Maidens and Turnberry
At last it was a gorgeous day! We headed to the west coast seeking Brent
Geese reported to be at Maidens, South Ayrshire. We stopped off of course for our
regular breakfast, this time at Kilmarnock ASDA. Once again it was excellent
(10/10), setting us up for a great trip.
When we arrived at Maidens the tide was fairly low and getting lower. We
could see several pairs of Shelduck in the distance and many Redshanks were
foraging on the shoreline. A single Oystercatcher stood on the rocks seemingly
unconcerned by our presence, unlike the rest of its flock of that went up as we
arrived. We could see some 50m away Brent Geese feeding near the shore. Beyond
them a dog walker was approaching. He was unwittingly encouraging the Geese to
move towards us allowing us to get much better shots. Hooray for dog walkers!
(I shouldn't think I’ll say say that again!)
Further along the rocky shore we noticed Ringed Plover roosting in the
sunshine. In the centre of the group a single Dunlin was enjoying the relative
security of the flock. Sitting near this was an unusually marked Plover. Its
head had a larger area of white and the black of the neck was rather speckled.
Overhead a flock of Feral Pigeons did a flypast.
Having gotten a fairly good set of pictures we decided to move south to
Turnberry Lighthouse as it is a great place to do a spot of sea-watching for
any passing wildlife. As we approached the lighthouse we noticed a Rock Pipit
hopping along the castle ruins.
When we settled on the grassy banks above the
rocks in front of the lighthouse we were treated to a procession of
passing birds – Gannet, Shag and Eider.
Just as we left after a very pleasant hour of observations a 1st winter
Herring Gull passed overhead. As we moved along the path across the golf course
a couple of Song Thrushes were seemingly going through what we guessed might be
a courtship ritual with the male pretending it was feeding as the female sat on
the grass with its wings spread out. We drove back to Maidens for our tea and
bun, pleased with another successful trip – well not quite! As I drank my tea I
noticed an extensive yellow patch of Coltsfoot flowers – which of course I got
a few pictures before driving back home to watch the fitba’.
|Herring Gull 1st Winter|
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Sunday 19th March 2017
I was on my own again as John had family
commitments. As I ate my Dalkeith Morrisons’ brekky (excellent 10/10) I checked
Twitter for anything that was going on - the Glaucous Gull was reported to
still be present at Dunbar Harbour - and, as the weather was clearing from the
east, it was a nobrainer where my destination was to be. Once at the harbour,
now brightly lit in Spring sunshine, my heart sank a little as there seemed to
be no birds there, but I went for a walk around it anyway. I’m glad I did
because the Glaucous Gull suddenly ﬂew in from the east side and circled around
the harbour over and over again before abruptly diving into the water and just
sat there looking, with attitude, at me and other interested photographers.
It ﬂoated there long enough for me to
actually get fed up snapping it, so I moved round to the seawall and spotted a
pair of Shags seeming to set up a nest on the rocks. Many gulls were coming and
going around them - mostly Herring Gulls and Kittiwakes.
moved back to the Castle Ruin where more Kittiwakes were nesting. I always ﬁnd
their “kitt-iwake” calls amusing. Also nesting on the castle walls were Feral
Pigeons, but it was the Kittiwakes that were making all the noise.
Back at the car I had a wee cuppa and a
chocolate biscuit to celebrate an successful trip. It was my ﬁrst sighting of
Glaucous Gull so I was well pleased.
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Sunday 12th March 2017
Musselburgh Port Seton
We headed east this week where the weather was forecast to be a little
better than the west coast. Breakfast at Dalkeith Morrison's was
another 9.5, marked down due to an error on the order. We headed for
Musselburgh in bright light but within an hour the clouds rolled
in, dimming the light level and making photography very difficult. It
nearly high tide and some Turnstones which had been roosting on the
west bank of
the Esk mouth were put up by a loose dog. Mid-channel, Goldeneye were
the last rays of sunlight while an Eider drake lunched on some crab
Meantime, Mallards seemed more involved with courting behaviour. We moved
eastwards along the sea wall and spotted Velvet Scoters which were similarly
very active. As we studied the shenanigans of the Scoters a few Twite landed on
the sea wall, their beaks caked in mud. Nearby a Male Reed Bunting was feeding in
the same mud.
Further along the wall we spotted a solitary Long-tailed Duck as overhead a
soaring Skylark was singing it's head off. Not far from the duck a pair of
Slavonian Grebes were also diving for food. The light now, at 1.30pm, was as
dim as twilight. A small flock of Wigeon passed eastwards, probably heading,
like us, for the Scrapes.
|Long Tailed Duck|
Given that it was high tide, it was unsurprising that there were many birds
in parts of the Scrapes. Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers and Redshank (not
shown) were most numerous. A male and female Shelduck were canoodling at the
far side of the west-most scrape. From time to time the male took to the air
probably showing off his flying skills to his intended mate.
As we left the Scrapes a Grey Heron flew in from the north and landed at the
side of the boating pond – only to be spooked by yet another loose dog. It then
started to rain so we decided to move to Port Seton for some tea. By the time
we arrived there the rocks were completely submerged and the only birds we
could see were Herring Gulls, Common Gulls and a few Eider
|Common Gull 1st Winter|
Given the poor light levels we had experienced, it was “fingers crossed”
that Photoshop could extract half-decent images from the pictures I had taken.
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Hogganfield Loch Musselburgh Barns Ness Belhaven Bay
On my way back home from a shopping trip to Glasgow I made a brief stop at
Hogganfield Loch, one of my favourite haunts. It was very sunny so I thought
I’d take a couple of shots of Lesser Black-backed Gulls as they were reaching
their full breeding plumage. The large colony of Mute Swans were also
ready for breeding and were quite mobile.
|Lesser Blacked |
The following morning I travelled east in search of good light and after a
promising-looking bright blue sky over Dalkeith Morrisons (where I consumed
another fantastic breakfast: 10/10!!) I was disappointed to see heavy grey
clouds moving in from the west. Undeterred, I made my way to Musselburgh where I
saw a Long-tailed Duck and a Velvet Scoter at the sea wall but as the gloom
descended further I noticed that the coast further east was basking in bright
light. I decided then to relocate to Barn’s Ness.
Barns Ness, Belhaven Bay
At the Pay and Display Car Park at Barn’s Ness I got my first chance to use
my newly-purchased Parking Permit (after getting fined at East Links a few days
earlier!). A short walk along the shore lead me to a Stonechat sitting on tall
vegetation as it kept a wary eye on my movements. On the beach to the east of
the lighthouse Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails were feasting on the many flies
that were active over piles of seaweed. Unfortunately though the tide was very
low and most of the usual birds were a hundred metres away beyond the rocks.
Also the cloud had followed me from Musselburgh so I decided to move to
Seafield Pond, Belhaven where I usually find interesting stuff. All I saw
though in ever-dimming light were a few Teal sifting through small sandy pools.
So, all in all it had been a
disappointing outing – well they can’t all be good! So it was a quick cuppa and
chocolate biscuit and then home to watch the football.
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