Archive - December 2016

Christmas Day 2016

A day off!

18th December 2016

Belhaven, Barns Ness, Torness

I ended up heading east, hoping, rather than believing, that the light there would be better than it was when I rolled out my bed to look out of the curtains. The predictions though were for poor light throughout the whole Central Belt. I was on my own again for the second week running due to John’s work commitments. After my usual excellent 'Wee Scottish' breakfast in Dalkieth Morrisons I headed first for Belhaven Bay. On arrival I got out of the car, peered across the bay and almost got back in the car again as there didn’t seem to be anything much to photograph. Then my eye caught  sight of a big white heron-sized bird 40m from the car - it was a Little Egret! “Oh well”, I thought, “I’ll just walk down to the Seafield Pond.” On the way there I spotted the ever-present Curlew and Oystercatchers foraging at low tide.

Little Egret Curlew Oystercatcher Wigeon

On the Pond I managed to take a couple of shots of a small flock of Wigeon as well as managing to put a few up! As I returned to the car I noticed a menacing-looking Carrion Crow having a spot of lunch as it sat on a tree branch. Next stop was supposed to have been Barn’s Ness, however there is now a large gate preventing cars from parking near the lighthouse - so forcing us to use the pay and display car park. Bye-bye! As I passed the quarry I got a reasonable shot of an inquisitive Roe Deer.

Spooked Wigeon Carrion Crow Roe Deer Eastern Black Redstart

I decided to end my trip at Torness - no parking charges there! The Eastern Black Redstart we spotted a few weeks previously was reported still to be showing well but it was a Rock Pipit that checked me out first before scarpering with a chorus of cheep-cheeps. A small group of Eider were diving just beyond the tetrapods as I waited for the Redstart to make an appearance. After about half an hour it obliged, and only a few metres from where I was standing on the raised gantry. It flew on top of a tetrapod, wiggled its tail a few times, looked about left, then right and then disappeared for short time before repeating the same behaviour over and over again. I didn’t hear it make any sounds. As light faded I headed back to the car and as I moved along the walkway a nosey wee Pied Wagtail darted in front of me before disappearing over the wall. In the field just before the Power Station car park I captured a few pictures of a Curlew grazing in the gloom. No buns today just simple tea and biscuits. I was looking forward to getting home to check out what seemed to me to be not a bad haul for such a dull day.

Rock Pipit Eider Pied Wagtail Curlew


11th December 2016

Skateraw   Barns Ness

The weatherman told me it was to be an East/West split as far as rain was concerned - wet and dull  in the west and dry and dull in the east- and so it was. I planned to make short visits to 3 or 4 locations starting at Skateraw and then working my way home via Belhaven Bay, Port Seton and hopefully Musselburgh before the light ran out. I was on my own on this trip as John had his birthday tea to celebrate so I had my usual breakfast alone at Morrisons in Dalkeith. As I couldn't fault it, I've got to award our top rating 10/10. When I arrived at Skateraw it was really dull but I was delighted to discover lots of birds feeding on piles of rotting seaweed - Black-headed Gulls, Redshank, Oystercatchers and Dunlin were gorging themselves on the feast of invertibrates served up by the sea. A lonely Mallard looked out of place.

Black Headed Gulls Redshank
Oystercatcher Dunlin Mallard

I was satisfied with my sightings, if not with the poor quality of the light, so I moved on to Barns Ness. Immediately I noticed the light was a bit better, so much so that I got a decent shot of distant Red-breasted Mergansers. As I walked along the beach to the east of the lighthouse, I immediately noticed extensive piles of seaweed all along the shore. Small birds were feeding there - Rock Pipits, Meadow Pipit - but no sign of the recently reported Water Pipit.

Red-Breasted Mergansers Rock Pipit Meadow Pipit  

Further on I spotted a huge flock of birds feeding at the water's edge. I managed a fairly decent close shots of Dunlin,Turnstones and Redshanks as they darted back and forth anxiously attempting not to get soaked by the waves. A couple of Sanderling were also in the mix

Dunlin Turnstone Redshank Sanderling

A Grey Seal made a brief appearance offshore probably attracted by the commotion. As I spent rather a long time manoeuvring around the seaweed snapping birds I ran out of time so I didn't get to any other sites. But as I sat in my car supping on tea and biscuits I noticed a large flock of Golden Plover circling the Ness. Unfortunately they didn't land so I only got a distant shot. Overall, considering the poor light, I ended up with a fairly good set of observations- and it was good fun!

Grey Seal Golden Plover  

4th December 2016

Torness, Belhaven Bay, Port Seton

Twitter was awash with reports of an "elusive" Eastern Black Redstart showing at Torness Power Station - so east it was. Breakfast at Dalkeith Morrisons was back on track with a very good 9.5. Good service and quality hot food. The skies were clear and blue as we headed round the coast to Torness, but as we turned into the car park the cloud moved in and the sun disappeared. So with poor light we set off. Within a couple of feet from the car I spotted a nice Blackbird feeding on Hawthorn berries, and also an inquisitive Robin. Then, as advised, to avoid spooking the Redstart, we took the higher walkway to the north of the power station. A nice Rock Pipit grabbed our attention as we waited for the main attraction to show. It didn't take long however for this gorgeous little bird to appear, and once it did it was far from elusive. It flitted back and forth along the top of sea defence tetra pods for over an hour in full view of the several birders and ourselves.

Blackbird Robin Rock Pipit Eastern Black Redstart

I had more than enough shots of the bonny wee poser and we noticed the light was looking better to the west so we headed for Belhaven Bay. There were reports of a Red Throated Diver showing on Seafield Pond. As I drove out of the car park we spotted a Buzzard posing on a lamp post. John took the photograph as I manoeuvred the car for a better angle.The light was a little better but not great when we arrived at Belhaven Bay. The tide was well out and the only things close by were some Teal grubbing about in the mud, and a lone Redshank. The Red Throated Diver wasn't on the pond sadly, but there were plenty of other birds.

Buzzard Redshank Teal Juvenile Cormorants

A couple of Cormorant juveniles, Mute Swans, at least 100 Wigeon grazing on the grass at the far end of the pond, and some Curlews obliging with occasional flypasts. With light fading fast we headed further west via Port Seton for our usual tea and a bun.

Mute Swan Curlew Curlew Wigeon

With light fading fast we headed further west via Port Seton for our usual tea and a bun. I photographed a Starling posing on a lamppost and a nice sunset shot with the new Queensferry Crossing in the background. These and tea with an Apple and Custard Danish were a fine end to a very successful trip.

Starling Queensferry Crossing

Back To Top