Sunday, 26 January 2014

Otter at Cockenzie 25 Jan 2014

A rather wet day for a long walk in Lothian, but I was very glad that I persisted. In total 27 miles walked from Liberton to Port Seton and back again. The highlights were mammalian, with three Red Foxes in the dark and then this fantastic River Otter in the sea off the Cockenzie Power Station promenade. Its appearance coincided with some of the heaviest rain of the day and as I watched it fish it soon came up with a scorpionfish. After posing for a few shots it made a beeline for the harbour area to the East and I lost it as I rushed to get my camera back into its drybag...

This young Kittiwake did a flypast as I was waiting for the Otter to reappear

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Unusual Dipper at Figgate Park, Edinburgh 18 Jan 2014

Looking good for cinclus?
I am in the habit of checking (and photographing if possible) every Dipper I come across in Edinburgh in case it is a continental Black-bellied Dipper subspecies cinclus. So far, while occasional individuals look darker, the broad chestnut band beneath the white bib can be seen once good views are obtained. One of Saturday's three birds (two at Figgate Park and one at Musselburgh) on the other hand genuinely had a much darker belly with only a narrow chestnut band. This appeared to flare a little more on one breast and this latter asymmetric anomaly makes me wary of attempting to assign it to any race, although it looks closest to the subspecies hibernicus found on the west coast of Scotland. The validity of separating hibernicus from our gularis has been questioned so I think there will be little chance of establishing the subspecific identity of this individual... Back to gulls maybe?

Still looking good...
Aww.. maybe not?... just a little too much of a hint of chestnut beneath the white bib?
But certainly different from normal, especially with this view
Too much of a blob of chestnut on this side
Ah well, every dipper is worth more than a look anyway
Blurry shot but gives a good indication of colours of bird's belly

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull in Edinburgh

Probably the best shot showing the ring on the right leg - palish yellow legs and mid-toned grey uppers

Hybrid gulls... By looking closely at the gulls of Edinburgh and Lothian over the last couple of years I've seen quite a few probable Herring x LBB Gulls without yet connecting with a YLG or Caspo. I was seriously considering making 2014 a hybrid-gull-free year by taking a beak from the search for southern European larids in and around Edinburgh. Well, what do you know, a hybrid argentatus x fuscus seems to have taken a shine to the grassy pitch outside my office window in Merchiston. It has been there for the last two mornings, but has disappeared before the light has been good enough for decent photographs. Even with my DSLR on hand this morning the shots are poor. Both days I have seen it in direct comparison with Herring Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull. Its mid-tone mantle and upperwing plus yellow legs are distinctive. Excitingly the bird is ringed on its right leg - although it will take a miracle to get close enough for a ring read I would imagine.

Hybrid HerringxLBB Gull on right with Herring Gull
A poor shot in the low light levels - but the wing-tip pattern can just about be discerned - a narrow band on P5 and typical pattern for hybrid