Having arrived home late last night, I'd decided that heading off for a full day's birding somewhere was not going to be wise. Having had a lie in, I arrived at Seafield car park at 09:40 hrs, and was instantly attracted to the large numbers of gulls, where the Tiel Burn crossed the exposed sands to enter the sea.
I headed along the back of the beach to the burn disturbing several Carrion Crows, and noting that the old bus depot buildings had been demolished. A man-made hillock of red brick sat in the middle of the cleared ground. On the hillock sat several Feral Pigeons, who had probably once inhabited the old depot buildings. As far as I could tell, they did not look happy.
Scanning the assembled masses of gulls, I found mainly Black-headed and Herring Gull, but with a sprinkling of Great Black-Backed and the odd Common. Alas, no Little or Mediterranean Gulls that had been reported in the week. Also present on the sands were Oystercatcher and the odd Redshank. Out on the choppy waters, only Eider were initially in evidence.
Turning back from the burn, I headed back to the car park, adding a Mute Swan that flew over, to the list, and the first Blackbird of the day. Exiting the car park to head towards the tower, I noted some sparrows heading in and out of the dense scrub. It was no surprise as I often saw House Sparrows at this spot, but There was something not right. I tried to get a better view, but the birds kept moving away and diving deeper into their bushy lair. Eventually they burst out of their hiding place and flew overhead and away into the bushes and small trees at the back of the car park. I headed after them, and after several minutes of trying, I got a clear view of some of them. My suspicions were confirmed as the birds were Tree Sparrows. Only my second sighting of this species on the strip.
With the sparrows identified, I headed off down the coastal path. By the time I reached the harbour, I'd found Dunnock, House Sparrow, Song Thrush, Goldfinch and Magpie.
Near the gardens over-looking the harbour, I spotted a couple of Bullfinch. The male was being stalked by a cat creeping across the lawn. I clapped my hands and both finch and cat froze, staring down at me. The silence was only broken when a loudly barking dog charged across the lawn at the cat, chasing it, and inadvertently, the finches, off.
Starling was the next bird found, then out on the waters a few Guillemot appeared. Probably blown into the Forth by last weeks easterly storm winds, these were the survivors, unlike the several dead auks I found along the shoreline, with a dead Gannet also.
Also on the water at this point I found both Cormorant and Shag. On the rocks, I found Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Curlew before I reached the tower.
Beyond the tower, I walked as far as Bullfinch Cove, adding only a singing Skylark, Yellowhammer and Woodpigeon, before finding a personal patch tick when I spotted a group of Kittiwake on the water in front of the north end of Lime Kiln Beach.
Heading back, I only added a Wren to the day's list.
The storms had thrown a lot of seaweed and rubbish up onto the shoreline. I took the opportunity of finding an old washed up backpack, by filling it with plastic rubbish (bottles, caps, fishing netting, plastic weave sacking, plastic cutlery, hypodermic syringe and needle etc) and binning it at the car park. It felt like scratching the surface, but I felt better for doing it. I usually only grab a few bottles on by walks back, or maybe a handful of micro plastics and cotton bud stems off the sands, but this year I am determined to give a bit more back to this area which has given so much to me, by clearing a lot more of the rubbish that the birds have to live amongst.