Saturday, 29 December 2012

Back-o-the-hill Beans

Went B-O-T-H this morning in an attempt to join the dots from my secondary Winter Thrush Survey area and the location of the still-present Whooper Swans which are hanging out there. As I parked up an odd noise emanated from the direction of the Whoopers, and it wasn't the large Corvid group feeding on the ploughed field. Nor was it the Buzzard. Nor the gulls.

Quickly scanning across the stubble revealed a couple of dark brown heads, so out with the scope and check the heads. Hmmm, Pinkies? Don't look quite right. Aren't those bill patches a little orange. Aren't those heads a little triangular? Necks were nice and long, and their backs a lovely dark, almost black, scalloped with bright white edges. Sadly they had no legs. Well, at least none that could be seen, anyway. Too much stubble. On the field, that is.

I tried to improve my position but the rain came on and got horrible. Returning with camera a half hour later the rain had gone. And so had the geese. Maybe these long staying Whoopers can act as a hunter's decoy and bring in other things. This field definitely will add to my scope for patch totalling. Also was the site of a nice group of Golden Plover last autumn. The fields also held a good few Woodpigeon.

The Bay, Green Sand dip

Went to Dalgety Bay the other day to see if there was still a Green Sand there, but it was nowhere to be seen - it's a pretty busy corner for the likes of a Green Sand to be hanging around for any time, especially when the path is flooded and people are going off-piste to get around. All I got in the same place was this scabby pigeon. Not even a good picture. Well, there were some other things around, but I saw nothing else of note besides perhaps some Wigeon. Dunlin numbers looked quite good, c.100.

not a Green Sand

It did make me think though of how you would "score" a birding experience. Missing a bird you "need" on a local patch is a negative score, but how much depends on which list it's missing from and how much you prioritise that list. Going birding in any case is always worth at least +1 point.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Flyby boxing day

Nice female RB Merganser joined soon after by her beau

The always photogenic Oystercatcher

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Woke up late, made a quick flyby. Nothing fancy, but a nice close RT Diver and Goldeneyes getting in the mood

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Patch Targets 2013

Getting closer to the great patch stomp of 2013

Total list: 154
Personal List: 137
2012 list: 125, probably 110 "safe" (164 patchlist points)
2013 patch total target: 140 (3 list additions) - target reached
2013 patch year target: 125 (13th Dec - 112 and struggling)

(list expanded after some research in Fife Bird Reports 2000-2004. Added Woodcock, GW Teal from March 1999 and Smew from November 2004)

Total list: 136
Personal List: 117
2012 list: n/a, estimate 95 "safe" (nae chance)
2013 patch total target: 119 (even one new addition would constitute success)
2013 year target: 100 (14th Dec - 89 and hoping to make 90!)

Hill of Beath
An unknown quantity which should be easiest to stretch in terms of total list. Not part of the challenge though - a side project
Total list: unknown
Personal List: 59
2012 list: n/a, no estimate but over 60 should be do-able (!)
2013 patch total target: patch total reached 80 in February - new patchlist target 100
2013 year target: 100 (revised from 70) (Dec 13th - 82 - still better than expected in the end)

Back o' the Hill

Took a different way to work because of a meeting yesterday, and found these wee beauties loitering about behind my hill (AKA Hill of Beath)

Whoopers with HoB in the background

And closer, because they're so pretty

sooo pretty

Less pretty, but nonetheless impressive, from a few days ago in the Divit:

Monday, 17 December 2012

Ground Zero

Home patch - Hill of Beath

My home patch, here incorporating a fair amount of pasture and arable land, has accumulated a total of 59 (yes, fifty-nine) species in about 17 years. Most of these are entirely predictable.The most notable exception is probably a Sandwich Tern which called as it flew over my garden in the darkness. Other one-time records are Wheatear, Grey Partridge, Peregrine and Crossbill (another garden flyover). The one thing it does have going for it is being one of my two reliable Woodcock sites in the county.

Dalbeath Marsh LNR (Link), which I haven't visited since it became an LNR. Held about 15 species this weekend:

Dalbeath Marsh LNR

I won't be including this in any patch watch challenges, but there are a couple of decent high (150/220m) vismig spots available which ought to stretch the list a bit, albeit they take a bit of walking. Here's how they all fit together (including Dalgety bay for completeness) ...

Hill of Beath, Cullaloe, Dalgety Bay, Inverkeithing

Monday, 10 December 2012


Two patches lined up for next year's patch challenge...

Inverkeithing: Industrial harbour site of former paper mill. Has scored well on seabirds and still has it. 2012 saw a mega day of Shearwaters, Petrels and Skuas driven in by two days of easterly hoolies. Also a candidate for surprise of the year, 2012 saw an apparently locally breeding Cuckoo. Started watching vismig here end August 2011 and kept going.

Inverkeithing site list
Total gleaned from old Fife bird Reports - 150
Personal -137
2012 (so far) - 125 


Cullaloe: Former reservoir long since de-commissioned and still developing since being drained. SSSI based on dull plants for which the water level is supposed to be managed. When this happens in August good things happen - e.g. Pectoral Sandpiper, Curlew Sand. Also the site of Fife's only accepted Bee-eater and a long ago Temminck's Stint.10 years ago was subject of a breeding bird survey, so about time for a revisit.Patch history - watched from 1997 until foot and mouth crisis caused switch to Dalgety Bay. Dalgety Bay list quickly overtook it and visited less often since. Former Jan 1st stopoff for Jack Snipe, the prime area is now being overgrown by Willows.

Cullaloe site list
Total -136
Personal - 117
2012 - no recent annual list.

Cullaloe NR

Who's a pretty boy?

HIghland Fling, 8-9 Dec

A quickie to get Crested Tit and Ptarmigan. Journey back through Cairngorms abandoned due to snow on the road.

From viewpoint at Insh Marshes (AKA Ice Rink)

Insh Marshes Geese

Grazing between the icy channels

Back again

Feeder visitors

Glen Feshie

Feeder wars in Anagach Wood

Festive crumb seeker at The Hermitage

Friday, 7 December 2012

A winter's day

in a deep and dark December ...

That top part is all cloud

A festive addition to the morning - two robins fighting

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Divit Harbour lunch

Pair of large loafers

Not safe below water ...

... or above - Sparrowhawk pigeon lunch

Not entirely welcome

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Invekeithing list to Nov 2012

Inverkeithing list at 30/11/2012. Top list is mine, bottom list is other known records for the area. Must be some notable exceptions, including a Hoopoe that was seen rounding Carlingnose previously and other more common birds which haven't made it onto the list yet. Shaded species new to me in 2012 (having only started in late Aug 2011).

Monday, 3 December 2012

Waxwing dip

Went to photograph Waxwings I found yesterday in Kelty, but they seem to have moved on - maybe due to overnight snow

Blackbird refuelling

Still a few of these around in Kelty

A poetic moment

Weather escapees or local commuters?

Divit Dabchicks

Three Little Grebe fishing just outside the harbour

One down below

Three amigos

One more for the cuteness