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Old Wednesday 17th October 2007, 20:52   #126
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Is there a badger in that picture?
Actually now you come to mention it. And I think you can see their latrine and some fresh holes... hmm, maybe that's why I'm seeing these 'strange Eiders'.
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Old Wednesday 17th October 2007, 20:59   #127
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hmm, maybe that's why I'm seeing these 'strange Eiders'.
Why? Are they badger/eider hybrids or something?
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Old Wednesday 17th October 2007, 21:10   #128
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Why? Are they badger/eider hybrids or something?
You know the more I look at it...
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Old Wednesday 17th October 2007, 21:12   #129
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Hehe, nice one Dr W!! You should really tell someone about that y'know!
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Old Friday 19th October 2007, 19:22   #130
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A rather lovely day here in Aberdeen - what the weather forecasters call 'autumnal sunshine'. It's a while since progress was made on the house list but 2 Long-tailed Ducks flew north this morning, juddering us up another notch. Also 2 Red-throated Divers and a Grey Wagtail from the flat. There seemed to be more Blackbirds than normal in the gardens and a few distant thrushes were passing over the town. The first Bottle-nosed Dolphins for a little while were around the river mouth - probably just a couple. Out to sea there was a large feeding flock of Gannets mid-morning.

Late in the afternoon I took a stroll around the Ness, more in hope than expectation. It actually turned out to be relatively productive. Along the north shore, a female Black Redstart was flycatching along the top of the beach, just between the two inner breakwaters. Only my third Scottish Black Redstart and the first I've seen in autumn. This bird was lovingly captured in the next installment of our long-running series 'Birds slightly out of focus and a bit too dark'. That should be one of the BF monthly photo competition themes. I'd win. A rather neat looking juvenile Red-throated Diver was just offshore and I also saw the 'borealis type' Eider again, around the middle breakwater. I think today's picture is actually a little less gloomy than the ones from the other day. Can't see any badgers in it either. I had another bash at counting waders on Greyhope Bay. Eventually I got up to 14 Ringed Plovers but could only see 7 Purple Sandpipers. Then they all got spooked and flew towards the harbour, which meant that the Purple Sandpiper totalised lurched up to:

34

They're really very good at hiding. I think we'll need a good high tide to get a proper count. A male Stonechat was nearby and a female and a Song Thrush were around the Battery. Nothing in the Lighthouse Field bird wise but it's the time of year when one might chance upon the tantalising remains of fireworks, no doubt set off the previous night by local ne'er-do-wells (see picture four). A heart warming tradition that lives on here in Torry.

There was some quality dolphin goings on with a couple milling around the harbour mouth and then a baby going right up into the harbour and out again. There also seems to have been a big influx of gulls, and lots were roosting on the sea, as they often do on calm nights. Finally, as I was walking up past the Battery a Short-eared Owl flew up and across the golf course. It's actually the bird in picture five (yes it is!). Kind of an evocative picture, even though you can't actually tell what it is.
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Old Friday 19th October 2007, 19:32   #131
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You know the more I look at it...
Thats a lifer for me, what is it a Badgeider??
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Old Friday 19th October 2007, 19:42   #132
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Thats a lifer for me, what is it a Badgeider??
That's the title of the picture anyway. New to science I think.
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Old Saturday 20th October 2007, 20:10   #133
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More lovely stuff again this morning - autumn is the new summer. There seemed to be quite a few Blackbirds strutting about the gardens, offering some hope of a bit of an influx of migrants despite the benign weather. Two Red-throated Divers were in the harbour and a drake Long-tailed Duck flew north.

Off round Girdle Ness, which is quite near Torry (just to remind people in preparation for the bash in two weeks time ). A pair of Stonechats were chacking away in 'The Tree'. A word of advice for any Stonechats reading this. You can chack away all you want on top of gorse bushes and thistles, but don't go sitting about in trees doing it. Don't you know that all rare warblers chack? Nearly gave me heart failure. Migrants weren't really happening though - just a Redwing around the Battery and that was it.

On the harbour, two very obliging immature Long-tailed Ducks were close inshore (see half-decent pictures below). Long-tailed Ducks are 'about' all of a sudden, which is always rather uplifting. 7 Barnacle Geese flew around the harbour mouth, which was good but slightly annoying because I could have got them on the house list if I'd actually been in the house. Darn. On Greyhope Bay there were 12 Ringed Plovers but just one Purple Sandpiper. Will there be any in two weeks? *raises tension* As it happened, there were another 8 around at the Ness. All the waders there were spooked but at first there was no sign of anything to do the spooking. Then a Merlin shot along the top of the bank and almost flew into me. Offshore were 3 more Red-throated Divers and, fairly impressively, an immature Black Guillemot (see quite bad picture below) - the first I've seen at Girdle Ness. A small flock of thrushes came in off the sea. From what I could see and hear they were Song Thrushes *looks mildly surprised*

There was also a stupid amount of Borealis type Eider action, which is detailed below, for anyone interested. Not many of you I expect.
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Old Saturday 20th October 2007, 20:24   #134
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Ooh, I need Black Guillemot for my life list.

Where did you say Girdle Ness was again?
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Old Saturday 20th October 2007, 20:27   #135
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Ooh, I need Black Guillemot for my life list.

Where did you say Girdle Ness was again?
I think it's probably okay for you to see Black Guillemot, and may indeed be necessary if there are any Little Auks about. Girdle Ness isn't that good for them though. And in any case, I've now forgotten where it is myself. Peterhead is probably a better bet, so maybe we'll have a look there. If you're good .
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Old Saturday 20th October 2007, 20:41   #136
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Borealis Bonanza

I've been looking out for 'Eiders showing scapular sails' for a couple of years now. They crop up quite regularly once you start looking but usually just one or two amongst the very large numbers that can be found year-round here in Northeast Scotland. Today I had a fairly good look through the hundred or so Eiders around the harbour mouth and Girdle Ness and saw possibly as many as seven including 2 females. Kerr-razy. All of the drakes looked rather similar with quite grey-green coloured bills, although one had only rather small sails, not much more than the regular 'bump' that a lot of drake Eiders show on the scapulars. Most borealis types I've seen before show a noticeable orangey tint to the bill, but not these. The females only showed small sails but on one bird they were pretty obvious triangular peaks.

It's kind of surprising that these birds are so frequent. Although sails are supposed to be a sign of 'northern origins', and it certainly seems that sails are the norm within the range of borealis, I find myself wondering if it's a feature rather like the white spectacle on 'bridled' Guillemots i.e. something that can appear in various parts of Eider's range but is more frequent further north. I dunno. I'll keep checking them out though.

Just for the record, Eiders with sails were seen as follows:

1. Male, inner harbour
2. Male (still showing some eclipse plumage) middle breakwater (picture one)
3. 2 Males, 2 Females, Greyhope Bay (pictures two and three)
4. Male, off the Ness
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Old Saturday 20th October 2007, 21:13   #137
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Andrew-a lovely thread but please don't take up photography as a profession
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Old Saturday 20th October 2007, 21:31   #138
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Andrew-a lovely thread but please don't take up photography as a profession
These are record shots, showing ID features. When you reach my level of experience, the artistic merits of the picture aren't really so important .
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Old Sunday 21st October 2007, 18:13   #139
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Took the house list up to a heady 65 this morning with a Coal Tit perched, rather incongruously, on a TV aerial. Training my scope on my neighbours is starting to pay dividends.

Otherwise it was a bit of an away day, on which I saw a very charming juvenile White-winged Black Tern at Loch of Skene. Ahhhh......
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Old Sunday 21st October 2007, 18:42   #140
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"Training my scope on my neighbours is starting to pay dividends"-well I hope it's not on Aggie or we may not have a BF bash leader in two weeks.

And for goodness sake we're not going twitching birds like Purple Sands and Black Guillemots in 2 weeks are we. Who on earth would want to see them-let's stick to a masterclass in Eiders with sails and hardcore local patching
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Old Sunday 21st October 2007, 19:10   #141
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"Training my scope on my neighbours is starting to pay dividends"-well I hope it's not on Aggie or we may not have a BF bash leader in two weeks.

And for goodness sake we're not going twitching birds like Purple Sands and Black Guillemots in 2 weeks are we. Who on earth would want to see them-let's stick to a masterclass in Eiders with sails and hardcore local patching
Hey, the Purple Sands and Black Guillemots are local enough. It's possible the WW Black Tern wasn't all that local. Just off patch, in fact.

Don't worry about Aggie - I've told all my neighbours I've got this mate from Edinburgh who's so hard he can take anyone Torry and that he's coming up in a couple of weeks. They were very impressed and have decided to form a welcoming committee. I'm sure you'll be relishing the challenge Dr G.
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2007, 20:19   #142
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An interesting but slightly frustrating sighting today. I was scanning over the city centre mid afternoon when I saw a bird of prey heading steadily inland. I wasn't sure what it was at first but then realised the long, angled wings, short tail and 'paddling' flight were right for one of the Asio owls. It was a long way off though - a mile at its closest. The wings actually seemed relatively short and rounded so my suspicion is that it was a Long-eared Owl - too far away to be sure though. Presumably it was just in off the sea.

Also a couple of Bottle-nosed Dolphins in the harbour this afternoon.
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2007, 21:41   #143
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An interesting but slightly frustrating sighting today. I was scanning over the city centre mid afternoon when I saw a bird of prey heading steadily inland. I wasn't sure what it was at first but then realised the long, angled wings, short tail and 'paddling' flight were right for one of the Asio owls. It was a long way off though - a mile at its closest. The wings actually seemed relatively short and rounded so my suspicion is that it was a Long-eared Owl - too far away to be sure though. Presumably it was just in off the sea.

Also a couple of Bottle-nosed Dolphins in the harbour this afternoon.
Raptors never play the game right. All the interesting ones are either miles off or flying away from you. And how easy it is to lose them, despite their size.

There was a minor influx of Blackbirds (including more than a few females) at the weekend round my way. Several seen flying high in that neurotic way that Blackbirds have when they're migrating. But it's been a dull couple of weeks otherwise. I'm praying for a real cold snap to get things going.

Cheers,
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2007, 12:13   #144
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Red throated Diver,to the east of Victoria Bridge,on the River Dee 20 minutes ago.
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2007, 14:52   #145
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Red throated Diver,to the east of Victoria Bridge,on the River Dee 20 minutes ago.
There seem to be a few more coming into the harbour these last few days.

I finally managed to get a Redwing for the house list, one feeding a few gardens down. Also quite a few Blackbirds again.

I went to see the White-winged Black Tern at Loch of Skene again this afternoon. I only saw it briefly on the loch but later watched it feeding over the fields to the north of the loch. I wonder how much it's finding there.
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2007, 19:05   #146
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I went to see the White-winged Black Tern at Loch of Skene again this afternoon. I only saw it briefly on the loch but later watched it feeding over the fields to the north of the loch. I wonder how much it's finding there.
I finally succumbed and went to see the tern myself this evening. It goes against all my non-twitching instincts, but it was only 2 miles off my normal route home from work and it has been there for several days now!

It was quite an attractive little bird and sat on it's roosting platform the whole time I was there (about 45 minutes). I still think the arrival of about 5000 geese just before I left was more impressive though.
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2007, 20:14   #147
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Hey, the Purple Sands and Black Guillemots are local enough. -just kidding-vainly hoping to instill some discipline in to Peterborough's most notorious lister. Hope she might appreciate the local avifauna of the Tree and the Plotties instead of salivating over the prospect of increasing her year list

It's possible the WW Black Tern wasn't all that local. Just off patch, in fact.-well see if you can sweet talk it into staying for another week

Don't worry about Aggie - I've told all my neighbours I've got this mate from Edinburgh who's so hard he can take anyone Torry and that he's coming up in a couple of weeks. They were very impressed and have decided to form a welcoming committee. I'm sure you'll be relishing the challenge Dr G -we can just play your Slint and Fugazi CD's and that'll keep them at bay

Bur seriously it has been a pretty quiet autumn on the East coast of Scotland so far-though one or two good birds in the last week-let's hope it peaks in a week or so up in Aberdeenshire
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Old Thursday 25th October 2007, 15:57   #148
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Had my first town Woodcock of the winter (I see the odd one in the town centre about three or four times in a winter) over Greyfriars House, Broad Street car park east this morning at 09:10.

Also about fifty Fieldfare, in two groups, west at 08:30-45 this morning from the house.

Cheers,
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Old Thursday 25th October 2007, 18:26   #149
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Had my first town Woodcock of the winter (I see the odd one in the town centre about three or four times in a winter) over Greyfriars House, Broad Street car park east this morning at 09:10.

Also about fifty Fieldfare, in two groups, west at 08:30-45 this morning from the house.

Cheers,
Not really the Torry area but interesting all the same.
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Old Friday 26th October 2007, 18:39   #150
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It's quite good to hear of sightings that are within view of my Torry flat, even if they're outside of Torry.

I saw my first Woodcock of the autumn this morning - a bird flipping over the rooftops along Victoria Road. Even when you're half expecting them, Woodcocks are always a surprise.

This talk of thrushes reminds me that I finally managed to see my first Redwing from the flat a couple of days ago. I've seen a few more since.
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