Archive - September 2016

24th September

Port Seton, Musselburgh

The weather edged us east again this week where it was due some sunny spells for a while, which was a better prospect than going west into a cold front. Breakfast at Morrison's in Dalkeith was another 9.5/10 - a good start to the trip! Social media had reports of flocks of Sandwich Terns on the shores of Port Seton and the tide was incoming so we headed there first. The light was very good when we arrived and ' lit ' the iridescent plumage of a singing Starling perched on a lamp by the car park. The rocks were quite busy. Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Cormorant juveniles and Redshanks were feeding and roosting close by. I spotted a young Ringed Plover darting between rock pools as a Cormorant flew in along with around 30 Sandwich Terns, returning to rest after feeding. Next it was off to Musselburgh Scrapes. There we were met by a very busy panorama with all the usual suspects - Mallard, Redshank, Teal, Dunlin, Godwits, Tern, Curlew, Greylags and at least 400 Oystercatchers were roosting. I managed a nice shot of a female Teal as it fed by the waters edge.We moved to the sea wall hoping for a wee surprise but the sea was empty. However, if you wait a few minutes at the sea wall in Musselburgh, you're sure to get something. Sure enough, five or six adult Gannets and three or four juveniles began fishing 100 metres or so ahead of us. I never tire of watching these birds diving for food. We spent around 40 minutes watching the dramatic display. It was interesting to observe the juveniles were hunting in a separate group from the adults. Their diving techniques were obviously still developing. They had shorter dives, stayed on the surface for longer and rose only a few feet before diving again. We started off west towards the mouth of the Esk. As we walked I managed some nice shots of Widgeon, Merganser, Goosander and Mallard flying in to land on the Esk. The Eskmouth was very busy with 90+ Mute Swans feeding close to the sea wall. The light was fading as rain moved in from the west so we walked back to the car for our tea. On the way we spotted a small flock of Reed Buntings feeding, unusually, on the rocks just below the sea wall. A nice Carrion Crow grabbed the last of the light before we headed over to the car park. A very productive trip indeed, finished off of course with another 'Toffee Apple Sauce' Danish pastry!

Starling Bar-tailed Godwit Juvenile Cormorant
Cormorant Curlew Redshank
Ringed Plover Sandwich Tern Dunlin
Magpie Teal Gannet
Juvenile Gannet Curlew Goosander
Red-breasted Merganser Mallard Widgeon
Mute Swan Reed Bunting Carrion Crow

18th September 2016

Tyninghame Bay

It was off east again this weekend where the weather looked to be brightest. Breakfast at Dalkeith Morrison’s again was a 9.5 as usual. There was not much on social media, so we decided to head for Tyningham Bay and see what was showing. We planned a cracking circular walk. From the car park we'd skirt the edge of the forest till the West edge of the salt marsh, cut across and make our way to the seafront, return back along the beach and then back across the marsh to the car. The toilet block at the car park gave me my first two shots - a very loud Robin and a rather light coloured Pied Wagtail. We met a fellow photographer setting up a shot of a Fox Moth caterpillar. A few minutes later, we found our own Fox Moth caterpillar and a few Common Darters on the path. As we approached the mouth of the Tyne we hunkered down at a spot I knew was always busy with birds. Sure enough about 6 Pied Wagtails were feeding around the many rock pools. They were quite far away and good shots were few and far between. The mouth of the Tyne was rather deserted, not helped by an inconsiderate photographer walking along the water line spooking everything in sight. We cut across some marshy ground and made our way through the sand dunes to the beach. The dunes proved to be rather productive with a new bug, Closterotomus Norvegicus and some nice examples of Scarlet Pimpernel, Common Storksbill, Restharrow and the moth Prochoreutis Sehestediana. The beach was rather quiet but John spotted a juvenile Gannet in the water a hundred meters out. It looked like it was in trouble. It tried to take off a few times but couldn’t quite make it. John reckoned that it may have injured itself on a dive. A few minutes later John became very animated as he spotted a small pod of Bottlenose Dolphins about 400 metres offshore. As we walked down the beach we were buzzed by squadrons of Dunlin flying just above head height. John had one last look through the glasses for the juvenile Gannet, which was still resting on the water so hopefully it made it but it was now time to cut back across the dunes to the car park for a spot of tea and a bun. On the way over I managed to snap a very nice Painted Lady. As we moved on, my eye caught a glimpse of a lovely pink flower I hadn't seen before, although I had an idea of what it might be. My suspicions proved correct. I had found a Centaury, a type of Gentian which is uncommon in Scotland.All in all a very successful and highly enjoyable walk.

Robin Pied Wagtail Fox Moth Caterpillar
Common Darter Scarlet Pimpernel Bug - Lucerne
Bug - Lucerne
Fly-Dexiosoma Caninum Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Moth -
Prochoreutis Sehestediana
Common Storksbill Common Restharrow Curly Dock
Juvenile Gannet Bottle Nosed Dolphin Dunlin
Ringed Plover Butterfly - Painted Lady Centaury

11th September 2016


After consulting the weather forecast, it was back to the east coast this week. Breakfast at Morrison’s in Dalkeith was a 9.5. It was great to get back to symmetrical toast! We started at the Scrapes. The light wasn't great but good enough for decent photographs. The tide was in and the Scrapes were well populated with birds. John reckons there were at least two thousand Oystercatchers resting between the three ponds. The usual suspects were there - Dunlin, Redshanks, Teal, Sandwich Terns, Greylags, and Black-Tailed Godwits. I must admit, it took me a little while to spot three Curlew Sandpipers, despite them being in full view. After we'd had our fill of the what the Scrapes had to offer we decided to head for the sea wall. On the last two visits there we hadn’t been able to reach the mouth of the Esk before time forced us back to the car. I had a feeling it would be the same today.
The water off the sea wall was very busy. The majority of visitors were Eiders in various stages of moulting. Soon, we spotted some Common Scoter a few hundred metres away, and also, closer to the wall but further down the coast, some Great Crested Grebes. We walked down towards them and I noticed that two of them were actually Slavonian Grebes in non-breeding plumage. They were quite close and I managed a good few shots of them successfully landing a fish. John spotted a juvenile Gannet diving quite close by. A few more adult Gannets joined in but soon moved off up the coast. As we scanned for Gannets I noticed a small copper-coloured insect about 2mm long on the sea wall. It was obviously some sort of beetle due to the hard shelled body. I later identified it as Notiophilus_biguttatus. The tide was coming in by this time and every few minutes a squadron of Oystercatchers flew by from the Scrapes heading for the mouth of the Esk. The
Sandwich Terns flew over from the Scrapes as well but decided to fish just beyond the sea wall. As the skies darkened we decided to head back to the car and on the way spotted a nice Velvet Scoter just off the sea wall. The Esk mouth would have to wait for our next visit!
Only one bun each with our tea this week. The three for two offer on the custard filled Danish Pastries was rejected in favour of just two Danish Pastries with Toffee Apple Sauce. Oh boy!!

Curlew Sandpiper Redshanks Teal
Common Scoter Eclipse Eider Great Crested Grebe
Slavonian Grebe Young Gannet Gannet
Beetle - notiophilus_biguttatus Sandwich Tern Velvet Scotor

4th September 2016

Stevenston Headland, Ardeer Quarry

West at last. It's been a while; the weather was to be better in the west so Stevenston it was. Breakfast at Morrisons was a 9.5. Service was just a little bit slow, the toast was sadly asymmetrical, but, new china non - drip, teapots made up for the negatives. We headed for the headland first. Sparse cloud soon gave way to bright sunshine. A distant Cormorant got the day off to a bright start as it dried its wings on the rocks ahead of us. We sat and took in the sun for a while before some Eider came around the headland and decided to preen on the rocks below us. An aerial fight between two juvenile Herring Gulls, over what looked like a crab, drew our attention. Before long the Gannets and Sandwich Terns arrived and began diving for food. They were a bit far out for a decent photograph but I managed a nice shot or two of the Gannets as they flew by. We suddenly heard the sound of Sandwich Terns very close by and discovered three of four had decided to rest on the rocks behind and below us. The place
was getting busy now and I managed to catch some Dunlin and Redshank as they flew by below us. John spotted something a fair distance away which turned out to be a Razorbill. It was time to head for Ardeer Quarry. A nice Pink Water Lily brightened up a dull pond. The Duclair ducks were there as usual. We made our way across to the wooded area hoping for some Buzzards or some deer. It's a nice circular walk here, which made up for the lack of anything to shoot! It's been 4 months since our last visit and the rumour of a deer cull then, has not been dispelled
on this visit. No sight of the deer at all. We normally spot a few Buzzards here but, apart from one Buzzard, high in the sky, being buzzed by four crows, they were missing as well.
I did manage to spot a new wild flower, a Narrow - leaved Hawkweed. It needed a close inspection of the foliage to be sure. The circular walk brought us back to the pond and we ended the day with a nice female Mallard, in nice light, resting on the island. Back to the car for tea and one and a half buns. A great day out. Slightly disappointed at the lack of deer but more than happy with a new wild flower.
Cormorant Female Eider 2nd Cycle  Herring Gull
Gannet Sandwich Tern Dunlin
Redshank Razorbill Pink Water Lily
Duclair Duck Narrow - leaf Hawkweed Female Mallard

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