Week ending: 27th November: Aberlady, Longniddry and Port Seton
On Sunday we headed east once more, to Aberlady. My WeatherPro app indicated that it was
sunnier for longer on the Lothian coast and, besides, we hadn’t visited Aberlady since August.
Dalkeith Morrisons had a special breakfast deal on, which John and I took full advantage of, but
we ate a little more than we should have - it was great though (9.5/10: it was too much!).
We were disappointed that we couldn’t get parked in the Aberlady LNR car park, however we
parked nearer the town and were delighted to see that the shore there was packed with birds. My
first shot was of a Woodpigeon we inadvertently disturbed as it fed on the shoreside green. John
spotted a passing Curlew and I followed that with a shot of a Herring Gull in flight. From the edge
of the green we could see Wigeon foraging some 40m away in the edges of the damp,
We could see a large number of Lapwings spread out on the shore to our right.
John spied a couple of Shelducks a bit further out and I noticed some snoozing Teal
floating in a large rock pool.
The light was good. We could make out a lone walker walking about a mile away along the
deserted Gullane Sands. John suggested a suitable title for the shot below could be, “I want to be
We moved to the Kilspindie Golf Course overflow car park. I’ve parked there on numerous
occasions over the years but on Sunday we noticed they’ve put up a “golfers only” sign. Fair
enough KGC, it’s your property. We’ll park elsewhere from now on. We were delighted to see a
Little Egret, now a fairly common sight on the Peffer Burn. As I photographed it there was
an Oystercatcher on the rocks beside me and a Wigeon flew past, and then a calling Carrion
A few Redshanks were spread along the shallow edges of the Burn. As I photographed them, the
Egret must have flown off, as there was no sign of it. John, though, had seen it flying toward the
town, settling where we had seen the Shelducks.
A Black-headed Gull flew past just as I noticed that the Little Egret was back foraging in the Burn.
A Curlew flew in and started walking along the Saltmarsh.
A pair of Wigeon darted overhead but I managed a fairly decent snapshot.
I noticed what I thought at first was a Shelduck paddling upstream near the Egret. On further
inspection it turned out to be a Pale-bellied Brent Goose. John alerted me to a Curlew and
some Bar-tailed Godwits far to our right on the shallows near the Redshanks. Just as we
were leaving the shore I noticed at duck paddling near the Egret. It was a female Long-tailed Duck .
After our successful hour at Aberlady we relocated to a few miles west, to Longniddry Bents. We
parked near Ferny Ness and we immediately thought that there was something of interest
happening since a couple of people had their optics pointed down towards the shore. We soon
discovered that about a half dozen drake Long-tailed Ducks were chasing each other, and maybe
an unseen female.
We sat for a while watching the antics of the ducks and, when they got close to the shore, I was
able to get some excellent shots of the very lovely duck. I also snapped an Oystercatcher that
flew past swooping low over the water. I was a bit surprised though when a Grey Seal
surfaced partially, only about 10m away, before vanishing again beneath the waves.
Eventually we moved around the shore towards Gosford Bay. A flock of Turnstones sped
past us into the Bay.
We passed a gathering of birds, mainly Oystercatchers, Redshanks and a Curlew, that were sitting
on the rocks just as we reached Gosford Bay. A couple of very animated Magpies were
squabbling in the bushes by the roadside. Back at the car John spotted a Pied Wagtail hunting
flies on the grassy fringes.
Before we left Longniddry Bents we took in the view of Ferny Ness looking over the Firth of Forth
towards a misty Edinburgh skyline.
Our last port of call was Port Seton at the Wrecked Craigs car park. Greeting us as we alighted
from the car were a pair of serenading Starlings atop tall poles. We scanned the Craigs for birds of
which, happily, there were many. To the right of the promenade a Curlew and several Bar-tailed
Godwits were wading where the waves were breaking as the tide came in. A young Cormorant
flew in over them.
Looking to the most northerly extent of the Craigs we could see various ages of Shags were
assembled on an ever-shrinking bare rock. Surely they would have to leave the rock before it
became completely submerged.
A flock of oystercatchers flew past us no doubt looking for dry land on which to roost. A Great
Black-backed Gull and a young Cormorant looked secure in their choice of stance. A fellow
nature-watcher pointed out a wee Golden Plover that was partially visible amongs the rocks
about 80m from our stance. I managed a quick snap of it on one of the times it peeked over the
top of the rocks. As we continued to watch it, it moved onto a patch of seaweed, followed by a
The Redshanks that were on the most distant rocks had had enough of that sinking feeling and
moved closer to the prom.
Encouraged by the Redshanks, the Golden Plover moved in to join them. It settled for about 10
minutes before heading east. We headed south, back to the car where a cup of tea and a cream
and custard tart awaited. However as we tucked into the tarts I could see a young drake Eider
paddling across our view. Also a pair of Cormorants landed on a rock and began vigorously drying
their wet wings. I dutifully put down the tea and tart and left the car to capture some images of the
I returned to the car and we finished the teas and tarts ,and as we did so, I thought it was
ample reward for a fine outing in which we saw some fine sights and captured some decent
images. My favourite was undoubtedly the Long-tailed Duck shots. Let’s hope the run of pleasant
Week ending: 20th November 2022: Torness and Belhaven Bay
On Sunday, frequent showers were moving west to east across Central Scotland, but my
WeatherPro app indicated that they wouldn’t get as far east as Dunbar. On Twitter, some birders
were reporting that there was plenty of bird action at Torness, so that’s where we headed. Our
breakfasts in Dalkeith Morrisons were excellent (10/10) with service much quicker than in recent
As we approached our destination the sunshine was very encouraging and we were further
encouraged when a pair of Cormorants flew overhead as we got out of the car.
On our way down to the walkway , I noticed a pair of ageing Snowy Waxcaps on the
At the start of the walkway, the view east shows a lively sea entertaining several surfers at the
We were sheltered from the cool breeze as we moved westwards along the concrete walkway.
John drew my attention to a wee Robin on the seawall watching for midges of which, annoyingly,
there were many. Pied Wagtails too were enjoying the feast as they twittered excitedly some yards
in front of us. John warned that he’d seen a few Redshanks resting on the Tetrapods (concrete
sea defence concrete blocks). We moved warily towards the birds, allowing me to get some
decent pictures. I then noticed that there were also Purple Sandpipers on the blocks - a
rare find. They were having to watch out for the occasional large waves which were threatening to
The Redshanks were disturbed when a couple of walkers approached from the west. However, I
was pleased with resulting flight shot.
We studied each passing bird, watching for passage birds such as Skuas and Little Auks that had
been recently reported. However, we saw the “usual suspects”, mainly Herring Gulls, Blackheaded Gulls and Shags.
We reached the harbour area by the power station. In the view to the west shown below, the
Barons Ness lighthouse and the Bass Rock can be seen clearly.
We positioned ourselves on the promontory and continued to watch the passing birds. We saw
the expected Cormorants and Oystercatchers but we were pleased to also see a drake Eider and
were very pleased to see a winter plumage Red-throated Diver surface just below where
we were standing.
|Red-throated Diver ( Winter Plumage )
A passing angler informed us that there was a young seal in a corner of the harbour. After a short
search John spotted the Common Seal pup hiding in the seawater at the foot of the
Next we set off back to the car, preferring to take the upper walkway (designed for use in stormy
conditions when the lower walkway would be lashed by the waves). We had a fine view of the
shore below, as well as panoramic views of the sea to our left and the power station grounds to
our right. I discovered, in the grass to our right, a fairly large mushroom, possibly a Macro
Mushroom, Agaricus urinascens, a newbie for us. And to our right we were delighted to see
a Little Auk, another newbie for us, preening itself in the water close to the sea defences.
As we approached the end of the walkway there was an adult Shag diving about 5m out. Also, a
mixture of Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails were hopping about the sea wall and rocks in pursuit of
the midge swarm. I was in the ideal position to photograph them, high on the upper walkway with
the sun behind me.
|Male Pied Wagtail
|Female Pied Wagtail
Meanwhile John was scanning the sea and rock pools that lies between the walkway and the
beach at Thorntonloch. He spotted a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers battling the waves as they
attempted to exit the shoreline. He then pointed out a pair of Turnstones that were foraging
around the closest rock pools. I photographed these and then spotted a few small waders
preening just beyond the Turnstones. I think they were Dunlin but they have some features
common in Curlew Sandpipers . Finally John alerted me to a drake Eider that had been
hiding in plain sight, not far from the Turnstones (I blame the low sunlight).
Next we relocated to the Shore Road car park at Belhaven Bay. We were greeted by a wee cheeky
House Sparrow which was busy sunbathing on a low bush. We walked along the path that leads
to the Seafield Pond. A few Mallards passed overhead - a pair of females followed by a lusty
drake. The sun was about to set and it’s light was low and becoming amber, as can be seen from
the shots below of Redshanks and Carrion Crow.
|Female House Sparrow
|Juvenile Carrion Crow
At the pond there was a large flock of Wigeon attempting to feed on the grassy bank between the
pond and footpath. They were interrupted several times by passing dogs and children. However I
did get a few pleasing shots. Even in the water, the Wigeon were disturbed, nay, bullied, by
aggressive Mute Swans.
We also noticed a few Tufted Ducks on the pond and also an eclipse plumage drake Garganey, mixing it with the Mallards. We also saw a couple of Moorhens pecking about the short
grass before scurrying for the safety of the reeds. On our way back to the car I photographed a
Curlew that was probing the damp sand of the inner bay. As can be seen, the light was becoming
very dusky. We could say that it was “Roamin’ in the Gloamin’”.
|Male Garganey in Eclipse plumage
My final shot was of the view of Shore Road as seen from the path. It wasn’t just the Curlew that
was “Roamin’ in the Gloamin’”.
We were both very pleased with what we’d seen and photographed during the visit. My favourites
were the Red-throated Diver, Little Auk and Garganey. The accompaniment for our teas was a
pack of 4 chocolate eclairs. Needless to say, these disappeared rather too quickly, but pleasingly.
ending: 13th November 2022: Musselburgh
John was back in the passenger seat this Sunday and eager to watch
nature after his enforced week off. We visited Musselburgh, one of our
favourite locations that seldom lets us down. Our last visit there was
25th and good weather was predicted so, after our Dalkeith
Morrisons breakfasts (7/10: Disappointing- Once again, the food was
good, but the delay in serving it was too long), we were soon striding
merrily towards the Musselburgh Scrapes.
On our way to the Scrapes we encountered a gathering of around a dozen
Carrion Crows gathered on the grass. We couldn’t figure out
why they were there. Perhaps a passer-by had fed them. At the sea wall
we watched Cormorants
flying to and from a tall yellow structure, possibly a ventilation
outlet for waste pipes. A Curlew
flew past while John noticed a drake Red-breasted
Merganser diving more than 100m out.
As we neared the Scrapes there were dozens of Oystercatchers
flying in from the Esk mouth.
From the rightmost hide we were pleased to see that the reserve
wasn’t empty (as is sometimes the case). We watched dabbling Teal and
also wading Redshanks as they searched for sustenance. A pair of Grey
Herons seemed to appear from nowhere. Probably they flew in as both of
us were scanning in the opposite direction. I got a nice shot of a
flock of Starlings as they flew over the hide. As the light was so good
I managed decent record shots of Dunlin
and Wigeon active at the front edge of the rear scrape.
I also noticed that there was a flock of Lapwings
standing in the rear scrape.
As I photographed the Lapwings, a large group of Oystercatchers flew in
to add to those already on the grass in front of the rear scrape.
We moved to the leftmost hide where we got nice close views of Teal,
Oystercatchers and Redshanks. I noticed a wee Dunlin foraging around a
at the near edge of the scrape. The Greenshank was awakened suddenly by
a Lapwing that arrived with attitude.
|Redshank / Teal
|Greenshank / Dunlin
John meanwhile was scanning the scrapes with his trusty binoculars. He
came across a wee flock of Linnets gathered around a patch of scrub. I
snapped a shot of a passing Carrion Crow. John noticed Shelducks
far to the left of the reserve. I waited until they paddled nearer to
the hide before photographing them. I also realised that a group of
what I thought were Redshanks were actually Bar-tailed
One of the Herons we’d seen earlier flew across the reserve
and landed to the left of the hide and proceeded to stalk the marshy
area at the edge of the scrape.
We decided to relocate to the mouth of the Esk to see if the reported King
Eider was there. As we returned to the car I
photographed the view across the Firth of of Forth. The early mist was
clearing leaving the sun-soaked island of Inchkeith contrasting with
grey of the fog-bound Kingdom of Fife.
We arrived at the mouth of the River Esk just in time to see the
take-off of a massive flock of Bar-tailed Godwits that had been feeding
on the sands at low tide and were then heading for a safe resting
place, such as the Scrapes.
Below is closer crop of one of the pictures I took of the Godwits, on
which it is easier to see the features of the bird, such as its
straight, long bill. Also flying east were a flock of Redshanks and a
lone Cormorant. Rather closer were a pair of Mute Swans paddling across
The fly-pasts continued when a group of 8 Eiders
flew by heading east. The elusive 2nd
cycle King Eider didn’t seem to be in the group. It
was as close as we were to get to finding it.
Soon after the group of Eiders passed, a beautiful drake Eider paddled
past us on a calm, blue sea. As I was photographing it, a little brown
bird caught my eye when it descended onto the rocks just beneath the
sea wall. It was a Rock Pipit. We could see that clouds were moving in
from the west and would soon obscure the golden sunshine. I still had
time though to snap some well-lit Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls
while the sky and seawater were still blue and the light was still
golden. A female Goosander
was diving midstream as we neared the Cadet Hall. Just by the play park
I found White Deadnettles that were still in flower. They often last
through until December.
My final shot of the day was of a large flock of Wigeon that was
feeding in the shallow rock pools just west of the river mouth.
However, soon afterwards the direct sunlight was gone and we returned
to the car.
As is usually the case at Musselburgh, we had an enjoyable few hours
observing and photographing its wonderful wildlife. My favourites were
the Teal and Greenshank. We had fresh cream toffee tarts with our teas,
a delicious reward for a job well done.
Week ending: 6th November 2022: Troon and Irvine Harbour
Weather on Sunday was predicted to start wet but to improve from the
west. I decided then to visit Troon for the first time since the middle
of August. I was on my own since John had domestic duties to perform,
but I started the day with a solo breakfast (9/10: excellent, only let
down by the small plate) at Stewartfield Morrisons.
The Sun was just breaking through when I arrived in Troon. I noticed a
collection of birds on the beach beside North Shore Road Car Park. In
the tightly packed group there were over eighty Redshanks. A few
Herring Gulls, Bar-tailed
Godwits and Oystercatchers were also in the mix.
They were joined by a small number of Turnstones.
The Turnstones infiltrated the ranks of the Black-headed Gulls that
were preening on the sands. Eventually though, the whole assembly was
spooked by a very noisy motor bike passing along North Shore Road. I
next had a look in the bushes to the left of the car park as I had
heard a lot of birdy sounds emanating from there. Predictably, most of
the noise was coming from twittering House Sparrows but amongst were a
few Greenfinches and
a couple of Robins. On the cut grass I found Golden
Waxcap mushrooms. Also worthy of note was the large number of
Buckthorn berries on show.
I drove the few hundred yards along the road to Troon Harbour Car Park
which is on a promontory with a panoramic view of the Firth of Clyde
and the Isle of Arran. I walked along the sandy shore to the north of
the car park and tracked a Rock
Pipit that was working its way along some beached
seaweed. I sat for a while watching for passing birds and saw a couple
of Cormorants, one in flight and one diving for fish. I next checked
the rocks to the front of the car park. They were unusually devoid of
birds although I did manage a Starling action shot and shot of a
stationary Oystercatcher. Just before setting off on a walk to Troon
South Beach, a Pied Wagtail appeared on the scene and allowed me to get
close enough for a decent shot.
After a short and hazardous walk along the narrow path at the foot of
Ballast Bank, I continued along the promenade to view the seashore
along the Troon South Beach. There is usually a fair amount of seaweed
washed up onto the beach and the invertebrates within it attracts
I wasn’t disappointed since I did get photographs of a Pied
Wagtail, Curlew, Turnstones and
Knot , although these were flushed by day trippers
and their dogs, so I was lucky to get those shots.
On my return walk I discovered a Curlew, probably the one I
photographed earlier, feeding in a grassy foreshore. I was also joined
by yet another Pied Wagtail.
Back at the Troon Harbour Car Park I snapped another Oystercatcher
before I disturbed a Starling feeding near my car. It flew onto a
bollard and waited for me to go away and I, of course, took its
I relocated 6 miles up the coast to Irvine Harbour. Clouds were rolling
in from the south so the light was getting worse. I walked along the
Promenade towards the mouth of the estuary. I found a few very mature Fairy
Ring Champignons on the short grass near the
Pilot’s House. There were a few Mute Swans near the Scientist
Bridge and I watched a Curlew take off from the opposite side of the
river. That was followed by a sighting of a Kestrel
hunting near the unused Big Idea building.
At the viewpoint at the end of the promenade I photographed a family of
feeding Mute Swans. As usual there were birds perched on the large
posts in the estuary mouth. I got shots of a Great Black-backed Gull
and a Shag holding out its dripping wings.
I returned to the car via the car park rather than the prom. This
produced nice pictures of a first year and an adult Herring Gull and a
Rook, each sitting on high vantage points. At ground level I
surprised a well-lit Carrion Crow as it foraged on the short grass.
|1st Cycle Herring
Just as I neared the car I noticed that a Grey
Seal had surfaced near the Scientists Bridge. I
missed that shot but did manage to catch it when it resurfaced further
downstream. A Shag flew downstream soon after and then a group of 8 Wigeon
passed overhead. My final shot was of a rainbow reflected in the River
Garnock as I looked towards Bogside - a sign that rain wasn’t
far away (just as well I was about to leave).
As I sipped tea and nibbled chocolate biscuits it was with mild
satisfaction. I had managed some nice shots of quite a variety of
sightings. My favourites were the Starling, Knot, Kestrel and rainbow.
For any children who might be reading this, please know that
Santa’s Reindeers have been seen at McKinnon Mills in
Coatbridge. They were preparing to help Santa on the big night on the
24th of December.
- November 2022
We present this month’s gallery of my
favourite pictures I’ve taken during November 2022. They are
not listed in the order they have been taken, but according to a series
of themes. I’ve kept
commentary to a minimum, preferring to let each picture talk for itself.
MORE LITTLE BIRDS
ON THE WATER
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