Thursday, 26 December 2013

White Winged Christmas!

Not one but two Iceland Gulls present at Collieston for the last couple of days - CB's third-winter bird still at Cransdale, and a freshly-arrived first-winter taking shelter in the harbour. A lovely Christmas present for us.

3rd-winter Iceland, Cransdale
First-winter Iceland, Collieston harbour
Merry Christmas everyone, and here's wishing you a happy and bird-filled 2014, from Sam & Rosie.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Iceland Gull Reprise

At  very similar date to last year, and once again following gale force winds, an Iceland Gull is ranging around Cransdale Head. A 3rd Winter bird, this one also like last winter's
3rd Winter Iceland Gull

bird shows some markings in the outer primaries, but insufficient evidence overall to indicate Kumlien's to my mind.
 There were good numbers of gulls in the Cransdale area, feeding on the storm produced debris, often forming spectacular mobs feeding over the sea surface at close range.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Winter Chiffchaffs

There were two Chiffchaffs in the village yesterday, one at the roadside willows. This one was clearly "Common" having a run-of-the-mill call and appearance. The other which was mobile in "Hightown" could  possibly have been  of more Eastern origin, but wasn't heard to call. Good late records, though not unprecedented.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Ring-necked Duck still about

The Ring-necked Duck is showing occasionally on Meikle Loch, with it being present here mid-morning (HEM) and also seen last weekend. A single Long-tailed Duck remains more regular on the Loch. Scattered small flocks of Yellowhammers, and rather larger numbers of Tree Sparrows are in various locations, and there have been some small flocks of Twite in the area, with 14 at Cransdale last weekend, and another 20 in the Cotehill area. Looking further back there have been records of Snow Bunting and 2 Lapland Bunting 2 weeks ago now (Forvie), but no movement of those species noted more recently.
A single Green Sandpiper was a late record for the region , also 2 weeks ago, at Waulkmill hide (MS). There has been a roving flock (s) of Golden Plover in the area for at least a week now, with a maximum of about 1000 birds counted.
A shame to see the wildfowler's  at the Snub today, taking aim at passing wildfowl flying round the corner of the Ythan. Not sure they would have been able to distinguish protected from non-protected species shooting at such a location.

Twite, Cransdale Head, Collieston

Golden Plover, Ythan Estuary

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Cransdale Views

A Black Redstart was at the Inches road in Newburgh yesterday (CNG). Today perhaps the same Great Spotted Woodpecker as a few days ago was in the main back road plantation today. There are a few Long-tailed Duck in the area with 2 on Meikle Loch- in fact there for sometime now.
Otherwise it was the fine day that starred, with calm seas and some striking cloud formations.

Once there were more of us...Corn Buntings, Slains

Clouds and Bonfire, Cransdale Head

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Poms and Great Spot

Two Pomarine Skuas reported off Cransdale today, one an adult.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen at the Sandloch end of the village yesterday and flew towards Kirkton (Craig, Ruth and Murray)
6 Snow Bunting's flew over Kirkton yesterday afternoon. Relatively good wildfowl numbers on Meikle and the Slains pool's area, with the Teal and Wigeon count being in the few hundreds.
Feels like winter has more or less  arrived.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Late highlights

A short burst of easterly winds yesterday followed by a North-westerly gale today resulted in big groups of thrushes in the area. This was particularly spectacular over and by Newburgh this evening with hundreds of mostly Fieldfare and Redwing ranging over the estuary in the fading light.
Had to discern other movement at times it was difficult to stand straight, though Robin and Blackbird numbers seem particularly high.

Elsewhere a variable number of Whooper swans are frequenting Meikle and Cotehill Lochs. Teal and Wigeon are scattered now over the many re-flooded areas through Slains following the large amount of rain falling in the last few days.
There was a single Snow Bunting seen on the road coming into Collieston last night.
Whooper Swans, Slains Pools

Monday, 21 October 2013

Migrants ahoy!

A fair few migrants around the village and Reserve this last few days, though maybe not as many as the weather may have promised. Blackbirds, Redwings and Robins were the most conspicuous arrivals, with smaller numbers of Song Thrushes, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests, and a single Redstart by the Sand Loch.

Immigrant Blackbird, Forvie Moor

The undoubted highlight was a gorgeous Pallas's Warbler found by Allan P in willows on Forvie on Saturday - thankfully it remained overnight so Rosie and I caught up with it on Sunday morning...


Allan also found Ring Ouzel and Woodcock on Forvie Moor on Saturday, while one of the latter nearly flew into me as I was bringing firewood into the house on Friday night!

Finally it's been nice to see our fledgling efforts (pun intended) at establishing a wildlife garden beginning to bear fruit (pun intended), as this Blackcap gladly accepted our offer of apples.

Blackcap at Sam & Rosie's Greasy Spoon

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

New Arrivals

With little time to check at the ends of the daylight hours now, hard to be sure of numbers, but a reasonable arrival of commoner birds overnight. At least 6 Chiff-chaff, and 5 Blackcaps at the Kirkton end of the village. At the Sandloch end a fair mass of Goldcrests. Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Redwing and lots of Robins all over.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Whooper, Smashing, Great.

Up to fourteen Whooper Swans are frequenting Cotehill Loch at the moment, making a fine sight and sound indeed. Even on a grey evening like this.

Wash and brush-up time at Cotehill

Still about half a billion Pink-footed Geese in the area, with a southbound skein of Barnacle Geese over Collieston tonight for good measure.

Not much in the way of landbird migrants, with singles of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff in the gardens at the top of the village. Still, forecast looks promising for some more arrivals in the next few days.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Quieter times?

Despite a good North-easterly breeze, migration seemed slow this weekend, with far less of the visible bird passage that has marked recent weeks. There was only a smattering of arrivals: a few Goldcrest, mixed Thrushes , the occasional Blackcap and Chiff-chaff being the most notable. The week coming look's far better for greater quantities with continuous easterlies and periodic rain.
The drake Ring-necked Duck remains on Meikle loch, whilst there were 11 Ruff there today also.
A Pintail and 2 Scaup were other notable wildfowl there. Just two Barnacle Geese amongst the Pink-foots up to now.
There were half a dozen Whooper Swans  today on Cotehill Loch.
There had been a Slavonian Grebe midweek, for at least one day, on Meikle Loch in addition.
Yesterday a few Sooty Shearwaters were seen off Cransdale (PS)

Sunday, 6 October 2013


Aside from the birds already reported around Cotehill yesterday, there was still a YB Warbler on the backroad yesterday, and one in the Kirkton area. There was a flava type Wagtail in the Churchyard on Friday night. The main movement seemed to be of Chiff-Chaffs and Blackcaps of which there were many in evidence of the former, especially on Saturday, around the village. At least one showed the possibility of being of more eastern origin.
Yesterday also there was a Hen Harrier seen a number of times in the Sand Loch area, and a Treecreeper, possibly of Scandinavian origin in Craig and Ruth's garden by Sand Loch. The pictures show this bird.
In the area there are at least 2 Merlin's harassing the starling flocks, and the same number of Sparrowhawks.
Meanwhile on Meikle there have been up to 5 Ruff, a Grey Plover on two occasions and the drake Ring-necked duck continues to show intermittently.

Treecreeper, Collieston Village

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Cotehill Migs

Bits and pieces around Cotehill today included a tree pipit, yellow wagtail and a yellow browed warbler being very vocal in the front garden.

The loch is fairly quiet with the water levels having risen such that there is now no muddy edges and now no waders... Pity.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Late news

Yesterday there was a Yellow-browed warbler in the 1st plantation on the back road, so maybe a new bird. Also a Chiff-chaff and 2 Blackcaps were seen. (PS) . Blackbird and Robin numbers were increased, with small mobs of them scattered in various locations.
Expect more today and tomorrow as the wind drops and it becomes brighter.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

And yet more...

Still at least one Yellow-browed Warbler in the roadside trees at Kirkton yesterday morning, along with a few Redwing and a Brambling. This morning there was a Yellow-browed Warbler calling in the second plantation along the back road, maybe the same one that was seen at the weekend, or maybe looks amazing for a fresh arrival of migrants over the next 2 days. High pressure firmly embedded over the continent and a low over the Atlantic, SE winds whistling away currently with rain.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Another Yellow-browed...

There was a lovely Yellow-browed Warbler in willows by the Heath Trail on North Forvie this morning, calling frequently when gently encouraged (a soft pssshhhhh pssshhhhh etc did the job!). Also my first Redwings of the autumn. Meanwhile, a lone Whooper Swan remains on Cotehill Loch.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Brown Shrike pictures

Negative news on the Brown Shrike today I believe. Harry Scott, one of the Editors of Scottish Birds  (Birding Scotland), has kindly passed some  shots to me, though we are saving the best for the SOCs and his publication. Also one shot from co-finder Pete S.
 Thanks due to HS for all the time he put in yesterday to make sure we had enough pictures of this extremely, at most times at least, elusive and flighty bird.

Brown Shrike, Collieston 28-29th September, ( Harry Scott)


Picture Pete S.


Brown Shrike update

Yesterday, the 29th, the Brown Shrike showed intermittently and between late morning and early afternoon, pretty well.
It commutes between the lower part of the Cransdale gully, by the remains of the old house, and back up into the long hedge in Kirkton. To view the hedge best to stand on the side of the road just west of the Glebe and look back. The bird prefers the shelter from the wind in that corner.
Many thanks are due to the nearby residents for their patience.
I won't have a chance to check for the bird today. I know of some good photos courtesy of Aberdeenshire birder HS, so I expect to get my hands on one for the blog shortly.

Meanwhile more counts of Yellow-browed Warblers came in, and it appears there were at least 7 in the village over the weekend!
Migrant numbers appeared to have dropped overall yesterday, but the winds continue to be in the East, with rain mid week, so there maybe more excitement towards then.

Pink-footed Geese continue to pour through the area, with counts at times in the 10,000s around the Meikle area.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Brown Shrike stars!

A 1st year Brown Shrike was a bit of a surprise in the village today. Found at just before 10.00 am in the gully down to Cransdale head, it then led myself and PS a merry dance. Surprisingly elusive , it would fly very low and fast between perches, and then sit  very low in the vegetation. It disappeared for 20 minutes at a time on a number of occasions. Each time it flew it raised our hopes with very rich brown upperparts, and very dark and clear mask, prominent supercilium, no white in the wing or tail, and also a very distinctive , long , pendulous tail. Any barring appeared mainly limited to the underparts. We were unable to get good perched views at this point. In the end  however CNG arrived and with the extra pair of eyes we are able to pin it down for long enough to see the short primary projection, and short outer-tail feathers that confirmed the ID.  The whole process had taken in excess of 2 hours.
Early to mid-afternoon very good sustained views were obtained in the long hedge at Kirkton until fighting dogs scared it off.
Lets hope for a cloudy night so it can be re-found in the morning. Interestingly there is another Brown Shrike down at Fife Ness today, and 2 on the Northern Isles.
Also around the village and nearby areas today up to 5 Yellow-browed Warblers, Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat, and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Pictures of the Brown Shrike will hopefully appear in the next day or two, I didn't manage to get any.
Other news includes the Ring-necked Duck showing intermittently on Meikle Loch. A Little Stint there as well.
Other sightings of Yellow-browed Warbler reported in the reserve as well.

Tomorrow could be interesting, as the weather still looks very good to bring in more delights.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kirkton, Collieston..

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Yellow-browed's arrival

As part of a massive movement of Yellow-browed Warblers into the country there were at least 3 around Collieston today, though I am sure a number more likely to be scattered through local gardens. 2 were seen at Kirkton in the roadside trees and one was at Feu farm. Could be interesting to see the counts at the weekend locally.
Aside from that there was a Lesser Whitethroat at Kirkton as well, with a Ring Ouzel this evening in that area and a Snow Bunting along the back road. The pictures shows two Yellow-browed Warbler's taken a few days ago on the Shetland Islands.
Yellow-Browed Warbler


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Westerly gales bring a duck

The first real wind of the Autumn arrived today, and with that two Black Terns flew past Cransdale Head in the morning. The same winds probably brought in the eclipse drake Ring-necked duck, the second of that species this year, to Meikle Loch (HM). 2 Little Stints were on Meikle also from at least Saturday. Maybe the same two were seen earlier in the week on Cotehill loch. on the same day a Balearic Shearwater was seen past Cransdale in the morning.
Migrant numbers remain low in the mostly Westerly winds, but there was a Spotted Flycatcher on Friday at Kirkton, and a Whinchat yesterday at Cransdale.
Along the estuary there are still good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and also a few small groups of Curlew Sandpipers dotted around.
Small groups of Pink-footed Geese have been arriving in the area for the past week, giving that hint of winter round the corner.

Northern Wheatear, Ythan

Curlew Sandpipers

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Sea Views

Some more welcome easterlies failed to produce anything migrant wise of notes, maybe it was just too sunny. Just before the weekend the hirundine numbers moving through the village were striking, with a few hundred on Thursday evening perching up on the umbellifers either side of the road down to Cransdale head and frantically feeding up. That mass of birds seem in the main to have moved on.

The NE winds main event was a good seawatch yesterday with single Long-tailed Skua and Pomarine Skua, reasonable counts of Arctic and Great Skua, over 30 Sooty Shearwaters as well as over 300 hundred Manx Shearwaters, over a 2 hour afternoon period.
Today the upper end of the Ythan estuary produced 4 Curlew Sandpipers, a Spotted Redshank and double  figures of Black Tailed Godwit and Ruff.
Raptors are on the move with Merlin and multiple Sparrowhawk roaming the Collieston area.
Juvenile Merlin
Passerine wise the main movement seemed to be of Wheatears and Robin, with little else of note except perhaps an increase in Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat numbers around the village.


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Water rails

With the rise in the water levels at Cotehill the waders have long since left to find more suitable feeding areas elsewhere.  However, two juvenile water rails skulking around the edges of the loch this week were hardly old enough to fly so must have bred at Cotehill this year.   It's been a fair few years since water rails have been confirmed as breeding at Cotehill and this is possibly related to the water levels being lower this summer than in recent years and the nests not being flooded.  Whatever, it was nice to see them and hopefully they'll be back next year.

Season of Mists

Septembers arrived, and with the wind in the west waders seem likely to be the most fruitful prospect after August's late flurry, the regional highlight during this period having being the Booted Warbler at Drum's bushes.

A number of Spotted Redshanks are on the Ythan with 3 today down at Inches point reported. There was one at the Snub yesterday evening. There are still 2 Little Egrets as well, with one today at the Snub car park, and one at the Fisherman's path this morning. There are good numbers of Ruff dotted around with 8 at Fisherman's, and around 30 Black-tailed Godwits there as well.
Meikle Loch held 8 Ruff this morning as well.

Belated reporting of another Greenish Warbler fairly locally, just beyond the Whinnyfold village turn off, on the 27th August, found by Cotehill Birder. A  poor image of the bird shown below. Passerine wise this weekend  most of the interest had gone, but a Whinchat remained just North of Mains of Slains and likewise there were a number of Wheatears along the back road.
Greenish Warbler, near Whinnyfold

Little Egret, Ythan

Spotted Redshank, Ythan

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Icterine Warbler

The Greenish Warbler continued to show occasionally in the plantation across the road from the Forvie Centre. This morning it was even singing which made it easier to locate.
This afternoon, as the sun emerged from the mist, an Icterine Warbler became evident in the roadside Sycamores at Kirkton.
Otherwise there were two Spotted Flycatchers there and a single Pied Flycatcher.

Icterine Warbler, Kirkton of Slains, Collieston

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Greenish Warbler

The promising weather, after a slow start produced a fine Greenish Warbler late morning in the trees along the roadside, just down from the Forvie Centre turn off. Picked up on its distinctive call it showed down to close range, though in very wet conditions at times. There were at least 2 other Greenish Warblers today in the region, with "Cotehill Birder" finding one of them at Longhaven quarry.
Otherwise there was a small variety of other migrants, with good numbers of Willow Warblers. In addtion there were two Pied Flycatches, both in the Kirkton area, with a Garden Warbler along the fenceline at the Mains of Slains turn off and good numbers of Meadow Pipits.
Otherwise there were three Lesser Redpoll frequenting the Kirkton area as well.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Black-tailed Godwit Influx

31 Black-tailed Godwit was the highest count on Cotehill Loch so far, by "Cotehill Birder" yesterday, there was also a distant group on Meikle Loch first thing this morning with in excess of 20 Ruff also present. Good numbers of Snipe  in the Meikle and Slains area this evening and a single Ruff early evening on Cotehill. In addition there was a Green Sandpiper again on the Feu farm roadside pool.
Other birds include a Grey Wagtail about Kirkton this am and 2 Bullfinches near the Snub Ythan car park this evening.
A good weather system appears to be building in time for the weekend...perhaps some chance of some early passerine migration and seawatching.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Cotehill Loch gets busy

Finally the small edge on Cotehill Loch featured a number of waders today, including at one point 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover, a single Ruff and Dunlin. 4 Black-tailed Godwit also dropped into Feu Farm, but were only there briefly.
On Meikle in the fresh westerly winds there were 14 Ruff. Mid-afternoon the Little Egret was at the Waulkmill hide.
Ruff, Meikle Loch

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Meikle Loch Waders

This evening there were at least 10 Ruff feeding actively around the shoreline at Meikle Loch, 6 Greenshank flew in as a flock and there was a single Knot looking rather out of place. Lapwing numbers remain high on the loch side and in nearby fields. Otherwise Pied Wagtail numbers seem to have increased substantially in the Slains and Meikle area, and there are various small flocks of Meadow Pipit roving about.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Red Kite

A long overdue Red Kite for the Collieston area (for me at least), which looked to be tagged, flew past fairly low at Kirkton, towards  Forvie Sands at 18.40.
Otherwise the Ythan highlights for me were a Little Egret, still down in the Inches area, and a good variety of common waders including Whimbrel and Ruff scattered the whole length. Meikle Loch had 4 Greenshank today, 3 Ruff,  1 Green Sandpiper and at least 2 Common Sandpipers, as well as at least 10 Dunlin.

Greenshank, Meikle Loch

Dunlin, Meikle Loch

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Unbridled Madness at the Ythan Mouth!

Things kicked off a little bit at the Ythan this evening with news emerging of the Bridled Tern photographed at the mouth around 5.00pm...once news emerged and people started arriving the bird had gone...only to re-appear just after 7.00pm. Great scenes reminiscent of Chariots of Fire as local patch birders and even some from further afield  made their way gracefully across the sands. Fantastic second record of this species for the region!

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

There was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper in with Golden Plover opposite Waulkmill hide yesterday morning(CNG)-an early record for the region. Meanwhile Meikle Loch continues to host a good variety of waders with at least 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 5 Ruff and 10 plus Dunlin visible first thing this morning.
The Collieston area is full of the new crop of the local breeding birds, with Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Stonechats all in good numbers round the village. A surprise yesterday was a Garden Warbler in the roadside willows, my earliest record for the Autumn season in Collieston.
Giving me a bit of a shock first thing yesterday were a few glimpses of a very worn, adult Sedge Warbler which appeared completely unstreaked in the field.
Better views yesterday evening resolved things, as shown in the rather poor image below.

Adult Sedge Warbler

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Terning of the Seasons

With post-breeding dispersal well under way, now's probably a good time to summarise the Forvie ternery's season. Just the one word required - fabulous. All breeding species have had an incredibly productive season, as evidenced by the huge numbers of fledged Arctic, Common and Sandwich Terns currently littering the lower estuary.

Of course, such a gathering does attract the occasional passing scarcity, such as yesterday morning when a juvenile Black Tern and two adult Roseate Terns were present among their commoner cousins. Well worth a look from the Tin Hut on the golf course at the moment.

Roseate Tern among juvenile Sandwich Terns - photo courtesy LMS
Same again, with adult Sandwich Tern for comparison 

Also lots of passage waders on the go, including Knot, Dunlin and Sanderling in an assortment of plumages, plus Curlew, Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper going through. Finally, an unseasonable Long-tailed Duck and two redhead Goosanders completed the picture on a decidedly autumnal Ythan Estuary.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Another Pec Sand

There was another Pectoral Sandpiper on Meikle Loch today, along with a good selection of other waders, including 6 Ruff. There was also at least 4 Ruff in the "Main" Slains pool area, which is also attracting good numbers of Lapwing to it. A few short sea-watches over the weekend failed to yield much variety, though there was a fair breeze blowing at times. Lower pictures show a Rock Pipit doing some climbing at Cransdale yesterday.
Adult Pectoral Sandpiper, Meikle Loch

Rock Pipit, Cransdale Head

Monday, 29 July 2013

Rich shorelines

3 Green Sandpipers spent all today on Meikle at the far edge. Up to 20 Dunlin and 2 Greenshank as well.
A female Marsh Harrier flew through this morning in heavy moult, putting up a good 50 Lapwing.
Over the weekend the Ythan Mouth had 3 Roseate Terns, a Juvenile Black Tern (per CG and PAAB) and steadily increasing Dunlin and Knot numbers.
A Cuckoo flying through the Collieston-Mains of Slains area yesterday was in fact the first I have seen off the reserve for some years.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Wader surge

Up to 30 Dunlin at times at Meikle loch now, with varying counts of other waders. Up to 3 Greenshank, 3 plus Common Sandpipers, 30 plus Lapwing and still the small group of Ringed Plover. All bodes well for the coming weeks.
Caught up with the Wood Warbler and was fortunate enough to get it in the warm evening sun on Friday. Always good to see.