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Western Scotland birding (1 Viewer)

JTweedie

Well-known member
Sunny start to the day. Went to Lochwinnoch (notwithstanding public transport problems).

When I got there the weather was really changeable with a few showers.

The reserve felt really quiet today. Unfortunately wasps have taken up residence in the hide overlooking the new scrape. I peeked in to see if I could see where the nest was and I think it was up in the roof and I'd imagine if you're not making wild movements then they'd leave you alone, but I saw them flying around inside and didn't fancy it. There's a fence extending out from the hide though with square windows cut into it, so at least I could still see the scrapes, but I'd not have a seat.

Highlights on the scrape were teal, little ringed plover (nesting here for the first time I believe - which was kept under wraps until the chick(s) appeared), common sandpiper, lapwing, oystercatcher. There's a small group of black-headed gulls on the scrape and in amongst them a Mediterranean gull, a lifer for me.

I spotted two ospreys circling high over Aird Meadow and heading towards Castle Semple Loch. Another person said they saw three ospreys at the same time - he was over on Castle Semple so would have been closer to the birds.

Other highlights include a house martin, many swallows, a few swifts. I saw my first spotted flycatchers of the year. At the feeder there were eight collared doves and a single siskin. I liked seeing the latter as it was unexpected. I used to see them often but since I moved into my flat I don't see them much.

There were lots of young birds around: moorhen, blue/coal/great tit, lapwing, oystercatcher, robin, little ringed plover.

The reserve reported nine different waders on the scrape earlier in the week, so it's obviously a big hit with the birds.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
Been a while since I've been able to get out birding. I caught a cold that knocked me out of action for three weeks. Normally you can weather a cold, but I don't know if it's because of lockdown and not being exposed to people as much, but this one hit harder than normal.

Yesterday I sent out on my first proper VSAS seabird survey since my training earlier in the year. I was on the Arran ferry again - a trip there and back recording seabird and other animals spotted from the ferry. I'd really like to do the Islay ferry but I'd need to be guarantee the bus and the ferry are always timed together.

It was much much quieter species-wise than when I did my training. Species spotted included: guillemot, gannet (these two made up the majority of birds spotted), kittiwake, common gull, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, black guillemot and shag. Lots of harbour porpoises, especially on the return trip and a common seal in Brodick bay and the water was teeming with lion's mane jellyfish - every minute of the trip in each direction there were jellyfish beside the ferry. I'd seen a really big one before but had never seen so many of this species in one place. Moon jellyfish are more commonly seen around the harbour at Ardrossan. I'd been hoping for some Manx shearwaters (they'd been sighted off a nearby seawatching hotspot the day before) and some more cetaceans or basking sharks, but no luck.

Today I went to Lochwinnoch. It was nice and warm although not too sunny. I saw representatives of four of the animal groups: mammals, amphibians, birds and insects. Highlight was a juvenile ruff which was a lifer for me. Other highlights were two pink-footed geese which have stayed on here all year round (in fact they're not often seen at Lochwinnoch as winter visitors, so I don't know where these came from), two stock doves, lots of lapwings. Only one barn swallow and one house martin. Two shoveler, a small group of gadwall, teal and mallard. Two nuthatch (it's amazing to think that only a few years ago you'd never have seen these here). No sign of the spotted flycatchers at their usual site. No sighting or sound from any warblers.

A tiny common frog was the amphibian.

Loads of insects around including four butterfly species: small tortoiseshell, red admiral, peacock and one of the white butterflies but I couldn't determine the species. A common darter dragonfly (photo) was another highlight. There's a new pond where a lot of dragon and damselflies were hawking around, but the hide is around 10 metres away so hard to tell what species they were. An old lady moth (photo) was resting in the hide I was in, and a white ermine moth caterpillar crossed the path.

And finally a couple of bank voles made up the mammal contingent.

20220828-common-darter-lochwinnoch.jpg 20220828-old-lady-lochwinnoch.jpg
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
Spotted a few redwing this morning flying over my house.

Reports of increasing numbers of winter arrivals across the Clyde area, with fieldfare, barnacle and pink-footed geese spotted.

I'd imagine the east coast has been watching the migrants arrive for a while now.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
Just read that the local recorder for the Clyde area for 40 years, Iain Gibson, has died on Sunday.

Didn't know him personally but his name was on a lot of correspondence I've read down the years.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
I spotted two magpies physically fighting this morning. They were pinning each other down to the ground and one of them eventually came on top and held the other down for at least a couple of minutes. But while all this was happening, six other magpies were stood perched on fences watching the fighting happening.

A few minutes later the magpie that won the fight started intimidating other magpies, walking along the fence and forcing them to fly off.

Quite a show they put on.
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
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Scotland
That really must have been wonderful to watch!!!

Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
I'm still working from home but have begun going back in to the office on a Wednesday. So I was up earlier than normal this morning and sitting next to my living room window with a cup of tea and just happened to glance a treecreeper on the trunk of a tree opposite. It flitted over to another tree and then disappeared round the other side of the trunk and then I didn't see it again.

The only place I irregularly see treecreepers is at Lochwinnoch where there's a narrow but long strip of mature woodland. So to see one from my window, in a couple of trees in a very small copse in the grounds of a school was such a total surprise.

There was another visit from a local raven and it was good to see the local song thrush make an appearance too. Definitely feels like winter now with the birds much more visible in the bare trees.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
I was just thinking of Hogganfield today and wondering when I'd next go up. It has such a large build-up of wintering wildfowl every year and they often congregate together near the car park so it'll be so easy for the virus to spread.
 

LittleBitOfBreadNoCheese

Well-known member
Scotland

LittleBitOfBreadNoCheese

Well-known member
Scotland
I set off at 6am for Ardmore Point but ScotRail had other ideas so I had to switch to Port Glasgow instead. One of the main aims was to get more Eider distribution map points (and get my first one of the year too). Luck was in as I saw masses of them and a close pair of Red breasted Mergansers too. This is the most upstream I've seen Eider, having not seen any once before at Cardross/southern shore of Ardmore. Attached is my map with green map points for Eider and red crosses for places where I didn't see any. Some of the latter I may just have been unlucky or lacking a scope but based on info in the SOC app I think Finlaystone just upstream of Port Glasgow is about as far as they come on the south bank.

Eider-map.png
 
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JTweedie

Well-known member
I went to Lochwinnoch yesterday, my first visit of the year. I'd hoped to go last weekend, but train strikes meant there was no way to get there.

There had been a reports of a couple of Barnacle Geese around but I had no luck with them, and neither did I see the Bittern that's been around the area for a while now, although there were people in the visitor centre viewing tower who had seen it not long before I arrived.

The water was really high. There's a measuring pole in the water and it wasn't far off the top - once it goes above the local road usually floods. The scrapes, the little pond that teem with dragonflies in summer and the main Aird Meadow had all become one body of water. Barr Loch across the road had also risen up and flooded the path so there was no way along there unless you had wellies or waders on, and with a strong current from the loch I wouldn't advise it anyway!

These are all the species I saw, most of which are year firsts: Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Cormorant, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Raven, Robin, Siskin, Snipe, Teal, Tufted Duck, Whooper Swan, Wood Pigeon.

Despite the flood and the weather, which included sleet and driving rain, the birds were really active. The Raven was actually seen from the train about a minute out from the station and one of them was doing that thing where they tuck their wings in and do a barrel-roll.
 
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burnie

Well-known member
Beavers have been introduced to the RSPB Loch Lomond.

I like that they're starting to be found in such widespread locations now.
I'm a little uneasy about this scatter gun approach, some animals are appearing in places where there is little food for them, I worry these animals may suffer, too much haste in certain cases I fear.
 

burnie

Well-known member
I'm sure there is in some cases, but there is one area on the Dean water, between Forfar and Meigle that has so little in the way of food sources, they may have to resort to eating the farmers barn.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
I'm sure there is in some cases, but there is one area on the Dean water, between Forfar and Meigle that has so little in the way of food sources, they may have to resort to eating the farmers barn.
Beavers are perfectly happy eating herbaceous plants in spring/summer/autumn, only really needing branches to get through winter. They will bring those some distance to store them below water level.

Wide distributions of any animal will have lacunae in them but animals will traverse those during dispersal.

John
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
I saw my first flowering daffodils today, always a noteworthy date.

My first flowering snowdrops were on 4 February and while I didn't note the exact date, the first crocuses were around a week later.

I've had a cold since last Friday, the worst I've had in years so I've not been able to get out, so really happy to spot the daffodils today.
 

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