Friday, May 25, 2007

It's a fair cop

OK, I have to come clean and admit I don't think it was an Ivorybill I heard yesterday in Newtonhill. It was the brakes of the papergirl's bicycle. But, as noted here, the frequencies on the sonagrams don't match exactly anyway, so it wouldn't fool the professional sound guys and gals. So whatever is making all those noises in Florida, we have eliminated the possibility that it was our papergirl's bike. In such incremental steps, science and knowledge move on.

Starling, I think. Mmmmm that makes me hungry.

That's gotta hurt.

And that's gotta smell.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker persists in North-east Scotland

First, to business...

Wednesday 23rd May
Pre-work birding, mostly boring. The
Sedge Warbler wasn't there at the top of St Ann's track, hope it's OK. Compensated by a Garden Warbler singing from the trees down to the beach - a patch year tick (get 1-2 birds a year).

Offshore, an eclectic 'feeding flock' of 1 Grey Seal (with a fish) 1 adult Northern Gannet, 1 Black-legged Kittiwake and 1 Northern Fulmar.

Thursday 24th May
Still no Sedge Warbler singing at St Ann's... oohhhhh.. but then again most of the others are pretty silent too this morning. I couldn't stop bumping into Roe Deer today - male and female charged past me top speed, then I startled another female as she wandered onto the Beach track in front of me, then I stalked another male for 400 m down the same track. The Garden Warbler was still singing, as from yesterday. Juvenile White-throated Dipper spotted again on the burn.

Offshore, Atlantic Puffins, Common Guillemots and R
azorbills all bathing enthusiastically - you'd think spending your winter out at sea would put you off splashing about for fun, but apparently not.

Recycling day again in Newtonhill, and once again the folk at no. 63 have spent a fortnight tanking nothing but McEwan's Export. At 57, in contrast, they have subsisted on red wine and Diet Coke. Not together, I hope.

On my way back to the house I had a compelling audio contact with Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Obviously this isn't proof, but I am presenting the evidence as I got it so you can assess it for yourself. The sound file of 2 'kent' calls is presented here.

I made a sonagram (some people say I have too much time o
n my hands, but they're just annoyed cos I've been stalking them the past 6 months). Here it is, on the right, in comparison with the published Florida 'kent' and a bleat of a White-tailed Deer.

The habitat was not typical for Ivory-billed Woodpecker - being a steep-sided valley with only bracken and wild roses for cover, within 10 m of permanent human habitation.

I'll tell you what was making that noise tomorrow. Clue, it wasn't a Pileated Woodpecker, it has wayyy too much white and lacked the rounded wings and deep lazy flight of that species.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Small Victory

A couple of Roe Deer were out grazing just opposite St Ann's as I trotted out this morning. there's been an explosion of fledged birds, notably juvvy Blackbirds everywhere. But looky here, a fresh juvenile White-throated Dipper, feeding itself inefficiently.

Juvvy European Robin (alive this time - yesterday's bird must have got better), juvvy European Goldfinches in Mill Garden. Also a very grey acredula type Willow Warbler feeding in the sycamores here.

Mystery photograph (no peeping below)

Yes, I found a juvvy Song Thrush. It appeared to have twatted itself against the wall and hurt its wing. I was picking it up to bump it off for my lunch (joke - but I was going to see if it had broken anything. Don't have much truck with wildlife rehabilitation), but it fluttered off into the Mill Garden, so it wasn't completely crippled, maybe just stunned. So I left it to a prolonged death.

Female Mallard with 2 small ducklings on the burn, with 2 Common Swifts over the village. There's been an enormous hatch of those annoying nasty black flies with the dangly legs (St Mark's Flies?), and the Swifts, Barn Swallows, House Martins and even Vulgar Starlings were making merry among them.

A feeding flock of 200 Black-legged Kittiwakes offshore had several 1st summer birds, checking out the territory (it's wet).

I took an alternative route down to Muchalls, over a few walls and along the coastal fields. Some good setaside (or maybe just useless) fields, awash with weeds and occasionally purple with pansies, which are also weeds(!). Also a Northern Wheatear, looking very like a leucorhoa, was a patch year tick - embarrassing, but I've found Northern Wheatears to be surprisingly scarce along this bit of coast, and am more likely to pick up these Greenland or Iceland birds later in the spring than I am to get an early spring local breeder. I made a rat's arse of trying to photograph it. See orange and grey blur behind nicely in focus flowers.

This is what this field looks like. Spectaclier. In here was a pair or Northern Lapwings, and I found a Skylark nest, which was a pretty good effort.

This way took me to the back of Water Valley, and I had an unpleasant time trying to hack my way through the undergrowth on the north side of that burn. Saw Chaffinches, Yellowhammers, Great Tits, jaggy gorse.

A rare photograph of me in the field. One at a time please, ladies. :-O

It's a bit lame, but I'm frequently asked if I have a photo (at least I was while IBWOs were still a live issue), and in all my photos of me I'm desk-bound or pissed*. Sometimes both. This one is neither.

*Or naked in a bath of rose petals. That's a speciality market. Not very popular, tbh.

Thursday 17th and Saturday 20th May

Irrelevancy lies before me this evening, like a man walking into his garden for the first time after a long illness, like Godzooki and Scrappy Doo fighting to the death for the honour of being the most hated cartoon character of them all.

Beautiful Sedge Warbler displays Thursday morning, and two Willow Warblers checking out nest sites in the gorse next to the Elsick Burn. I'm seeing Roe Deer more or less daily j
ust now, and today was no different with one a point blank range in the bushes by the track. Caught a Song Thrush carrying food to a nest near the white houses by the beach.

A single Great Skua went north in 20 min looking, and 7 Manx Shearwaters, flying close to shore so nearly slipped under the radar. 45 Northern Gannets north, and a single Arctic Tern fishing among a feeding flock of Black-legged Kittiwakes about 500 m off the cliffs. Also 3 spp auks and several Northen Fulmars.

Found this on the track - a dead European Robin, juvvy. I love the way thing
s work in the Real World - no apologies, no excuses, no explanations, no second chances. I couldn't have designed it better myself. Sorry baby Robin, you were just too shit for this life.

Had a leisurely attempt at photographing a Roe Deer on the other side of the burn. Disappointed to ifnd out after I had the phone cam set on lo-res, so have suffered a bit. These are the best...

...unfortunately. Not last one - I call it 'Deer's arse with ?Sedge Warbler blur'.

Offshore... this was funny. I saw 35 Northern Gannets heading south, but the way the light was this morning shining through their wings, they looked weird. Then another flock of 10 came through, and I was thinking that this time it was making them look like shelducks or something then I realised that this was a flock of 10 Common Shelducks. A scarce migrant here. Wake up Martin. 1 Arctic Skua went north, at some lick.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's always funny until someone gets hurt...

...and then it's just hilarious.

Birding this morning again. Fantastic dawn chorus, if you count Sedge Warblers, in a fresh south-easterly breeze. Infact, we've gained some more - 7 Sedgies singing along the burn this morning. I bet if I pick up another couple the other way tomorrow, I'll have a patch record. I'm glad my life isn't sad.

Also a Common Swift over the village was a patch year tick - noticably late. I only saw my first swifts of the year at all yesterday - 50 over the Bridge of Dee.

A Peregrine was over the cliffs. 3 Red-throated Divers going north offshore, and 1 male Common Scoter. 4 Sandwich Terns feeding with a flock of 100 Black-legged Kittiwakes just off the surf.

Messed around getting come more recordings of common birds singing. All this keeps me amused but still not exactly setting the heather alight.

it would be funny if it wasn't true... this appeared on ebn today, posted by a Dutch birder.

Claim of Slender-billed Curlew

When I was in Divjaka, Albania on May 6th I went to the lagoon early
in the morning, intended to see the Dalmatian Pelican. I saw some of
them the afternoon before, but wanted to have a closer view and if
possible picture them. I walked at the edge of a pinewood, bordering
the fields. When I did so, I reached a canal, at this point I turned
to the left, and tried to walk to the beach. After passing the last
pines, a flat and wet area stretched out, bordered by a lake.
Heathenlike plants grew on it, tough and usual only up to 30
centimetres high. Under those plants the soil was so wet, that at most
places you could hardly walk without getting wet feet. Also there were
many small puddles. At the border, alongside the canal, a path led in
the right direction, I meant (but after a walk of 15-30 minutes it was
cut of by another canal, so I had to turn round and didn't reach the
main area, nor the beach).

I took the path from the pines alongside the wet area of heathenlike
plants, and suddenly two frightened birds flew away, obviously being
curlews, with the sound of a disturbed Curlew, but not as massive as
this bird calls. This sound was lighter, more joyfull. Also the birds
were somewhat smaller and paler, brighter then the Curlew I know well
from The Netherlands. I couldn't see much of the details, I needed a
few seconds to realise what I was looking at: two Slender-billed
Curlews!! I knew I had a very good observation, but didn't know some
birders thought the bird was already extinct.

The Slender-billed Curlews flew some hundreds of metres away and
disappeared on the edge of the wetland and the lake. I didn't see them
again, although I followed the path in their direction. At some point
the sight was hasseled by bushes, high enough to give the birds the
opportunity to fly away unseen. Other curlews flew up from the
wetland, being almost always undoubtedly Curlews, which were in groups
of up to eight individuals together. I heard the sound of a Whimbrel
amongst them one time, but couldn't find this bird.

The next day I departed, not knowing the species is at the edge of
extinction. In my opinion it was surely a very rare and sought after
bird, but due to it's far-off life in countries almost without
birders, I thought there should be some 400 (or so) individuals left.
As I liked to go to Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa on my trip through
Albania, I didn't break my travels down to spend more time on the
Slender-billed Curlews.

When I went to the Karavasta Lagoon, I didn't realise this could be an
area where a Slender-billed Curlew was possible. So I was not focussed
on getting this bird, never thought I should see it. But when I saw
those small and pale curlews, I was convinced determination was right.
And I am convinced yet, after a few discussions on Dutch online
birdingsites. I can agree with the people who show a lot of criticism
about those birds, and so I realise this description will not be
enough to get the birds accepted. But may be it throws more attention
on the area. The birds are seen in a wetland which isn't protected at
all: hunting, fishing, pollution with rubbish, dogs walking free over
the area and recreation disturbes the birds, wildlife and flora
oncontrolled. The Albanian gouvernment is not able to stop this.
Although the real park is situated at the other side of the canal I
mentioned, I don't think this area will be better protected. At the
other side I even saw more fishermen and I from time to time I heard
the sound of rifles.

Divjaka is situated south of Durr√ęs, I guess some 40 kilometres.
Google Earth provides me with the coördinates of the site of this
record: 41°0'43.40"N, 19°28'52.68"E (but I don't know how precise
Google Earth is).

I know many questions on which I can't give any answer will remain,
but I had no time enough to make photo's of the birds and I am not
able to make a better description - I just told you what I saw,
without making the story better then it is. Nontheless I hope this
will bring people to the coastal lagoons of Albania for further
research. I don't have any other interest in it, then the protection
of nature in common, and especially of saving the Slender-billed Curlew.

I guess it might be possible to create a scenario that's more like the IBWO fiasco, but I'm not sure how. In fact I think there's more similarity between Slender-billed Curlews and Ivorybills than we care to admit. Both are very probably extinct. Slender-billed Curlew isn't as bad because there were undisputed and very well documented sightings until the early 1990s. The there is the Druridge Bay 1997 bird which was videoed and published, and shows diagnostic features of Slender-billed Curlew, but is still not universally accepted (especially by those who dipped!). And then, with the bird having been 'rediscovered', there are a number of sightings, some by very reputable ornithologists across Europe, but which like this one can never be quite fully proven... but are used as a reason for conserving the habitat. Nothing wrong with that of course, but when a potential Slender-bill hangs around for long enough to be properly grilled (Minsmere), it turns out to be a Eurasian Curlew. All the 'Slenderbills' get away. Sorry mate, they got away a while back. As they say, it's funny until someone gets hurt.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Move into '92, still in a room without a view

BLACKDOG! and my annual attempt to see interesting seaduck. The drake Surf Scoter was seen yesterday, and after my dips on it last year, and only seeing it asleep the year before, I thought it was time to strike while the Irn Bru was hot.

Got to Blackdog, parked carefully so as to annoy any large items of farm machinery, and scanned to sea - big scoter flock to the south, so set off at healthy stomp pace. Set up on the sand dunes about 1 km to the south and pretty much the first bird I saw (well maybe the tenth) was Coco the Clown, drake Surf Scoter. I made the mistake of trying a phone-scope photo, leading to this disaster. I'm not even sure it's visible.

Worse, as I was trying to get some other shots, it was flushed by a helicopter and flew off with 20 others down south towards Bridge of Don. Nice while it lasted. There were about 500 Common Scoters on the water, a single Long-tailed Duck for good measure, and maybe 500+ Common Eiders. Who's counting? And 20 Red-throated Divers - looks like I'm counting.

Very disappointed because Blackdog is usually a shoe-in for a disgusting corpse of something on the tideline, but I was out of luck today. The children will go hungry tonight.

Sunday 13th May

Oooh, an extremely tedious 4 hours walking round Newtonhill and, in blatant contravention of my ASBO, Muchalls. Couldn't stay awake, with virtually no new migrants except a few extra Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats here and there. I found a Grey Wagtails' nest. Actually, a local cat found it - the waggies were up in a tree calling, and I looked around and discovered a cat by the burnside staking out their nest. Doomed. THEN I finally found the White-throated Dippers' nest. Spotted a Dipper carrying food, and followed it. Could tell when were were near the nest cos it looked at me, bobbing up and down, and I could see where I thought the nest would be but it didn't want to go in with me watching. I took a few steps back and half hid behind a jaggy gorse bush, and the dimwit bird thought I must have gone. Went to the nest, which was just out of my view, but I heard the nestlings calling as the parent approached.

Offshore was boring too - 30 minutes produced 3 Common Scoters north, a Red-throated Diver in flight being slipstreamed by 2 Razorbills, and a Whimbrel. Must be a good year for Whimbrel - they're all over the shop.

Muchalls was alive with common birds, and I saw Peregrine, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel and some Yellowhammers on the way down, but... boring. And still cold!

Friday, May 11, 2007

I did what I thought was right. yeh.

Another dawn raid on the patch. The only newster was a female Blackcap in the bushes down the track, which was a patch year tick. Embarrassing maybe, but they are passage migrants only here. We've gained an extra Sedge Warbler down the track, and an extra Common Whitethroat singing too.

In 20 min offshore, 6 Manx Shearwaters north, 3 Red-throated Divers, 57 Northern Gannets, and 2 Sandwich Terns.

Sedge Warbler singing here. Note impressions of Willow Warbler + Oystercatcher, in particular

and the same bird a minute or so later here - note impressions of Grey Wagtail, Barn Swallow, Great Tit, Chaffinch and others.

See those Willow Warbler-type 'hooeets' it does - I put them next to my 'real' WW hooeet on this sonagram so you can see how similar they are. They're the asymmetric 'U's on the image below. Credits to Remembird and Syrinx

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ythan Estuary

The Ythan estuary - a place of great beauty (sea is behind those dunes in the distance)

And a not inconsiderable number of Common Eiders (more than would be typical in Newtonhill, for example)

I skived out of work early as there was a birders' social evening in Newburgh and I spied the opportunity to do a bit of birding on the Ythan beforehand. It was well worth it too. Started by the golf club looking over the river to Sands of Forvie, and the place was crawling with birds. About 800 Common Eiders (some of them in that flock above). They were making a bit of noise, but nothing compared to the 100+ Black-headed Gulls flocking about, who were in turn bugging about 100 Sandwich Terns and 40 Arctic Terns on the opposite shore. Quite a few Common Terns around too, and after a few minutes there were 6-10 Little Terns flickering about. Scanned through the terns on the deck, and picked up 2 1st summer Little Gulls. When a helicopter went over, the whole lot flushed, and the Little Gulls flew round and round, attempting to land in the gull/tern colony but were industriously chased off by an aggressive trio of Black-headed Gulls.

Scanning round the river... 7 Red-breasted Mergansers, and a single female Long-tailed Duck, with some Northern Gannets and a couple of Red-throated Divers going north offshore.

In the mud, a few Common Shelducks, 11 Ruddy Turnstones, 8 Ringed Plovers, 18 Dunlin, and an absolutely stunning Whimbrel, really strong head pattern. Only about 50 Herring Gulls around, with one or 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, and 1 Lesser Black-back.

Round to the north side of the river (Yellowhammers, Common Stonechats and Willow Warblers in the gorse at the golf club) I walked up the path along the shore, passing hundreds of ridiculously tame eiders. There were several Northern Lapwings on the rough ground to the north, and a Common Buzzard bugging them as it looked for chicks etc. 4 Bar-tailed Godwits on the mud along here, with 1 Eurasian Curlew and then another 5 Whimbrels... see photo :-$

I was trying to take a photo of that blurry Whimbrel in the foreground, all phone-cams. Note bill colours of the Eiders, btw. The majority of the eiders here had 'typical' green-grey bills, maybe up to 5% with predominantly yellow bills.

Seven more spanking Ruddy Turnstones, sniffing each others' bums, and a couple of Eurasian Wigeon.

that's an eider in the photo, btw, not a wigeon, but you would have spotted that for yourself.

I walked all the way along to the tern colony fenced-off bit, and looking out over the river from this new angle... more eiders and rb mergansers, and a pair of Greater Scaup! Outrageous. Cooking on gas, but still freezing. I walked back - only new birds a pair of Grey Partridge on the rough ground. In 2 1/2 hours I'd seen loads of birds that are hen's teeth back on the patch.

The Ythan - a celebration of DEATH

Poking through the recycling

Stone the crows... offshore was a little bit interesting this morning, with rain and a mild NW breeze, and 20 Barnacle Geese went north (flock of 11 and flock of 9), 6 Manx Shearwaters, a pale-phase Parasitic Jaeger (only kidding, Arctic Skua), 6 Red-throated Divers and 128 Northern Gannets all north in 20 min. Also 6 Arctic Terns and 3 Sandwich Terns (patch year ticks all), and the usual 3 spp auks, Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes ditting about back and forth.

Onshore passerines were dull again, though we've picked up a couple more singing Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats down the burn.

It's recycling day at Newtonhill, so I got a good look into people's lifestyles as I was walking back home before anyone else got up. From the people who try to recycle cigarette packets (it makes smoking socially responsible), to the people at no. 63 who have subsisted this past week solely on cans of McEwans Export, it would appear, and the clean-living folk at no. 59 who drink naught but the finest bottled water. Mmmm... I hate myself for this, but I love McEwans export. Haven't had it for years, but I will this weekend.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Happy Birthday

Argh, I missed an anniversary. George Bristow's Secret Freezer was 1 on 6th May. Happy Birthday Secret Freezer.
This morning, north side of the Elsick Burn, a Willow Warbler singing, answered by a Common Whitethroat
Click here to listen to 'Common-Whitethroat-and-Willow-Warbler-NE-Scotland-May-07'

As always, thanks to RememBird and Syrinx

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sunday morning

Argh! I'm falling behind with the Secret Freezer. Must be on account of having to do some real work (taxonomy, shock!). Shame, cos I've got some cracking jokes and one liners to unleash. Here's 2 photos, text to follow.

tbh there's not a lot to say. Rain overnight spectacularly failed to bring any more migrants down. There was a White-throated Dipper carrying food under the railway bridge, but I still haven't found the nest this year. A male Chaffinch was flying around the Mill Garden trying to force down and mount a female. Common Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and 3 Sedge Warblers singing down the track to the beach. 1 Ruddy Turnstone with 24 Common Eiders on the rocks. Offshore was very boring, with only a few Northern Gannets back and forth. I went round Cran Hill and met this monstrousity...

Mount Doom, brooding over Newtonhill

That's not just a pile of manure... it looked like the entire winter's detritus scraped up from the bottom of the cowshed and placed menacingly over the field facing Newtonhill. When that's spread it spells our doom. I mean, working in a University (I'm the Head of the Department of Cryptozoology remember? If a joke's funny the first time it's funny every time I say) I'm no stranger to the spell of bullshit, but jeeezz this was rank. I was retching as this photo was taking. They should figure out a way of doing Blogger3 with live retchavision. I'm getting the dry boke just thinking about it, 2 days later. There was a hybrid Hooded x Carrion Crow kept sitting on it, the malodorous fool, but thwarting my attempts at a photo by flying off every time I aimed the camera.

Looking north - can you see why I struggle for woodland birds?

Still about 1 Barn Swallow per minute heading south along the coast today.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Issa weekend

These early mornings are killing me. You can grow really tired of chilly dawns.

Today I was mostly birding in the style of a mischievous imp. Didn't do me a lot of good. Total news in brief...

Sedge Warbler display flighting at St Ann's track; Willow Warbler singing from top of the dead willow; 2 female Roe Deer walking down other side of the burn; 2 Mallards on the burn, and another Sedge Warbler under the railway bridge; an extra WW and a singing Common Whitethroat down the track to the beach. The Grasshopper Warbler has gone today (or not singing, but then neither was I), though I still got my daily heart attack flusing those two Pheasants again, and a female Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew up the valley with a tatty left wing. 21 Common Eiders were in the bay, having a comedy chat,
Click here to listen to 'Common-Eiders-NE-Scotland-May-06-and-Wren' (Sorry about the Wren again)
and there were some Common Linnets feeding on the short grasses etc. up the cliff sides. A hybrid crow waited for me to set my scope up and click the shutter button before hopping away, leaving me with a spectacular photo of a bit of rock.

Offshore... bit longer seawatch today, what with it being Saturday an'all, Black-legged Kittiwakes were pouring south at 5000/h, heading to Fowlsheugh etc. and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers south were patch year ticks. 2 Manx Shearwaters north (news today of a Sooty Shearwater north at Balmeadie, which is very atypical for May), 1 Arctic Skua* north, and 12 Common Scoter** north. And 11 Barn Swallows south over the waves - it's like they gave up on summer already.

To take Stephen's mind off the complexity of revising spelling 'ABCDE', here's a dead European Robin. The orange is real, it must have just faded. Between you and me, I think it's been dead a while.

At dusk tonight, a Song Thrush singing in our back garden. It's a style classic.

Click here to listen to 'Song-Thrush-NE-Scotland-May-07'

* and ** - I've mostly used BOU standardised names til now... but am thinking of switching to IOC names for the hell of it, except where they've made an arse of it (e.g, Common/Black/American Scoter).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Different and yet strangely the same

This morning, it was a bit misty at the start - I surprised the cows. Weird light.

I'd JUST written in my notebook that yesterday's Common Grasshopper Warbler had gone, when it started singing from a patch of last year's willowherb by Elsick Burn. Say what you like about groppers, and I do, but they produce a good sonagram. Note 25 notes per second (!) which is in fact slower than Savi's Warbler, but frequency of about 6-8 kHz, higher than Savi's.

No peeking now, but identify the 2 other birds in this recording

then have a listen here

(sonagram starts at about 25 s in that recording)

Well spotted.

We've gained an extra Sedge Warbler (3 now), and an extra Willow Warbler, one of which was a girl judging by the wing shivering going on and this little bit of conversation here. The high pitched tsip is the quivering girl, answered houeet by the male.

Sorry for the annoying Wren.

A couple of Common Whitethroats singing now. Offshore, in 20 minutes, 3 Manx Shearwaters, and no Red-throated Divers. Let me see, where's my calculator... that works out at errr.... none per hour.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gropper Shocker...

... with words of mine,
that don't quite rhyme.

Still chilly this morning, but the Sedge Warbler was singing a bit better by the Elsick Burn, and we've picked uo another one a little closer to the railway bridge. And an extra Willow Warbler singing today (3 now - 2 around the Mill garden), with a couple of Common Whitethroats setting up territory. But pah! I careth not, for what do I hear but the annoying reel of a Grasshopper Warbler from the brambles on the south side of the valley. Patch tick!!! ... and then heart attack! Because as I walked through the dead bracken for a closer look at the Gropper, I flushed a pair of Pheasants blam blam! and ka-chow! Game on.

From the clifftops, a tight flock of 12 Barn Swallows heading south-west, and offshore, a 20 minute seawatch (see, I'm getting really serious) produced 2 Arctic Skuas (that's Parasitic Jaegers for those of a Nearctic persuasion), one of which turned round for a full and frank discussion with one of the many Black-legged Kittiwakes going by. Northern Gaannets going north (26) and 11 Red-throated Divers (that would be 33 an hour - I worked it out for you. In my head). A few European Shags, Northern Fulmars offshore, and 3 spp auks including 50 Atlantic Puffins, none being dismemebered by anything today. A few pairs of Great Cormorants getting down to breeding on Fraggle Rock, and a Grey Seal out there too.

Rock Pipit with food, Newtonhill, 2nd May 07

Cormorants on Fraggle Rock

Walk back home was punctuated by a single Common Linnet feeding in gardens, and a White-throated Dipper flushed back at the Mill.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Another early start

Up and away for some May Day birding - washed my face in the dew, sang the Internationale, etc. Now 2 Sedge Warblers singing half-heartedly along the Elsick Burn, but it was a bit chilly again. Good news! That cinnamon-coloured rabbit (see Secret Freezers passim) was back again in the fields - I'm a sucker for a good mutant bunny. Also this

Genuine Scottish Wildcat...

and the Roe Deers - a male and three females crossed the track ahead of me and woandered off up Cow Field.

A Tree Pipit flew over the clifftops: good to keep the patch year list ticki
ng along. A 15 minute seawatch (now there's dedication :-) ) produced a Great Skua and a Manx Shearwater, both heading north, 20 Northern Gannets, and a flurry, yes flurry, of 11 Red-throated Divers. That would add up to 44 per hour if I stayed around to count, but I didn't. Went to work instead. A Whimbrel went north too.

Seabird cliffs - not exactly stowed out this morning

On the way back home... a single Barn Swallow going up the valley, and a couple of House Martins in the village.