Archive - July 2016


31st July 


As has been the norm this summer so far, the best of the weather is forecast to be in the east.
There was nothing special on the grapevine so we decided on Skateraw . Our last visit here was February 2016 so, pot luck on what we'll see but a very nice piece of coastline to walk round if nothing interesting shows. Breakfast at Morrison's in Dalkeith was an overwhelming 10. Perfect from start to finish. Good omen? As we arrived at the car park we immediately spotted a couple of Common Sandpipers feeding on a rock pool. We headed off to the headland via the beach which was quite bare apart from 4 female Goosanders swimming some meters out. As we walked along the beach I heard a Ringed Plover behind us. It took a while, but we managed to
backtrack a fair distance without disturbing the bird to get on the right side of the light for a decent shot.
It was still a bit far away, but, luckily, a couple with their dog began walking towards us, and the dog managed to nudge the Plover closer to us for a nice shot. Well done. It was a bit quiet on the headland when we arrived but we parked ourselves in a secluded spot and waited. There is a large finger of rock jutting out from the headland here so we managed to grab a few fly- byes, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew, Cormorant and Shelduck. The rocks immediately in front of us proved quite productive and we shot Pied Wagtail, White Wagtail, Juvenile Starlings and Rock Pipits. We spent about an hour here in a very pleasant position enjoying the view. On the way back around the headland I managed to find a couple of newbies, Spear-leaved-Orache and Sticky-Groundsel. On the rocks down towards the beach I managed a nice example of Restarrow. Tea and a bun at the car park and off home in time for John to cook for granddaughter, Olivia's, birthday tea.

Common Sandpiper Female Goosander Ringed Plover
Oystercatcher Redshank Curlew
Cormorant Shelduck Pied Wagtail
White Wagtail Juvenile Starling Rock Pipit
Sticky-Groundsel Spear-leaved-Orache Common Restarrow

24th July 2016


We headed east again today as the bad weather was coming in from the west. There had been notifications on social media of 7 Little Egrets near the bridge. So, Dalkeith Morrison’s for breakfast, and on to Aberlady before the rain arrived. Breakfast was a good 9.5 but asymmetrical toast took the shine off. On arriving at Aberlady I was pleased to see a few empty parking places which, for Aberlady, was unusual. The tide was well out though! We spotted the Little Egrets as we arrived but they were too far out for a decent shot. There were quite a few juvenile Black Headed Gulls feeding near the bridge as we crossed over to the reserve. John spotted a couple of Roe Deer grazing to the right of us.
As we moved through the reserve the loud call of a Sedge Warbler grabbed our attention as it flew from the grass to a nearby tree. A few minutes later a bedraggled Meadow Pipit caught our attention. It looked as if there had been a downpour not long before we had arrived. We made our way up to what we call ' insect alley'. It's not far after the first bend on the path over the bridge and is a great place for insects. I spotted a Common Blue but it didn't settle long enough for a decent shot. It takes a while to get your eye in but eventually we started spotting loads of little butterflies and moths. I parked my Nikon D5200 and went to work with the Panasonic Lumix LX 5 and caught a Small Skipper, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, 5 and 6 spotted Burnets and a new moth, the Garden -grass-veneer.
When I returned to my Nikon D5200 I found a new fly basking on the lens. A polietes_lardarius. On the way back I managed a nice example of Twayblade. On the way home we called in at the estuary at Musselburgh for our  tea and a bun. Not much bird life today but a good day for insects

1st Cycle Black- headed Gull Roe Deer Sedge Warbler
Meadow Pipit Small Skipper Butterfly Small Heath Butterfly
Fly - polietes_lardarius 5 Spot Narrow Bordered Burnet Moth 6 Spot Burnet Moth
Meadow Brown Butterfly Garden_grass_veneer Moth Twayblade

17th July 2016

Barns Ness

The weather wasn't looking too great overall, but the forecast was better for the East. Nothing special was reported on Twitter so I decided Barns Ness would be worth a visit for a wee change. Breakfast at Morrison’s in Dalkeith was an 8.5. The service was great, so was the food but - NO tattie scones? The substitute Hash Brown was delicious but it's just not the same.
We parked at the lighthouse and hit the beach. It was very quiet from the outset. A Grey Heron was the only thing out and about. We moved to the dunes hoping to find something interesting. A nice Linnet and Meadow Pipit drew our attention for a short time.
As we moved through the dunes we saw a strange bird swimming close to the shore. We tried to move in for a better look but only succeeded in moving it further down the beach. We watched it for a time through glasses but were unable to identify it. Our best guess is a young Coot way off its normal beat. Nearby a Redshank appeared, followed by a Goldfinch, itself a stranger to the shoreline. As we walked back to the car we noticed a huge number of Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, all clinging to Common Ragwort. They were everywhere. Nearer the car I managed a nice couple of pictures of Smooth Hawksbeard and Catsear.

We decided to head to Belhaven Bay, but when we arrived weather was worsening - so there was nothing else for it but to have a quick cup of tea and a bun and off home. Not a bad trip though - apart from the lack of tattie scones!

Grey Heron Linnet Meadow Pipit
Young Coot? Redshank Goldfinch
Smooth Hawksbeard Catsear Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

10 July 2016


It was East today. The weather forecast didn't look too promising anywhere across the central belt. There was, however, a notification of a female Garganey on the scrapes at Musselburgh and young Cuckoo spotted on the pathway between the hides. Breakfast at Morrison’s in Dalkeith was a 9+. A much faster service than in previous weeks.
We began at the scrapes in case the Cuckoo decided to leave. The last notification was only 45 minutes earlier. The light was very poor but it could improve.
While scanning the pond on the rightmost scrape a couple of birders excitedly informed us that the Cuckoo was flitting about the trees on the pathway. Within 10 minutes of arriving I had the Cuckoo in the bag as it were. It landed so close to me at one point that I couldn't get the bird in shot. Back to the scrapes. John first noticed the loud chirping and spotted a young Black- headed Gull demanding food from its parent. It was joined a little later by a young Carrion Crow flitting between parents demanding similar. A Common Sandpiper was feeding close by, about 20 yards from the hide. At the far end of the pond, a good 70 yards away, I spotted a Greenshank. I suddenly noticed something to my right and managed to get a Roe Deer and a very small fawn skirting around the right hand side of the scrape. There was a sizable flock of Dunlin in breeding plumage on the pond along with some Redshanks. Time to move on and find the Garganey if it was still around. It took a while to spot but I eventually managed a nice shot. The problem was that the chief suspect sat on the edge of the pond with its head tucked under its wing for quite a long time. There were a few Shelduck on the pond in eclipse plumage. A birder arrived and informed us that a Little Gull was showing on the rightmost pond! Back we went and spotted it almost immediately. As I clicked away at the Little Gull I noticed a Lapwing or two being mobbed by some Common Terns. The Terns just wouldn't let the Lapwings settle. I wonder why.
We left and walked the sea wall. The light was poor and the Forth was very calm and empty. Time caught up with us as we were half way round so back to the car park for tea and one and a half buns. Wonderful!
A very successful trip in very poor light.

Juvenile Cuckoo Black-headed Gull
and Juvenile
Juvenile Carrion Crow
Common Sandpiper Greenshank Roe Deer and Fawn
Dunlin Redshank Female Garganey
Eclipse Shelduck Little Gull Common Tern

3rd July 2016


We parked at the Cadet Hall and headed clockwise round to the scrapes. The Eider and the Goosander females were still in abundance at the mouth of the Esk. Goosanders were propelling themselves through the water in short bursts, as if surfing. I'm not sure what this behaviour means. We both noticed that there was a marked absence of male Goosanders. A little further on from the main flock of Eider, a couple of females were watching over a pair of ducklings swimming near the sea wall. One of the adults caught a crab and struggled for a time to despatch it. Otherwise, it was rather quiet as we made for the scrapes, scanning the Forth for Velvet Scoter as we walked. No luck.
At the scrapes the usual suspects were in attendance, Shelduck, Pied Wagtails, Black- tailed Godwits, Curlew, Dunlin and Oystercatchers. However, there was a relative stranger some distance away at the back of the pond but I managed a fairly decent shot of a it - a Greenshank. I took a few shots of the Wagtails feeding and only realised later that I had managed to get a juvenile White Wagtail. A pair of Common Terns arrived to rest perhaps, and preen.

On our way back along the sea wall again we watched a Cormorant hunt close to the sea wall and I caught it on the surface with it's catch of a very small fish. A large flock of Velvet Scoter flew past but they were too far out for a decent photograph. Back at the car a cup of tea and one and a half buns was a perfect end to a reasonably good trip.

Female Goosander Female Eider Eider Duckling
Shelduck Pied Wagtail Black-tailed Godwit
Curlew Oystercatcher Greenshank
Juvenile White Wagtail Common Tern Cormorant with tiddler