Archive - March 2017

26th March 2017

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!)

Brent Goose

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.

Ringed Plover

Feral Pigeon

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.
Rock Pipit

Just as we left after a very pleasant hour of observations a 1st cycle 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’. 

1st Cycle Herring Gull

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.

Glaucous Gull
Herring Gull

I 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 the
Glaucous Gull so I was well pleased.

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 was 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 diving in the last rays of sunlight while an Eider drake lunched on some crab nearby.

Female Goldeneye

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.

Velvet Scoter
Reed Bunting

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
Slavonian Grebe


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.

Bar-tailed Godwit

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

Grey Heron
Herring Gull
1st Cycle Common Gull
Eider Drake

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.

5th March 2017

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 Black-
Backed Gulls
Mute Swan


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.

Velvet Scoter

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.

Rock Pipit
Pied Wagtail

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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