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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 14:27   #1
Andrew Whitehouse
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Birds fae Torry

As I've recently moved house, I thought I'd start a thread detailing what I see from my new place. I'm now living in Torry, on the south side of Aberdeen harbour, and from the bedroom of my third floor flat I've got great views over the city and out to sea. I'll also mention any birding I do in the nearby area, which in this case is Girdle Ness - the peninsula that runs out from Torry and into the North Sea.

After a week in the flat, my house list has climbed up to 45. Not too bad, particularly considering the conditions haven't been all that favourable. Here's a preliminary house list to get us started:

Red-throated Diver
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Grey Heron
Mute Swan
Pink-footed Goose
Mallard
Eider
Common Scoter
Sparrowhawk
Oystercatcher
Knot
Common Redshank
Turnstone
Arctic Skua
Great Skua
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Sandwich Tern
Guillemot
Razorbill
Woodpigeon
Collared Dove
Swallow
House Martin
Rock Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Robin
Blackbird
Blue Tit
Magpie
Jackdow
Carrion Crow
Starling
House Sparrow
Greenfinch
Goldfinch
Linnet

So some good birds there, although nothing that's surprised me too much and plenty of easy things still to get. It's relatively easy to see quite a few seabirds, although the open sea is the best part of a mile away. Arctic Skuas have appeared three times, harrassing the terns and Kittiwakes that frequent the harbour mouth. A Bonxie drifted through on one occasion and a single Manx Shearwater flew north well out to sea. Commoner seabirds are often closer in, with good numbers of auks in the harbour at the moment and lots of gulls, Cormorants and Shags. Waders have been a bit harder to see, and there's only really one quite distant area - a concrete platform by one of the harbour breakwaters - where they can be seen feeding. Today I managed four species there, including four Knot. There was a little bit of evidence of visible migration early in the morning, with a few Meadow Pipits going over. Yesterday I saw the first flock of Pink-footed Geese, coming in off the sea and over Girdle Ness. Perhaps the most impressive sight so far have been the Bottle-nosed Dolphins. These are regularly found around the mouth of the harbour and at least half a dozen, including a mother and calf, have been scything through the waters over the past couple of days, attended by a crowd of gulls.

I'll post a few pictures later, together with some thoughts on what I might manage to see in the future.
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 14:39   #2
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The first picture shows the view out to sea and the outer part of the harbour. You can just about see the northern edge of the Girdle Ness peninsula. Try to imagine a few dolphins leaping out the water and you're just about there.

The second picture is the view out over the harbour and the throbbing heart of the Granite City beyond. Haven't seen too much looking in this direction yet.

The third picture shows the garden. Not too exciting but you never know. I might start putting out a bit of food during the winter, although this will probably be of most benefit to the thriving local Feral Pigeon population. The fourth picture shows a nice scruffy patch a few doors down. I've high hopes for there being a skulking Barred Warbler in here, although so far it mostly just harbours a few idle House Sparrows.
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 14:55   #3
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Nice one Andrew... 'bout time we had some reports from 'up there'.

Tell me, were you a bit tipsy or is that last photo of a verrrry steep hill

D
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 15:02   #4
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I can only really take the picture of that bit from a fairly awkward angle - it's actually pretty flat. Honest!
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 15:04   #5
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OK I'll believe you... now there's just the question of um... spelling to sort out o

D
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 15:33   #6
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I'm not jealous. Nope. Not at all. Not even a little bit. I mean it's not as if I still need Bonxie for my year list or anything. Oh no, not jealous at all.

*goes very green
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 15:44   #7
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I'll be watching this one with interest Andrew. As you may know I used to have an office even closer to my local patch of Girdleness in the building on the left of the first photo. By the time i left Aberdeen I had amassed a Girdleness list of 195 and my office window list included both Hobby and Red-footed Falcon so you've got a little while to go yet! Still if you get any South-easterlies over the next couple of weeks I'd put a bet on Yellow-browed ahead of Barred Warbler.

Cheers,

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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 15:50   #8
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Originally Posted by StuartReeves View Post
I'll be watching this one with interest Andrew. As you may know I used to have an office even closer to my local patch of Girdleness in the building on the left of the first photo. By the time i left Aberdeen I had amassed a Girdleness list of 195 and my office window list included both Hobby and Red-footed Falcon so you've got a little while to go yet! Still if you get any South-easterlies over the next couple of weeks I'd put a bet on Yellow-browed ahead of Barred Warbler.

Cheers,

Stuart
Interesting stuff Stuart - my Girdle Ness list is only just over 100, so I've some way to go on that. Will do my best though! The winds look like they might get a bit more interesting during the next week so perhaps some more unusual stuff will be on its way. I suspect you might be right with YB Warbler.
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 19:41   #9
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The sea was pretty quiet throughout today, although there was a brief flurry of juvenile Gannets heading through late in the afternoon. Enlivening things a bit were two Arctic Skuas, heading north but pausing briefly for informal negotations with a few Kittiwakes.
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 20:05   #10
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The sea was pretty quiet throughout today, although there was a brief flurry of juvenile Gannets heading through late in the afternoon. Enlivening things a bit were two Arctic Skuas, heading north but pausing briefly for informal negotations with a few Kittiwakes.
I was there today from 13:30 too. I had lots of juvenile Gannets and a couple of Arctics too. Also 42 Pinkfeet S and loads of Divers, including at least one Great Northern. They were put up by two guys on jetskis. Actually today was one of the noisiest birdwatching days I've had there.

I think I ticked you there a couple of weeks ago, though you may not have seen me.

Cheers,
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 20:10   #11
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I was there today from 13:30 too. I had lots of juvenile Gannets and a couple of Arctics too. Also 42 Pinkfeet S and loads of Divers, including at least one Great Northern. They were put up by two guys on jetskis. Actually today was one of the noisiest birdwatching days I've had there.

I think I ticked you there a couple of weeks ago, though you may not have seen me.

Cheers,
Hi Phil - I think I saw the jet skiiers but not the GND! The only diver I saw today was a single Red-throated this morning.

I forgot to add earlier, one rather prosaic house tick - a Chaffinch.
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 20:29   #12
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Hi Phil - I think I saw the jet skiiers but not the GND! The only diver I saw today was a single Red-throated this morning.

I forgot to add earlier, one rather prosaic house tick - a Chaffinch.
I've been really unlucky with the passage at Girdleness this year. When I can get off work, nothing's moving, and when I go back, Great Shearwaters waltz by, flocks of Sooties strut their stuff impudently and so on. However the law of averages must mean I get one good day there this autumn. Time is running out, though.

Cheers,
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 20:30   #13
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Have seen a Woodcock on the lane at the back of your new house,after an Autumn gale.By the way,Im a "Torry Loon" born and bred.
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 20:40   #14
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I've been really unlucky with the passage at Girdleness this year. When I can get off work, nothing's moving, and when I go back, Great Shearwaters waltz by, flocks of Sooties strut their stuff impudently and so on. However the law of averages must mean I get one good day there this autumn. Time is running out, though.

Cheers,
I've also been rather ill-starred, although did manage a few Sooties on one occasion. There were two Great Shears past the morning I moved in (not seen by me inevitably) but there's been nothing much since. The forecast is looking a bit more promising this week, so perhaps my luck will change. At least now I'm in a good position to get to the action quickly!
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 21:30   #15
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Looks like a nice spot Andrew-and glad to see you are building up your list in the correct order with the commons first unlike some other reprobates.

No doubt you will be having your flatwarming on the weekend of the 3rd/4th Nov
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 21:33   #16
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Looks like a nice spot Andrew-and glad to see you are building up your list in the correct order with the commons first unlike some other reprobates.

No doubt you will be having your flatwarming on the weekend of the 3rd/4th Nov
It's the only way I'll appreciate the rares when they come. Which might be later this week, judging by the looks of the forecast. I'd better make sure I've seen all the appropriate common stuff pretty sharpish.

Hmm, maybe we will do something for that weekend. Do you have anything planned yourself?
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 21:34   #17
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Have seen a Woodcock on the lane at the back of your new house,after an Autumn gale.By the way,Im a "Torry Loon" born and bred.
Woodcock is one I'll have an eye out for if we get some easterlies over the next couple of months. I've seen some in some pretty unlikely situations here in Aberdeen. I'm kind of hoping one puts down in the garden.
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Old Saturday 22nd September 2007, 21:47   #18
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It's the only way I'll appreciate the rares when they come. Which might be later this week, judging by the looks of the forecast. I'd better make sure I've seen all the appropriate common stuff pretty sharpish.

Hmm, maybe we will do something for that weekend. Do you have anything planned yourself?
Hope to come up with my brother for the BF weekend as that seems the likely date now
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2007, 09:04   #19
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Looks like I might need to invest in a few more chairs for the flat by November.

A bit of seawatching in the early morning murk produced a pale phase Arctic Skua and a Bonxie both going south off the mouth of the harbour. Also a Common Scoter north and a Red-throated Diver south. Four Teal flying around the harbour were a house tick. Also added to the burgeoning list were a Grey Wagtail on the warehouse roof opposite and a Redpoll briefly seen and heard as it flew over. The Bottle-nosed Dolphins were in action once more, impressing the judges with some synchronised breaching. At least five were around.

It's a bit sunnier now. I might even go out later.
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2007, 16:36   #20
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12 Swallows together this afternoon on Balnagask Road.Might just be my last ones for the year.
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2007, 16:47   #21
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12 Swallows together this afternoon on Balnagask Road. Might just be my last ones for the year.
There have been quite a few over the centre of town today battling the breeze, and some House Martins over Mannofield (gone down from 12-15 to about 6 in the last week). Difficult to say if the Swallows are migrants. They've been going in all directions.

Now's the time to start to scrutinise any Swift very carefully.

Cheers,
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2007, 20:29   #22
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Still plenty of Swallows about today, although no other hirundines. I've seen both House and Sand Martins around Girdle Ness during the week though.

In addition to inheriting Girdle Ness as a patch from Stuart Reeves, I've also inherited his old WEBS count from Cove Bay to Nigg Bay. It's a nice walk along the clifftops but doesn't usually hold too many birds. Today was probably quieter than usual with the undoubted highlight, and I say this in all seriousness, being a flock of no fewer than 25 Lapwings. Certainly the most I've seen on the count and only 19,975 short of being internationally important. Other stuff included a single Purple Sandpiper, my second of the autumn, at Greg Ness and nearly 200 Pink-feet going south in two flocks. I had a quick seawatch from Greg Ness and managed 'the usual' Arctic Skua and Bonxie and a couple of juvenile Arctic Terns. Not too much to add from the flat, although the dolphins were around all morning. I finally located a Curlew on a patch of shore near Footdee. Up until now they've been mocking me from just out of sight but this one wasn't following orders. That's 49 species on the house list now. There was also a veritable cavalcade of Grey Wagtails, with at least two and probably three knocking about on the warehouse roof opposite late morning.
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2007, 20:33   #23
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If this thread wets your appetite for birding in northeast Scotland (or maybe even for hanging out with fellow BF members) you might like to come along to the next Scottish bash in early November. Bird-packed action guaranteed. Or at least fairly likely. If there's an easterly.
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=97025
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2007, 20:45   #24
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I finally located a Curlew on a patch of shore near Footdee. Up until now they've been mocking me from just out of sight but this one wasn't following orders. That's 49 species on the house list now.
I had a Curlew from my kitchen window today. Oddly, since I live about a mile north of the River Dee, and a couple of miles from the sea, waders have been very infrequent over the middle of Aberdeen as visible migrants in the years I've been here. Golden Plovers swarm round the Ythan, a mere hop up the coast, yet I've not seen even one in six years of almost daily watching over the town. Lapwing is hardly commoner. I've seen terns, divers, ducks and geese from the kitchen, but hardly any waders. Most strange.

When I lived in Edinburgh, large waders such as Curlew and Lapwing were occasional flyovers, sometimes in numbers. They must surely pass over Aberdeen somewhere from time to time, but I'm blasted if I know where.

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Old Sunday 23rd September 2007, 21:38   #25
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I've seen pretty much no waders over the city apart from the usual Oycs.

Which reminds me of something else I saw today and also provides an opportunity to introduce a local bird celebrity: The Freak. The Freak can normally be found in the Nigg Bay area, although I've once seen him (or her as we must add in these politically correct times) at Donmouth. Today he (or she) was at Greg Ness.

Behold The Freak!!!
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