What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


Leisure By WH Davies

        
Our Expeditions

Archive
                                                                                                                                                            

14th January

Aberlady LNR


Reports of the return of the Long-eared Owl at Aberlady drew us east once more. The weather forecast was encouraging. It was to be cloudy with sunny intervals and low probability of rain. So after a hearty breakfast in Dalkeith Morrisons (9.5/10) we sped up the A198 to Longniddry, then along the coast to Aberlady Local Nature Reserve. We had a dull start though, but as we crossed the footbridge we managed to see a group of Teal and a Curlew feeding at the mouth of the Peffer Burn. As we reached the end of the bridge the sun broke through, illuminating a Carrion Crow foraging in the long grass. Just before the path passed through the dense thicket of Sea Buckthorn a kind birder pointed out a Peregrine Falcon sitting a couple of hundred metres away near the shore. Perhaps it was eating some unfortunate prey.

Teal
Curlew
Carrion Crow
Peregrine Falcon





As we snapped the Falcon we became aware that there were lots of Fieldfares feeding on the orange Sea Buckthorn berries. John thought he’d read that these berries, ‘hippophae rhamnoides’, were rich in alcohol when ripe. Maybe that explains their excited behaviour! However when I researched the Sea Buckthorn berry I could see no mention of alcohol but apparently the berries are very oily and very rich in vitamin C, so they’re a rich energy source for birds.
When we reached Marl Loch, where the Long-eared Owl had been seen, more Fieldfares were very evident as hordes of them were arriving onto the berry-rich bushes, settling only for a short time and then fleeing nervously. We used my spotting scope to scan the lochside for the owl, but to no avail. It hadn’t been seen that day. Undeterred, we moved further into the reserve. Out into the Firth of Forth we could see a very imposing sea vessel that we researched later in the pub and concluded it was a jack up rig ship. Exactly what it was up to, we don’t know. Maybe the passing Herring Gull could’ve told us! We eventually reached yet more Sea Buckthorn and, yes, you may have guessed, even more Fieldfares gorging themselves on the juicy berries! This time we got much closer views to these very flighty subjects.

Fieldfare
Jack Up Rig Ship
Herring Gull
Fieldfare




We pressed on further along the footpath towards the dunes and soon were surprised by a wee male Reed Bunting that flew in, settled on a low bush and posed long enough for me to get some good shots. We then struggled over the dunes onto the beautiful beach. The tide was in and I headed immediately towards some waders I’d spotted to the south. They were Sanderling rather comically scurrying along the edge of the shore. The ever-present Oystercatchers and Common Gulls were also feeding there.

Reed Bunting
Sanderling
Oystercatcher
Common Gull



Further round we met another small flock of Sanderling probing a small area of the beach seemingly unaware we were there. The light was fading as the clouds rolled in but as we left the beach I captured a picture of a Knot, one of quite a large flock. We then plodded back to the car, and as we passed back over the footbridge we again came across Curlew and Teal, sadly in very poor light.

Sanderling
Knot
Curlew
Teal



At the car it was tea and chocolate eclairs before driving back home. Although we failed to catch a glimpse of the Long-eared Owl the outing had been a success as it had been very enjoyable and we left with pictures of some lovely birds.

Pictures of the week:

Carrion Crow
Fieldfare


Reed Bunting
Sanderling



7th January

Musselburgh

With festive celebrations behind us we were on the road again heading merrily east to Musselburgh. The weatherman assured us that we’d experience bright but cold conditions and he wasn’t wrong. So after our customary Dalkeith Morrisons breakfast (9.5/10) we nipped over to the mouth of the Esk where we found the tide was well out but there seemed to be sufficient birds to keep us interested. Our first shots were of some well lit Mute Swans and Mallards by the east bank of the river. A little further along, a Bar-tailed Godwit was vigorously drilling into the sand using its long sharp bill that was evolved precisely for that purpose. All the time there were birds passing, among them were a fair number of Goldeneye flying upstream.

Mute Swan
Mallard
Bar-tailed Godwit
Goldeneye




Other flypasts included the ubiquitous Black-headed (unphotographed), Common and Herring Gulls as well as Carrion Crows searching for shellfish and occasionally dropping them from on high, presumably to encourage the occupants of the shells to leave their shells - only to be gobbled up. Below the seawall a solitary Curlew used its long curved beak to forage for invertebrates buried in the sand.

Common Gull
Herring Gull
Carrion Crow
Curlew




Seeking out birds is often done with the ears before eyes. In the trees by the path I heard a group of Linnets resting in the lovely sunlight. Their “chichichi-chit” calls were very distinct from the other birdcalls. The equally familiar calls of Oystercatchers (“kleeep, kwik, or k-peep”) and Redshanks (“tuleeu-tuleeu-tuleeu”) attracted my attention back over the seawall. Another familiar sound, that of  of a Meadow Pipit (“seep, seep or swip, swip, swip”) allowed me to locate it and capture its image as it explored the grassy verges of the path.

Linnet
Oystercatcher
Redshank
Meadow Pipit




As I followed the Pipit I heard a Reed Bunting calling from a distant bush - “seeoo”. I edged my way towards it but it was spooked by a passing cyclists before I could get as close as I would have liked. About 80m offshore I spotted a flock of Ringed Plovers as they sped westwards over a pair of Velvet Scoters diving. Before too long one of the Scoters also flew west. As I photographed it, a pair of Reed Buntings flew onto the seawall, settling only metres from where we were standing - a great opportunity to capture pictures of these bonny birds.

Female Reed Bunting
Ringed Plover
Velvet Scoter
Reed Bunting




On the sea, spread over a couple of hundred metres adjacent to the Scrapes, we came upon at least a couple of hundred roosting Wigeon. I guessed that the Scrapes were iced-over as I would have expected the birds to have settled there instead of on the sea. As we walked over to the entrance of the Reserve I spotted a female Kestrel sitting atop one of the trees. It posed rather obligingly before flitting off a bit beyond our view. At the hides we were presented with a deserted, icy panorama. Only a couple Magpies braved the Arctic conditions. Later, a few groups of  Wigeon swooped over the frozen ponds, intending to land, but changing their minds at the last minute before heading back over the seawall to the relative safety of the sea.

Wigeon
Kestrel
Magpie
Wigeon



On leaving the Scrapes we found the Boating Pond held quite a few Wigeon, all bathed in the low, amber winter light. On the return journey we
noted that the Velvet Scoter was a lot closer to the wall, allowing us to see a bit more detail. As we approached the mouth of the Esk we found
several Turnstones doing exactly as you would expect from their names, and at the very end of our walk as we reached the car I got pictures of another Curlew as it slowly made its way upstream into the rays of the setting sun.

Female Wigeon
Velvet Scoter
Turnstone
Curlew



On reaching the car it was time for our tea and Danish pastries. It was John’s first post-walk tea for a few weeks and the caramel crown Danish
pastries were delicious, made all the more enjoyable having had made a fairly successful circuit of one of our favourite locations.

Pictures of the Week:

Carrion Crow
Female Reed Bunting


Kestrel
Wigeon



Back To Top

Archive  


 

 
August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015
December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016
April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2106
August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016
 December 2016  January 2017
 February 2017
 March 2017
April 2017 May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2107
December 2017
January 2018