Monday 21 September 2020

Busy but quiet on the patch

The forecast suggested easterly winds and dry conditions on both Saturday and Sunday and we planned to get some nets up and ring birds on both days. A light mizzly, sometimes drizzly rain overnight and into Sunday morning prevented us doing anything on Sunday but we managed some ringing on Saturday.

It was a bit quiet though,  the wind was out of the east but it was bright and breezy and we only had four nets up so we only caught 19 new birds. A light passage of Meadow Pipits continued and we managed to catch four of them. A single Chiffchaff was the only warbler.

Meadow pipit - all four were juvenile birds

We went birding on Sunday morning as we couldn't put any nets up. Despite the wind being out of the east and overnight drizzle it didn't drop any birds in and was as quiet as Saturday had been. The WeBS count didn't take much doing - for some reason, despite the mud on the Budge fields, it's not attracting waders. There was decent Meadow Pipit and Skylark passage and when we got to the beach, there were 25 Meadow Pipits feeding on the seaweed around the Dunbar Burn - and a Wheatear.

Stonechat in the mizzle
Meadow Pipit on the beach

In the dunes to the north there is still a decent flock of Linnets and Goldfinches. It's not always the same flock as some days there are Linnets than Goldfinches and other days it's the opposite. As we walked along the cycle path, I got onto a bunting on the track, briefly, before it flew. There were a few reed buntings about but this was different - in the second or two I had it in my bins, the rufous cheeks stood out. 

The bunting bugged me all afternoon, at least it took my mind off the awful football game I was watching. I headed back after the footie for a mooch. Nothing on the fenclines or track so I headed into the dunes, there were a lot of finches still and a few Pipits and Reed Buntings. I put a bird up as I walked which gave off the distinctive call of a Lapland Bunting when it flew. It landed in a bare area and I got reasonable views of it before it flew it again I lost it behind a dune-hump. My first on the patch since 2010!

Wheatears were on the fence and on the beach still, but it was nearly dark when I took this.

Wheatear on the beach in the gloom of late evening

My pre-morning walk today was much busier and at times I didn't know where to concentrate on. I stepped out of the car to see a tit flock moving through the whitebeams, there was a few Chiffchaff amongst them and Yellow-browed Warbler - my first of the year and my earliest ever by one day! It was really active, chasing the Chiffs and Blue Tits. It and the tits moved off south as did I.

There were more Chiffs, at least 18,  in the bushes as well as four Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat. Overhead small groups of Siskin, Meadow Pipit, Lesser Redpoll and Skylark flew over - eight Skylark appeared to come in-off the sea as did 38 Pink-footed Geese.

One of 18 Chifchaffs

Another Meadow Pipit

Young Stonechat

Chaffinch - not common this year

Save for six Curlew there were no waders or duck on the virtually dry Budge fields, maybe because a juvenile Marsh harrier was sat on the big post? It took off and had a go at one of the many Pheasants and I managed a couple of shots. It appeared to have a metal ring on its right leg.

Juvenile Marsh Harrier over the Budge field

With an eye on a pheasant

No waders here

This evening I had a look on the sea after work, It was high tide and a big spring tide so I hoped for displaced waders passing, none of those but I did have a trio of grebes.

There's been two Great-crested Grebes, an adult and a juvenile for a few weeks, they hang about with the Scoter flock and I've watched the adult moult into winter garb and the juvenile loose a bit of its stripy look in that time.  Just beyond the Scoters, I picked up another, smaller grebe - a Slavonian Grebe in winter plumage - a regular in the Bay but nice to see. As I counted the Red-throated Divers (28 in total), I found another grebe, close to the Slavonian grebe - a Red-necked Grebe, also in winter plumage. 

At times the two grebes were together giving a great opportunity to compare these two similar looking grebes. The red-neck, slightly bigger than the Slav and not as clean, crisp looking, much darker around the face and neck with a more sloping forehead.  

So it's been a busy few days even though the birding has been quiet at times, but some nice birds made up for it. 

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