Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hard weather birding

The continuing cold spell produced a couple of nice sightings today, the best of which was a beautiful little flock of nine Tundra Bean Geese. These were feeding in the potato field by the crossroads at around 2pm this afternoon, before flying off southwards. Here's hoping that this marks the start of another influx of these handsome geese.

Of local interest was a Kingfisher on the Ythan Estuary; also there were a pair of Pintail among swollen numbers of Mallard, which have presumably been frozen off their usual freshwater haunts. A fine day to be in the field.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Another white-winged encounter

Another all-too-brief sighting of a 'white' gull at Collieston harbour this afternoon, apparently a different individual to the one seen at the end of November.

Photos reproduced below, courtesy of Rosie. Once again, comments are welcome. Enjoy!


Friday, 12 December 2014

Waifs and strays

A few oddities around today, with the first being a Greenland White-fronted Goose in the Cotehill Loch area this morning. This bird, an adult, was with a party of five Greylags and was last seen alighting in fields just north of the Collieston crossroads; sadly they landed out of view from where I was watching.

Shortly afterwards, three Crossbills flying south over the Forvie Centre just before midday were somewhat unexpected, and the first ones I've seen on the patch for some time.

Finally, Rosie and I very nearly ran over a Jack Snipe(!) in the road at Little Collieston at dusk - thankfully it took off just in time and flew through the beam of the car headlights, heading over the Smiddy bushes before disappearing into the dark. Would have been a very unfortunate addition to the 'roadkill list'.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Mynah better than yours...

I have no idea how many Blackbirds are using our garden at the moment. However, this individual, with curious white feathering around both eyes, certainly stands out. The white bits almost lend him the appearance of a Mynah. Hmmm... I wonder, if we took him into captivity, whether we could teach him to swear...

Friday, 5 December 2014

White wings ahoy

A rather elusive 'white' gull was in the Collieston area last weekend; I was hoping to nail it down before posting any news, but no such luck. There's a chance it may resurface yet though.

Here's what we saw, in virtual darkness, on Sunday afternoon...

Looked to us like a first-winter Iceland, but a whacking great big one. Head shape and bill colour appeared correct, but views were very poor. Comments welcome!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Autumn ending

Little to show for  last weeks SE gale. Greater numbers of Blackbirds and Robins possibly. The odd Woodcock also in any areas with some cover. Further afield on Sunday there was a Siberian type Chiff-chaff at Cruden Bay, but it didn't call, so couldn't be confirmed.
A week ago there had been a further Black Redstart at Kirkton, and a Yellow-browed Warbler in bushes near the Sub car park over the weekend.

One of Octobers Yellow-browed warblers

One of the many Blackbirds in the village

Chiff-chaff, Cruden Bay 9.11.14

 Golden Plover and Pink-footed Geese
There remain a good few thousand Pink-footed Geese in and around the area, and there was also a substantial gathering of Golden Plover in the area of the village cross roads, at high tide on the Estuary, with in excess of a 1000 birds on Saturday/Sunday present. Whooper swans continue to be seen, but in smaller groups now usually. There were 6 on Meikle this morning.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Late arrivals

A little flurry of migrants in today, the pick of which was a Black Redstart perched on the guttering of our house as I arrived home this afternoon. Other arrivals included at least two Blackcaps munching the apples in our garden, a Chiffchaff in the sycamores, and a scatter of Redwings, Blackbirds and Robins.

Meanwhile, the Cotehill Loch Whooper Swan flock peaked at an impressive 130 birds on Tuesday, including a pair with six cygnets - well done the parents!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Migrants large and small

I'm aware it's been yonks since I posted anything on here. Far too much adventuring and not enough time on my beloved patch. Still, I intend to put things right during what remains of the autumn.

Today saw a nice 'fall' of Whooper Swans on Cotehill Loch. They seemed to come and go throughout the day, but numbered 54 when I counted them at lunchtime. A magic sound as they burbled away to themselves on the loch.


At the other end of the size spectrum are the continuing trickle of passerine migrants. This Blackcap has spent two days in our garden scoffing apples, while today also saw ones and twos of Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Redwing and Song Thrush in the area. The wind remains in the east, and hopes remain high of some more interest before the week's out.

Just look at yourself, you've got that all over your face, y'know.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Fall

Great conditions following the SE gales and torrential rain brought some good rarities into the region especially yesterday.
Collieston seemed to miss out on this occasion, though a Red-breasted Flycatcher on the back road found on the 7th was still there yesterday (AK). In terms of commoner species numbers of migrants were very good, with notable numbers of Song Thrush, Robin, Meadow Pipit,  Siskin and Goldcrest roving around the village. Blackcaps also were present in good numbers.
On the reserve this evening there was a possible Siberian type Chiff-Chaff in the Rockend track bushes, though it wasn't heard to call.
Further north there was a Bluethroat in the Whinnyfold roadside bushes yesterday (Cotehill birder), with him also scoring a Little Bunting at the Bullars of Buchan.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Red-breasted Flycatchers

The easterlies over the last days have brought multiple Red-breasted Flycatchers into the region. There was 1 on the south end of Forvie yesterday, and on Sunday 1 was found, just out of the blog area, at the turn off to Whinnyfold village. The picture below shows that bird, apparently it is still present today.
Collieston has not hosted one yet perhaps, but today did see a good fall with 2 Pied Flycatchers, at least 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Garden Warblers, a number of Blackcaps and a handful of Willow Warblers. Robin and Meadow Pipit numbers are very high at present in addition.
Rarer fare must be possible in these conditions (Rattray Head hosted a Red-throated Pipit today-PAAB). On the estuary there was an Adult American Golden Plover (CG) on Sunday , though the rapid descent of fog meant it was not seen by many.

1st year Red-breasted Flycatcher, Whinnyfold 14.9.14

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Barred Warbler and a Crane

A Common Crane has been around the upper Ythan yesterday and today ranging between Inchgeck island and up river from Waulkmill. The 3 Little Stint were seen again in the Waulkmill area on Wednesday 10th.
The very light SE winds have brought fog and a small number of migrants, with 2 Whinchats and a Pied Flycatcher being the highlights in Hightown yesterday. Today a Barred Warbler showed very well early on though was mobile ranging from the near corner of the Sandloch mire, into the gardens of Hightown.
Along with it was a small smattering of Willow Warblers, Goldcrest, Wheatears and Robins. Whether much more can be expected in the very light winds remains to be seen.
Swallows continue to move through the area in fairly large numbers.

Barred Warbler in the fog, Collieston

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ythan worth a look

There were 3 Little Stints yesterday morning at the Waulkmill hide, along with 10 Curlew Sandpipers. Later that day the Little Egret count currently for the Ythan rose to a new record of 5.
The estuary is packed in all directions with waders frantically feeding up just now and is well worth a look, as Ospreys continue to patrol overhead.
Winter has been suggested though by the first Pink-footed Geese arriving back in the area.
This morning a Spotted Flycatcher was feeding at Kirkton. The pictures are of some of the waders seen at the weekend.
Curlew Sandpiper, Ythan

Curlew and Crab, Ythan

Black-tailed Godwit, Ythan Sept 14

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Migration news

Great end to last week with Cotehill, and colleagues, Blyth's Reed Warbler as per the last post.
This weekend started with a small build up of commoner migrants, with Willow Warbler's scattered around the Collieston area. The best bird was maybe a Wood Warbler in the back road plantation at Mains of Slains. There was also Spotted Flycatcher and a number of Whinchat, including 3 at Sandloch yesterday. Back a bit further, a Grasshopper Warbler showing unusually very well at Kirkton on Monday 1st was also a highlight.
On the Estuary there have been up to 3 Little Egrets in various locations including at the Snub today. Curlew Sandpipers have been in this area and Waulkmill, with 11 there on Tuesday, and 4 seen today.
A Slavonian Grebe has been seen on and off at Meikle Loch for the past 10 days or so.
A record count, for me at least, of Common Sandpipers, on Meikle Loch, with 19 there this morning.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Blyth's reed warbler

There's only been a few migrants in over this last week with some pied flycatchers and whinchats being seen in the village.  However, this little beauty was caught at a regular ringing site at Logie Buchan on the 30th August.

It's a Blyth's reed warbler.  This species breeds as close as southern Finland and up until recent years was considered to be an extremely rare visitor to the UK.  However, it's a species that's expanding its range westward and is now being found regularly in Shetland each autumn.  In North-east scotland it is still an extremely rare bird with only two previous records.

Blyth's Reed Warbler

Friday, 25 July 2014

Then the haar rolls in

Meikle held  a Green Sand this morning, but whilst the rest if the UK basks, the haar rolls in...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Hotting up

More movement birdwise locally over the last couple of weeks. With even some Willow Warblers seen around the village over the weekend,  perhaps dropped in after the thunder storms moved through the area. Almost like early Autumn!
Mainly evident are the building wader numbers on the estuary and on Meikle Loch. One observer  (PAAB) had a count in excess of 30 Common Sandpipers on the Ythan on Sunday for example. Lapwing numbers on Meikle are giving some counts of around 50 birds which is unusual. The main other highlights are a bright , adult Little Stint that was first seen on Saturday 19th, and it was seen again on Monday. Very poor images of it shown. There was two Green Sandpipers there as well that day.
A short seawatch on Sunday yielded a single Sooty Shearwater going north late afternoon, 30 plus Manx Sheawaters and a single Great Skua.

Little Stint, Meikle Loch

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Lazy summer days

A well overdue update for the area. Wader numbers are gradually increasing again on the Estuary with a Little Ringed Plover reported this evening. Dunlin and Ringed Plover numbers have been gradually increasing over the last week or two. This has been reflected on Meikle Loch where Dunlin, Common Sandpipers and Greenshanks have all been seen in small numbers in the last week. This evening a Water Rail was associating closely with a Greenshank there, somewhat bizarrely.Some warm and still days see good numbers of Ringlets, Common Blues and Meadow Brown butterflies in the meadows around Meikle Loch.

Water Rail and Geenshank, Meikle Loch
Ringlet, Meikle Loch
On the fields the Slains area has done very well this season for breeding Lapwing, with multiple pairs being successful. This probably reflects the failed drainage attempts this winter.

On the sea the main impression is the constant stream of Common, Arctic and Sandwich Tern shuttling back and forth. On the bright days especially an impressive sight. Only the occasional skua just now to stir them up.
Ythan Seals

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Unexpected Guests

There has been a Great White Egret on the Ythan ranging from just north of Newburgh up to at least Inchgeck Island. Reported yesterday by Raymond Duncan, it has  been in the area for a few days before that as a local resident  had noted it previously near Inchgeck in fact. The bird is in fine breeding plumage.
Off the blog area, but also worth a look was the Hoopoe that took up residence in a farm house garden near Mintlaw. Thanks to the hosting family who made visitors feel so welcome.
These pictures taken later evening once the bird was more interested preening in the trees, than in the lawn that it had favoured during the day.

Of some interest was the arrival of more swifts last Sunday. CG reported a few hundred going past Drums area, and by the evening numbers had risen at Meikle Loch from a measly 8 or so , to closer to 100 birds. Numbers have dropped again somewhat, but still more than had been present previously.

Great White Egret, Ythan

Hoopoe, near Mintlaw

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Feels like summer

Two days of balmy sunshine seemed to spur the region into action and give it a continental feel, if not the local area, birding wise.
 A Savi's Warbler is singing at Strathbeg reserve, a Blyth's Reed  Warbler and Marsh Warbler likewise at Girdleness. There has been a Female Red-backed Shrike just north of Hackley Bay, near the coastal path, last seen yesterday.

Last weekend a late inspection of photographs confirmed the presence of a Grey-headed Wagtail with the UK race Yellow Wagtail at Cotehill. Like last years, appears to be a first year bird. Only seen in flight after being flushed by a car, I didn't notice it preceding this on the post in the corner of the view as I focused on the flavissima! Could have been worse though...

Cotehill wagtail experience

1st Year Grey-headed Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Friday, 23 May 2014

Weekend promise

Weather looks good for the weekend, with easterlies and rain. Things have remained relatively quiet in terms of migration , though there appeared to be an increase in hirundine numbers over Meikle this pm. The Wood Sandpiper has been intermittently on the Feu pool (PS) ( which looks critically threatened by farmland drainage activity). There was a Black Redstart in High Town mid week, along with a new Chiffchaff (Samwise). Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers continue to be in good song, and in higher numbers than last year.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Monday, 12 May 2014

Drifting In

Bit belated, but an update for the last week for the area. A Little Ringed Plover was seen earlier in the period but no sign more recently.
Various migrants arrived en masse including the main bulk of Sedge Warblers at Meikle Loch, Whitethroat's into the village and, late by about a week, Swifts.

Yesterday saw 2 Manx Shearwaters going north during an early evening seawatch, as well as a Great Skua and 4 Arctic Skuas pirating the local seabirds. Good numbers of Common and Arctic Terns were feeding offshore. 6 Barnacle Geese flew north.

Further afield, in the Logie Buchan area, a Wood Sandpiper was joined by a fine drake Garganey, on a small pool in the fields.

Wood Sandpiper


Saturday, 3 May 2014

Eyecatching Pied Flycatcher

The last flurry of the haar during last weekend brought a stunning male Pied Flycatcher and a
Lesser Whitethroat

 Lesser Redpoll

Pied Flycatcher, Kirkton, Collieston

Whinchat, Kirkton
Whinchat to Kirkton, and another Ring Ouzel to Cotehill. There were at least 6 Lesser Whitethroats in the Collieston area which was a very good count for this early in our Spring. Since then the migrant numbers have gradually diminished but there are still a striking number of singing Chiff-chaffs and Willow Warblers around the village, as well as at least 2 Blackcaps. No sign now of any Lesser Whitethroats. During last weekend as well there was a small influx of Lesser Redpolls.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The haar wrecks some birds

After 5 days of the haar, with brief respites, there was bound to be some spring visitors grounded. Over the last few days there has been 3 different Lesser Whitethroats, Brambling, a small number of Willow Warblers and Chiff-Chaffs and yesterday a Ring Ouzel at the Sandloch. Two dapper Little Gulls at the Slains pools first thing were good to watch ranging over the misty fields.
Today as the fog lifted mid afternoon there was a flurry of activity with a new Lesser Whitethroat, Black Redstart and best of all a Hawfinch ranging around the feeders in Hightown (thanks Meg for this).
Where's my sky gone? Fogbound Skylark

Little Gulls, Slains Pools 

Lesser Whitethroat

Hawfinch, Collieston 26.4.14

Hawfinch, Collieston 26.4.14

Monday, 21 April 2014

Spring Colours

Some light easterly winds the last few days resulted in some more migrants appearing locally. These included 2 Lesser Whitethroats in the Kirkton area, as well as a handful of Wheatear and a few Swallows on the move.  There is an adult Little Gull on Meikle Loch currently, which apparently has been present for some days. Wildfowl include 2 pairs of Gadwall on Meikle, and at least 3 pairs of Pintail on the upper Ythan. Aside from this the bright conditions today meant good viewing of some of the other local birds, including Yellowhammers and Reed Bunting in striking summer plumage dotted around the village.
Finally keep your eyes open for the two Raven patrolling the village occasionally
Male Yellowhammer

Lesser Whitethroat

The second bird...

Meadow Pipit

Male Reed Bunting

Ravens have also been reported in the reserve apparently. This is a relatively unusual occurrence for the Collieston area.