Monday, 20 May 2013

Wknd 18-19 May

Getting going on the Woodcock survey, at least the local version thereof where we are attempting to discover if the dire status revealed in the local atlas thus far is a fair picture or not. I started at Cuddie Wood where a roding bird reported for 2011 by local resident. Fortunately one was immediately apparent as I arrived, and perhaps same was heard later over Butterdean. I'd had roding birds are Butterdean and nearby Hodges at dawn in 2008 atlas visits. A single Tawny calling from Liberty Hall and 2 Barn Owls on way home made a good first excusion.

Less success on Sunday will pre-dawn visits to Harelaw by Longniddry, and Kilduff. Thereafter did BBS at Whitekirk/New Mains. The highlight was a pair of Lapwings on the "set-aside" S of main road by New Mains, anxious female and full display by male, what joy to see after eight barren years for this species here! Also Sedge Warbler continuing to expand in oilseed rape crops. Lowlight was a roe buck with its antlers tangled in an electric fence. Got a hold of it but very badly tangled so could not free it without tools. Clearly had been there some time, also had pulled most of the fence bases out so was in danger of getting free trailing the whole fence, or getting body tangled too, or injuring itself by wild thrashing. Decided no time to waste calling for help so went home for a knife and brought my son Michael to assist. Initially was still thrashing badly and got rear leg to knife to kick it off. Also now had a loop of the fence round neck and would not tolerate that being touched. Finally managed to hold him again by one antler and he allowed me to cut steadily through the 20 odd nylon cords, each with embedded wire mesh, without ever pushing back towards me. Once free, though still decorated with a bunch of orange twine, he hurtled away over nearby fence, but then in field beyond leaping with a kick and clearly very glad to be free. There is very useful guidance online on handling stranded deer and the dangers thereof, nevertheless I think confronted by a similar situation I'd do the same again as it could have ended much worse.

Evening at Blindwells Minewater Treatment Scheme (top) was impressed by the now matured reedbed, with at least one singing Sedge Warblers at each level (a few others outside) and several prs Reed Bunting. Perhaps still too wet for other waterbirds to nest but one Moorhen resident seen. En route a Yellowhammer in song from within Longniddry, in trees between A198 Main Street and Glassel Park Road. Also one Short-eared Owl seen over the top of Blindwells, wheeling to plunge on prey at frequent intervals, a wonderful sight (my first there). Finally at home while posting this blog, one Common Sand calling over 00:05hrs, then two screech calls from Barn Owl at 01:15hrs, (fourth record from the house) and then another Coot NW 02:05hrs.

Wknd 11-12 May

Spotted various goslings at large on the Eskbank accompanied by a range of Canada and Greylag parents/guardians (flickr photos). The bunch immediately above certainly belong to Canada Geese parent and look pretty distinctive with rather yellowish hue, also a hint of an ear spot and a darker patch on crown. Contrast the Greylag goslings immediately below and the most reliable distinction is in fact the bill, both the structure (with a noticeably larger nostril) and the colour, the Greylag goslings having a pale tip.

The ones below being looked after by a Canada and Greylag are a little more tricky to ID! Not as obviously yellow as the Canada goslings, but seemingly with a distinct nostril but no pale tip, they seem not to be Greylag either. Though they could be hybrid young I expect could also be slightly older Canada goslings - time will tell. I dug up one other set of young goslings in care of mixed parents, these actually look like Canadas to me, also posted on the hybridbirds Canada x Greylag page but with no further comment yet.

I have certainly seen a precedent for Canada goslings being cared for by a Greylag "parent", this at East Fenton in June 2007, no doubt about those:

One of the regular local Canada x Greylags on Eskbank here too:

Otherwise still busy with Rooks this weekend, getting to Midlothian and polishing off several in NT26 needing 2013 counts: 116 The Glen Road, Flotterstone (in sight of ranger's hut), 98 Woodhouselee, 154 Pentlandfield, 80 Thornton; also 25+25 at Kingsacre golf course. This completes 6150 nests at 200+ colonies in Lothian this year, the only remaining omissions of possibly >10 nests being Soutra Farm (NT45P) and Woodhall Dean (NT67R) - could not find the rookery at the latter but birds present in fields.

WeBS was unremarkable, Mute Swans on nests Drem and East Fortune. The issues at one site are worth mentioning though. When I log on to BTO WeBS online for all Lothian sites I get a list of 6 "key sites" in Lothian, automatically selected on basis of submitted counts, these go as follows: Forth Estuary (83420), Gladhouse Reservoir (83139), Linlithgow Loch (83001), Lochhill (83304), Threipmuir and Harlaw Reservoirs including Bavelaw Marsh (83111), Tyninghame Estuary (83405). Spot the odd one out? Lochhill the flood pool on the edge of the Garletons was drained by the landowner in September 2009. Consultation with various parties at the time, and RSPB representatives meeting the farmer, led to advice that from a protection point of view it was a grey area. SPAs (and other "international" sites in Britain) are "underpinned" by SSSI's, the guidelines of which cover only semi-natural habitats; thus there is no intensive agriculture land within SPA's. The Firth of Forth is an SPA, and land that is "functionally linked" to an SPA, in spite of being outside the site boundary, ought to derive protection from the Habitats Regulations - i.e. the protection should follow the birds, but that this is the grey bit. Formalising the protection by getting "cropped land" extensions to SPA's might also be feasible, RSPB have been pressing for, but not currently and likely to take many years. In terms of the drainage itself, this is another complexity since it is not regulated per se but existing drains are required to be maintained. The latter may be different for a field within the actual SPA. Beyond this are the impact of flood risk on which SEPA might have a view, I consulted separately on that and was informed there are another set of considerations here and that enforcement is the weak link. I kept quiet about all this at the time in the hope that things might change and sure enough in the last couple of years the pool had main recovered, presumably as the drains blocked, and things were looking up. Nothing to log for May WeBS though with the scene below, re-drained:

So left again just with the happy memory of seeing those hundreds of Wigeon grazing in an undisturbed setting (such a rare and valuable commodity along our Lothian coast) a peak of 562 birds in December 2007, the vast flocks of geese (including wintering Barnacles at times), not to mention quite a few "good" waders :(

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Annotated garden bird list for Longniddry, Lothian

This is a list of the species seen in, and flying over, a small garden on Douglas Road, Longniddry, Lothian, Scotland (map) since August 2004. Longniddry has about 2500 inhabitants and is situated on the coast about a mile south of Gosford Bay. Unfortunately there is no proper view out beyond the immediate neighbourhood - in particular, no view of the sea, so a good proportion of the birds on the garden list have been recorded in flight overhead only.

The percentage of weeks that the regular visitors were recorded during 2005 is included in brackets following the species name as an indicative measure of each species abundance; species which were only seen overhead are marked with an asterisk * and those only heard overhead by a +.

  1. Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata) * - single NW over 07:30hrs 30 October 2017
  2. Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) * - single E over 08:00hrs 15 May 2013
  3. Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) * - occasionally seen passing overhead, mainly in winter; usually birds going inland at dawn or returning to coast at dusk
  4. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - occasionally seen passing overhead, twice attempting to come down in neighbourhood
  5. Little Egret Ardea cinerea) - single SW over 10:45hrs 9 August 2014, presumably from Aberlady; another low SW down Douglas Road on 30 October 2017
  6. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) * - a group of 5 birds over mid-Oct 2005, 2 in Oct 2006, 3+2 when cold weather hit late Nov 2010
  7. Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) * - a group of 4 flew over on 10 October 2007
  8. Pinkfoot (Anser brachyrhynchus) (10%) * - regular visitor in autumn, with large flocks sometimes seen en route between nearby roost at Aberlady and feeding grounds (peak count 7000 over at dawn on 8/11/04 in six flocks); often heard over during the night too; leucistic (all-white) bird seen on 29/10/05
  9. Greylag Goose (Anser anser) * - regular in small flocks over, to and from nearby Gosford Estate, especially late summer
  10. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) * - a flock of moult migrants N over at night on 5/6/10; 33 ENE on 24/8/12
  11. Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) * - four birds over in a flock of Pinkfeet on 29/10/05, several autumn records in 2006, including overnight passage; large numbers of migrants, peak 310, autumn 2010
  12. Wigeon (Anas penelope) * - one heard calling amongst loose flocks of 81 duck sp NE over on 2/12/10, hard weather
  13. Teal (Anas crecca) * - 3 over with loose flocks totalling 81 duck sp 2/12/10 with deep snow and sub-zero daytime temperature
  14. Mallard (Anas platyrhyncos) * - pr over on 25/02/07, and rising from tiny burn west on 13/04/09; group 13+ on 25/11/10; many amongst 81 duck sp over in hard weather on 2/12/10
  15. Goosander (Mergus merganser) * - single sawbill duck S over on 29/12/06 probably this species; redhead SW over on 2/10/10
  16. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - single SW over on 1/7/12 in drizzle
  17. Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (39%) - regular visitor, with up to 7 individual sightings in one day, and birds seen displaying overhead regularly in spring; a presumed captive bird heard as of summer 2006, eliciting calling responses from passing wild individuals
  18. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) (8%) * - occasionally seen thermalling overhead, up to 4 together
  19. Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) * - less than annual, flying over or hunting over golf course to north
  • Hobby (Falco subbuteo) - singles on 13 September 2008 and 4 August 2010 [neither accepted by LBRC so not included in species total!]
  1. Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) * - less than annual: Christmas Day 2004, one chasing Wood Pigeons Nov 2005, then Sept 06, Dec 06, Jan 07, Oct 08, Feb 09, Nov 13
  2. Quail (Coturnix coturnix) + - a presumed migrant heard calling over at 00:47hrs on 1 June 2007; loud calls from a migrant circling low over 01:15hrs 10 July 2012; a clear set of 3 quic-ic-ic 02:19hrs 9 June 2017
  3. Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) - single record of a male heard calling in May 2005, another mid-July 2014, latest calls dawn on 9 May 2016
  4. Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) + - nocturnal calls heard on two nights mid-April 2007, annual since 2011 (overall: 3 in April, 2 May, now 2 in June, 1 July, 1 Sept)
  5. Coot (Gallinula chloropus) + - nocturnal calls heard on 7/8/10, 21/4/11, then four records 2012 (2 April, July, August), 20/5/13, 21/5/15, 26/5/17
  6. Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) (41%) * - observed (and heard) overhead daily throughout the year, but particularly in winter
  7. Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) * - heard passing overhead at night particularly in August and flocks, sometimes very large, occasionally seen over in winter
  8. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) + - single nocturnal migrant over in fog 5/9/05
  9. Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) + - nocturnal migrants over in May and August 2007, August 2009, two in August 2011, one flying inland Feb 2012
  1. Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) * - occasional flocks over in winter, peak 135 in December 2004
  2. Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) + - nocturnal migrant over on 2 August 2010
  3. Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) + - nocturnal migrant in rain on 14/8/07, another 29/8/11
  4. Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) + - 3 nocturnal migrants in rain on 14/8/07, 2 1/8/10, 1 29/4/11, 2 10/7/12, 1 20/7/14, 1 15/8/15, 1 27/7/16
  5. Curlew (Numenius arquata) * - small numbers over at various times in the year, typically nocturnal but also dawn and dusk, i.e. feeding movements; also audible on the coast 750m N in certain conditions
  6. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) + - two nocturnal migrants in rain on 14/8/07, then 19/8/07, 27/7/08, 30/7/10, two Jul/Aug 2011, 4,7,15,16/8/12, 20/5/13, 25/8/13, 28/4/14, 10/5/14, 12/5/15, 23/8/15, 20/7/16, 26/7/16
  7. Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) + - only record was two in roding flight excursion on 8/5/11, apparently formerly regular over Longniddry
  8. Redshank (Tringa totanus) + - fairly regularly heard over at night, with a peak in August; commonly feeds inland in the village in mild weather
  9. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) + - three August records, one in early October, all nocturnal calls
  10. Dunlin (Calidris alpina) + - single nocturnal migrant in rain at 00:10hrs on 21/10/06 (100 minutes before high tide), another in early May 2008, two summer 2012
  11. Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) (73%) - regular non-breeding visitor, rarely seen in late spring and early summer; occasionally over at night in summer
  12. Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) + - adult over c. 100m west on 7 August 2015, on a daily commute inland with other small gulls
  13. Common Gull (Larus canus) (24%) - regular winter visitor, not seen in spring and early summer
  14. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) (97%) - present throughout the year with tens or hundreds passing overhead on some days en route to/from coastal roosts; frequently over at night in summer
  15. Lesser Blackback (Larus fuscus) (39%) - common summer visitor
  16. Great Blackback (Larus marinus) * - rarely seen, but probably regular over in the morning commute of large gulls from roosts to urban Edinburgh in winter months, occasional at other times
  17. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) + - several were heard over on three nights in August 2006, including some definitely moving S, but perhaps returning N later; studies of this species on Teeside have indicated a SW departure at dusk taking birds over to Liverpool Bay (Ward, R.M., Ringing & Migration, 20, 19, 2000)
  18. Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis) * - small group of birds heard moving S overhead at night in rain on 13/8/04; again over in mid-August 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, late August 2011, several occasions 2012; typically adult and juv; can also be heard from the coast in the right conditions
  19. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) (31%) - erratic visitor, year-round; many racing pigeons fly along the coast on certain weekends
  20. Stock Dove (Columba oenas) * - a single in August 2006, then 2 on 3 July 2015
  21. Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) (98%) - very common local resident, which breeds abundantly in the village from at least Feb to Nov, and has successfully reared young in cypress hedge in our tiny garden; nocturnal song heard once, in early June 2015
  22. Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) (55%) - somewhat irregular visitor throughout the year; successful local breeding; resident in 2011, 2014-15; nocturnal song heard 01:40hrs 14/7/15
  23. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - screech call heard in early hours of 27/7/08, 31/8/09, 10/7/12 and 20/5/13; regular (daily) in summer 2014 with one seen flying between houses over our garage, just feet from my window; reduced in 2015, but heard April and July; as we are 200m from the edge of the village (golf course) this makes this a truly suburban owl; also, reportedly regular visitor in King's Park area of Longniddry
  24. Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) - frequently heard calling at night from Gosford Estate woods; regular in August 2006 with a juvenile bird heard; heard daily again through summer 2007; juvs found in Fernyness Wood summer 2009; regular calls summer 2012
  25. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - single NE over on 26/10/11, a bumper arrival from Scandinavia this autumn with many others seen locally
  26. Common Swift (Apus apus) (25%) - common summer visitor, (May to August); up to 10 birds regularly, now breeding in neighbour's house, and many more in occasional coasting "movements", including pre-departure gathering, e.g. 50 high over on 14 August 2007
  27. Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) - irregular, annual (except 2007); breeds in Fernyness Wood to NE
  28. Skylark (Alauda arvensis) (6%) * - regular overhead passage migrant, largest flock 25 in October 2005; occasionally heard in breeding season when singing birds drift over the village
  29. Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) * - 4W 15/4/06, 3W 3/4/11, 1W 15/5/12, 2W 18/4/15
  30. Swallow (Hirundo rustica) (24%) - regular summer visitor (mid-April to mid-September); unprecedented spring flock of c. 170 low SW over house at dusk on 10/5/15, perhaps from a pre-roost; single very late record early Nov 2008
  31. House Martin (Delichon urbica) (37%) - common summer visitor (April to September); breeds locally (and had attempted to build on our house); post-breeding gathering numbered 35 birds in 2004, but has dropped to less than 10 in 2006 and remained low, though plenty in other parts of Longniddry; once heard at night
  32. Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) (12%) - regular overhead passage migrant
  33. Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrelli) (10%) - irregular visitor throughout the year
  34. Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) (8%) - irregular visitor throughout the year
  35. Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) - recorded in mid-November 2004 and various occasions winter 08/09 when there was a group often around the village as part of a large influx; again recorded autumn 2010, March & Nov 2011, autumn 2012 and in winter 16/17
  36. Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) (35%) - irregular visitor throughout the year, less common in winter; more often heard than seen, nocturnal song heard once
  37. Hedge Sparrow (Prunella modularis) (82%) - common resident, present in garden in small numbers throughout the year
  38. Robin (Erithacus rubecula) (92%) - common resident, apparently absent in mid-summer
  39. Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) - migrant ad f perched on neighbour's roof 16 August 2016
  40. Blackbird (Turdus merula) (90%) - common resident
  41. Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) (8%) - uncommon winter visitor
  42. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) (37%) - regularly heard in song in spring/summer; rare at other times of the year though a few in autumn passage
  43. Redwing (Turdus iliacus) (10%) - autumn passage migrant (peak 220 birds in 15 minutes, September 2005), and winter visitor
  44. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - formerly very rare visitor with only 5 records in 2 years, but more recently heard/seen daily at times, particularly spring and autumn
  45. Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) - a territorial bird could be heard regularly in song from a location about 450m N of the house in mid-May 2006
  46. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (4%) - heard in song from community centre area most springs, autumn/winter records: f/imm 16/9/07, m 29/8/11, m 19/10/13, m 4/10/15, 2 m + 1 f/imm 25/11/16, m 14/10/17, f/imm 27/1/18 - 3/2/18
  47. Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) - first record a female in the garden in May 2010
  48. Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) - rare visitor, only recorded briefly in song in spring and on autumn passage
  49. Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) - rare visitor, only recorded on autumn passage
  50. Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) (4%) - rare visitor
  51. Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) (14%) - irregular visitor, often in company of other tits and normally associated with hard weather; visited fat ball in garden March 2006 and January 2009
  52. Coal Tit (Parus ater) (31%) - regular visitor throughout the year, but more in winter and less in summer
  53. Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) (80%) - common visitor throughout the year, especially winter when up to 14 attracted to peanut feeders, but no more than a handful in recent years (sparrows dominate seed feeder)
  54. Great Tit (Parus major) (59%) - regular visitor in small numbers throughout the year
  55. Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) - resident in Fernyness Wood, and bout of calls heard from there at dawn on 20 July 2016
  56. Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) - first record on 11/9/06 on ornamental tree in tiny front garden, second on 11/2/11 creeping up garden shed at back
  57. Magpie (Pica pica) (92%) - normally present daily in the neighbourhood, with one January council/social gathering of 23 birds in tree outside house (and 47 on one roof reported by a friend in another part of Longniddry); now much reduced due to removal by a neighbour
  58. Jay (Garrulus glandarius) - first record an apparent acorn-gatherer SW over on fine morning of 2/10/10, though followed reports of irruption out of Scandinavia; further records on 23 and 29/10/14, probably both also after acorns
  59. Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) (96%) - regularly observed on aerials, throughout the year; peaks of up to 150 birds; breeds and roosts nearby with Rooks
  60. Rook (Corvus frugilegus) (35%) - regular visitor throughout the year; breeds and roosts nearby at the station
  61. Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) (92%) - normally present daily in the neighbourhood, and breeds nearby with 3 juveniles fledged in 2006
  62. Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) (100%) - ever-present resident, peaks of up to 150 birds
  63. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (100%) - another common resident and local breeder observed daily in numbers of up to 20 by the end of the breeding season; apparently stable
  64. Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) - first records on last two days of October 2010, with more regular occurrence in following winters, often in the garden with House Sparrows
  65. Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) (63%) - regular visitor throughout the year
  66. Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) - first record on vismig on 30/10/10
  67. Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) (73%) - regular visitor throughout the year
  68. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) (33%) - regular visitor throughout the year, always in small numbers
  69. Siskin (Carduelis spinus) (8%) - irregular visitor, mainly in spring/autumn (peak 55 birds, 29/10/05); once on nut-feeder in spring (27/2/05)
  70. Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) (20%) - regularly overhead, and not infrequently descending to feed in the area, once on the road outside
  71. Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) - regular in small numbers, mainly migrants, a few with 20+ redpolls feeding on birch catkins on 28/12/06
  72. Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) - at least 12, probably 16, with 20+ redpolls feeding on birch catkins on 28/12/06
  73. Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) * - regular post-breeding in summer, then again sometimes in autumn; first small flock over in early October 2005; also again during dispersal in July 07, July 08 and July/August 09; large numbers in second wave in 2010 (e.g. 35 on 30/10); recorded 6 wks 2011, flocks 13, 11, 8; 3 wks 2012, 6 wks 2015
  74. Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (4%) - irregular visitor, typically pairs in winter but resident for a few weeks in summer 2007 and again late summer 2009
  75. Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) single record, one high SW over calling on 12 December 2016


  1. Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) - single heard calling 27 July 2008; traced to local farm