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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 09:30   #1
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Eden Estuary News

Hi everyone,
Inspired by Jane Turner's monumental garden list and excellent thread I thought I'd start one on our garden overlooking the inner Eden estuary in Fife.
We too have a wonderful garden for birds with a list of 126 since 29/11/02.

Highlights so far in no particular order include:
smew, water pipit (Scottish rarity!), med. gull, 6 goose spp. including brent, barnacle and white-fronted (both forms), long-tailed duck, osprey, little stint, jack snipe, spotted redshank, little tern, kingfisher, waxwing ...
Recent star addition - 4 avocets which hung around for 10 days.
Most gutting dip - Fife's first American golden plover which was seen while we were away last September.

That's the introduction, a roundup of the weekend highlights to follow later.

Rob
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 09:32   #2
Jane Turner
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Glad to see you starting.... I bet you get a good Tringa before me!
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 11:39   #3
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A quiet weekend - not much sign of spring up here apart from a few swallows and sand martins.
Noteworthy sightings:
4 great crested grebes on Sat, 3 on Sun (very few records last year, but regular in the last 10 days or so).
25+ gannets feeding off the estuary mouth yesterday - not many other species identifiable at this range (~2 miles)!
Still plenty of teal, wigeon and goldeneye
Pair of mergs yesterday and today
Our local buzzard pair has been very conspicuous, saw them mating yesterday (how much more conspicuous do you want )
Not much wader variety at present but >300 summer plumage black-tailed godwits is very good compensation. Had 443 last Sunday.
Otherwise most of the action has been in the garden itself.
We have had up to 8 goldfinches on the feeders. Until about a month ago they hardly came at all, now they're around all the time. They won't touch nyjer seed - don't seem to know what it is! Other garden birds: 3 yellowhammers (a bird we hadn't seen at all until January and has occurred daily since), a female siskin (not a common bird, I think we only get spring migrants), 2 pied wagtails coming to food (weird!), and best of all 3 tree sparrows. Tree sparrows are very unpredictable garden visitors, their appearances seem pretty random. However have now seen them daily since last Wednesday so I hope they'll stick around for a bit longer ...
Finally I saw a singing goldcrest in the trees beside the drive this morning, we've only had a handful of previous records.

Not a hugely dramatic start but there was a whimbrel at Angle Park yesterday so we'll be looking out for them in the coming days (first of last year was 29th).

Rob
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 11:59   #4
Andrew Whitehouse
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Hi Rob,

Thanks for the report. I've not managed to get down to the estuary for a couple of weeks (not since the Avocets were there) so it's good to be kept up to date. Impressed that you got a Siskin in the garden - I've seen hardly any of late. You're right about the Tree Sparrows which are incredibly fickle in their appearances - I saw quite a few early in the winter but none since. I had a nice male Brambling in the middle of St Andrews yesterday (on The Scores) so keep an eye on those feeders!
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 12:09   #5
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Hi Andrew,
Not done well for brambling this winter, we had a pair for a day in January and that's it. Last winter we had a pair around for most of Feb and March. We had another good run of tree sparrows late Feb/early March this year (up to 5) then they melted away again.

Was it you that found the wheatear at Kilminning?

Rob
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 12:57   #6
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Hi Rob,

Is this the one you mean?

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....ight=fife+ness
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 13:27   #7
edenwatcher
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Andrew

Sorry, should have searched first!
Yep that's the one.

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Old Tuesday 20th April 2004, 09:51   #8
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A few more signs of spring now.
My better half saw 8 sandwich terns yesterday afternoon and there were 2 male wheatears on the saltmarsh this morning.
The grey plovers are starting to come into summer plumage, saw 3 on the falling tide last night, one still in winter plumage, one blotchy and one pretty black.

A goldfinch found the nyjer seed yesterday afternoon, but doesn't seem to have been impressed - they were all on the sunflower hearts this morning.

Rob
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Old Tuesday 20th April 2004, 10:47   #9
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Hi Rob,

There seem to be a few Sandwich Terns knocking about on St Andrews Bay now (maybe for the last week) but I've not seen any other terns as yet. Good to know the Wheatears are going through. I had one on the saltmarsh on Balgove Bay almost a month ago but have seen none since!
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Old Wednesday 21st April 2004, 10:37   #10
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Bird of yesterday was a drake shoveler (only 8th bird day since we moved in). The wheatears were still around last night, much closer to the house, presumably a result of the spring tides making the saltmarsh a bit soggy for them! Sue saw a greenshank yesterday, not sure if it was a lingering wintering bird or a migrant.
All rather quiet this morning 5 mergansers and a tree sparrow the best I can offer.

Garden year list is 86, will post a list later.

Rob
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Old Thursday 22nd April 2004, 20:29   #11
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Just been mowing the lawn, as you do, and kept myself amused by having a scan with the scope each time I emptied the grass box!
Mowing highlights:
greenshank
12 grey plover (including 1 in full summer plumage)
black-tailed godwits glowing in the evening sunshine
2m1f wheatear

Other highlights for the past day or so include 2 great crested grebes, 5 mergs, a fulmar on its way to the inland colony at Lucklawhill and siskin.

Rob
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Old Thursday 22nd April 2004, 21:27   #12
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That sounds like my type of gardening
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 09:30   #13
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2 Whimbrel yesterday evening and willow warbler (heard only) takes the garden year list to 87+1h. Jane is pulling away!
Willow warbler is bizarrely scarce with us considering how common they are around the centre at Edenside. Last summer we only had one sight record plus two that frustratingly sang invisibly from trees in the garden!

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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 09:42   #14
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Hi Rob,

Also had 2 Whimbrel on Balgove Bay yesterday afternoon - on their way over to you at high tide I expect. Also 2 Pintail, 5 Willow Warblers (I saw hardly any last year too) and an immense 15 Wheatears on Balgove Bay.
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 11:50   #15
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On for a good day list today. Already up to 39 + 3 heard. Unfortunately the heat haze is making things difficult at present.
Had a tree sparrow look in our nest box this morning - the blue tits are already in residence however. Have to get a new box ...

Impressed by that wheatear count, Andrew. Have seen 1 so far this morning.
Pintail don't often come up as far as us - I wish they did.

Rob
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Old Monday 26th April 2004, 09:31   #16
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Yesterday's total was 55 + 2 heard, which is our best ever. Having said that we didn't really have a garden day list record before!
Nothing very exceptional:
great crested grebe 1, pink-footed goose 4, red-breasted merganser pr., ringed plover 1, greenshank 3, stock dove 1, wheatear 2m1f, tree sparrow 2, goldfinch 7, siskin 1m, yellowhammer 3m2f and the first time linnets have come into the garden itself.

Rob
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Old Monday 26th April 2004, 10:52   #17
Jane Turner
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Perhaps we could arrange a house swap sometime! I have Linnets feeding on the back lawn today.
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Old Tuesday 27th April 2004, 09:33   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane Turner
Perhaps we could arrange a house swap sometime! I have Linnets feeding on the back lawn today.
Interesting idea - It's a mort of years since I saw a Leach's petrel ...
(Linnet in the garden again yesterday)

There was a flurry of activity this morning - breakfast tends to be an often interrupted meal ...
On the rising tide 2 great crested grebes, 7 tufted ducks (very irregular, and not usually that many), several eider including 3 males displaying vigorously to a disinterested female (shame about double glazing!), and star bird was drake gadwall. This mirrors last year's only occurrence when a pair showed up on 1st May. The duck stayed until the 3rd whilst the drake remained with the wigeon until the 9th.
Also this morning 2 tree sparrows under the bird table and 2 roe deer in the fields across the estuary.

Had to force myself to come to work ...

Rob
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Old Monday 3rd May 2004, 10:05   #19
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Well it's been a rather quiet few days.
Wildfowl numbers have dropped quite sharply over past week - it has been a few days since we saw a teal or a goldeneye and there are only handful of wigeon left. Waders are a bit thin on the ground too, with most of the godwits and redshanks having gone. Having said that I added knot to the garden year list on Saturday evening - rather bizarre that we hadn't seen any during the winter although they do tend to stick to the outer estuary.
The drake gadwall was still about on Saturday.
At the feeders tree sparrows, yellowhammers and goldfinches are still around.

House martin yesterday was no. 90 for the garden year list.

PS I added Fifebirder to my yearlist at Kilconquhar on Saturday afternoon (leaving as we were arriving).

Rob
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Old Monday 3rd May 2004, 10:49   #20
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Hi Rob,

Funny how the Knot stick to the outer estuary. Can't remember many I've seen at the Guardbridge end. Still haven't seen any House Martins yet this year (although possibly a couple briefly over town).

Hope you had good views of the GW Egret on Saturday. It was much better than I expected it to be (i.e. not a distant white blob!).
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Old Friday 7th May 2004, 09:14   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifebirder
Hope you had good views of the GW Egret on Saturday. It was much better than I expected it to be (i.e. not a distant white blob!).
Very nice thanks.

Shades of winter at the moment - we have 5 pink-footed geese on the saltmarsh! On a more spring-like note there were 5 greenshanks yesterday evening just after high tide. This is the highest number we've ever had in spring, though of course we have many more in autumn (max. 23).
Mergansers are around on a daily basis at the moment. Migrant birds seem more inclined to come upstream as far as us whereas in winter they are more confined to the outer estuary. Soon they will be replaced by goosanders which are non-breeding summer visitors.
Other sighting of note was a roe deer on our side of the estuary in front of the house - previous records have always been on the opposite shore.

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Old Saturday 8th May 2004, 17:00   #22
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Promising day so far - 50 species and counting.
A new species for the garden list this afternoon - a red-legged partridge. Not very exciting I know, but they all count. That's no. 127. Also a garden year tick in the shape of 2 arctic terns (92nd for the year).
Other species of note:
the 5 pinkfeet are still on the saltmarsh, 3 sandwich terns, 2 great crested grebes, 71 black-tailed and 5 bar-tailed godwits, 2 greenshanks and a wheatear.
The local buzzards seem to have eggs as we're only seeing one now.

Last night's high tide produced 2 knot and a whimbrel so there's scope for a few more species today ...

Rob
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Old Saturday 8th May 2004, 17:18   #23
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Sounds like a great day.... its grim down south!
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Old Saturday 8th May 2004, 21:33   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane Turner
Sounds like a great day.... its grim down south!
It turned cold and drizzly here in the afternoon, where is spring exactly?
Failed to add any more species but still a good day.

Rob
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Old Tuesday 11th May 2004, 20:55   #25
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A nice whimbrel on the mud as I type, also 2 greenshanks. This is the first whimbrel this spring to have lingered for more than about a minute after being sighted!

Off to the Hebrides tomorrow, will update next week ....

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