Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - Final Fling

On noticing easterlies in the weather forecast last night I decided to give the Divit a shot at finally producing Little Auk. Weather wasn't too bad on waking - heavily overcast, slight hints of forthcoming rain. At the Divit I set up the scope and listed the few birds around on the way to the watchpoint, which was pretty windy. I found some shelter, which is not easy there, and scanned.

First thing of note was Kittiwakes. Kind of unseasonal, and nice to see. There were some Guillemots, and further out some larger auk spp., but none I could nail as Razorbill. Finally the bee-like form of a Little Auk zoomed out to the east. There were maybe up to 3, but none was really close enough for a nice view. Finally another surprise in the form of a Fulmar - probably I don't have a December record for Fulmar there.

Apart from these there were the usual suspects in the form of Grebes, RT Divers and ducks, with 5 Wigeon and 2 Teal flitting about, and another group of Teal in the harbour, with about 50 Dunlin roosting on floating weed.

So that will do it for the Divit 2013. Way down on last year, at 113 species, but not a bad year still. I expect 2014 will fall somewhere in between this and the 126 of 2012. You can never tell!

Thursday, 12 December 2013


Busy with bryophytes and fungi from Cullaloe these days, so here's something Christmassy from Hill of Beath

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


And 345th day of the year!

Sunrise not until something like 8:30 this morning so it's getting where a pre-work visit will be conducted largely in darkness. Good numbers of RB Merganser (36), very low Goldeneye - 2! Not much else to report really. Looking forward to the shortest day so we can turn the corner. Not holding out great hopes for list additions, unless an  interesting Diver, Grebe or Gull shows up. Is there such a thing as an interesting gull? Some people would have you believe it. A Great Tit was singing its head off this morning, but I think it may have peaked too soon.

Monday, 9 December 2013

When is a woodland not a woodland?

When it's horizontal?

Should make an interesting fungus farm, but a lot of this woodland is now horizontal at the eastern end. Mixed wood of Beech, Oak, Pine, Sweet Chestnut with some alder at the east end and who knows what else - this was gleaned from a stroll through the leaf litter. When I first walked through this woodland going on 20 years ago there were less than half a dozen fallen trees. Now the number may be pushing 20, including whole areas. The domino effect isn't helping some of them either, and the more exposed it gets the more vulnerable they are. Lots of nice mosses up there too.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The darkness

In these dark days there's not much light to squeeze activities in before work, and none after it. I dropped into Dalbeath Marsh LNR this morning to maximise any time I had, although with not high expectations - they were duly met.

A flurry of BH Gulls was around with one Common Gull. Some Long-tailed Tits flitted between the leafless trees. As I left one of the BH Gulls flew over me, revealing it had fallen foul of some lost/discarded fishing tackle. Boring as they might be to some (and declining according to one book I read recently), it's a sad fate.

one other thing worth mentioning was a couple of solo Mipits - meaning I recorded the species in every month of the year in Hill of Beath

These days I've been spending lunchtimes working on bryophytes and fungi at Cullaloe, so birds have taken the back seat, and probably will for the next year, at least until vismig time.There are fascinating worlds out there, and the more you look, the more there is.

Sunrise more south than east these days

The main "action" on show this morning

A sad fate

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Late, late autumn

Another quiet morning this morning with not even much on the river. A Linnet and a couple of Greenfinch were all the birds that stood out as even possible migrants.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Diminishing returns

Not much new happening round Divit way these days. Goldeneye up to 3 and RB Merganser up to 29 this morning, but not much else of note and only a few finches which may or may not have been moving.

Dropped into a half frozen Merlin Drive where there were some Wigeon. I think that's a first, but I'll see when I put in the records later (it was).

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Goldeneye takes Cullaloe to 89!

A couple of Goldeneye were in at Inverkeithing this morning. not the first of the post-breeding, although only one previous. Worth a scan at Cullaloe just in case and yes! Cullaloe gets its 89th species with one duck feeding in the NW corner. Slightly frozen edges also forced a lot of duck into the open so there were reasonable numbers around of Teal, Wigeon and Mallard too.

Seems Cullaloe just might make that 90 after all.

Divit dearth

Winter is here. -2 scraping the ice off the car while Fieldfares went south overhead (only 14 in this group).

Down to the Divit and a smattering of movers. Lasted half an hour before hot coffee and something to eat called.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Weekend 16-17 Nov (and Monday 18th)

Uneventful weekend bird-wise. Did Netherbeath Road Winter Thrush survey and found a handful of Fieldfare and Redwing. Added Redwing to NT1389 with two flyovers - hanging about rather than migrating.

Cullaloe birding was equally unspectacular with a remarkably empty pond apparently. Maybe lots of duck are hiding in the marshes at the far side, but I have my doubts given the quietness. Still Jays rummaging about in the woodland areas. Found a nice patch of liverwort (Lophocolea bidentata) on an Oak tree that require better photos to be taken.

A visit to the Divit this morning produced a few varied migrant finches (e.g. Siskin 11, Linnet 7) and on the river 8 GG,  and 16 Teal. The sun is rising ever more round the dial, and now rises over Edinburgh. Another month of the darkening to go before we turn the corner! When the wind's quiet and the water's still it makes for exquisite reflections

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Weekend 10-11 Nov

Made out for Inverkeithing after de-icing the car in search of Woodpigeon movement. Saw only 2 during an hour, but I did find a nice Kingfisher on the rocks

Friday, 8 November 2013

Black and White Mushroom show

Managed to get one of the outstanding species of the season (as in awaited, not exceptional) this morning - Rock Pipit. Leaves only Waxwing as "expected" in terms of vismig.

My favourite thing of the morning was finding Snowy Waxcaps in a couple of places while shuffling around beneath empty skies. Coupled with the already-present Blackening Waxcap it made a nice black and white show:

Blackening Waxcap

Snowy Waxcap

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Game over?

Bit early for writing the review of the vismig year but it's looking like time for the first draft. There should be, compared to previous years, quite a bit of life left in the season yet. One Mipit and one Siskin this morning in 30 minutes (and the Siskin might not even have been moving) though.

Highlights that I remember are the great run of Tree Pipits and Common Sandpipers early on, a long-anticipated Little Egret flyover, and a big day with UK record Mistle Thrushes, 6 Raven and a Hawfinch. Grey Wagtails were pretty good again, although I didn't capitalise by early enough starts - hourly rates held up from last year. I had a cracking 4 Kingfishers one evening, including 2 that shot past me overland into the quarry. One of the highlights of the year was the evening of 6th October - after recording 128 Alba Wags in the morning I watched as 418 went over me in the last hour of the day - stunning. Last Swallow of the year (so far?) was on 30th October - meaning I saw Swallows in 7 months of the year. I also managed to get Ringed Plover and Little Gull on my Divit list at last.

The season was partly blighted by prolonged easterly winds, despite which there was a notable absence of Skuas and other seabird-y interest. There was only one GS Woodpecker. Siskins were almost invisible until their small late run.I only remember one Crossbill.The species list is at this point 14 down on where it was last year, although that's probably more because last year was exceptional.

Of 111 species recorded during the year (including Grey Phalarope - yay) the lion's share - 103 - was recorded between the start of July and now, and next year I won't focus so much attention on the Divit as I am gearing up to my Cullaloe 500 species challenge (TM?), in which I will try to record 500 species of all kinds, from algae to mammals. My current total species there is 314, so it's going to be an interesting year!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

HOB high ground

Spent a chilly half an hour at the top of the hill above Dalbeath Marsh LNR. I could see Knockhill (NW), Benarty Hill (N), the Pentlands over the Forth Bridge (S), and even Largo Law (E), but I couldn't see any moving birds except possibly (only possibly) a few Woodpigeons north.Some Redwings were feeding on berries and a couple of Fieldfare were around too, but not that many. Still managed a respectable c25 species in about 45 minutes overall

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


from the west - very odd. Went to the high watchpoint which was quickly swallowed by fog. Down to Cruicks Quarry, where the car park is fenced off as they make it a quarry again. Then on to normal watchpoint which stayed fog free on the landward side at least. Three Whoopers west were the highlight, but also 4 Gannets on the same day - highly irregular.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Blackening Waxcap

At least when there's not much birdy action there are other things to look at. Blackening waxcap living up to its name...

21st October

1st November (different one though)

Late Mipits

Not much to say about this morning. Woke up late, scraped ice off car window, clear skies and cold at this time of year usually spells Woodpigeon, but I only saw one of those and it wasn't moving. One flock of Fieldfare headed SW, and a few Mipits (4). Bring on the Waxwings.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Quiet morning

After yesterday's stormer I couldn't expect anything else except a quiet morning. Sky was clear and a chill wind was blowing from SSW. Migration was pitiful with 6 Mistle Thrush the highlight of the morning.

I decided to head up high and check for Woodies. View was spectacular, but not a flock of Woodpigeon was to be ad anywhere - just a ball of Ferals going north. Here's the Binn transmitter above Burntisland, Inverkeithing to Benarty Hill (above Vane Farm RSPB), a lovely couple of Bullfinches and our new aircraft carrier under construction.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Maybe the most curious thing is that Birdtrack thinks 91 is a reasonable number of Mistle Thrushes

Mistle Thrush Madness!

Went out looking for one thing this morning - Mistle Thrushes. After 30 minutes I almost headed up the road to Cullaloe when only 6 had gone past and precious little else. At that moment a flock of 35 went over, which would have made the second highest Inverkeithing count by itself. It made the total a new site record 41. As they kept adding up I started dreaming of 100+ and the last 20 minutes I was hoping for that elusive 9, but they didn't come (while I was still there). Maybe I can top up at lunchtime. You never know, but it's got to be worth a try. It is already the UK record on trektellen as you can see above. The previous UK record from Spurn was over SEVEN hours!

Another stunning moment was when 6 Ravens passed over together. I couldn't believe it until they were calling directly overhead. A late Swallow also put in an appearance.

Then the most controversial moment of the day - a finch heading straight towards me looked a bit odd, and as it went directly overhead I looked up to see what appeared to be a huge metallic grey bill with an enormously wide base.

In the end I decided to submit the record and see what happens. It's bang in the middle of Hawfinch mig time and others were seen further south a bit later


Total counts:

As to the late Swallow, this Campion also seemed to be confused about which season it's in

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

and more Thrushes

Very Thrushy morning at Cullaloe with c.400 in 40 minutes of Redwing, Fieldfare, Mistle and Song Thrush. Also a couple of Snipe were nice. Moved down to Inverkeithing where it was fairly quiet apart from the record 38 Mistle Thrush in 45 minutes. Wonder what that would have been if I'd been there the whole time? Never mind - Cullaloe was nicer and busier.

Cullaloe Thrush pic'n'mix

Monday, 28 October 2013


A decent thrush day again, but stayed in bed expecting adverse weather. Fortunately I still managed at least some time, but it was tailing off when i left, with some of the thrushes appearing to be coming off the fields north of the watchpoint. They did all head SW ultimately though, and some came from due east. No unusual species, although a count of c60 Gannets at this time of year is quite unusual

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Clear Blue Skies - Canadas and Whoopers at the Divit

Nice day in the Divit with westerlies blowing and cloud 2/8, making the finches visible but high and tricky. Steady stream of finches but the biggies of the day were ... big. Four Canada Geese south was a nice surprise addition to the year list and then near the end 2 Whooper Swans became the second addition of the day - a species I missed totally here last year. 35 Mistle Thrush was also a site record (and this in only 60 minutes), and I hope to top that up at lunch time. A flock of 90 Fieldfare was nice and a steady but small movement of Redwings, with a surprising 22 Meadow Pipit - pretty late for that many, but they were moving throughout the hour. A solo Crossbill was hopefully a sign of more to come, but I'm not getting my hopes up on that one.Two new additions takes the year list to 110, and even 120 still looks a long way away.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Rained off

Lots of rain this morning so stayed in ed and found a clear 15 mins before work at Dalbeath Marsh LNR, where stickers have appeared about "core paths"


Clocked up 20 species in 15 minutes, which isn't bad for the reserve, including 16 Redwing southwest and 40 Fieldfare which appeared to be static, Also still one LBB, which I am kind of assuming is always the same one. Also Tufties have started to re-appear, with two there today.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Some recent snaps

A decent enough morning again this morning, although the light is closing in on me these days. At least when the clocks change I'll get another hour back in exchange for the black nights.