Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Save us, Oh Lord, from the fury of the Norsemen


So the kids woke up this morning, and they were hungry and wanted fed and all that, and I had to go out to the garage for some more milk. Open the back door and the garden explodes! Metaphorically. About 60 Redwings head off in all directions at speed, and there's a stream of them overhead, going inland. Looks like the Redwings are in, then. There was a stiff south-easterly blowing, so I changed my plans, took the day off... and went out birding. C'mon! :-)

So I guess Redwings were the dish of the day. I went down my usual circuit along to the beach, back into Newtonhill, then down to Muchalls. In the first few minutes after dawn there were hundreds of Redwings streaming over, but by about 9 am they had slowed to a trickle and by 10 I was mostly flushing singles from brambles etc. Reckon they must have kept going inland.

You'd hope that they'd be kept company by all sorts of other interesting things, but largely that wasn't the case. There was only 1 Goldcrest down the track to the beach, for example, and maybe a few more Blackbirds than normal, but not many more. As I ploughed through the bracken to the lone sycamores down the beach track, I flushed a Pheasant, for another heart attack. About 10 Robins (normal), few Wrens, etc. Won't bore you with what was going on at the beach (remember this is the bloody North Pole, in October, so it didn't involve nudey sunbathing), but a 30 min seawatch was OK. A Black-throated Diver (second patch record) was the star, going south with 2 Red-throated Divers. 4 Great Skuas north, and 2 Arctic Skuas. 40 Common Scoters (5 north, 35 south), and 8 Common Goldeneyes south. There were about 600 Gannets north per hour, smaller numbers of auks, a few Kittiwakes and 1 Fulmar.

Small flocks of Redwings were still coming in off the North Sea. Not kidding... one of them came in just over the waves and landed on the rocks below me for a rest. That is SUCH a cliché!! Obviously, I wouldn't wish any bird actual harm, but if ever a bird deserved to die of shame... well there you are.

Allotments - how can somewhere so that looks so good be so dead? Roe Deer in the gorse by the Muchalls Track - how can something so dead look so good? Down a the farmhouse garden along the Muchalls track, I saw my only Fieldfare of the day, and started to seriously flush some Song Thrushes. Normally I'd see maybe 2 Song Thrushes along this stretch... 4 on a good day if I found them all. Today, over 20, and very flighty. Male Blackcap and several Yellowhammers in the Water Valley, but devoid of Yellow-browed Warblers, which always seems an injustice. I pished till I fainted, but the willows would only spew out a couple of Goldcrests. So the day didn't really live up to its early promise, but it was better than a slap in the face with a cold fish. On the way back from Muchalls, a Common Snipe flew in and landed in the stubble by the railway line. Definite late autumn feel. I turned my phone on for the first time in a few days and got two messages from Harry to tell me about the Canada Warbler. Glad he wasn't trying to tell me it was at Cove. I'd have been crapping myself.

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