For various reasons, I have been a little lax in putting up any reports of our Wanderings over the this years first winter months. So here are the highlights.
The 9th of January saw us (Stonefaction and I) touring the lower Angus area. This produced a lifer for me in Carnoustie with a Green-Necked Parakeet. It feels strange seeing such a bird like this in Scotland, in wintertime. It almost had a novelty feel to it, however, it was a smart looking bird, and very welcome. Also on the 9th, we found Green Sandpiper at Monikie, Twite and Little Egret at and relocated the Black Redstart at Arbroath.
The 6th of Feb saw us doing a tour of North East Fife. We were hoping for Merlin at Tentsmuir, but we first stopped off at a field near Leuchars to try and find Grey Partridge. There were no Grey Partridge there, but amazingly, there sat in the middle of the field was a ........Merlin.
We continued to Tentsmuir as there were still plenty of potential targets there. Walking along the dunes from the car park, we found my first Fife Green Woodpecker, but hoped for Snow Bunting evaded us.
A visit out to the Crail area produced our second Merlin of the day. We had popped into Kilminning, again in the hope of a Grey Partridge, and again we had found a Merlin instead. This one was busy chasing a Skylark. Both birds gave an amazing aerial display, wheeling and turning low over the car park. The Skylark with Merlin n right on its tail feathers was actually heard to be singing as it flew for its life. As far as we could see, the Skylark won its battle.
Ending our day at the Eden Estuary, a quick walk out along the Balgove golf course produced Brent Geese.
On the 13th Feb, we made our first visit of the year to the Angus Glens. A passing eagle would have been nice, however, we were well pleased with both Red and Black Grouse, along with our first Red Kite of the year. On the way back, we dropped in at Kinnordy to successfully find a Brambling at the feeders.
Which brings us to the day before yesterday. Again the Angus area was chosen, with Little Gull at Monikie being the prime and first target. Arriving at Monikie, we were soon aware of gull activity with plenty of BHG sounding off. It was not long though before Barry picked to what looked like a distant Little Gull, over the far end of the main water body. We hiked up the bank side path to get a better look, and found that the group of birds that we thought contained a Little Gull had moved back towards the direction we had come from. Watching for a while though, we realised that some gulls over the water were potentially Little Gulls. A BHG joined the four birds we were looking at, and the contrast along with long range photos helped confirm four Little Gulls. A good start to the day.
Next stop was a new site to me. Cromrie Country Park. A circuit of the main water gave us plenty of birds, although nothing unexpected for the time of year. At one point we thought we heard Tawny Owl in a stand of conifers, but extensive investigation did not reveal the birds. Moving on to Montreathmont Forest, we only made a short stop, but it was enough to give me Lesser Redpoll as another year first.
Finally, We headed for Kinnordy, stopping at Balgavies Loch on the way. Both were still sitting largely in winter stupor, although the feeling of impending spring was strong. A few more weeks I think will make a huge difference.
After dropping Barry off in Dundee, I made a slight diversion to Leuchars in search of Waxwing. I had done the same thing in the morning on my way to pick Barry up. Waxwings had been reported in the station area the previous few days, but neither of my visits produced anything. Next day of course, they were reported there again. Don't birds drive you bonkers?