Friday, 31 May 2013

End of May (almost)

Well, possibly one or two more minor sessions today, but more or less a disappointing month, rescued only by being in Turkey for its beginning and a memorable trip around Bass Rock.

A cycle to work this morning produced no new species but was undoubtedly the day of the Starling. Close to my house 60 were feeding on a football field, 80+ were feeding in a field close by, 18 in the next square and at Merlin Drive another flock of 60 or so was flitting about, including a noisy low-level flypast where I was standing. In all these flocks there was a high ratio of juveniles not surprisingly - maybe 1:3 or more. I guess each two adults producing a clutch of 4-5. Given the cold spring that's a lot of food to have found, but they don't seem to have come to any grief.

No camera this morning, but here's a mobile phone shot from a walk last night around Carlingnose point.

And another from Hill of Beath looking over Dalbeath marsh LNR a couple of days ago

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Istanbuls's Third Bosphorus Bridge - Hooray :(

Will be named after Yavuz Sultan Selim

Built between the lovely quiet town of Poyraz where you can enjoy the nice fish restaurants and watch migrating raptors and Garipçe district, one of Istanbul's foremost raptor migration watchpoints it's fitting that it will be named after a man whose nickname was "Selim the Grim"

Çamlıca hills seem not to be hurt by the existence of the Bosphorus Bridge (the name of the 1st one), but the forestry that will be lost to this and the new airport is just depressing.

Oh god - I have just discovered they are planning to build a huge mosque on Çamlica hill. Just when I thought I couldn't get any more down about turkey's prospects.

“Even though we didn’t have the chance to meet face to face with our esteemed Prime Minister, we were informed that he wanted the project we prepared in a modern way to bear more classical elements,” Alp (project leader) said.

As if Erdogan needed encouragement to emulate his heroes Stalin and Kim Yong Il

Sorry - watch you don't step in that puddle of sick ...

Cullaloe + Garden Warbler

As predicted, Cullaloe picks up Garden Warbler, with at least one and possibly 3 singing males. Unseen birds could possibly have been Blackcaps, but due to sudden singing from new locations I suspect Garden Warblers. one of the benefits of knowing a patch (and doing a breeding survey previously) is that you get an idea of where species are likely to show up, and this morning was no exception. After some stalking, but not as much as it could be with these two, I managed to track one down for confirmation.

I also noticed that I must have missed a Cygnet tucked in behind a parent previously, and there are in fact 6 of them.

Garden Warbler, charming but subtle
Proud parents
Recently emerged tadpoles
Song Thrush not wanting to be outdone for sound

Hill of Beath 28th May

Took a quick tour of the "interior" of my HOB patch a couple of days ago. Just looked at the photos, which I had all but forgotten about. Most interesting thing was a very Hoodie-ish crow which was in terrible backlighting. With the photo now enhanced to show more detail it looks even more Hoodie than I thought in the field, although I am pretty sure it's a hybrid.

Cool fungus

ickle baa-lamb

Hoodie (ish?)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Seasonal Affective Disorder

I need some migration. All these birds doing nothing but singing and having babies is doing me no good at all!

6 Coot babies and 3 Moorhen babies at Merlin drive

5 Cygnets at Cullaloe

The shoots are growing well on Hill of Beath - maybe that Quail is just around the corner

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bank Holiday Weekend

Made the most of the nice weather by heading to the Isle of Arran on Saturday, where the sun shone all day. Nice Black Guillemots in Ardrossan harbour. Thought I saw a Skua briefly on the ferry but when I moved to the other side of the boat for a better view I lost it and never saw it again. A couple of Common Sandpipers were pottering about the coastline in front of Brodick Castle, and those were the birdy highlights of what wasn't a birdy trip.

On Sunday, however, the sun continued to be kind and we headed for Bass Rock, which was as spectacular as I remembered from a trip many years ago. While we were there I missed a pair of Garganey at Inverkeithing, but I have no complaints. Aside from Gannets there were plenty Puffins, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Razorbills, but the Gannets are undoubtedly the star of this show.


Friday, 24 May 2013

Inverkeithing Kittiwakes

Woke late because the weather forecast looked bad. Looked bright enough through the blonds, but very overcast and quite strong easterly winds. not bad if you're heading for the East Neuk, but not the best for inland Fife. Still, it did seem to blow in a flock of Kittiwakes at Inverkeithing. Before I got there though a Tree Pipit flew north over Stone Marine's yard and off over the ridge as I walked along the coastal path.

I spotted a Mute Swan heading north from the bridge area and it seemed to touch down at Cruicks Quarry before re-emerging and passing over my head on its way north.

A few (3) Curlews were in the harbour, refusing to even pretend to be Whimbrel even for a moment, so that was it for Inverkeithing.

A brief stop at Merlin Drive allowed me to take some bad record shots of a Tree Sparrow foraging, and last night a group of four Swifts was screaming around Dalbeath Marsh LNR. Tough birds to photograph, Swifts. Still couldn't bag a Sand Martin though.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Sand Martins at Merlin Drive

Left the house late this morning and tried for pictures of Tree Sparrows at Merlin Drive, Dunfermline. No Tree Sparrows showed in a chilly northerly wind, but a couple of Sand Martins accompanied a handful of Swallows hawking over the pond, my 50th species for this 1km square. Maybe I shouldn't give up hope of a spring Sand Martin at Hill of Beath after all

Merlin Drive Sand Martin

Bachelors' Club

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Uneventful Day

Nothing much going on this morning, and nothing much going on this lunchtime at Inverkeithing.

Wandered a path along the edge of the fields north of Prestonhill Quarry, where the rapeseed is beginning to flower. No Sedge Warblers, and no Pheasants on the other fields either. And to complete the unholy Trinity no Skylarks. C'est la vie. Maybe I'll pick up something interesting on the way home.

I could use a House Martin or a Swift at Cullaloe, and shortly a Garden Warbler. Still posted missing also are Kestrel, Raven, Goshawk, and I haven't tried to get Tawny Owl, so some scope there.

I could use any of the formerly mentioned trinity at Inverkeithing (although Skylark will come over in autumn anyway), and a return of last year's Cuckoo would be nice, although I don't expect it.It's getting to the stage where the next species will be something unexpected. Maybe the first northbound Canada Geese.

As for Hill of Beath, well who knows! The fields are preparing themselves for Quail (I wish). As it stands there are only 8 species on my HOB life list that I haven't seen this year, and I'm not anticipating Bean Geese any time soon. I do still have Tawny Owl to play as a joker, which if the weather remains nice I should do shortly. Maybe I'll go for them at Hill of Beath and Cullaloe on the same day.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Great Reed Warbler

... was not present at any location on my cycle to work, except in my fantasies as I passed several reedy areas en route.

Added Bullfinch to NT1389, making it the second Hill of Beath square to reach 60 species. That was the highlight of the trip, although Merlin Drive drainage pond had three quite large juvenile Moorhen this morning, so Coot and Moorhen have both succeeded there.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Inverkeithing + House Martin

Spent 45 minutes at the Divit this morning and picked up House Martin finally. Another lone Swift sailed past, but on a foggy morning with slight westerlies there wasn't a lot else of interest to be had, although I did see my first Fox for the site.

Heard that the Wryneck from yesterday is still in the East Neuk. Good day in the East yesterday with RB Shrike, Pied Fly, Rosefinch and Wryneck, while Letham Pools had a summer Med Gull. Sadly, I chose to watch Dunfermline get relegated to Div 2 instead. Still, I only needed the Rosefinch and there will be another. I find it hard to get motivated to drive an hour each way to see birds I've seen before these days, but my Fife list only needs a few bumps to make 250.

Dropped into Merlin Drive after that to see 5 juvenile Coot being fed. Tree Sparrows were also still around, but none came close enough or stood still long enough to be photographed.

Swallow porn

Coot babies (but not cute babies)
Warbler Wars
So far Hill of Beath and Cullaloe have turned up the same warblers - Chiffchaff, Willow, Sedge, Whitethroat, Grasshopper and Blackcap (ordered by arrival). This is a decent result for Hill of Beath, particularly in the case of Grasshopper Warbler - I had no record of either Blackcap or Gropper previously, although it was fairly predictable. Shortly the Garden Warblers should be in at Cullaloe, but since they seem to prefer the extensive willow trees there will this give Cullaloe a chance to peg one back?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Blackcap Day

Just like 9th May was Gropper Day, all three patches logged Blackcap for the first time today (although I had a suspicion about HOB at the end of last week I couldn't nail it).

Cullaloe also caught up on Whitethroat and Gropper, briefly equalling HOB on 74 species before HOB sneaked one ahead with its own Blackcap, while Inverkeithing's Blackcap means I am finally at least on track with last year's numbers at 88 species and 70%.

Very overcast day with even ISO1600 struggling to provide a decent shutter speed

Deer at Inverkeithing

Inverkeithing Blue Tit

Friday, 17 May 2013

Cullaloe Gropper

Just seen pics of a Gropper from Cullaloe this month on Fife Bird Club website, so they are there and I've just missed them. A job for tomorrow.

Merlin Drive view this morning:

Whitethroats, House Martins, Wheatears & Tree Sparrows

Beautiful weather this morning and I took advantage by having a quick session at Dalbeath Marsh LNR before cycling to work.

House Martins were in every square, more or less, this morning while Whitethroats are also now singing seemingly from every bush. A pair of Reed Bunting showed well as I walked back to the car.

Cycling down Netherbeath Rd continued the theme of House Martins and Whitethroats although there was no sign of the Grasshopper Warbler that was reeling last week.

Dropping into Duloch Park, Dunfermline the first time since spring allowed me to easily add House MartinSedge Warbler and Willow Warbler to my site list, while at least three male Reed Bunting were out in the open. The place was a riot of bird sounds with especially Sedge Warblers chattering madly.

On then to the last stop on the line at Merlin Drive and Tree Sparrows were first to meet the ear. Four or five were dodging about the edge of the pond and one on the muddy fringe in front of me was gathering a beak full of food before heading off towards some farm buildings. Interesting that they must have been in the area the whole time and I didn't notice them until this week.

After a Wheatear at the northwest corner of HOB yesterday lunchtime there were two here today. A very nice surprise. A House Martin, two Swallows and a lone Swift were scooping up water from the surface. It seems that spring is finally here!


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Inverkeithing + Swift

Finally a Swift showed up at Inverkeithing, but I'm still one species behind last year at this stage. Still looking for Blackcap and House Martin. On the other hand since it was freezing this morning I don't blame them for not being here.

Common Terns are back in force, though, with birds on the platform off Carlingnose Point and the old pier at Stone Marine, despite the presence of a moored boat. Up above Cruicks Quarry there was a Buzzard, while back at the coastal path a Sparrowhawk flew west. There were 22 Eider in and around the harbour.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cullaloe v Hill of Beath - battle rages on

Cullaloe last night stepped up with a pair of Shelduck, but failed to produce Grasshopper Warbler or Whitethroat still (which both ought to be breeding on the site). Meanwhile Hill of Beath refused to relinquish its lead by logging a Swift this morning. There were also three Linnet over north, skipping low over the hilltop. Meanwhile I am now officially behind where I was this time last year at Inverkeithing.

Coot on nest at Cullaloe

Tufties coming to bread at Dalbeath Marsh LNR

Unusually NNE facing turbines

Tawny pellet - still to be added to list

Singing Sedge Warbler

Monday, 13 May 2013

Weekend - HOB + House Martin

My first patch House Martin of the year during BBS count on Sunday morning takes HOB two species clear of Cullaloe, having trailed before my holiday to Turkey. A remarkable turnaround, although Cullaloe still should easily recover all but Wheatear.

Bulletin board reports from Turkey of storming mig of Lesser Spotted Eagles, Black Kites, Osprey, Honey Buzzard, Stork, Imperial Eagle .... not helping my adjustment to 4 degrees and rain!

Looking at last year's Inverkeithing "species accumulation" chart on Birdtrack shows that, as expected, a few more species ought to be added as summer movers come in and then a long hiatus before Autumn movement gets under way. Last year I logged no new species at Inverkeithing between July 2 and Aug 12. Still a few more to come in yet though!

70% at May 12th
80% at Sep 1st
90% at Sep 27th

Friday, 10 May 2013

Inverkeithing - first Whitethroat

Still missing from Cullaloe this morning, but in at Inverkeithing

There was also a Shearwater, but not the kind we want

The Turkey report is now downloadable from the Shared Documents link on the right. This morning saw Birdtrack records for the year go over 5000, and for Inverkeithing I have now submitted over 2000 records for 2013.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Spanish Sparrows

In a Stork's nest, so far without a Stork

Trip report in progress, so far about 30 pages long! (mostly photos though). Lots of detail to add yet

Bicycle bonus

Took the bike to work this morning to give Hill of Beath a shot at catching up with Cullaloe. Well, it really took its chance! A reeling Grasshopper Warbler confirmed my hopes that they bred on the hill and while I was stopped a Whitethroat sang. Peering into the bushes I was sure that it was reeling from the other side, so I didn't see it. While I was looking three Tree Sparrows headed north over my head - a remarkable 5 minutes

Been thinking about the January Footit challenge ( and what could be accomplished by bicycle and this really was a good example.It isn't even possible to drive on this road as the gates are locked typically.

Further along my way to work there was a Sedge Warbler in a drainage pond in Dunfermline, another Whitethroat and, interestingly, two more Tree Sparrows.

No doubt Cullaloe also has reeling Gropper by now - the challenge there is I want to photograph one!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


If my daughters didn't live in Scotland ...

Anyway, RB Fly at Kumkale as an antidote to Scottish weather

Back to the (cold) front

Arrived back from Turkey yesterday. Added 11 new species to my Turkey list, including two lifers. Dropped into Cullaloe and Inverkeithing this morning to find nothing much has changed. Couple of Sedge Warblers in at Cullaloe and some Common Tern at Inverkeithing provided the only evidence of the emergence of summer.

Rather than drip-feed Turkey photos etc I have decided to create an actual report, which could take a day or two. At least I've managed to cut down some of the >1000 photos.

Cullaloe + Sedge Warbler => 70 species, 70%
Inverkeithing = Common Tern => 85 species, 68%

OK, one image - Lesser Spotted Eagle with snake for lunch at Kavak Delta