Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Divit mig

Some semblance of movement this morning at Inverkeithing, with a few Sand Martin and Wagtails, and a Common Sand mooching about the rocks. Finally managed to get a pic of one there. Usually I see them flying past low and then they skip round the coast when you get closer.

Common Gulls are increasing (12), as are BH Gulls (c.160). 22 Lapwings, which are roosting on the old papermill site, was a record for me too. Wouldn't mind a drop-in Med Gull which I need for my Divit list. I've missed at least one that I remember in the last couple of years.

Some nice Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the Buddleias too.

Oh- I almost forgot. Tufty duck with 8 chicks at Dalbeath Marsh LNR last night. Yay :)

Common Sand on the rocks

Flypast Alba

Buddleia butterfly

Swiss weekender

Three days in Switzerland with hot weather (>30 degrees every day). Great place but not such a success bird-wise. Apine Choughs at Rochers-de-Naye were superb, but the apparently common Alpine Accentors were nowhere to be seen. Maybe a longer walk was required but we didn't have the baby equipment for trekking. It was still an amazing place anyway, and the butterflies and wildflowers were fantastic. I did manage to see Nutcrackers after some searching, but they were calling from the top of some trees and I only managed poor views before I had to return to more family-related activities. I'll have to go back to see them properly next time, maybe a bit later in the year for proper vismig times. Switzerland is a pretty pricey place though.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

HOB Air Show

Got up late this morning because of bad weather forecast, and it turned out to be glorious sunshine. Enough time for a jaunt to Dalbeath Marsh LNR where there was a spectacular air who, comprising mostly House Martins (50+) and Swift (20), but also some Swallows skimming the grasses and a couple of Sand Martin. They tailed off into the distance along the north side of the hill, so the real numbers could be much higher. Most importantly this means that Hill of Beath has clawed its way back level with Cullaloe on 79 species (and 79 %).

In a side note, one of the locals was fly fishing from a dinghy in the middle of the pond -

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

We all went down to Montreux ...

Swiss weekend

9 species
Alpine Accentor
Alpine Chough
Citril Finch
Rock Partridge
Black Pecker
Rock Thrush
Eagle Owl

From which I will happily accept 5. I'm not that animated by Eagle Owl, curiously, but Nutcracker is a must. Black Pecker would complete my European Pecker list (but not Western Pally - damn you Levaillant!). I also wouldn't mind too awfully bumping into one of my all time favourites - Pygmy Owl, previously encountered in a Polish trio of Pygmy Owl, Three-toed Pecker and Hazel Grouse. I wouldn't mind bumping into any or all of them, actually.

Wallcreeper would of course be outstanding, but I have trained myself never to expect it. I have my eyes on a nice gorge in Bulgaria for that anyway, unless my local patch in Turkey (Buyukcekmece Quarry) opens up again for winter business.

I feel like the top three are gimmes, and I certainly hope so since the top two are supposed to be "common" at Rochers-de-Naye and the main bird I want to see is Nutcracker. If I haven't seen one in the first two days then there may be some sweating/swearing. Although since it's going to be 35 degrees, that's probably true anyway.

Haar we go again

Another day of easterlies, with lots of haar not only on the river, but inland too. Cullaloe had little new to offer, and no Skuas made their way out of the mist at Inverkeithing either, sadly. Not raining though, nor lightning yet, both of which are expected any minute. In fact I can hear a rumble beginning now. It was mostly about feeding today

Untimely end for this crustacean

Mid-dive Common Tern

Handsome House Sparrow

Juv Wagtail being fed by adult at Stone Marine

Monday, 22 July 2013

Divit edges towards the century

Easterly winds picking up nicely, but still a bit early in the season to get the full benefit. One Arctic Skua (adult, pale phase) was chasing a Common Tern in St.David's Bay. Some Gannets too and Sandwich Tern, which should both be pretty much present for a few months now. No Manxies, disappointingly, and more disappointing no Common Scoter, which have been storming up the East of England last couple of days. They should still come, though.

Also worth a note are a single female Tufted Duck and a single Guillemot.

On the wildflower front there are Tansys coming into flower along the path, as well as some nice Corncockles (?). The Tansys seem to be attended by large numbers of beetles. Maybe they pollinate them.

Weekend 20-21 July

Quiet weekend for me bird-wise, although for others a Pec Sand at Letham and a Rock Thrush in Aberdeen would have provided some entertainment. Vismig at Inverkeithing Sunday morning produced little in a moderate easterly. This morning the easterly theme continued, but this time with haar making everything wet and visibility poor. Not much obviously on the river anyway, although 3 Ringed Plover in the harbour was nice. There was also this juvenile LBB Gull finding its feet in the harbour.

Friday, 19 July 2013

More summer

A slight easterly doesn't bring much to the table bird-wise, so a quiet one. The river managed to produce only one distantly seen auk on the Lothian side. Common Tern chicks are growing, Butterflies are flitting about (Meadow Browns all I saw this morning). Nice collection of wildflowers, and sunshine. I am sunshine-neutral though, so I would have preferred birds given the choice.

Distinguished company

Dodgy shot of Common Tern chicks

Gulls continue to drip in

Female Meadow Brown continues bad pic theme

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Cullaloe Lunch

Crazy 28 degree weather. Little Grebe juvenile was feeding off the front of the hide. SWT cut the grass recently but failed to notice the 6 foot long grass in front of the hide - not very clever. Did a quick Butterfly count too - 4 Meadow Brown, 5 Ringlet, one Common Blue in 15 min slot. You too can play here:

Wildflowers look great, with lots of Meadowsweet (I think - still getting to grips with umbellifers) coming into flower and a dense swathe of Red Clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil (I think), TuftedVetch, Oxeye Daisy - all filled with butterflies, bees, grasshoppers, spiders ... superb.

Classic mid-July morning at Inverkeithing

The first migrants are dribbling through - Sand Martins, another 4 Grey Wagtail, some finches, Curlew, Oystercatcher. Also Sandwich Tern is becoming regular and the first flock of Gannets were hanging around this morning. Lapwings were in the harbour, although I could only see 4 this morning.

Fulmar coming for a look
First serious Gannets
Upchannel Curlew

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Inverkeithing - Ahead of the Curve

A couple of Arctic Terns in amongst the Common Tern traffic this morning put me finally back a step ahead of last years' numbers at Inverkeithing. It's been a while. Also seems like a while since I saw a Common Tern that wasn't carrying fish!

(stupid blogspot and its upload issues - this was from yesterday)

Hill of Beath pulls one back

A beautiful warm evening meant leaving the windows open last night, which enabled me to hear 2 Ringed Plover calling as they flew over the house - a cracking bonus bird, and the biggest surprise since a Sandwich Tern flew over a few years back. This is especially nice since otherwise there's not a lot of wader habitat on the hill. It's good for breeding Lapwing, the odd Curlew and Oystercatcher, and maybe some Golden Plover in the fields to the NW. I feel like some more nocturnal listening is in order. Maybe a nice bottle of red in the garden ...

It also gave me an excuse to browse through Xeno Canto's excellent selection of wader flight calls this morning.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Ringlet Romance

Cullaloe lunchtime, some Ringlets getting frisky. Since this is the day of romance (my wedding anniversary) I dedicate this to my wonderful wife

Weekend 13-16th July

Took a quick trip up to Tentsmuir on a sunny day on Saturday. Interesting experience pushing a baby buggy on soft sand! Not much of interest there birdwise - a Ringed Plover on the tideline. Hoped for butterflies out of reach (and maybe too early) with buggy issues, but also a strong wind would have kept them down maybe. I did find loads of Cinnebar moth caterpillars destroying the Ragwort there though. Little Lee also enjoyed his first walk on the sand. Earlier in the day an hour around Dalbeath Marsh LNR produced lots of House Martin and Swift feeding in a cloud over the tops. Managed a drop in to Letham Pools yesterday, but apart from an increase in Lapwings, and a couple of Dunlin and Common Sandpiper I didn't see anything of note.Still adding a wildflower to my vocabulary here and there, and still struggling with the Apiacea (Umbelliferae).

Friday, 12 July 2013

Cracking day in the Divit

A beautiful sunny morning with low expectations turned out to be a top morning all round. First returning Common Gull, a Common Sand flitting along the coastline (and evading the camera), Greylags high west up the river, a new brood of Shelduck in the harbour, and a very surprising early burst of wagtails - 4 Grey Wagtail (2,1,1) and 3 Alba Wag (one group).

This puts me back on track from last year at 96 species (with the Common Sand), and I also took my year records for Inverkeithing on Birdtrack to over 3000 (106 lists).

Common Gull

Greylags west

New vismigging record assistant


Thursday, 11 July 2013

NT1489 + SI

Swift added to square list, and that's about it for highlights this morning. Netherbeath Rd was nice and birdy though, with c20 Swallow swooping around over the pasture in NT1489 and the end of the E-W shelterbelt buzzing with birds, including many youngsters.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Six-spot Burnet

No more Skuas on show at lunchtime in INK, but a fair few Meadow Browns, a Small White and a Six-spot Burnet.


Decided to take the car today instead of bike for fear that it will be another scorcher. Cycling uphill in 28 degrees is not a lot of fun. Fortunately this alignment of stars brought me to Inverkeithing with a scope and an easterly breeze.I was hopeful that a Manxie or two would show up, but instead I got a nice "spooned" Pomarine Skua. It didn't stay too long, being dive-bombed by everything that flew past, before heading off east. There were also the first post-breeding Great Crested Grebes and three summer/breeding/alternate plumaged Red-throated Divers.

Sadly my attempts at even a record shot failed badly. Too dark, too far away, too much noise on the image at high ISO.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

More postbreeding arrivals and butterflies

Beautiful sunny morning this morning saw butterflies out in force - especially Meadow Brown. On the birdy front Inverkeithing saw my first returning Redshanks, a scattering of Lapwing, and a Sandwich Tern, the latter two of which are both year additions for me, bringing Inverkeithing up to 94 species, or 75% of target.

Also this morning saw Birdtrack records for the year go over 7500.

Cullaloe Ringlet

Cullaloe Meadow Brown

Cullaloe Meadow Brown

Inverkeithing Meadow Brown

Inverkeithing Common Blue

Inverkeithing Common Blue

Common Terns, Inverkeithing

One to watch in the next few months

Cullaloe, beautifully marked Buzzard

Monday, 8 July 2013

Slow weekend

Dropped into Letham Pools Saturday but only Ringed Plovers and Common Sands of note there. Nice to be surrounded by Swifts, though - always a joy.

Loads of starlings in the garden at the weekend since we tipped out a bucket of fatballs that have been lying around for ages. One of them was a bit young to be out and sure enough I found it upturned late on Sunday with its pecs eaten by something - Magpie maybe.

Cycled to work in the fog this morning so nothing to report from that either. I did stick some secateurs in my pocket, though, to clear out the overgrown path I have to cycle through. Bit of a carwash experience if it's been a soggy morning.

Beautiful irridescence

Fatball muncher

Short-lived Starling

Common Sands at Letham Pools

Friday, 5 July 2013

Raven at last!

Very quiet lunchtime at Cullaloe where I spent most of my time looking at non-bird related nature. Naturally the moment I packed up my camera to head for the car was the moment I heard the loud croaking of a Raven approaching - long overdue. Still set up for photographing bees (manual focus, 2m), I managed my second horribly out of focus record shot of the day. It did bring the total up to 79 though, which makes Cullaloe the frontrunner to hit 80%

Vismig Time!

My favourite time of the year - autumn vismig - began "properly" today, with the first movement of Swifts, (also some seen at Elie Ness). Fortunately they swept past as I walked from the car. If I had arrived a minute later I wouldn't have seen them. Also one solo Sand Martin forged its way SW over Prestonhill Quarry. I only managed to quickly grab an out of focus and badly exposed snap.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Rain, floods

Roads running with water this morning, in between the newly made lakes. Maybe it will make somewhere nice for more waders to show up - Letham probably.

Here's a nice pic from yesterday, when the weather was good(ish)

A Bumble Bee on a Thistle. Or (I think) a male Red-tailed Bee, Bombus Lapidarius, on a Marsh Thistle, Cirsium palustre.

Great bee identification key (flash and html versions) from the Natural History Museum:

Here's another Bee from yesterday (both Cullaloe), I think White-tailed Bombus Lucorum

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cullaloe lunchtime

With a work team cutting the grass at Cullaloe it was hard to hear yourself think, but I found some interesting things anyway (warning - not birds)

Chimneysweeper Moth
Ringlet Butterfly

It was nice to see that some tadpoles survived after so many perished. Also nice to see Chimneysweeper Moth again and a Ringlet butterfly. I'd never knowingly seen a Ringlet before and a month ago I'd never heard of Chimneysweeper moth.

(on a quick count that's 11 species of butterfly I've seen at Cullaloe - I think)

Prediction comes true :)

Way back in February/March this year I looked at the rubble strewn wasteland that used to be the paper mill in Inverkeithing and thought that my first Ringed Plover should show up there. I was disappointed when spring didn't produce any, but apparently I wasn't looking hard enough.

This morning as I scanned the area and its loafing gulls (BH Gulls up to c35) I heard a piping noise somewhere not far in front of me. I was able to locate it mostly because the bird was running around like crazy. As I scanned for more I heard another call from my left - a juvenile! I managed to get some shots of the adult, but I couldn't locate the juvenile after I switched from bins to camera. This is my first Ringo for Inverkeithing, so a nice result :)

There was also a RT Diver out on the river, but yesterday's Goosander seem to have moved on. They may just be pottering about somewhere I couldn't see them, though..

Playing nice

Playing hard to get

... and harder

Baby feeding time
Pigeon poser