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The Rich Tapestry Of Birds (1 Viewer)

Been a while since I last posted folks, so, where was I?

Chances are, I was in the East. I swear, my dodgy guttural Lanarkshire accent is going to start changing if I spend much more time on the East Coast. I'm not sure that the world is ready for a hybrid Cambuslang x Musselburgh accent though.

Anyway, booked time off work for the Friday after my Loch Leven/ Musselburgh trip. My instinct that autumn migrant- time was approaching was getting stronger. I'm probably preaching to the choir that birders get a 6th sense for stuff sometimes. Decided to use my day off productively by going back to Musselburgh. Being a work day, public transport was called upon.

Scotrail successfully got me to Musselburgh on Friday. Anyway, took my usual stroll along the River Esk through the town centre. Nothing unusual, but by the time I got to the benches near the cadet hut it was time to set up the scope. A high- pitched whistling Kingfishery noise caught my attention, but I couldn't see anything. Eventually, the KF appeared, landing on a branch that had been exposed by the outgoing tide. Watched it struggle to turn a fish around, then eventually it flew over to my bank, so was out of sight. The better light made it much more stunning than the one I got at the Haugh. Good start to the day.

The tide was pretty far out, with loads of gulls on the mud as you'd expect. I counted a half dozen or so GBB Gulls looking big, tough and like they'd take dinner money off school kids. Numbers of Redshank on the mud as well, and a dozen sandwich tern sitting together. Great view through the scope (gift of sight restored) Rest of the walk to the scrapes was uneventful, but once there, the day definitely picked up. Starting off in the middle hide, got loads of Dunlin, in various stages of plumage. Redshank, shelduck, oycs, bar- tailed godwits aplenty. Pied wags rapidly became a distraction, but no sign of the yellow wag that had been reported earlier. Onto the left- hand hide. Local bird expert and all- round good guy Dave Allan was there, and I was hopeful that my "Dave Allan is my lucky charm" streak would continue. Good views of blackwit, a common sand that dropped in out of nowhere, and the bird of the day- Little Stint. Conveniently standing next to a Dunlin, for size comparison. The fact that I automatically associate little stint with Dunlin was strangely pleasing. turns out I do remember some things. I am pretty sure I got a grey plover as well, but not sure enough to record it. I've already had one this year, so I can afford to be sniffy about it. The walk back along the sea wall/ sea fence was uneventful, and the journey back home from Waverley was filled with pleasant dreams.

A flying visit to Baron's Haugh a couple of days later was a bonus couple of hours outdoors. Nothing new, but did get green sand, greenshank, dunlin (not as nice as the Musselburgh ones) blackwit, ruff, and snipe. Snipe really are stunning looking birds- I've never really appreciated them before the gift of sight was restored. I didn't have time to visit Frankfield Loch in the East End of Glasgow for the pectoral sandpiper. Didn't feel too bad about it.....cos as you know, I'm not a twitcher.....

....which is why, being at a loose end the next week, I found myself catching 2 trains to Frankfield Loch. I convinced myself that it wasn't really a twitch as there were loads of other birds both there and at the close- by Hogganfield. Anyway, I non- twitched successfully, the pec sand showed wonderfully well. Nice year tick, but I also enjoyed seeing the 30- ish snipe, the shoveler, and the ruff which strutted about. A good afternoon spent soaking up bird life- basically, Green Sand got the best of both worlds.

Not being a twitcher, I don't fret too much about my year list. I like to see as many as possible, but only in the context of 'birdlife.' The Pec Sand, though, was my 140 for the year- during the 3 months of working weekends at the start of the year- actually, even during my quieter-than expected Caerlaverock trip- 140 for the year seemed unrealistic.

I casually compared birding trips with my birding mate Bill. I signed off with "next time you're heading East, gimme a shout, we'll make a day of it."

And what a day it was.

My east coast jaunts were, bar Loch Leven, restricted to Lothian. Bill devised a Big Fife Day Out guaranteed to offer birds and craic in equal measure. I've barely set foot in Fife ever, so it was going to be a voyage of discovery. First up was Fife Ness- a place I've heard of and seen mentioned. Conveniently placed benches allowed some sea watching in comfort. The visit, though, had started off with a spotted flycatcher on a telephone wire- which proved that any bird can turn up anywhere. The seawatch got notable numbers of gannet, plus razorbills, guillemots and fulmar. A peregrine flew in off the sea (see prev. comment about birds turning up anywhere) and a ruff pottered about on the rocks. A sparrowhawk flew overhead at one point. Due to the former Queen lying in state in Edinburgh, there was a no- fly zone in place and it was fun watching RAF fighters flying combat air patrols. Got a bit strange when a USAF B-52 bomber appeared mind, but fairly sure that couldn't be ticked.

The next site to visit was the nearby Kilminning SWT. Some more seawatching got pale- bellied Brent Geese, year tick for me, plus more of the expected species. Further back in the reserve a couple of locals put us onto redstart- year tick 2 and a bird i'd given up on. 2 year ticks in September, not too shabby.

A stop off at Coal Farm in St Monan's didn't get the hoped- for Corn Bunting, but did get linnet, yellowhammer and tree sparrow. Definitely not to be sneezed at. Next, and ultimately final stop was Kinghorn for more sea watching. You know I like 'bird life?' This was carnage! Gannets in a frenzy, common tern showing well, Arctic skua caused chaos, and best of all, a Long- tailed skua. Life for me, second lifer of the year as well, and definitely unexpected. Great end to a great day.
_________

he Big Fife Day Out was, in all probability, the last big day out of any description until January. Sure, other trips have been and will be had, but this seemed like the perfect denouement to birding adventures for this year. Looking at it, I realise that this, my local trips, my train- trips East, jaunts to the Haugh and even my non- twitchy twitches all add quality to my birding year. The sum total of birding experiences create the rich patchwork, the rich tapestry of birding life. As individuals we're the sum total of our experiences, and as birders, we should be too.

I've said before how much I love Spring and anticipating the re- emergence of life, but ironically, I have a really strong emotional attachment to Autumn. The swiftly darkening evenings, the stormy weather, plus the build up to my November birthday then Christmas, have a definite appeal. Its also the time of year where my thoughts jump forward to January- the start of the new birding year, where everything starts afresh. I get the chance to plan, to expect, to worry (bird flu hasn't gone away) and to hope. Will next year be as good/ better than this? Will be this lucky again? What state will the natural world be in? Dark evenings are spent reading bird books, magazines, and doing birdy stuff online (like this, I suppose) and immersing myself through my imagination now that doing it physically isn't really an option. T

Birding never stops, though, so more of my reasonably- sized days out will follow.

Stay healthy, stay safe folks.

John
 

StephenL

Member
Been a while since I last posted folks, so, where was I?

Chances are, I was in the East. I swear, my dodgy guttural Lanarkshire accent is going to start changing if I spend much more time on the East Coast. I'm not sure that the world is ready for a hybrid Cambuslang x Musselburgh accent though.

Anyway, booked time off work for the Friday after my Loch Leven/ Musselburgh trip. My instinct that autumn migrant- time was approaching was getting stronger. I'm probably preaching to the choir that birders get a 6th sense for stuff sometimes. Decided to use my day off productively by going back to Musselburgh. Being a work day, public transport was called upon.

Scotrail successfully got me to Musselburgh on Friday. Anyway, took my usual stroll along the River Esk through the town centre. Nothing unusual, but by the time I got to the benches near the cadet hut it was time to set up the scope. A high- pitched whistling Kingfishery noise caught my attention, but I couldn't see anything. Eventually, the KF appeared, landing on a branch that had been exposed by the outgoing tide. Watched it struggle to turn a fish around, then eventually it flew over to my bank, so was out of sight. The better light made it much more stunning than the one I got at the Haugh. Good start to the day.

The tide was pretty far out, with loads of gulls on the mud as you'd expect. I counted a half dozen or so GBB Gulls looking big, tough and like they'd take dinner money off school kids. Numbers of Redshank on the mud as well, and a dozen sandwich tern sitting together. Great view through the scope (gift of sight restored) Rest of the walk to the scrapes was uneventful, but once there, the day definitely picked up. Starting off in the middle hide, got loads of Dunlin, in various stages of plumage. Redshank, shelduck, oycs, bar- tailed godwits aplenty. Pied wags rapidly became a distraction, but no sign of the yellow wag that had been reported earlier. Onto the left- hand hide. Local bird expert and all- round good guy Dave Allan was there, and I was hopeful that my "Dave Allan is my lucky charm" streak would continue. Good views of blackwit, a common sand that dropped in out of nowhere, and the bird of the day- Little Stint. Conveniently standing next to a Dunlin, for size comparison. The fact that I automatically associate little stint with Dunlin was strangely pleasing. turns out I do remember some things. I am pretty sure I got a grey plover as well, but not sure enough to record it. I've already had one this year, so I can afford to be sniffy about it. The walk back along the sea wall/ sea fence was uneventful, and the journey back home from Waverley was filled with pleasant dreams.

A flying visit to Baron's Haugh a couple of days later was a bonus couple of hours outdoors. Nothing new, but did get green sand, greenshank, dunlin (not as nice as the Musselburgh ones) blackwit, ruff, and snipe. Snipe really are stunning looking birds- I've never really appreciated them before the gift of sight was restored. I didn't have time to visit Frankfield Loch in the East End of Glasgow for the pectoral sandpiper. Didn't feel too bad about it.....cos as you know, I'm not a twitcher.....

....which is why, being at a loose end the next week, I found myself catching 2 trains to Frankfield Loch. I convinced myself that it wasn't really a twitch as there were loads of other birds both there and at the close- by Hogganfield. Anyway, I non- twitched successfully, the pec sand showed wonderfully well. Nice year tick, but I also enjoyed seeing the 30- ish snipe, the shoveler, and the ruff which strutted about. A good afternoon spent soaking up bird life- basically, Green Sand got the best of both worlds.

Not being a twitcher, I don't fret too much about my year list. I like to see as many as possible, but only in the context of 'birdlife.' The Pec Sand, though, was my 140 for the year- during the 3 months of working weekends at the start of the year- actually, even during my quieter-than expected Caerlaverock trip- 140 for the year seemed unrealistic.

I casually compared birding trips with my birding mate Bill. I signed off with "next time you're heading East, gimme a shout, we'll make a day of it."

And what a day it was.

My east coast jaunts were, bar Loch Leven, restricted to Lothian. Bill devised a Big Fife Day Out guaranteed to offer birds and craic in equal measure. I've barely set foot in Fife ever, so it was going to be a voyage of discovery. First up was Fife Ness- a place I've heard of and seen mentioned. Conveniently placed benches allowed some sea watching in comfort. The visit, though, had started off with a spotted flycatcher on a telephone wire- which proved that any bird can turn up anywhere. The seawatch got notable numbers of gannet, plus razorbills, guillemots and fulmar. A peregrine flew in off the sea (see prev. comment about birds turning up anywhere) and a ruff pottered about on the rocks. A sparrowhawk flew overhead at one point. Due to the former Queen lying in state in Edinburgh, there was a no- fly zone in place and it was fun watching RAF fighters flying combat air patrols. Got a bit strange when a USAF B-52 bomber appeared mind, but fairly sure that couldn't be ticked.

The next site to visit was the nearby Kilminning SWT. Some more seawatching got pale- bellied Brent Geese, year tick for me, plus more of the expected species. Further back in the reserve a couple of locals put us onto redstart- year tick 2 and a bird i'd given up on. 2 year ticks in September, not too shabby.

A stop off at Coal Farm in St Monan's didn't get the hoped- for Corn Bunting, but did get linnet, yellowhammer and tree sparrow. Definitely not to be sneezed at. Next, and ultimately final stop was Kinghorn for more sea watching. You know I like 'bird life?' This was carnage! Gannets in a frenzy, common tern showing well, Arctic skua caused chaos, and best of all, a Long- tailed skua. Life for me, second lifer of the year as well, and definitely unexpected. Great end to a great day.
_________

he Big Fife Day Out was, in all probability, the last big day out of any description until January. Sure, other trips have been and will be had, but this seemed like the perfect denouement to birding adventures for this year. Looking at it, I realise that this, my local trips, my train- trips East, jaunts to the Haugh and even my non- twitchy twitches all add quality to my birding year. The sum total of birding experiences create the rich patchwork, the rich tapestry of birding life. As individuals we're the sum total of our experiences, and as birders, we should be too.

I've said before how much I love Spring and anticipating the re- emergence of life, but ironically, I have a really strong emotional attachment to Autumn. The swiftly darkening evenings, the stormy weather, plus the build up to my November birthday then Christmas, have a definite appeal. Its also the time of year where my thoughts jump forward to January- the start of the new birding year, where everything starts afresh. I get the chance to plan, to expect, to worry (bird flu hasn't gone away) and to hope. Will next year be as good/ better than this? Will be this lucky again? What state will the natural world be in? Dark evenings are spent reading bird books, magazines, and doing birdy stuff online (like this, I suppose) and immersing myself through my imagination now that doing it physically isn't really an option. T

Birding never stops, though, so more of my reasonably- sized days out will follow.

Stay healthy, stay safe folks.

John
Hi John, another great read and I really enjoy reading about your trips.

Cheers,
Stephen
 

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