Thursday, 31 January 2013

January roundup

After a lunchtime visit to Inverkeithing we have the closed lists for January (barring some kind of owl encounter or nocturnal audio contact)

Total complete lists submitted to Birdtrack: 27

Total lists submitted for Inverkeithing:14
Total lists submitted for Cullaloe: 4
Total lists submitted for Hill of Beath: 7

Total species recorded Inverkeithing: 58
Total species recorded Cullaloe: 36
Total species recorded Hill of Beath: 46

Total points Inverkeithing: 62 (+1 pt. for Eider (?!), RT Diver, Shag (?!) and Peregrine)
Total points Cullaloe: 37 (+1 pt. for Merlin)
Total points Hill of Beath: 48 (+1 pt. each for Waxwing, Whooper Swan)

Percentage of target species seen - Inverkeithing: 46%
Percentage of target species seen - Cullaloe: 36%
Percentage of target species seen - Hill of Beath: 66%

Hill of Beath target was probably set too low although as an unknown quantity it wasn't put forward to the actual challenge (might be next year though). Inverkeithing has done better than January of last year, with 5 more species, but none of them were likely to go unrecorded throughout the year anyway. Cullaloe seems to be way behind, but the number of visits has been low and it has already seen two species which only had one previous record for the site - watch for it coming up on the rails.

Most enjoyable thing about the patch focus has been recording birds which otherwise would have gone unrecorded. Of course this will largely relate to commoner birds, but it has also produced Waxwings, an unexpected Dipper and a very unexpected Merlin, as well as forcing me to root out Woodcock at two sites which I kind of knew were there anyway. I hope I can get the hat-trick by discovering a site in my Inverkeithing patch. From some other visits made for Winter Thrush survey (the missing lists from the arithmetic above) I also managed to log a few unexpected species in a quite unpromising quadrant.

When the three patches are combined there's a total of 75 species and 82 points. If only Birdtrack was capable of combining patches into a megapatch the way eBird can (and didn't insist that patches fit into squares!)

22 species were recorded in all three patches (Blackbird, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Cormorant, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Lesser Redpoll, Mallard, Mute Swan, Robin, Siskin, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer) and others probably would have been with enough visits (e.g. Feral Pig, BH Gull, Heron & Linnet missing from Cullaloe). Most surprising from that list seems to be Lesser Redpoll. Less surprising was the number of species linked with the coast which didn't show inland (RT Diver, Eider, Scoter, waders and wintering grebes).

A fair amount of these apparent gaps will be filled throughout the year so that the three locations will share a species list but with different uses through their annual cycles. It will be interesting to see grebes shift from coast to inland water and back again.

More geekiness ... don't know how to generate this graph, so here's the numbers ...

All three sites: 22 species

HOB and CUL: 5 species
HOB and INK: 13 species
CUL and INK: 3 species

HOB only: 6 species
INK only: 20 species
CUL only: 6 species

Conclusion - species shared only by HOB and CUL are less likely at INK in winter  (e.g. Moorhen, Coot). However, all of the species shared by INK and HOB are also reasonably findable at CUL, giving the misleading impression that INK and HOB are more similar. This could have been rectified by more visits to Cullaloe. However, since it's harder to get to than HOB (near my house) and INK (near my work) it requires effort to maintain the balance. This will be easier with lighter mornings and evenings.

Species unique to each site are not surprisingly associated with unique features - for INK the coast (Eider, RT Diver, Redshank), for CUL larger inland water, reeds, a stream (Water Rail, Dipper) and for HOB a flooded field and farmland (Whoopers, Mistle Thrush). It will be interesting to see how unique features tie into species pairings throughout the year.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Danger - Deep Water

No kidding ...

Visited Cullaloe at lunchtime. Water, water, everywhere! Filter beds full to bursting, car park under water, paths under water. Also noticed that we have lost another crown from the small group of pines that stands at the south end of the water. It's noticeably brighter but it reminded me of the birds I've seen in that treetop - Goldfinch, Wren, usually the first Chiffchaff of the year will put in an appearance on it. Not any more! Now it's dropped into Long-tailed Tit country.

Some fine looking wildfowl on the reserve, albeit not in huge numbers - Wigeon, Teal and Tufties.

Wigeon in resplendent form

Managed to extend the list by a couple of species. Nothing spectacular but both nice to get on the board - Coal Tit in song and a flock of c.120 Greylags in the adjacent field. I'll take it - happy to be finally able to go outside.

+Coal Tit +Greylag => 36, 36% of target

Inverkeithing - no movement

Blustery day. 22 species with no additions or anything of note, although there seems to have been a drop in LBB Gull and Shelduck - moved on to breeding areas?

Nice rainbow - shame I got wet in the rain

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Hill of Beath +2

Quick 20 minutes at the local reserve, Dalbeath Marshes. +Heron +Mallard.Usual constant stream of Herring Gull over west and now up to 4 Coot suggesting possibly two pairs might breed.

46 species, 67% of target

Monday, 28 January 2013

Weather Horrible - so some more Turkey

At the south end of Buyukcekmece Lake is the historic Mimar Sinan bridge. Here's the man himself ("mimar" = "architect") with a couple of the ever-present Jackdaws. He is most famous for designing some truly stupendous mosques, but also this bridge. Never let it be said that Turkey lacks sympathy for its rich historical heritage ... hmmm. The bridge with the magnificent Akcan cement factory.

Mimar Sinan + Jackdaws

Mimar Sinan bridge and Akcan cement factory

Area north of the bridge, these islands always worth a look

DSI dam (DSI=Turkish water authority)

Grey Herons and Shovelers this time

Some factory-loving Serin

Goosander - quite a rare beast in Turkey

water+wall=waders. Dunlin and Grey Plover today

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Bits and Pieces

Doesn't everybody who goes to Istanbul want to see these? Fortunately they're quite easy

Laughing Dove at Pierre Loti
At Uzunhizirli Lake in Gallipoli a Red-crested Pochard provided the "tick" but this Pelican provided the drama

Uzunhizirli White Pelican
Near Eceabat a flock of Starling several thousand strong provided a late snack for a handful of raptors

some of c.5000 Starling
Sparrowhawk approach
Spot the Buzzard - one of four
Peregrine a welcome Turkish list addition
Common Buzzards were a regular feature throughout, and even in the marshes on the Greek border outnumbered Harriers 4:1

Winter Raptor #1
A Kestrel hunting at Enez on the Greek border and under the shadow of the huge and impressive Samothrace

Kestrel at Enez

Enez Lagoon and Samothrace

Still plenty more good birds and places to feature now I'm back to the cold and snow. Patches, here I come :)

Friday, 25 January 2013

Tales from the Interior

Well, first this happened ...

and then, even more out of the blue, this happened ...

White-headed Duck and Velvet Scoter in the same five minutes- a perfect way to end the week. I'll do a full review when I get back, and grill those gull photos ...

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Back to the Pallas's Gull stakeout at dawn this morning and there it was waiting for me. For five minutes before it flew away again. Fortunately it returned half an hour later for a better grilling. You can just about tell from this shot that it is missing its right foot. Lots of pics to check through for a decent standing one.

More pics later, but for now this Long-legged Buzzard (also Common to the top) showed briefly and three Spotted Redshank were a welcome addition to my Turkish list

Monday, 21 January 2013

Tell-tail Sıgns

Started the day off determined to try for some shots of White-headed Ducks, and it worked rather well, with 14 found and quite close in.

a group of White-headed Duck hanging out wıth Pochard
Another group doing its own thing - feeding
and as close as İ could get
Further scanning revealed a redhead Smew and a few Wigeon - both unspectacular for the site but Turkey ticks nonetheless. Other birds on site were some Great Egret, proving I can annoy more than one if I really try, and a Kingfisher which was spitting out something. Couldn,t get good focus as I had driven past it and there was a weed in the way for auto.

Great Egrets wıth TEM - Istanbul's fast bypass - in the back
Out of focus but I'll get ıt next tıme
On to the next site and maybe the best find of the day -Pedro! He told me I had just walked under the bridge as a Pallas's Gull had flown over - the bad news! (but it ain't over yet). But he also shared some gen on Caspian Gull and Slender-bılled which came up trumps later in the day (obrigado!) at Menekşe - more on that later. The usual Marsh Harrier (actually two) was here, and also 22 Lıttle Gull. I returned wıth Pedro to check outthe White-heads again but the Smew as nowhere to be found - although a flock of Teal not seen earlier put in an appearance

The ubiquitous Marsh Harrier

Whoopers remain

After returning home and behaving like an adult for a while my wonderful wife took the info Pedro had given me and delivered my lenses directly in front of a lovely Slender-billed Gull. I'm still working on the Caspian pics. Another cracking day and off to Gallipoli (Gelibolu) tomorrow.Should be awesome :)

Slender-billed Beauty

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Wallcreeper down and out

up before the imam, dawn skyline

15 minutes into day One and the quarry has started working again. Result? Wader pool filled in and the road into the quarry blocked by huge piles of rubble (on purpose. to close the road). So Wallcreeper is off the list. The former wonderpools of Snipe and Green Sand now look lıke thıs:

my beautiful wader pool, and former quarry entrance

Still. banged in an early Kingfisher. one Green Sand and 30-oddPygmy Cormorant.followed by a rıngtail Hen Harrier. Not to mention a fıne Great Egret

Pygmy Cormorants - a "gimme"

Hen Harrier

Great Egret not impressed with yours truly

On to patch number two for the bıg score of the day. First up were 73 Whooper Swan, followed by 4 White-headed Duck (sadly too far out for pictures)

First Turkey tick of the week, 73 Whoopers

Water level pretty hıh everywhere for decent waders, though İ have a spot for tomorrow. Third patch produced a nice male Marsh Harrier though

Another "gimme" - Marsh Harrier

Mornıng rounded off with some Black-necked Grebes and an attempt at Laughing Dove,but surprisingly none around the harbour. Black-necked Grebes not hard to come by, as you can see.

One of the commonest species on the lake

BN Grebes in the harbour and an unfortunate boat

Friday, 18 January 2013

Here I come ...

Rough-legged Buzzard, Caspian Gull, Pallas's Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Wallcreeper ... I'm coming for you. Meet me at Büyükçekmece. If you want to sort it out amongst yourselves I'm prepared to accept three from five.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Divit plus two

Dropped into south side of the harbour only to spot a single goose on the north side. Well, it had to be done ... drove round to the other side and (this must be the same goose, right?) put to bed any lingering doubt over its identity ...

Unable to fly or happy to be here?

No sign of blue "frosting" on the upperparts

Pink! (and long?)

As a bonus I was waylaid on my way there by three Greenfinch and 5 Redpoll feeding in the bushes.

I can see you

No - I can still see you