Friday, 28 June 2013

Inverkeithing and Cullaloe

Bad weather today. Visited Inverkeithing for a while this morning in the rain. Nothing special happening there. Cullaloe at lunchtime a Sand Martin was the exotica of the day.

I did notice, however, that Ragged Robins look a bit Campion-ish and was pleased to find out that it is a kind of Campion. I think I found a new way to make June more interesting. There was a Meadow Brown, too, but we don't have enough butterfly variety to really be that interesting.

I also found at least one kind of flower that I had never noticed before - interesting. I guess I am with wildflowers where most people are with birds.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Flowers and girls' names

Lots of girls are called things like Rose or Poppy. Even Angelica. How come nobody names their kid Spurge?

Bizarre Wildflower Coincidence

As I was meandering around the Divit this morning I was noticing more wildflowers which I am increasingly curious about. I was idly recalling that someone (Bill Oddie?) mentioned a plant called Viper's Bugloss. What a fantastic name! I resolved to find out what such a thing looked like and where they were. South of England, probably, I thought. Will there be a day when I travel to see a flower? Well, I'm not ruling anything out.

When I got into the office, after doing some work (by which I mean entering records on Birdtrack), I Googled the aforementioned plant. Imagine my surprise to realise that five minutes before these idle musings I had taken this mobile phone picture:

If this isn't Viper's Bugloss, then it's very much like it! Did I know somewhere subconsciously? Was it rattling around my brain? Anyway, I have loved these flowers when they appear each year. If, as it appears, they turn out to be Viper's Bugloss I will be very happy indeed :)

Inverkeithing surprise - Lesser Whitethroat

This morning as I left the house I saw the first dark spots on the ground before I had even reached the car. Rain. It's been a while, but I went to Inverkeithing anyway. I decided to go to the south side of the harbour because it's a short walk to the harbour from the car if the rain is tricky and I haven't been there for a while. How lucky I did! As I passed the metal recycling place I heard a song from the path-side gorse. A little bit like a Sylvia warbler had mated with a finch ... wait, what? I remember the first time I heard that song, somewhere in Oop North on the way to Norfolk. The bird which seems to have two different songs stapled together - Lesser Whitethroat!

I tried and tried to see it. I tried by standing still. I tried by moving. It continued to sing. I continued to not see it. Finally during one of my less stealthy moves a bird shape darted from the gorse and into the trees. And so it disappeared - a small dark bird with not quite white outer tail feathers. One of the first birds I saw at Inverkeithing was a Lesser Whitethroat, which I supposed was a tired migrant, given it allowed approach to about a foot and probably would have allowed me to pick it from the bush it was in. But maybe it wasn't. A year later another was found at Carlingnose Point, and they historically bred at nearby St. Margaret's Marsh. So maybe Lesser Whitethroat is, after all, still a local breeder.

A good way to get things moving again after a month of no new additions to the INK year list.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Question of the day - to wet my lips or not

1) There's a Quail at Kilmany
2) I haven't seen/heard Quail in Fife
3) I will only hear it, but I can count that (and Quail are not exactly lookers anyway)
4) It will take probably 45 minutes to get there
5) My wife is away today, so it wouldn't impact her if I went

Number 5 is quite significant, as it gives me free time (for clarity my missus is uber-patient and generous, often going with me on "expeditions" despite a complete lack of interest - I just wouldn't diminish that by heading off for three birds in one week). However, given a free evening which would impact nobody else negatively do I want to drive for 1.5 hours to listen to a Quail?

Actually no - I don't. I'd rather use the entire evening try to find my own and fail. That's that settled then. I thought it would be harder.

Now I wonder if in a reasonable radius there is another Letham Pools? That's only 20 minutes away but I don't like going to places where everybody goes.

Started out at Cullaloe with a fairly quiet 20 minutes. A Woodpecker was stalking me, but I only managed to get one photo.Wildflowers everywhere are looking great now though.I'll need to get a noob widflower book one of these days.

On to Inverkeithing and both a Wren and a Blackcap sang out in the open, which was a bit of a treat. Sadly the photos didn't maximise the opportunity it turned out. Still, enough to know for sure the Blackcap wasn't a Garden Warbler!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Spoonbill at last!

What an odd week it has been, and it's only Tuesday morning. Temminck's Stint showing up on Sunday was a good way to break the doldrums of this June, and yesterday saw a RT Diver at Inverkeithing, as well as a few BH Gull trying to make the species list for the month look a bit more respectable.

I had been making a list of birds I thought were within reason to expect to add to my Fife list and then one of them shows up the next day. Sadly the next (Honey Buzzard) isn't expected for a month or three, but if I could be bothered I actually could go and get Quail this evening, as the first report (I've heard) came in this morning. I am holding out for a patch one though, and I have always resisted driving into the East Neuk just to hear a Quail. although it's clear I do have a thing for lists I still like to believe that I'm not completely driven by them.

This morning saw me pass the 7000 records for Fife threshold (and yes, 323 complete lists) on Birdtrack, so a target of 10k I set myself at the start of the year now looks quite small. Maybe I hadn't anticipated having to chop up HOB into OS squares to make sensible lists at the time, but actually I quite like the pseudo-atlas-y feel of it and mapping avian diversity around my home territory.

Anyway, this is the week of distant Fife tick shots, so here they are

And the list from Sunday night - one down!

Monday, 24 June 2013

in case I forget ... Chimney Sweeper Moth at Cullaloe - 21st June

Yes,I had to Google it. Cracking wee thing though.

There were also Six Spot Burnetts and a Small Blue butterfly at Inverkeithing this morning. At least I thought so. It seems could have been Narrow-bordered 5-spot these days. I didn't know the other existed. I suppose I should check.

Here's one from 18th June:


Well, the Temminck's yesterday was presumably post-breeding (failed?) and today the first RT Diver was back at Inverkeithing, along with a handful of BH Gulls. I guess things are starting to get interesting again

Monday Morning

Not much happening in Inverkeithing. Not much happening at merlin Drive, although there were two drake Tufties going into serious eclipse mode.
More beautiful than Temminck's

Could do with a clean up

Swift at last!

Well, for Cullaloe 2013 anyway. Took a while, but one of the most glaring gaps in the year list is finally plugged. Maybe the most remarkable holdout now is Kestrel. Puts Cullaloe 2 ahead of HOB again on 78 (and therefore 78% of target).

It has now been one month since I recorded a new species at Inverkeithing for 2013.

Another dodgy Temmincks shot dug out from yesterday's efforts:

The number of people who were waiting on this bird is surprising. There have been a few Temminck's down the years, but apparently almost everybody had been missing them.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Temminck's at last!

Left the patch to join the locals up by Letham Pools this morning at a nicely showing Temminck's Stint (found by G.Sparshott). I thought that most of the older guys in the county would have this species on their Fife list but it turned out it was a blocker for many, including the owner of Fife's biggest list. Mercifully the bird chose to meander around the edges feeding and then even briefly taking a nap out in the open. It wasn't even that far away, although it seemed that way since they are so very small, being dwarfed even by passing Pied Wags.

Finding my best picture of it is hard - since they are all terrible! They don't even qualify as record shots.

It was worth the off-patch nosebleed for my second Fife tick of the year though.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Tapping the dial

June - expected doldrums, but hurting particularly badly having fallen behind by being on holiday in May. In all months except May my species count has been higher than last year, but May was 6 species down on 2012 and this may not be recovered. Given last year's autumn was pretty good it will be an amazing last 6 months if the same total is to be reached.

Bottom chart # species all time and averages over 2012/2013


There seemed to be a jump in numbers of lots of things today. Three Herons. 70 Crows. 20 Shelduck. 6 Sand Martin (for the north side of the harbour this is high - they breed on the south side).

Weather was still, a can be seen in the first pic. Nothing new though.No Canada Goose. No returning BH Gull, Redshank or passing Aythya Duck. They will come - still June is the slowest month here though.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

More birds

Everywhere. March of the juveniles continues - just how much does the population expand in these months. Must more than double, surely.

Also at Hill of Beath and at Inverkeithing there are Early Marsh Orchids (I had to Google it - I hope it's right). Strictly seaking I only saw one at HOB, but there's a small patch of them at INK. I know orchids also grow at Cullaloe - I'm guessing the same kind, but I'll look at lunchtime.


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

HOB Willow Warbler

Food for the brood

More Babies

More babies ...

Merlin Drive Coot baby feeding

Cullaloe Mallard motherhood

Cullaloe Mute Swan preening lessons

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Blackcap, Black Crow, Bignose Blackbird

At Inverkeithing this morning a young Crow looked like it had made its debut prematurely. A couple of Blackcaps had a sing-off, and a Blackbird which seemed to have an extremely stout beak was less than happy with its presence.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Beautiful Day

Not much excitement birdwise. Nice tour of Prestonhill Quarry this morning yielded the usual countryside suspects and Cullaloe at lunchtime fared little better

Singing about lunch


Unwelcome visitor in the quarry


Swanning around the harbour

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Hill of Beath, last night

Went for a quick yomp to the top of the hill in the hopes of Canada Goose encounter or Tawny owl. neither happened, but in a force 3 westerly I could see Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls returning to roost by following a path round the east side of the hill and heading off south towards the river (or possibly quarry?). It was getting pretty dull by 10:30, so I wasn't able to follow them too far. This is the same line I have seen Woodpigeon take, and may suggest a good place for vismig. That experiment is still to come though - not long now!

Top of the hill - Sheep
Gulls make their way south, sheltered by the hill

Cullaloe House Martin

Finally a House Martin at Cullaloe. still looking for Swift there, and not a sight nor sound of any Canada Geese. Still, the House Martin breaks the run of no new species on any patches which actually has only lasted for almost a week. Felt longer.

Also nice to see yesterday was an Orange-tip butterfly and I think a Green-veined White, although it may be a Small White. I'm not the best at separating those (photo below). Meanwhile at Hill of Beath three young Dabchicks were out in the open with their mum. Hope to get a photo when the light's better and I can get closer. Very cute, though.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The day of the Black Rabbit

An otherwise ordinary day with pretty much only ordinary birds was suddenly cast into shadow by the appearance of the Black Rabbit of Death

When I was a kid I used to like to read ghost stories so I remember the Black Dog of Death. I'm hoping rabbits don't carry the same menace, although the Linnet below looks like it had a close shave.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The sound of one hand clapping

Not much going on bird-wise latterly, with Canada Goose thus far failing to put in an appearance at, well anywhere on my local patches.

Babies of various things are out and about - Starling, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch spring to mind immediately, although some are still waiting, and for some this warm spell has meant the end of the line sadly.

A curious group of Mallard showed up in a stubble field on Hill of Beath - 20 in all, and a random Gannet in Inverkeithing harbour, which I first took to be distressed, but then it disappeared, so I guess it flew off. Tufty and Mallard drakes are also starting to go into eclipse plumage, and a pair of Tufty dropped in at Merlin Drive for a couple of days.

Hill of Beath duck gala

Back off towards Kingseat

Odd Gannet

Starling babies at Merlin drive

Tufted Ducks drop into Merin Drive

Coot babies

Mallard babies

Spot the Coot nest

Dessicated tadpoles :(