Sunday, 22 January 2012

Lothian year list hits 100 with Water Rail

I have been lucky to manage some great birding over the last couple of weekends, and as a result my yearlist topped 100 today. I started the day on 98 and headed first for Duddingston to listen for Water Rail and maybe fluke a Bittern. No luck on either so I nipped into Figgate Park. Four Goosander and a singing Dipper were nice, but no sign of the Kingfishers or Shoveler, my two target species, so no additions to the year list there.

En route to Aberlady Bay, I had a quick seawatch from Ferny Ness. Some Long-tailed Ducks were showing well, but the water was a little choppy and four kite surfers were doing their wildlife-scaring best to reduce our local biodiversity. A quick stop at Seton failed to produce any Mediterranean Gulls but a group of about 25 Golden Plovers were whizzing around - a nice surprise 99th Lothian species for the year.

As I pulled into Aberlady Bay, I felt sure that I would soon hit the 100 mark. The tide was extremely far out so I decided to leave scanning the estuary for another time. Instead I thought I could head towards the dunes. As I hit the sea buckthorn tunnel I thought about the number of times I had walked through it always in the hope of stumbling upon some unusual avian waif. Well I wasn't expecting a Water Rail but there it was in the middle of the path as I rounded a corner. It scuttled into the buckthorn and I assumed that was it, but in fact it seemed quite happy for a few minutes as it wended its way deeper and deeper into the tangle. Not great views, and certainly not great shots, but a great bird to hit the hundred with!

Well, that's what the slog is for, eh?, views like that!...

There were three more year ticks ahead today. The trek out to the dunes was rewarded with several Sanderling on the beach, a family walk later in the day added a Lesser Redpoll at the Union Canal, and finally at dusk a cracking winter adult Mediterranean Gull heading East past Seafield Road. It was not quite the white-winger that I was hoping for (a Glaucous Gull had been reported earlier) but I was certainly not complaining!

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