Archive - May 2016

29th May 

Belhaven Bay - Barns Ness

Off east today. Twitter was awash with sightings of, a new one for us, a Gull-billed Tern, spotted at various times and places around Belhaven Bay. First things first, breakfast at Morrisons at Dalkeith. The usual 9.5. The weather was very good but when we arrived at the bay it was rather deserted birdwise. Certainly no sign of the Gull-billed Tern. We walked down to the pond passing a nice rabbit busy flitting around the caravans. The pond, sadly, was just as deserted. Back to the wall to see if the Gull-billed Tern had decided to grace us with a visit. Sadly no dice. A Shelduck was feeding on the other side of the wall. This side of the wall, however, provided some nice specimens of wildflowers.

Rabbit Shelduck Ribwort Plantain
White Dead Nettle Doves-foot-Cranesbill Hoary Cress

We decided to head off to Barns Ness hoping that the Gull-billed Tern had had the same thought. Walking along the beach I snapped our first moth of the year, a nice Cinnabar. We moved up to the dunes area and found some Linnets, Pipits and Reed Buntings very active on fences bordering the dunes. I was very lucky to capture the Reed Bunting as it flew off. Walking back towards the lighthouse I found some nice examples of Purple Milk Vetch, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Greater Stitchwort. As we sat down for our tea and a bun, a Pipit of some sort caught our attention as it flew around the lighthouse buildings feeding a youngster. The markings were a bit strange so I'm wary of naming it until I research a bit more. A Pied Wagtail, along with some Barn Swallows joined the fray around the lighthouse buildings disturbing our tea break.
All in all a very successful trip despite the Gull-billed Tern being marked as absent. An hour after we arrived home a tweet informed me that the Gull-billed Tern was showing at Belhaven Bay! You win some.... you lose some.

Cinnabar Linnet Meadow Pipit
Reed Bunting Rock Pipit Purple Milk Vetch
Common Birdsfoot Trefoil Greater Stitchwort Pied Wagtail
Unsure?   Barn Swallow

22nd May 2016

Stevenston - Headland - Pond

It was off west again today as I had been east for most of last week so I decided on a change.
Breakfast at Morrisons in Stevenston was a very creditable 9.

Stevenston Point had been disappointing recently so we started there hoping it would be a bit better. A lone Cormorant landed on the rocks below us to dry itself out. As we watched the Cormorant a young Rock Pipit flew in a few feet below us. As I took my shots, the parent arrived with some food and departed leaving the youngster to flit about the rocks. We spent some time watching the parent come and go in its attempts to feed its chick until John spotted a diver of some sort off the Point. I took the record shot but it was against the light and identification would have to wait. In the meantime a family of Eider appeared, the male, the female, 6 hatchlings and what looked like a 1st summer juvenile from her brood last year. As we left the Point I spotted a wee flower, Common Scurvy Grass beneath some seats.
We moved location to Ardeer Park. As we parked the car at the pond another parent- toddler feeding exercise was going on. This time is was Starlings

Cormorant Juvenile Rock Pipit Rock Pipit
Diver? Eider family Starling
Juvenile Starling Common Scurvy Grass  

As we began to walk round the pond I spotted what looked from a distance to be an unusual black duck! It was in a group with a Duclair and a female Mallard. I later identified it as a Mallard-based hybrid unflatteringly termed a Manky Duck! A nice Pied Wagtail landed nearby, mouth full of insects presumably intended for it's young somewhere nearby. A young family of Mute Swans were attracting admiring glances from passersby. We continued our walk towards the woods hoping to see some deer and some raptors. It was rather quiet until we reached the path that takes you through to the other side of the pond via the main road. I spotted a very small black March Fly, and a Bibio Lanigeris on some foliage. It had a bluish colour about it as it flew between the foliage. A Large Red Damselfly, a Cranefly, a Green Veined White, and many female Orange Tips flew up and down the path around me. Juggling cameras, I managed to get some good shots of all of them. Round the final leg of the walk I spotted a nice Germander Speedwell. I closed in to take a few shots and noticed some very small moths feeding on the flowers. These were Cock's Foot moths. At the end of our walk we were a bit disappointed not to see deer or raptors but the new additions more than made up for that. As we drank our tea and ate our bun I spotted a pair of lovely wild flowers, Herb Robert and Wintercress.
A pleasant ending to a very successful and enjoyable day.

Manky Mallard Duclair Duck Pied Wagtail
Mute Swan Bibio_Lanigerus Large-red-Damselfly
Female Orange Tip Green Veined White Cranefly
Cocksfoot Moth Herb Robert Wintercress

15th May 2016


It was off to the west today. Forecasts showed cloud moving in from the east.
The breakfast at Asda in Kilmarnock was a contentious one with John giving it an 8 but I held out for a 9. At Doonfoot we parked at the northern car park and headed to the beach to check the out the gulls. We found a couple of Herring Gulls squabbling over a crab lunch. The larger one got the goodies. We headed along the beach at the water's edge for a while but it was very quiet (probably due to the number of dog walkers). We then headed up to the little pond which proved very interesting the last time we were here. Quite a few visitors came and went as we sat here for about an hour - Barn Swallow, House Martins, Carrion Crow, Pied Wagtail, Mallard and Rook all took some sustenance from the pond.
We moved on towards the ruined Greenan Castle which, other than a few Rock Pipits , was also very quiet. Along the meadow adjacent to the beach we found some nice Common Vetch. There were other 'near misses' though - Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Wren were heard but proved too elusive to photograph. Back at the car for tea and a bun, we had a nice bonus of some House Sparrows and a very vocal and close Sedge Warbler. I think they were after some the bun - no chance!

Herring Gull Barn Swallow House Martin
Carrion Crow Mallard Pied Wagtail
Rook Rock Pipit Common Vetch
Male House Sparrow Female House Sparrow Sedge Warbler

8th May 2016

Musselburgh - Port Seton

We decided to go East as the weather in the West wasn't looking too bright. I wanted to go to the Scrapes at Musselburgh as a Garganey and a Spotted Flycatcher had been reported on Twitter. The breakfast at Morrisons in Dalkeith fell short of the usual 9.5+. The service was quite slow and the tattie scone was so stiff John was going to take it home and use it to scrape the wallpaper off in the hall! The 3 for 2 bun offer was back so happy days.
After parking at the Scrapes we located the Garganey on the right-most pond. On the path to the  pond John spotted a Wren gathering nesting material.
The light wasn't great but the Garganey was showing well. Black-Tailed Godwits arrived, along with Ringed Plover, Dunlin and the usual suspects. A Wagtail caused quite a stir among some very knowledgeable people in the hide. It was ostensibly a Blue headed Wagtail, but with some slight differences. This led to the reference books coming out and phone calls being made to experts until it was agreed that it was most probably an intergrade Flava Wagtail (probably Superciliaris)
We headed off to the sea wall as the light started to improve. As we left the hide a Whitethroat caught my eye but I could only get a rear view before it flew off. A Magpie and a Jackdaw caught the light just right as we moved towards the sea wall. The water was very choppy indeed with waves crashing against the wall so it was difficult to see anything far out.

At the mouth of the Esk a Twitter feed informed us that a Garganey pair were showing there too but we couldn't locate it. As we headed back to the Scrapes we had a close encounter with a Shelduck and Oystercatchers flying along the sea wall. A pair of Sandwich Terns passed up and down but didn't feed. After a while 5 or 6 groups of Gannets began hunting about 100 yards out to sea. Again, they didn't feed.
We decided to head down to Port Seton for our tea and a bun and a half but it was very quiet there and we didn't even take a photograph - the tea was nice though!

Garganey Black-Tailed Godwit Blue Headed Wagtail?
Wren Whitethroat Magpie
Jackdaw Cormorant Eider
Sandwich Tern Gannet Shelduck

1st May 2016

Lochwinnoch - Muirshiel Country Park

On my own again today as John had to be somewhere else. The weather wasn't to be that good on either coast so I headed for Lochwinnoch as there had been a Lesser Scaup reported there. First though I decided to head for Morrisons at Johnstone for a 'Wee Scottish' breakfast. It was easily a 9.5+ . At RSPB Lochwinnoch I was told the Scaup was at the far side of the Barr Loch - too far away for pictures. Instead I went then for a wee walk around the reserve and managed a few nice shots of Great Tit, Robin and Greylag. As the weather was improving I decided to head to Muirshiel Country Park. Cuckoos had been seen there the previous day. Along the trail it was very quiet, only pair of Grey Wagtails caught my attention. I did eventually hear the familiar cuckoo's call and caught a glimpse of it flying a couple of hundred metres across the Glen - unfortunately it was too far away for a photo. However, I did just manage to catch a nice Pheasant shot as I sat in my car drinking tea. It was a slightly disappointing trip but I returned home excited by the prospect of watching the Man U v Leicester game and maybe the end of the Premier League title race. That too though was to be slightly disappointing!

Great Tit Greylag Goose Great Tit
Robin   Robin
Female Grey Wagtail Pheasant Male Grey Wagtail

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