Sunday, July 12, 2009

Four seasons in one day, or more accurately 3, or more accurately, 1.

Saturday 11th July 09

The lure of a potential lifer, Stilt Sandpiper, at Loch of Strathbeg, was too much to ignore. So I stopped only at Stonehaven Kwik Fit to have my bald tyres retreaded with a hot scalpel (it was cheaper) before heading off north. I had missed the main rush on Thursday night, so it was nice n' quiet when I got there. The Stilt Sandpiper was showing nicely, if at scope range, and initally, asleep, the git. So while I was waiting for it to wake up, a scan to the left revealed the adult Pectoral Sandpiper feeding sewing machine fashion in the mud among the Black-headed Gulls and resting Common Terns. The Pec was pretty sweet, with a nicely defined breeding-type breast. Then the Stilt Sand woke up and that was pretty spectacliar too. I honoured its memory by whipping off one of my world-renowned biro sketches.

Once again the usual apology, but this is a genuine field (well, visitor centre tbh) drawing done at the time without revision. There were one or two other people trickling through, including those who need the reserve centre staff to get it in the scope for them. I don't like to be uncharitable, I really don't, but if you discount the 100+ Northern Lapwings, which tend not to represent an identification challenge, the only shorebirds on that pool were the Stilt Sand, the Pec and a Ringed Plover, so we weren't exactly pushing the boundaries of birding here. Was a nice bird though. 3 Little Gulls among the Black-headed Gulls too, and a distant Western Marsh Harrier.

Sunday 12th July 09.

Wader passage... autumn is here! Back to the 'pleasures' of Newtonhill seawatching. 06:40 - 08:40, pissing down with in-your-face rain and bloody freezing. My poor teeth were actually chattering. And for.... poor visibility. Between showers, a few birds came through. A single Little Gull was the scarcest. 31 Manx Sheawaters, 4 Great Skuas. 6 Velvet Scoters south, 4 Common Terns north, 2 Sandwich Terns south. 292 Northern Gannets north, 100s of Black-legged Kittiwakes and plenty of Northern Fulmars, Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots (Common Murres). Although everything from terns down is local breeding stuff, there were actually more things out there than I had any right to expect, so crap is my valley.

So when the April showers took a break mid-morning, spring gave way to a dense foggy autumn (the season of 'Season of Mists' quotes) and burnt off to a sweltering summer teatime. I was praying for a hailstorm before bed, but all I got was Pipistrelle Bats.