Thursday 31 March 2011

Still no Sand Martin...

...but plenty of other migs including some real quality in Slavonian Grebe and Avocet, usual early migs like Swallow and Willow Warbler and a few bits on the sea including Shag and Whimbrel. A whopping 76.32% and equalling my best total ever at the end of March. Lucky for you lot now that I'll be spending the next four months atlasing!

Wednesday 30 March 2011

And they're here as well...

A few sand martins over Meikle Loch were the first migrants of the year. What with these and a coal tit a few days ago (a good bird for the patch) the total creeps up to 73 and 46%.

Monday 28 March 2011

There's some sand, martin...

About 15 sand martins were swooping around the edge of the lake this evening - they've been 'in' for ages, but I never seem to get early sand martins here - got 'em now tho!

Sunday 27 March 2011

just off patch (again)

Finally got me arse up to Rossbeigh for good views of de white-winged scoter this morning - all good it was, and well worth de trip - cool bird! Don't suppose I can count it for the patch tho?

Snow good

A northbound Snow Bunting trilling and teou-ing along the dunes was the first for a couple of years and a (not quite annual) drake Goosander flew north along the beach a while later. Potentially the bird of the day was clocked too late to see properly but may have been a Ruff - also nothbound over the sea.

Another new arrival was this fence and gate at the southern boundary of the rifle range:

Note sure what the point of this is (given that there are no livestock either side of the boundary) unless it was to spend money before the end of the financial year. A nice job done though!

And finally not quite so new but the return of an old-faithful. This Sanderling has appeared three winters running now, including last autumn, but this is its first appearance in 2011.


Saturday 26 March 2011

A bonus at last

The first bonus bird of the year on Meikle this morning in the form a of a smew moved me on an extra percentage point. Only my second ever smew in the patch with the last one being over ten years ago. But still no migrants up here yet.

Friday 25 March 2011

lunchtime sarnie

2 sandwich terns slipped onto de year list this lunchtime - good to have them back on the lake, and good enough to move me into 4th spot! Have at ye, statto!

Thursday 24 March 2011

ooo migrants

with the man-flu receding I tried a constitutional stroll around the patch this afternoon, purely for medicinal purposes of course! Good job I did, cos there was a bit of stuff in - male black redstart, 2 chiffchaffs and a willow warbler all new for the year - getting places now, surely!

the dove from above

Slumped over me toast this morning in a man-flu-induced death haze, yet somehow still managed to raise me game to get the bins on a fly-by collared dove - a good wan for de patch as there's usually only a couple of records a year - quality!

Wednesday 23 March 2011

what is an arctic warbler?

A bit off topic, but interesting paper in April's Ibis on arctic warblers:

Apparently there are three anciently separated cryptic species in the traditional species, and these can be separated by song and call.

Unfortunately, two of the species occur in the far east and japan, so less chance of vagrancy.

Monday 21 March 2011

Utter Dross

No Builders, blockers or anything for that matter making this patch listing a rather slow progress. Three whoopers on the Loch this evening have been the highlight. The rest not been worth talking about. However the list limps on to 42%. the good news being that I'm not last... well not quite

Gank watch

A passage of meadow pipits that was underway on Thursday kept going all weekend. Thursday was the one day of the year that I'll get excited by this classic bit of gank. Despite a scattering of hot records near by (osprey at Gladhouse must have passed close(ish) to my patch), while who cares where the Musselburgh white stock came from, the only sign of summer was a blackcap having a half arsed attempt at singing. I bet it has not seen the other side of the Sahara though.
Otherwise, the sparrowhawks continue to plough their way through the local tit population.

Sunday 20 March 2011

The Three B's

Good patch year lists are built of the three B's; Bankers, Building Blocks and Bonus Birds (okay 5 B's then). Bankers are guaranteed each year. Building Blocks are maybe the most important - species that are not quite annual but a good selection in any one year can really boost the totals. Bonus Birds are the rest - everything from national rarity patch ticks to common species in the general area that only occasionally stray onto the patch.

Saturday saw one banker and two building blocks added to the Blackdog year list. The Banker, Meadow Pipits, have at long last started to arrive and take up territories. Of the two Building Block species, Shelduck (2 north) is virtually annual and Great Crested Grebe turns up maybe every other year. The grebe was present again today (Sunday) - maybe the same bird drifted down the coast and flaunted itself to Royzah too.



An unprecedented three species of grebe on the patch today, the usual littles plus a Great Crest and a Slavonian. Usually lucky to get 2 species in year so this year's 4 so far (ever the optimist) is fanfeckintastic. Now to 60.83% with some good stuff bagged already, roll on the spring.

Friday 18 March 2011


A good early run of stuff including Wheatear, Sandwich Tern, Blackcap and Chiffchaff moves me on to a very respectable 70.45% - my best total at this stage since 2003

Stuff starting to move

I've been seeing a bit of movement at Old Porty - yesterday there were common gulls and black-headed gulls flying north in a steady stream. I've also seen a couple of lapwing in the fields (now moved on), a siskin in me garden and the star of the show yesterday, a shelduck flew north offshore (three years running that is). A sub-Saharan mig would be nice now.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

they're back!

Woohoo! 2 fine resplendent male wheatears out on Galley just now - spring has sprung!

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Glauc etc

Got a call from T2006 on Saturday about a Glaucous gull so I duly ambled out and nailed it. I've had a few bit and bobs over the last couple of weeks, nothing out of the ordinary; fulmar, rock pipit, meadow pipit, gannet, LBBG and sky lark as well as da Glauc. So it's a leap to 59.43% for me. First Glaucous for 3 years, a fine piece of fluffing by the manchine Mavor.

T-2006 back on patch

After a near 6-week lay off the T-2006 once again tundled down the North Don patch, for only the second time this year!

The sight of a fine glaucous gull, a full-fat patch tick no less, on the mud in front of the hide blew its transistors forcing it to retire to Castle's castillo for tea and biccies. But not before the short, fat, tap-dancing twat ambled out his front door to bag it for his own list.

Expect some top-notch pics of it soon.

Some other gank brings the T-2006 to 41 species for the year.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

when is it ok to tick on call?

A friend of mine, definately not me, was at Tacumshin bright and early on Sunday morning in the hope of seeing the wintering Cetti's Warbler, which has recently started to sing more and more. Sure enough, shortly after arrival, the bird could be heard singing, but after 5 or 6 bursts of song it then shut up for the rest of the visit.

So, this got me to thinking. What are the ethics of ticking on call? I've always been anti-ticking on call for lifers, but everyone year-ticks on call don't they? And its not like I, ahem, my friend hasn't seen lots of Cetti's Warblers elsewhere, so its not actually a lifer. So, would it really matter if I er, he stuck this particular Cetti's Warbler on his (paltry) Irish list even though he only heard it?

I mean, the ID is not in question (for once!). And would it have made so much difference if I he had glimpsed a glimpse of it briefly in the bottom of the bush? And what would I do if such a scenario ever happened on patch? I'm not sure, but I did scotch tick Spotted Crake after finding the one in the garden here, and I've only ever heard them calling in Scotland. I do feel kind of bad about it though! But they were Spotted Crakes, and it is still on the list! But don't tell the authorities though, just in case!

Sunday 6 March 2011

Calm seas

Blackdog - 5th March

A nice calm sea produced an excellent count of 140 Red-throated Divers. These birds have done some strange things recently. Until last year there was always a spring peak with May usually producing the only three figure counts of the year. Then last year spring passage was bizarrely non-existant with a May peak of just 20 birds. However there were then big late autumn influx with 131 in late November. And now this. An excellent count of Long-tailed Ducks too with 67 birds - quite possibly a Blackdog record!

However, back to more important things - 5 Fieldfares, single of Fulmar and Goldeneye and then a pair of Stonechats moves the year list to 67, or 54.18%, ahead of Seppy and hot on the heels of Roy Castle.


Friday 4 March 2011

ice for breakfast

A fine iceland gull from the breakfast table this morning - can't say fairer than that!

Thursday 3 March 2011

no hoopoes

just had to go for a quick hoof around the likeliest hoopoe spots this afternoon, as it felt so good for one! No luck Ted, but did flush 2 pheasants so still a result!