Saturday, 25 October 2014

Newton Pool and Newton Point

Leaving Lowick in a howling gale the decision was made not to take the scope on the planned day's bird-watching. As usual ,the wrong decision!

First call was Newton Pool where we had the hide to ourselves,and from which we enjoyed great views of Whooper Swans,Teal, Gadwall , Shoveller, Pintail ,Grey Heron plus a couple of dozen Grey Lag Geese.
Heading North along the coastal path we stopped for lunch at Newton Point,sheltering on the rocks from the strong offshore wind.Out to sea,among the gulls,Gannets and Cormorants our attention was drawn to two birds heading in from the sea,one harrying the other.It soon became clear that the gull was a Herring Gull whilst its weary victim ,probably just arriving from Russia ,was a Short Eared Owl which drew perilously close to the swell ,before thankfully landing unsteadily on the rocks on Snook Point which were gradually being covered by the incoming tide..

Continuing North we then stopped at Snook Point,our attention drawn by 300+ Golden Plover,amongst which there were Turnstone,Oyster Catcher and Redshank. Out in the bay were two Red Throated Divers.

Walking a little further North we were relieved  to see when  the Short Eared Owl,looking slightly more perky,having made it to the dunes arose from almost under our feet to head up the coast.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Bittern sweet

Bittern sweet
We had an early morning walk around Branton Ponds today to see if the Slavonian Grebe was still there. Whilst searching the east pond we moved down to an area of Bullrushes, no sign of the grebe but much to our astonishment a Bittern flew up in front of us and proceeded to flap awkwardly around the pond chased by a group of Black Headed Gulls, it eventually flew over trees in the direction of the west pond and was lost from sight. We had no further views but it may have landed in a dense area of reeds at the far end or it may have just kept on going, whatever happened to it this is yet another new bird for the ponds and the second new one in a week.
From the ponds we went on an unusual twitch in the form of a Death's Head Hawkmoth at Howick village hall, provided by Stewart Sexton and much appreciated by the assembled crowd.
This is all just too much to take in,I shall have to go and have a lie down in a darkened room, and as a footnote the Slav was seen again on the east pond later this morning.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Grebe heaven

Grebe heaven
As usual we were out for our early morning dog walk around Branton Ponds, the air was still and clear, the sun had just poked over the horizon and the ponds were alive with autumn birdlife. Teal squabbled near the reedbeds and Wigeon numbers are building each day with their distinctive calls,and 3 Water Rail belted out their pig like squeals from the rushes.
As has been the case all year Little Grebe numbers have risen to almost plague proportions with at least 13 individuals on the ponds at the moment. The Great Crested Grebes are still there but in diminished numbers ( only 4 at the moment) even they will disappear at the first sign of a freeze over, today however they were joined by something much more interesting in the form of a winter plumaged Slavonian Grebe, it's contrasting black and white plumage with stunning white cheeks and straight rather than upturned bill gave us a new bird for the site and one which is remarkable bearing in mind the ponds are at least 12 miles inland.

A Day on the East Lothian Coast

Together with three other Bird Club Members,a decision was made to head North of the Border for a change as some research suggested there may be some interesting sightings in the Torness area.

First stop,Thorntonloch ,and a walk along the sunlit beach provided the usual Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Herring,Black Headed and Common Gulls ,both adult and juvenile.Out to sea ,among the heavy swell,Gannets fished.
Next stop was the small woodland near the Visitor's Car Park at Torness where a Booted Warbler had been reported daily.A small group of birders were seen through the trees but the problem was crossing the fence bearing in mind the 21 year old artificial hip of one of our group.After some manhandling some progress was made but the sight of three women apparently trying to bundle a large object somewhat unceremoniously over the perimeter fence must have raised some alarm as a Police car swept in  and stopped to get a closer look!Leaving Colin dangling uncomfortably half over the fence we waved and smiled apologetically at the Police who drove off  realising we were possibly mad but not bad!.
Our efforts and our companion's discomfort were rewarded by superb views of a very active,obliging Booted Warbler which we observed for a good 20 minutes before it flew out of sight in the woodland.A first for us all!
Next stop Skateraw,and a walk around the Power Station and out to the pier.The wind was strong and the sea rough so  there was little to see apart from Eider,Gannet,Cormorant and Pied Wagtail.
A good  day out but made special by the Booted Warbler!
Looking at the day's recorded sightings later it appeared we missed a Siberian Stonechat,which we must have driven past and which was spotted by more experienced birders!