Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 Highlights

As the year draws to an end I am surprised by just how many amazing wildlife encounters I have managed to fit in. Here's to 2014 being just as exciting for us all.

Finally, to gulls
My favourite gull shot of the year - a juvenile Glaucous Gull photographed at Seafield with a Greenland-esque landscape of Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat in the background

An isabel dilutant mutant Herring Gull at Seafield with a more normal individual
A scarce gull and my best gull find of the year - a Ring-billed Gull in Lisbon
Hybrid HerringxLBB Gull photographed in between one of each

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Grey Phalarope at Skateraw

I was heading out to Belhaven again to try for the Caspian Gull seen on Friday when news broke of this lovely little wader just a little further along the coast at Skateraw. I was delighted to see it was present and performing as I haven't had much luck with twitching this year... still irked by the unreasonable behaviour of the two Northumbrian Ivory Gulls... After watching the Grey Phalarope for half an hour or so I tried again for the gull at Skateraw tip and Belhaven. After a good few hours at the latter site, where the highlight was a Greenshank, I headed back and had a bonus Merlin from the A1 as I passed the Blindwells area. Not only was the Phalarope a Scottish/Lothian tick for me but the falcon was the first in 2013. Nice though to see so many of the Lothian bird-finders out and about today - keep it up guys, maybe I'll pay you back... I'm hoping for a much better run in 2014...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Patching: Kingfisher and Wigeon

I decided to stay close to home today. Now that the leaves have fallen I have been able to peer towards Little France when passing Craigmillar Castle and have been surprised that the building works area has actually been turned into a flood prevention scheme - bingo! a whole array of previously un-noticed birding habitat!

A quick look around this morning produced a nice selection including 25 Lapwing, 23 Stock Dove, Skylarks, Reed Buntings, Linnets and Meadow Pipits along with a handful of loafing gulls. Most surprising was a total of 98 Mallard, 4 Teal and patch ticks in the form of a Kingfisher and 2 Wigeon.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Sub-adult hybrid Herring x LBB Gull, Skateraw, 15 December 2013



I had only commented on Twitter yesterday that I had been unable to find a hybrid gull in Edinburgh for a few months (despite looking hard) when I picked one out at Skateraw Landfill site East Lothian today. Viewing is distant and the images poor. Aging these subadults is hard as I am pretty sure they follow their own rules in terms of plumage. This individual has white underparts and tail and a clear trailing edge on the open wing but signs of immaturity in the coverts and tertials.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Identification of 1st winter large white-headache gull


Oh no! Its a snouty, pale under-winged, venetian-blind upper-winged first-winter large white-headed gull... Maybe some Caspian Gull genes in there but if so it does not quite look like what it should look like. Best then to ignore the cachinnans-like coverts and tertials and put it down as a weird argentatus Herring Gull. After all - every gull at Seafield is a Herring!

Never did see the tail...