Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Garden bird log for Longniddry, Lothian

This is a log of the more interesting species seen and heard in, and flying over, a small garden on Douglas Road, Longniddry, Lothian, Scotland (map), since August 2004. The garden is in an estate within 500m of high water - Firth of Forth. Unfortunately there is no view out to the sea, or indeed anywhere beyond the neighbouring houses in the estate.

Annotated species list
Detailed records (spreadsheet)


Golden Plover flying inland on afternoon of Sunday 16 October, no great surprise with 450 along the shore the previous day! Also Red Admiral, all sightings in last two years from late Sept onwards, similar with Peacock seen as late as 30 November. All the usual suspects of late, abundant geese, Goldcrests, Redwings and a Song Thrush (less than annual in garden) spent a day in the rowan (berries normally all eaten by Blackbirds in August!).

First wink-wink calls on evening of 15 September. Followed by "grak grak", fairly rare log of nocturnal Heron.

Single clear "pl├╝-ip" Ringo call 23:14hrs 21 August. 3 more of same call low over 23:24hrs on 24 August.

Last home working day in school hols paid off, when glanced out and amazed to see a pale bird perched on ridge of roof over the road, clearly a Wheatear. Over next 5 mins this ad f was very obliging, chasing the odd insect and crouching low when a distant Buzzard mew was audible (quite unlikely to have been caught on a roof, but presumably an innate response), then moving down the roof to stretch out for a sunbathe, one wing after the other. Species 101 for the garden and first year with two new birds since 2011!

Still 19 Swift drifting over on evening of 14 August, typical mid-August appearance here in bigger group, lazy flight with occasional high "chit" calls. Willow Warbler in the garden, another typical appearance, though Chiffs far more common these days.

25 Greylag low NE dusk 12 August.

Swift gatherings now more obvious, 22 over house on 6 August hopefully including some young, a week or so from now most will be on their way.

Dunlin 02:11hrs 6 August.

More rain 27 July - Barn Owl shriek 00:30hrs then Whimbrel 01:30hrs.

Calm and drizzle on 24 July - Common Sand calls over to N 23:15hrs.

Party Lotti through on 24 July, Blackbird still in regular dusk song.

Over-night work on a European project report 20 July gave chance to log calls: Barn Owl screech 00:44hrs, Common Sand 03:02hrs, Dunlin 03:14hrs, first 'long calls' from Herring Gull commuters 03:56hrs, Robin ticks from 03:58hrs, Blackbird song from 04:05hrs, Wren song from 04:20hrs, Swallow song from 04:24hrs, House Martin calls from 04:39hrs, three corvid species active from 04:40-45hrs, first Swift screams 04:48hrs, [sunrise 04:56hrs], Woodpigeon/Collared Dove songs from ~05:00hrs, Chiffchaff 05:09hrs, Greenfinch twitter 05:12hrs, Curlew 05:13hrs, GSW 05:15hrs, Bullfinch call 05:30hrs, Crossbill W 05:31hrs, Linnet song 05:33hrs, Tree Sparrow calls 05:44hrs, Coal Tit song 05:54hrs, Skylark low over 05:55hrs, House Sparrows song ~6:00hrs, Grey Wagtail over 06:16hrs, Goldcrest song 06:30hrs, Starling song 06:45hrs, Goldfinch tinkle 07:30hrs; but best of all, just after dawn at 05:05hrs, extended bout of Nuthatch calls - at last, first "for the garden" and finally species 100! Back to work...possibly the last of these for a very long time, due to Brexit :(

Grey Heron call low over at 00:04hrs on 23 June, still light enough for this large creature to be flying around.

First Tree Bumblebees on 19 June, 3 on buddleia globosa, rising to 7 amongst 70+ bumblebees feeding on 22 June.

House Martin calls over just after 23:00hrs on 21 June, nocturnal roosting?

Greylags NE over 23:25hrs 6 June.

Moorhen calling over house 23:35hrs 3 June, I quickly toggled to xeno-canto and played a nocturnal flight call which matched it very closely - remarkably got two replies, one distant and one closer - bird must still have been circling. Cloudy, but no fog but drizzle later, and just light wind. This species annual since 2011 (3 in April, 2 May, now 2 in June, 1 July, 1 Sept).

Sparrowhawk in slow flapping and swooping display flight on 3 June, latest such noted here (latest previous was on 10 May, back in 2008); per BWP display (normally just high circling) mainly Feb-early May.

House Martins are ever present nesting in our part of the village for 12 years we've been here but Swallows though abundant locally are normally all concentrated outside the village, nice this year to have some presumed breeders at the end of the road opposite the club house. Swifts have been erratic so far, 2-4 on odd dates from 16 May.

Ringed Plover over 01:05hrs 9 May - was hoping for this having totally failed to find one on the shore so far this year, including Gosford Sands at dusk today. Attempting to sneak namesake Sedge Warbler onto the garden list via the bird back on territory at Longniddry c/p 2 bog, 460m NNW, but despite snatches of possible churring not quite sure I can hear it - unlike Gropper which could be heard from house at same location in previous years. My hearing may have deteriorated though. Pheasant also at same bog - and at dawn on 9 May a distant territory call heard, just my third record here!

2 Stock Dove over on 1 May.

Sunday 17 April: Siskins very visible including male in song in garden and flock 25 low W, Smartie W, Tree Sparrow over, Robins courtship feeding on bird table.

Two Swallows briefly over burn trees late morning on 3 April, equal earliest back here (3/4/11, 5/4/09).

Golden Plover low NE over c. 02:30hrs 3 April.

Chiff flitting around garden calling on 1 April, just about annual in the garden now, previously only song.

4 Smarties low W over on 31 March, first March hirundines here (4 previous records, all spring migrants, earliest 3/4/11)

50 Redwings low over on 23 March.

Drake Mallard making characteristic spring appearance dropping down to tiny Braid Burn past Community Centre on 3 March; further south some have laid, but not enough vegetation here for that yet.

Decent flocks of Fieldfare milling over last week February into March, max 85, with the odd Redwing.

Mistle Thrush has been defending a bush on Douglas Road and was perched on neighbour's aerial on 2 January, closest ever seen to house, normally a scarce fly-over.


[Overview of the year 2015

A better year for species recorded with 74 being second only to the 77 in 2010, and yet again a single addition to the list with Mediterranean Gull in regular flights over the neighbourhood in early August (now just 6 additions in last 5 years, after 9 in 2010*). Nothing exceptional recorded but a decent collection of scarcer species including Cormorant, Whooper Swan (flock of 22), Canada Goose, Mallard, Kestrel (2), Pheasant, Moorhen (5/9), Coot (21/5), Ringed Plover (11/8), Whimbrel (15/8), Common Sand(s) and Dunlin(s). After a good year in 2014, Sandwich Tern seemed to be even more prominent, with several nocturnal migrants heard some nights and daily records persisting until 19/9. Stock Doves are not uncommon locally but rare in the village, and two on 3/7 was just the second record over. Barn Owl was less frequent than last year, just three dates, but Tawny regular as usual. Crossbills passed over in five weeks May-Sept and Tree Sparrows continued to increase with records in 12 weeks, up from 9 in 2014 and ~5 from 2010-12, and renewed appearance in the garden. Nocturnal song was heard for both Woodpigeon and Collared Dove. Herring Gull made it to the "in the bird table" list, while Robin became the first species on the "in the house" list!]

Full records: Excel s/s.

Older records (to end 2015)

Friday, 1 July 2016

Garden target lists


After a year at the new house in Lothian the garden list reached 61 species (6/8/05); a neighbour has reached 83 so there are still some to get, including one or two easy ones; the following is a list of 25 possible species which would be needed to catch up, let's see if any are accurate predictions:

  1. (Mallard - Should be easy!) - a pair NE over east of village on 25 February 2007
  2. (Canada Goose - Another likely suspect - small flock of moult migrants N over on 5 June 2010
  3. (Barnacle Goose - Moves around with local Pinkfeet) - 4 over on 29 October 2005
  4. (Common Crossbill - Got this in Herts in the 2002 breakout - surely a likely candidate here near the coast) - 5 over on 9 October 2005
  5. (Common Chiffchaff - Likely in spring/autumn) - first to fall, calling bird on 3 September 2005
  6. (Sand Martin - A probable over spring 2005) - 4 over W on 15 April 2006
  7. (Stock Dove - Regular nearby) - 1 over on 12 August 2006
  8. (Jay - Possible in autumn) - 1 over on 2 October 2010
  9. (Mute Swan - Must fly over from time to time) - 5 over on 22 October 2005
  10. (Teal - fairly common in the area) - 3 over on 2 December 2010
  11. Reed Bunting - Possible in winter or on passage
  12. (Brambling - Perhaps in winter or on passage) - 1 over calling on vismig 30 October 2010
  13. (Lesser Redpoll - Possible over) - single in song over on 15 April 2006
  14. (Common Tern - Regular at coast nearby) - several over after dark on 24 August 2006, and other dates thereafter
  15. (Dunlin - Must fly over from time to time) - one over in rain just after midnight on 21 October 2006
  16. Common Snipe - Must pass over now and again
  17. (Common Sandpiper - Possible over) - heard over in rain at 23:44hrs 14 August 2007
  18. (Whimbrel - Possible over) - heard over in rain at 23:32hrs 14 August 2007
  19. (Common Whitethroat - Common in surrounding countryside - female in garden on 8 May 2010
  20. (Treecreeper - May pass through with tit flocks) - single alighted in tiny front garden on 11 September 2006
  21. Spotted Flycatcher - Seen nearby outside the village
  22. Garden Warbler - Seen in another garden in the village
  23. (Wigeon - Moves along coast) - 1+ over on 2 December 2010
  24. Gannet - Ought to be visible occasionally throo telescope high over sea 1km N
  25. Tree Pipit - Several heard over on migration on nearby coast
  26. Yellow Wagtail - not infrequent as a migrant in the area
Species added to the list which were not envisaged are:

  1. Grey Plover - single over at night on 5 September 2005
  2. Grasshopper Warbler - reeling bird audible in May-June 2006
  3. Common Redpoll - a small flock present over New Year 2007
  4. Ringed Plover - heard over to north at 23:55hrs on 14 May 2007; plenty on the coast at this time of year so should have been no surprise
  5. Quail - nocturnal migrant on 1 June 2007
  6. Bar-tailed Godwit - heard over in rain at 00:20hrs 15 August 2007
  7. Barn Owl - screech heard 02:08hrs 27 July 2008, quite a surprise within the village but also heard summer 2008 and since then sometimes daily, even seen flying over the garage!
  8. Black-tailed Godwit - heard over in rain at 00:18hrs 2 August 2010
  9. Coot - heard over in mist at 01:13hrs 7 August 2010
  10. Tree Sparrow - a couple on 30 October 2010 and several dates into winter, subsequently has become a regular in this part of the village
  11. Woodcock - 2 over in roding flight excursion on 8 May 2011; had thought more likely to get this species in autumn/winter as nearest regular breeding/roding area is a couple of miles NE
  12. Short-eared Owl - one during the bumper arrival in autumn 2011
  13. Osprey - holy grail finally on 1 July 2012, drizzle
  14. Fulmar - a long shot, given declined inland breeders, but one on 15 May 2013
  15. Little Egret - anorther unthinkable a few years ago but expanding so rapidly, finally seen on 9 August 2014
  16. Mediterranean Gull - a lot of effort expended looking for this predictable species, regular on coast and commuting to feed inland - finally added on 7 August 2015
  17. Nuthatch - when we moved here in 2004 this was still a rarity in Lothian, but has seen a huge expansion since including throughout the neighbouring Gosford Estate, and being seen on feeders regularly at the east end of the village - calls finally heard on 20 July 2016, species 100!


Visits home now very infrequent, but most obvious omissions are:

  1. Linnet - overhead
  2. Teal - most fly over occasionally
  3. Common Snipe - must fly over occasionally
  4. Chiffchaff - not common in the area though
  5. Hen Harrier - a probable once eluded me, seen nearby

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

2016 breeding season

Have been too busy to maintain this blog, and all recent birding very local, even struggling to do my WeBS sites these days - but a brief update with local 2016 breeders. Swans successful again from Blindwells minewater treatment scheme top tank, these photos from the middle tank. The soundtrack.

The cob:

Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen and Mallard all fledged young here. Encouragingly, two pairs of Grey Partridge present on one date, another pair regular over the road in market garden fields around Seton East farm shop - just clinging on in these parts.

Seton shore - more unusual visitors in early June were Gull-billed Tern (right), 5 Greylags and pr Shelduck.

Gosford Sands has been hosting up to 20 common seals, and peak of 145 Sandwich Terns there on 4 June, but was devoid of waders on that date. By 12 June 32 Knot, 11 Barwit and 4 Dunlin had appeared, with Knot increasing to 49 by 14 June. On latter date, unusual sight of 2 ad-sum grebes well offshore from Craigielaw initially thought to be Slavs but 2 Red-necked Grebes much closer in on Sunday evening; also 2 Great Crested Grebes on same dates. Sandwich Terns continue, many mating or pairs courtship feeding, similar to previous years but every year there seem to be more - quite strange considering there are no significant colonies for many miles up the east coast, nothing I'm aware of between Farnes and Forvie (Isle of May just recolonised, by one pair, this year). One Sandwich in full winter plumage, black just at lower fringe of cap.

Monday, 4 January 2016


Not managed to post much of late, but time for a quick year end review and look ahead. Due to various constraints, and WeBS excepted, nearly all my "birding" is now done locally along Seton, Longniddry and Gosford shore, with regular Blindwells visits as blogged here for 2015. Having gone over fully to BirdTrack I can now extract some stats on records logged, just for this patch in 2015: 2854 records totalling 41164 birds of 135 species over 148 lists; subset at Blindwells was 1054 records totalling 6712 birds of 81 species over 44 lists. 7 more species recorded but not in BirdTrack (offshore/flyovers and the owls), so patchwork total 142 species. Whatever, it is small beer compared to many of the top BirdTrack-ers and patch listers but probably more than I had time for as it stands! Considering I tend not to log roost counts it tells me that altogether I must have seen/scanned through well into the 100,000+ birds here during the year. BirdTrack also gives you a graph of species accumulation for selected sites and species per month, a rather slow start! Added graphs for Eider, Velvet Scoter, Oyc and Med Gull:

Competing in the "patchwork challenge" has been an eye opener in many respects, even when "streamed" by removal of the best hot spots to a dedicated "islands league" it is very hard to keep up! In fact it was only the comparative league (handicapped based on previous years) that I was any good at, and unfortunately mainly because I was busy with atlas in 2013 so had a poor list then hence an advantageous handicap. This is obvious from the final annual totals of species/points: 2015 142sp/175pts; 2014 140sp/174pts; 2013 123sp/149pts; 2012 139sp/180pts (having just added Feral Pigeon, previously overlooked, to all these lists!!!). So 2015 was a new best total for species, but could not match 2012 points. I am aware of two species seen by others on the patch in 2015 that I missed, Willie's Quail at Blindwells, and Lesser Whitethroat at same location and per Jim at Longniddry Bents. I narrowly missed Cuckoo which was seen flying along the A1 just off patch and was disappointed also to fail on Pomarine Skua, not enough time in November :(

Particularly interesting this year with Mike Hodgkin competing on the neighbouring patch at Aberlady (I had to borrow his Peregrine for my own list for much of the year!) - I think he found 20 species which I missed, including 6 I have never seen on my patch (Pintail, Hen Harrier, Water Rail, American Golden Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Greenshank, Roseate Tern, Little Tern, Black Tern, LEO, SEO, Kingfisher, Tree Pipit, Stonechat, Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Mealy Redpoll, Twite, Lapland Bunting); visiting Aberlady on Christmas Day and seeing the array of 250+ Shelduck floating in the inner bay, a species I would be delighted to see a mile west, reminded me it can indeed be a magical spot!

With now 11 complete year lists for this patch it is also interesting to look at a yearly species accumulation list. It was good to add five new species this year (LRP, Green Sand, Ruff, Jack Snipe and breeding Reed Warbler) though it has to be said that three of those were probably a consequence of the main gate at Blindwells being closed in late spring so that disturbance from dogs at the main pond was diminished, something which is unlikely to apply in future, indeed the whole area may become a building site! So have now recorded 177 species here and inevitably it will be increasingly hard to add any new ones. What might they be? Having dug into local records I note the following 20 species which have occurred historically (last/only dates):

  1. White-billed Diver (31/7/91)
  2. Black Stork (29/5-2/6/46)
  3. White Stork (8/4/96; 12/4/03)
  4. Crane (23/4/00)
  5. Storm Petrel (30/8/93; 14/11/04)
  6. Bean Goose (15/2/03)
  7. American Wigeon (17/12/95-18/3/96)
  8. Hen Harrier (18/11/14)
  9. Pallas's Sandgrouse (June 1863) "A small number settled in some fields near Longniddry … remained there 2-3 weeks"
  10. Western Sandpiper (24/8/97)
  11. Spotted Redshank (15/10/95)
  12. Wood Sandpiper (20/5/14)
  13. Forster's Tern (21/2-10/4/95)
  14. Turtle Dove (20/5/92, but former breeder)
  15. Long-eared Owl (26/6/11)
  16. Common Redstart (25/4/08)
  17. Icterine Warbler (5/7/95)
  18. Rose-coloured Starling (5/7/95)
  19. Twite (regular!)
  20. Corn Bunting (8/3/96, but former breeder)

In addition there are several others that I am aware have been reported but not yet with accepted records: Balearic Shearwater, Red Kite, Hobby and Water Pipit. I'm not sure if a King Eider has ever been seen between Aberlady and Musselburgh, but must now be a possibility, with other potential candidates being Snow Goose, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Phalarope, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Gull and Raven. So, looks like more of the same is needed, peering at those Seton gulls may still be my best bet, though after 11+ years of regular weekly visits, or more, and so far only a single Iceland and Glaucous to show for it, I suspect it will be hard work...

Monday, 31 August 2015


[NOW UPDATED at end for JUL-AUG]

Just a few images to document the evolution of the Blindwells site, part of my extended local patch for PWC2015. Sometimes bleak, but a dawn visit in spring can give more attractive impressions at this former open cast coal mine, the entrance area shown above with some regenerating birch. This area typically supports multiple territories of at least six species of warbler (2015 arrival dates): Grasshopper (23/4), Sedge (30/4), Willow (16/4), Chiffchaff (12/3), Blackcap (24/4) and Whitethroat (26/4), occasional visits of others (Garden Warbler - silent migrant 3/5/15, only previous was Apr-May 2009, and Lesser Whitethroat - 23/5/04, 2/5/09, 19/6/10, 17/5/13); many inhabit the abundant rosebay willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium), e.g. on the west bank, and hawthorn scrub along the north bordering the main east coast railway line.

The reedbeds at the minewater treatment scheme (MWTS) have also developed nicely in the four years since they were established, with the first reed harvest on the top tank in March 2015:

Now providing a little open water again:

Fortunately the harvesting activity did not approach the active swan nest on the margin of open water at the further east end of the site (easily overlooked), pen sitting tight on 26 April.

Young had appeared by 20 June, young taken to the middle tank which has more vegetation and learnt to feed by dunking heads below water:

Next four pics are the middle tank, in March and April, and looking north and south, respectively:

Finally the bottom tank at the west end:

Reminder of the views of open water back in April 2011:

Overall a very welcome creation of new habitat, albeit subject to future harvesting etc, and I suspect already an important breeding area for a number of species. And how could I forget the young Dipper which wandered here far from its natal area in summer 2013?! There are also important odonata and botanical interests around the site, newts are abundant on pond margins. On birds, I have picked up most of my expected summer migrants for the patch as usual, including a remarkable 13+ Common Sandpipers together on 24 April, all but one feeding along the south shore margin and particularly amongst the boulder piles there and into the adjacent short grass. Decreased to 7 on 26 April, down to 1 on 2-3 May and none left on 6 May. I'd had only one previous multiple count on 24 April 2010, but aware others have had up to five in the last 15 years or so. With water levels dropping again may hopefully still bring in one or two other species, missed Wood Sandpiper here last year though that seems a bit optimistic!

Other late spring sightings were pr Shelduck on 28 April & 14 May, regular White Wagtails and Wheatears, a fine ad m Yellow Wagtail on evening of 30 April (seemed to vanish though just as I was getting out my camera!), a Cuckoo heading W along the A1 at Bankton just off site on 12 May, a couple of Little Egrets flying low SW over the open area on 27 May, a young Black-tailed Godwit feeding voraciously at the west end on 29 May (above, demonstrating its flexible bill), Coots ON 12-27 May with 3 chicks on 31 May (with a second brood on top tank early July), and 65 Canada Geese resting on the south bank on 1 June, presumed moult migrants.

Despite all the interesting sightings the site does always leave you with mixed feelings - so much potential but it unfortunately suffers a lot from disturbance, a constant stream of people walking the path past the south of the pond which usually flushes many of the wildfowl and any waders if present, but probably of more concern is the impact of their dogs on potentially breeding birds, several wildfowl must nest in the vicinity of the main pond. The site is also regularly used by scrambler bikes, which do not stay only on the mounds/circuits but roam over the whole area even including the muddy shore of the main pond. But all of this is probably irrelevant in the longer term as it is expected that the designated new settlement will eventually get under-way (up to 6000 houses are envisioned!) and there will then be no hope of protecting the rarer breeding birds and the special open area inhabitants (Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Grey Partridge, Kestrel, Buzzard, Barn Owl, etc) will all lose their favoured breeding and feeding areas.

I ceased regular visits in June as the west end was taken over for the latest settlement tests, new earth banks being created, unfortunately eliminating the area with resident and presumed breeding Grasshopper Warbler. By July the main pond was very close to drying out, Swan family and Coot on a second nest in remaining area of water:

Into August and water level dropped further, down to c. 10% of original area, though some flood pools appeared after rain:

I resumed regular visits in hope of a few crumbs falling off nearby Musselburgh's table (where daily reports of a multitude of wader species, including some rare ones and extended stay of 2 juv LRPs and a bunch of Ruff) - both finally materialised (2 juv LRP on 1/8, 1 juv m Ruff on 23/8) along with a couple of fly-over Green Sandpipers (also 23/8), latter a good record for the site with only previous apparently the one on 3-13 August 2002. Also with the routine disturbance of dog walkers substantially diminished, a flock of Lapwings took up residence, some present for over a month and 40 peeling off a flock of 180W coming down to bathe and preen. No joy on Wood Sand though despite the widespread UK influx!

Less good for the breeding wildfowl, the swans losing their brood one by one until all had gone at the end of the month - presumed fox predation with insufficient water for safety, and Coots down to b2. The swans had earlier tried to walk out to St Germains, but left only flattened vegetation and many feathers at the eastern perimeter fence, before briefly visiting the MTS tanks where hatched, the first 2 cygnets vanished at this stage, then for some reason returning to remains of main pond. Just one brood of Mallard and Moorhen also at MTS, total failure of wildfowl at main pond likely due to spring disturbance, including scrambler bikes, churned up mud visible in above photos. A more worrying issue is the impact of the drying out on the population of amphibians - 30 newts under one small board in May (below). An adult Grey Heron has also been resident for a month or so, compounding their problems! It would be nice to see a better water management scheme here, as the nearby MTS stream has often been in spate but is all channelled away down to the sea via the Seton Burn.

Apart from the pond other local breeders worth a mention are hirundines, with a Sparrowhawk bringing out 60+ Swallows from St Germains, and 40+ over Seton East including many juveniles (though farm shop owner reported a dead one in July), then on 1 September a large movement of Swallows with a long stream totally 365+ passing NE in 40 minutes just as a rain storm came in, in the middle of which a brown type Merlin appeared, buzzed the ponds back and forth, then chased a few Swallows over the open area (possibly a juv male), only my second record there after another f/imm bathing and resting on bales on 26 July 2008.

One more encouraging fact to conclude, with confirmed breeding of Reed Warblers in the MTS reed bed - despite regular checks (after one reported in May 2013) a single bird first spotted on the margin only on 13 July, and song was heard briefly only on that date, when a bird with food and two juveniles were also seen. These have since proved to be extremely elusive, with brief glimpses on only two more dates despite lots of effort, though the reed bed is fairly big. Though the Reed Warbler are mentioned in William Turnbull's 'Birds of East Lothian' (1863 & 1867) as being "present" in West Lothian bogs these old records seem very doubtful, presumably a mis-identification for Sedge Warbler, and conflict with the picture of spread north as far as Yorkshire only by the end of the 19th century (Holloway, The Historical Atlas). Despite a recent increase in records of singing birds (territorial bird(s) at Seafield pond/Tyninghame in 2010 and isolated records from Aberlady in 2012 & 2013) there has been no previous confirmed breeding in Lothian up to 2014.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Gosford Sands

With Blindwells harder to get into have been visiting Gosford Bay more, counting waders, etc. We get very slim pickings on northbound waders in comparison with Tyninghame (where hundreds of Ringed Plover and Dunlin late May), my paltry few were just 5 Dunlin on 16 May and 5 Sanderling 31 May; a couple of Grey Plover remained throughout the summer, non-breeding plumage so presumably first summer, joined by 4 smart adults on 26 July. Barwits dropped to 11 on 30 May, 8 on 13 June but started rising again with 21 on 26 June, 57 on 3 July, 67 on 4 July (at least 4 in red-brick breeding plumage, 8 others orange), 78 on 10 July, 114 on 16 July. 12 Dunlin back on 3 July, followed by 46 Knot on 18 July, 50 Sanderling on 26 July. Sandwich Terns suddenly picked up at the end of the month with 12 on 26 June, 37 on 30 June, 114 on 3 July; other terns very scarce just a couple of Arctic's on 8 June and a couple of Common's at Port Seton.

Up to 32 f/imm Goosander have been swarming along the shallows off Ferny Ness (above) and Long Craigs rocks, occasionally mixing with a few residual RBM's, but quite distinctive even by their behaviour. Offshore Eider numbers have been low, but 1600 apparently east of Gullane; likewise for scoter, with a massive moult flock of Common Scoter resident well offshore to the east, creating a great spectacle of perhaps 2k birds swirling in a single flock over the sea, viewed from Port Seton on 8 June. Only managed a photo of a splinter group which flew west:

A single Red-necked Grebe on 13 June had found a friend by the end of the month and was feeding within 50m of the point at Ferny Ness; 5 ad-sum just off Longniddry Bents c/p 2 on 10 July. First couple of Teal back on 12 July. Plenty of Puffins and other auks offshore, and the odd Manx Shearwater especially in poorer weather. Some views out to Inchkeith in the Forth here from the Seton Burn, often scenic.

A few more, first over Seton golf course top pond:

Some amazing sunsets at Gosford too, sometimes combining nicely with the rippled sands and attracting photographers to the Ferny Ness c/p (where a £2 day charge commences this month!).

Also, a sign of things to come - at least no charge for dawn/dusk in summer which will include most of my vismig visits:

Plenty of complaints all over about the parking charge, but what about all the anti-social behaviour and litter spread by visitors? Visit Ferny Ness first thing and there are mounds of chip packets, polystyrene plastic, cans and bottles, tents on occasion too, complete with all the contents which their owners have kindly left for someone else to deal with. I'm rarely out in East Lothian without coming home with a collection of plastic drinks bottles and cans. Last week 3 black sacks of beer cans and bottles, some smashed, down St Germains track to Blindwells, complete with a homemade CD of "Glen's music" and receipt from Port Seton co-op where they had bought some of it for cash served by Fiona at till 3 at 14:45hrs on 10 July! Personally I'd be glad to see the back of many local visitors who turn out their cars of takeaway trash along the main road as they head back to Edinburgh - if it keeps some of them away price worth paying IMHO...