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Thursday, 29 September 2016

28/09/16 L.G.O.T. A Red Letter Day On Unst

Icterine Warbler, Haligarth, Baltasound, Unst
The ferry from Aberdeen was not as rough as first thought and we arrived at 7:30. I had no idea where to head to first and all I had was yesterdays pager messages. So, off to Unst...Engage...Warp 9.
 Arrival at Lerwick
Sunrise over Bressay
What an amazing day. There isn't enough time to give every bird its due so here are the highlights by site.
Little Bunting
Little Bunting
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Common Rosefinch
Yellow-browed Warbler (5)
 Little Bunting
 (another) Red-breasted Flycatcher

 Common Rosefinch
Yellow-browed Warbler
Dusky Warbler

Dusky Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Wood Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler (6+)


 Icterine Warbler
 Wood Warbler, not going too far with its damaged left wing.
Yellow-browed Warbler

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

27/09/16 L.G.O.T. Ythan & Forvie

Red-backed Shrike, juvenile, Sands of Forvie NNR
I had stayed at my sister's place, near Arbroath, overnight and I left at 8:30 to have a look at Lunan Bay. I have never seen so many Scoter in one place. Thousands. They were nearly all Common Scoter but Velvet Scoter were also common. An adult Little Gull was unexpected.
From there I decided to travel to the Sands of Forvie visitor centre. It was very well hidden. Sands of Forvie NNR is the largest area of unspoilt dunes in, at least, the UK. Lucky for me the Red-backed Shrike stayed around the visitor centre. It was the only bird there apart from a Yellowhammer and a Blackbird.

Red-backed Shrike, Sands of Forvie NNR
The tide was in on the Ythan estuary so most of the waders were roosting but 8 Black-tailed Godwits were a surprise. There were a lot of Eider and a juvenile Common Tern there alongside lots of Grey Seals.
Common Tern, juvenile

Eiders, drakes

Ythan Estuary
From the Ythan to Aberdeen to board the ferry, Myself and several other birders looked at the seabirds for 2 hours until it fell dark. We managed 2 juvenile Long-tailed Skua's, over a dozen Arctic Skua's, Guillemots, Razorbills, 12 Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Manx Shearwaters, Puffin, Fulmar and thousands of Gannets and Kittiwakes.
Landing tomorrow. I know how that story ends! Happy Days!
 Goosander, Aberdeen Harbour
 NOT! a Brunnich's Guillemot
Aberdeen...far behind us.

Monday, 26 September 2016

26/09/16 L.G.O.T. Another Lifer Bites The Dust

Brunnich's Guillemot, Anstruther
Only two stops today. Left Blyth at 8am and headed up the A687 to Edinburgh. It was only as I was approaching Wooler that I realised I was very close to the site of the reported Rose-coloured Starling at Rosedene Junction. My old friend, Andy McLevy, was already there along with one other birder. We soon had very fine views of the bird on one of the garden walls. Also in the area were a Common Crossbill, Redpolls and a large flock of Tree Sparrows.

Rose-coloured Starling, near Woolperton, Northumberland
After the Starling it was a 3 hour drive to Fife and the nice seaside town of Anstruther. In the harbour were 3 birds, two Eider and the wackiest bird of the week...Brunnich's Guillemot.
To those doubters who say it's not kosher I say "buy an ID guide". Thick, short, bill, curved culmen, lack of white cheek patch are just a few of the visible pointers.

 Brunnich's Guillemot, Anstruther

Sunday, 25 September 2016

25/09/16 L.G.O.T...Holy Island & Stag Rock

Red-breasted Flycatcher, Half Moon Slack, Holy Island
An early start today, last crossing time was 9am and I was on there for 8am. The bonus was that only a dozen vehicles made it over before the tide came in but that included a bus load of Singaporean tourists ;-). All of them queued up outside the only public loo on the island.
Lots of waders by the Causeway including Greenshank, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plovers and Dunlin. A few Little Egrets were there also.
I was headed along the Straight Lonnen but had a look on the freshwater pools in the Rocket Field. Lots of waders including the surprise of the day in the form of a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper. A Little Stint close by made a fine accompaniment. The only other birds I saw for the next two hours were Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Snipe, Chiffchaff and Robin
At high tide about a thousand Brent Geese, both Light- and Dark-bellied, were present along the causeway.
 Greenshank, Holy Island
 Little Egret, Holy Island
 Curlew, Holy Island
 Light-bellied Brent Geese, Holy Island
 Lindisfarne from the Causeway
Swallows, Holy Island
After lunch I made the trek to Half Moon Slack and The Snook on the West side of island. Hidden amongst the dunes these places are true oases for migrants. I was fortunate enough to see the long staying Red-breasted Flycatcher at Half Moon Slack. This was followed up with a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Vicars Garden and a fly past Lapland Bunting.

Red-breasted Flycatcher, Half Moon Slack, Holy Island
I finally came off the island at 2pm and stopped off at Budle Bay where another vast array of ducks and waders were present including at least 1 Spotted Redshank. At Stag Rocks I watched various Auks alongside hundreds of Gannets in one mad feeding frenzy. Knot and 8 Black-tailed Godwits added to the wader list. Last stop was the banks of the river Coquet between Warkworth and Amble where there were even more waders and duck of different varieties. Bird of the hour was a female Peregrine. She took out a Wigeon and ate it on the saltmarsh. Not for the squeamish.
Other wildlife today included a whale sp. off Holy Island, possibly Minke but I'm no expert on whales. Migrant insects included Silver Y and Painted Lady. I also had my first Orange Orb Spider. She was a big girl!  
 Eider, female, R. Coquet. Sitting on a weir.
Some of the luckier Wigeon at Amble Braid

Hmm! off to Scotland tomorrow...where to go? where to go? Oh, never been to Anstruther. I'll pop in and see what's about.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

24/09/16 LGOT - SE Northumberland

Waders trying to keep dry from the rising tide. St Mary's Island
I started today off early at St Mary's Island, near Whitley Bay. Yellow-browed Warbler and Little Stint were the targets as I try to boost my trip list. It was very windy as I pulled into the car park. As I walked to the causeway, to the island, it was obvious that the tide was coming fast. There were a fair few waders such as Sanderling, Ringed Plovers (mainly juvs.), Oystercatcher and Dunlin with a sprinkling of Redshank, Curlew and several hundred Golden Plover. The Little Stint had been flushed by a dog and was now at the rear of the island and out of reach. Nice pics of some of the waders.
Adult and Juv Sanderlings
Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling
A few of the Golden Plover at St Mary's Island
Pintail flying South

Sea watching was poor with only a single Sooty Shearwater and some Gannets present. A search of the Gully and nearby bushes produced the Yellow-browed Warbler and a few Chiffchaffs. Rock Pipits were on the washed up sea weed nearby.
Next stop was Church Point at Newbiggin. It was even windier here. The Gannets were fishing just of the rocks and a few Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills whizzed past. The bay also gave up a single, late-ish, Sandwich Tern. One of the highlights however, was a male Merlin chasing waders non-stop. Newbiggin is a hotspot for Mediterranean Gulls and today was no different with 31 birds of varying ages on the beach. Purple Sandpiper and Knot were also seen.
 Drake Eiders, Church Point

 Gannet, Sub-adult
 A selection of sleepy Mediterranean Gulls
 Colour ringed Med. Gull
 Turnstone, Dunlin & Sanderling.
Cresswell was the next stop and a juvenile Pomarine Skua became the next new bird for the trip along with 2 Red-throated Divers. New birds at Cresswell Pond included Goldcrest, Avocet and Greenshank. At Druridge Bay NWT the Budge Screen showed off a fine Spotted Redshank and 4 Ruff. Another Yellow-browed Warbler was heard but not seen there.