Sunday, 27 October 2013

Scandinavian HerringGull (subspecies argentatus) at Seafield

It has been an extremely quiet autumn for me bird-wise - lots of looking but not much finding. I have not once managed to time a trip to the East coast that coincides with decent conditions for grounded migrants. Other than a few brief views of YBWs, a very brief Sardinian Warbler and another self found Ring-billed Gull (in Dublin, of course), decent birds have been conspicuous by their absence.

Today I managed to squeeze in an hour or so at Seafield and the best I could manage was my first Scandinavian Herring Gull of this coming winter season. This bird had very little black in its wing-tip compared to our breeding birds and an upperpart shade that is darker. In the shot of it on the shore it can be seen that it is obviously darker than the accompanying Black-headed Gulls. Note that P10 is still growing on this bird and that P9 shows no back extending to the web - ie a thayeri pattern. More often, in my experience, these northern gulls keep their distance and seeing these details can be tricky. This one today treated me to a nice flypast.

Scandinavian Herring Gull standing in water to right of roosting BhGs

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Twitching Sardinian Warbler

A male Sardinian Warbler in Spain in the summer - today's bird at St Abb's looked about 100x smarter!
We had a family walk today at St Abb's Head. Not because there is a cracking male Sardinian Warbler there, but let's say it didn't exactly put me off. On arrival at the Mire Loch, two birders told us that they had waited 7 hours for a view so I was pretty much certain that we would just be walking and not watching. The rest of the family seemed happy to let me have a few minutes to have a look around the favoured areas of gorse and bramble so I decided to give the area a quick circuit before continuing. Deep within the first area I checked I could hear a subdued complex warble and thought that I might be onto something. I quickly got my camera out but before I was quite ready the stunning Sardinian Warbler had hopped up onto the top of a sprig of gorse. As I pointed the camera it disappeared into the thicket again with a scolding call. Wow! I wasn't expecting that to be so easy. No picture, but a stunning close view in good light, with the bird's plumage looking much smarter than the moulting birds that I was looking at in Spain in July. Anyway, five minutes effort and its on my British list and we can get on with the family walk. Only difference is that now I seem to be much better company! Maybe I could get used to this twitching... Meanwhile here are some more Sardinian Warbler shots taken in Spain this summer - just as difficult to photograph as today's bird.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Honey-Buzzards in Lothian

I don't have a recent shot of a Honey-Buzzard - so here's a Short-toed Eagle from Andalusia this July

I have been Phil B's shadow this month. Everywhere I have gone birding he has been there or vice versa. Except Sunday morning when I popped out to Seacliff to see if I could get a better view of an interesting Lesser Whitethroat or any sort of view of a heard-only Yellow-browed Warbler from a few days before. Well, I only managed a Nuthatch. Meanwhile, Phil was at Musselburgh soaking up views of a Honey-Buzzard circling over towards Newhailes. I must say I'm pretty gutted as I am yet to see one in Lothian. The last one I saw in Britain was a September bird self-found at my patch in Nercwys in North Wales and that was pretty exciting to say the least. I reckon that this is something like Lothian's 30th Honey-Buzzard and looking through the past records this one was seen on the prime date with about third of all records seen in the period 25–29 September. In terms of locations, almost all of these autumn birds have been seen along the coast from Hound Point to Skateraw. I know where I'll be next year...