Christmas Day 2016
A day off!
18th December 2016
Belhaven, Barns Ness, Torness
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. |
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|
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11th December 2016
Skateraw Barns Ness
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.
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
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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|| |
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4th December 2016
Torness, Belhaven Bay, Port Seton
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
|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.
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.
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.
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