Archive - March 2016

27th March

Hedderwick Hill

Heading east again today in search of the Crossbill, seen at Hedderwick Hill burn near Tyninghame Bay. Another fine breakfast at Morrisons in Dalkeith, a 9.5+. The plus was down to getting symmetrical toast for the first time. If you eat your breakfast the way we do then you'll appreciate symmetrical toast. Off to Tyninghame Bay / Hedderwick Hill.
It wasn't looking good as we headed through the woods to the Hedderwick Hill burn where the Crossbills had been spotted. It was very busy with families heading down to the same area to roll their eggs for Easter. Despite the place name of Hedderwick Hill, the place is as flat as a pancake except for a depression right on the spot where the Crossbills had been spotted which is completely suitable for rolling your eggs. Ergo, no Crossbills. We heard them and saw them fly high overhead a few times during our time there but couldn't get a decent shot.
As we waited for the Crossbills to return a lovely Goldcrest and a very vocal Coal Tit grabbed our attention. After an hour we decided the Crossbills were unlikely to return in the time we had available. Ever more frequent rain showers forced the issue and we made our way back to the car park for a cup of tea and 1½ buns.
On the way back we followed the path bordering Eastlinks Family Park. They have a nice selection of "exotic" animals for the children to see and feed. I'll come back during the week and see if I can get the elusive Crossbill.

Goldcrest Coal Tit Pied Wagtail
Rhea Fallow Deer Red Deer
Llama Not Sure!  

20th March 2016


Heading east today. The weather is fine across the central belt but I want to give the Surf Scoter a try. Another "9.5" breakfast at Morrisons in Dalkeith and off to Musselburgh. We decided to park at the scrapes and walk the sea wall anti - clockwise. The scrapes were busy with the usual suspects. Among them were a pair of displaying Shelduck. The display was rather noisy but quite tame. Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Greylag, Reed Bunting and Magpie all made an appearance. A couple of Skylarks also arrived but stayed below our view line.
Off to the sea wall to hopefully spot the Surf Scoter close enough to photograph. Sadly, it didn't materialise, but more than a few Long Tailed Ducks were some consolation. At one time, passing Red Breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye kept us busy for a while. A shag came very close to the sea wall but gradually drifted further out. Velvet Scoters, a few hundred yards out, kept us alert, scanning for any Surf Scoters that might be hiding among them. Sadly, not to be.
As we headed towards the mouth of the Esk, a pair of noisy Skylarks landed a few feet in front of us. Despite a very busy pathway close bye, they hung around for a while and we managed a few nice shots. Back to the scrapes for a last look but nothing new. Tea and a bun and a half! drew a lovely day to an end. Back home in time for the Manchester derby.

Shelduck Dunlin Redshank
Reed Bunting Magpie Long Tailed Duck
Red Breasted Merganser Goldeneye Shag
Velvet Scoter Male Skylark Female Skylark

13th March 2016


Off to the west today. Weather looks brighter on that side. After a " 9.5 " breakfast at Asda in Kilmarnock we set off for Doonfoot. The promised break in the clouds didn't materialise and it was a bit dull and overcast when we arrived. It was also very quiet. We sat on the beach for a while scanning a large group of gulls some distance away looking for anything that might be special or unusual. Nothing caught our eye so off down the beach towards the old castle. Our first real encounter with a bird was a Rock Pipit which flew onto the rock at the base of the castle as we were heading back. We were also on the lookout for Yellowhammers which frequent the trees just north of the same rock. What we found, however, were Greenfinches, 6 or 7 perhaps flitting between trees when disturbed but not flying off very far. As we followed them north along the beach we came across a little pond with quite a few visitors. We parked ourselves nearby just as the clouds broke and I managed some nice shots of Teal, Curlew Greenshanks, and a Grey Heron which was being buzzed by a few angry gulls. This little pond proved to be quite a find and we stayed around here for over an hour before heading off to the car for tea and a bun. The Greenfinches arrived at the car park just as we did and we ' hunted ' them for a time and managed a few nice shots. A nice Stonechat appeared at the car park and posed quite nicely.
Doonfoot never disappoints!

Rock Pipit Curlew Curlew
Greenshank Teal Teal
Stonechat Grey Heron Greenfinch

3rd March 2016

Ardmore Point

Slight change of plans this week. John and I both have other things to do on Sunday so I'm letting you see what I do the rest of the week. Off to Ardmore Point on the Firth of Clyde with a packed lunch and a flask. No fry-up at Morrisons or Asda during the week. I like Ardmore Point for the walk itself although it can be quite tricky in places after rain. The sightings are usually quite good and the views are worth seeing. It was early afternoon when I arrived. The tide was low but the sun was high and blazing wonderfully. I was worried that sea birds would be too far from shore for decent pictures but as I started the walk I came upon a Dunnock, Song Thrush and Reed Bunting in quick succession- all very close to the path. Further round it was very quiet as I had expected. I was pleased to see many groups of snowdrops nestling amongst the bushes along the pathway. The highlight of the visit though was a herd of seals basking near the shore - close enough for some decent pictures. I sat for an hour on the shore trying different shooting angles before I realised I was about to be marooned by the incoming tide! I carefully waded back to dry land and finished the shoot with a couple of Eider before returning to the car for tea and a chocolate biscuit. All in all it had been a very enjoyable and relaxing visit.

Reed Bunting Song Thrush Dunnock
Common Snowdrop Female Eider Male Eider
  Common Seals  

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