weather predictions favoured the west coast so we headed for Doonfoot
as Grasshopper Warblers had been recently reported there. Of course we
went via Kilmarnock ASDA cafeteria where we had a delightful 'Wee
Scottish Breakfast' with 2 slices of toast.
the Doonfoot car park there was only only a
solitary Mallard feeding in the disappointing morning gloom - although
of blue sky were approaching from the south. We ventured onto the beach
mouth of the Doon where masses of birds were feeding. Mute Swans and
Oystercatchers were in the majority. A pair of Rooks were foraging
one with its food pouch bulging.
flock of Dunlin flew in and landed fairly close to where we were
sitting although they were hard to spot in the poor light especially
since they were well camouflaged against the sand and seaweed. The
Redshanks too were hard to spot. On the way back to the car we noticed
Greenfinch and Reed Bunting in the bushes.
a short drive to the Greenan Shore car park we set off on a walk past
the Castle. The light was steadily improving and straight away we heard
the familiar and slightly peculiar call of the Grasshopper Warbler. It
was very close perching on a bramble bush. Further on we were
entertained by a singing Willow Warbler. Very soon after a Common
Whitethroat made an appearance accompanied by a bold Blackbird who was
probably guarding its nest so we moved on.
the Castle, a family of Cormorants were very active on the rocks. As I
photographed them a Rock Pipit popped up and conveniently posed for me,
beak stuffed with what looked like nesting material. At this point we
last treated to some sunshine and we started to make our way back to
the car. We
came across another Willow Warbler belting out its familiar tones only
metres away. Further on a Starling was on the top of a Hawthorn bush
picking off St
we found a Stonechat perched high on a reed. It saw us but curiously
off. I wish they were all like that! In the next bush a Goldfinch
its finely coloured plumage. As we made our final approach towards the
a female Wheatear appeared some 20m ahead of us. John and I cannot
seeing one at this site before, although I dare say locals would
we sat by the car in bright sunlight, munching
our Danish pastries and congratulating ourselves on an excelled haul of
sightings, a cheeky wee cock House Sparrow waited in the trees for a
bit of our
snack - no chance pal. But there may be crumbs.
Good weather was predicted across the
Central Belt of Scotland and there
were no outstanding reports of exotic birds to chase so our chosen
was a bit random. We hadn’t visited Stevenson for a good few
swung it was we would be able to travel down the new M8
just opened that very morning. We stopped at Stevenston Morrisons for
breakfast which was, as usual, excellent.
At Stevenston Point we were met by a
small flock of Jackdaws apparently
digging up the soft clay of a dried-up puddle presumably looking for
invertebrates to eat. On the rocks a Cormorant was drying its feathers
by an Eider doing the same thing before flying off.
We waited and
watched for passing
birds such as Gannets and Terns but we soon concluded we would be
better moving on to Saltcoats to check the Harbour area. Unfortunately
we were a bit disappointed there also.We found only a Redshank and a
few Turnstones, but we were entertained by the antics of a male and
female House Sparrow as they tried to catch flies by the seawall.
|Female House Sparrow
As we made our
way back to the car
we were keenly watched by a bold Herring Gull. We returned to
Stevenston to Ardeer Quarry NR hoping for better luck. As we started
our circuit at the Pond we immediately saw a Mallard with a group of
Duclair Ducks. They keenly made a beeline for us hoping for bread. A
nearby Robin probably had a similar idea.
we reached the south end to the reserve where we were more sheltered
from the wind we came across several interesting insects. A Peacock
butterfly was clinging to a wall soaking up the bright sunshine. Orange
Tip butterflies were flitting from flower to flower but a female Large
Red Damselfly sat very still, possibly freshly emerged from its
under-water nymph form. John spotted a hoverfly, eristalis arbustorum,
had landed on some Gorse.
thought I saw a female Orange Tip butterfly (upper wings black and
white with no orange and underwing intricately patterned) but it turned
out to be a Green-veined White (underwing with free veins). The rather
random-sounding song of a Blackcap drew our attentions away from
invertebrates, and soon afterwards the descending tones of a Willow
Warbler attracted us further around the estate. John pointed out a Wren
hiding in a leafless bush after it had uttered its surprisingly
powerful song for such a tiny bird.
we passed a house bordering the site we found a Greater Periwinkle
plant with its beautiful purple flowers. Close-by there was a large
patch of Wavy Bittercress and Red Campion. As I scanned the marsh area
for Roe Deer I could just make out a Buzzard on the ground. Maybe it
was sitting over freshly-caught prey.
As we completed our circuit
commented that the Reed Mace at the edges of
the pond were like candy floss. At the car park Starlings were scouring
for worms – occasionally dropping one.
as we supped our tea and chewed
our lattice pastries we reflected on what turned out to be a very
fruitful trip. It was a pity we didn't start at Ardeer Quarry NR!
9th April 2017
It was another Sunday where
weather was to be best in the east so we
headed for our old faithful destination – Musselburgh, where
find something of interest. We stopped for our usual hearty breakfast
Morrisons (9/10 from me – point dropped for overcooked bacon,
John's breakfast of poached eggs on toast was a disreputable 1/10. To
be fair you shouldn't be able to play golf with a poached egg. At
Musselburgh we parked not
far inside the entrance of Levenhall Links as
the road to the Scrapes carpark was too bumpy to risk damaging my
suspension. We walked along the seawall road and immediately spotted a
Long-tailed Duck, and further along the road we spotted a male. As we
the repeated dives of the ducks I heard a calling Reed Bunting in the
banks behind us, and soon we spotted it perched in a bush. Then a pair
cavorting Skylarks flew onto the road and one of them sat on a boulder
“froze” just in front of us.
Off the seawall the expected Velvet
Scoters were diving fairly near the
shore. As I photographed them a flock of Wigeon flew past, followed by
a lone Red-breasted
Merganser. A group of four Gadwall passed some 50m offshore.
We decided to move to the hides at the Scrapes and once there we were
pleased to see it reasonably well populated with birds, mainly
Oystercatchers and Redshanks. Shelduck were dabbling in the far pool. I
then started snapping a female Reed Bunting when the Oystercatchers
went up, startled by a Peregrine Falcon swooping on the flock.
rapidly for a few minutes before disappearing to
the west. As order was restored couple of Meadow Pipits landed on a
patch of daisies in front of the hide. As we returned back along the
seawall road one of the ever-active Skylarks landed nearby on a
fencepost. My final capture was of a male Eider stretching its wings.
| Peregrine Falcon
As we munched merrily on our pastry
lattice washed down with strong, warm
tea we agreed that once again Musselburgh had come up with the goods.
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