Saturday, April 14, 2007

Armchair difficult splits and other exciting things

Friday 13th

Up and about early, spotted what I thought would turn out to be 2 Eurasian Siskins in the alders up at the other side of the burn, top of the bank. Bins up and turns out not Siskins (three cheers for my sharp spotting skills), but a couple of Redpolls. Patch year tick! But bollocks! Some idiot has spl
it them. Now I’m going to have to identify them properly. Of course they would be Lessers... OK, scope time, jeeezus. Actually, one of them was distinctly cold looking with a greyish base colour to the supercilium, nape and ‘shawl’, continuing onto the mantle, and big obvious white greater covert wing-bar. Potential flammea Common Redpoll. Getting complicated, cos I can’t think what the wear and fading should be like – probably Lessers should have pale/white wing bars by now? And I couldn’t see the rump. The other bird was a pink male, actually darker and buffier, with a brown rump, quite a typical cabaret. The first bird dropped out of sight, but I think they were +/- the same size. I can’t claim one of each. Well I can, but only for the purposes of year listing – no one would believe me. And rightly so. Bollocks again. Without the rump of bird 1, there’s nothing more I can do, and actually pretty certain they were both cabaret.

Mill Garden: two European Goldfinches, a pair, doing the ‘pivoting’ display one singing, just like this. (from BWP)

With a bit of a south-easterly going on, of course the mist was in, visibility down to 400 m. So of course I tried seawatching! Couldn’t see a lot. A Red-throated Diver flew north, close in. If it had gone north far out, I wouldn’t have seen it. Strung out just along the edge of the surf, for about 1000 m to the south of me, was a line of 500+ Black-legged Kittiwakes feeding, sat on the sea pecking at bits of crap floating by. All adults except for 4 1st-summers. And 1 Common Gull. A few Northern Gannets going north, and the breeding cliffs full of Common Guillemots and Razorbills. I really need a Black Guillemot to show up: was one of the first birds I saw on my ‘new’ patch (14th April 2002).

A wander round Cran Hill and hurrah! My first dead shrew of the year – a Common Shrew predictably lying on the path with no real sign of injury and (mmmmm... sexy) it was still warm. Three minutes later, I continued on my way. {:-O

Cran Hill really should have had a Ring Ousel on it, but I was basically blundering about in the fog with not much chance of seeing things. Some Skylarks gamely tried to sing a bit, but they were backing a losing horse today. I pished a stonking male Eurasian Reed Bunting out of the gorse and even took a recording of its wonderful calls.

Reed Bunting, null points
I walked round to Backburn Farm to get my first Barn Swallows of the year. But they aren’t in yet. That’s it. Chips n’ hame.

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