a nearby paddock and I spent about 15 minutes searching with no luck. Just prior to entering the hides there was a good deal of Bearded Tit activity but try as I might I was unable to obtain any snapshots.

Long-billed Dowitcher from Daukes Hide

Almost immediately from the Daukes Hide, I noticed a wader fly up from cover to aggressively move on two Black-tailed Godwits that had just dropped in. I was happy when things settled down to note that it was the Long-billed Dowitcher, which has been on site now for some weeks. The bird gave some ridiculously close views and spent the whole hour or so I was in the hide feeding well.

Water Pipit briefly on Simmond's Scrape

While here a number of Ruff on the scrapes, along with Dunlin, Avocet, Snipe, Turnstone, Ruff, Redshank, more Black-tailed Godwits and a single Curlew, plus the bonus of a Water Pipit which flew in briefly before heading off. I wasn't surprised to see a few more Red Kites, along with Marsh Harrier and when I moved around to Bishop's Hide, three Spoonbills

Drake Pintail at Cley

The usual wildfowl around the pools includes a few Pintail and the surrounding marshland held Brent and Greylag Geese. Despite the deteriorating weather, I took the short drive over to Kelling Heath but frankly I was being extremely optimistic in the hope of seeing any Dartford Warblers. That said singing Woodlarks, even in the now persistent rain was worth the effort and the soaking. An enjoyable and nostalgic few days!

A Few More Images of the Day...

Spoonbill ~ When you gotta scratch you scratch!

Ruff on Pat's Pool Cley

Long-billed Dowitcher 

📖 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 South of the Border ~ 15th/16th/03/2023

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Wednesday 15th March 2023 ðŸŒ¤ 2C ~ S @ 2MPH ~ Apologies for the lack of posts of late so I thought I'd begin my resurgence with a couple of diary entry's of my recent trip south to Warwickshire and  Norfolk.

Great White Egret drops onto East Marsh at Brandon

Water Rail from the John Walton Hide

Having driven down on the 14th to Warwickshire It was great to see some of my old buddies at Brandon Marsh, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust on the 15th. As I arrived a Green Woodpecker flew calling across the top reedbed and as I drove to the parking area a Cetti's Warbler called, both a scarcity in Aberdeenshire but Brandon has long been an excellent place to find both species. Although it was more about catching up with the guys for a good natter the birding produced some other good moments when a Great White Egret dropped onto East Marsh Pool and some good views of a Water Rail from the John Walton Hide.

Frozen Bank Vole

Also worth a mention was the above Bank Vole, which sadly appeared to be freezing to death on a small ice shelf in front of the hide. Thankfully after a short lack of activity, he scurried off unperturbed into the  nearby reedbed. 

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Thursday 16th March 2023 ðŸŒ¤ 5C ~ SW @ 5MPH ~ A drive over to Norfolk this morning for a few days birding but firstly a stop at Edernell, Cambridgeshire. The bank at Eldernell allows extensive views over the Nene Washes and it's a great place to look for Cranes and at this time of year, Short-eared Owls!

Red Kite passes close by at Eldernell.

After parking and a quick scan, which initially revealed two Common Cranes I took a walk along the bank as far as the spinney. What was apparent during my drive across and indeed as I began my walk was the amount of Red Kites I was encountering, at least a half dozen during the drive over and already two individuals overhead at Eldernell. It's 5 years since my last visit to the area and plain to see how the Red Kite population has rocketed in that time.

A male Marsh Harrier over Eldernell

With the recent rains, the area was well flooded so it was no surprise to draw a blank on any owl activity by the time I reached the spinney but I'd managed of note six Common Cranes, a pair of Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, four more Red Kite and a Kingfisher along the ditches. One surprise was to see and hear a Woodlark as it flew overhead heading east, a first for me here at Eldernell. Friends had told me to look out for a Tawny Owl which can be seen quite often in the spinney. 'Find the right hole and you'll find the owl'. Well despite a good search of many holes, cracks and crevices, no sign today but it was a little breezy!

Such a treat to watch this Long-eared Owl at Eldernell

On my walk back to the car it was time to check out the many hawthorn and bramble patches along the ditches in my search for owls. It paid dividends too with two Long-eared Owls and a single Short-eared Owl and I spent an enjoyable half hour watching one Long-eared Owl occasionally preening but most of the time sleeping, a very enjoyable visit! 

My first Sandwich Tern of the year resting on the fresh marsh at Titchwell.

The afternoon was spent at RSPB Titchwell and after lunch at the reserve a walk to the beach. It was good to see so many Brent Geese, a little scarce in northeast Scotland and so too Avocets which are here in good numbers. Some distant views of Marsh Harriers over the reedbeds, plus my first Sandwich Tern of the year was found nestled in amongst the resting Gulls. 

Meditteranean Gull at Titchwell

Talking of Gulls I remember Titchwell being a good place to see Meditteranean Gulls and I wasn't disappointed to find at least a half dozen. Three Chiffchaffs and a Stonechat by the time I reached the beach with little of note on the sea. Along the shoreline Oystercatchers, Sanderling and a single Bar-tailed Godwit.  Also of note during the visit Ruff, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Snipe, Redshank, Dunlin and the odd Curlew. To end the visit three Spoonbill over towards Thornham heading north.

More Images of the Day...

Short-eared Owl at Eldernell

Yet another wonderful Red Kite

Ruff at Titchwell