Sunday, 30 August 2015

Paddyfield departs

No sign of the Paddyfield Warbler today, though a new Blackcap  reported and Whitethroat also apparently fresh in. Otherwise a significant clear-out of migrants, with only one of the previously group of Whinchat in the Kirkton and Slains area being seen.

The local pools continue to hold good numbers of Ruff. There were 2 Little Stint at the Snub Car park  at about 13.30 today and a Spotted Redshank.

Maybe the only pictures of the Paddyfield taken yesterday due to its elusive behaviour were taken by Nick Littlewood. One of these record shots is shown below.

Paddyfield Warbler, Collieston, 29.8.15

Ruff, nr Collieston, 30.8.15

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Paddyfield Warbler-Collieston Churchyard

After the good finds of the Forvie Greenish Warbler and supporting cast, it seemed maybe things would turn quieter:
Perhaps birds working down the coast, or maybe the extra cover in Collieston has held more, but new sightings since included a new Reed Warbler on Wednesday at the roadside bushes, and then yesterday 1 + Pied Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Wood Warbler. There was also a very fleeting sighting of an interesting acrocephalus warbler first thing yesterday in the churchyard, but it was not seen in the evening.
 Its identity was sorted this morning as a Paddyfield Warbler- new for the patch, and only the second for the region following the Logie Buchan bird a few years ago, which was only seen by a few.
Mostly extremely elusive , when it does show it seems to be best to view from the road.It does call fairly regularly-a usually quiet "chek". First thing it also gave a couple of "cherr" calls.
It usually frequents more eastern locations in Central Asia and around the Caspian and Black seas.

Bit of cloud appearing outside just now, so maybe some hope it will stay for another day.

There was also Reed Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Lesser Whitethroat in the nearby roadside trees and bushes.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


Now at last we've got a quiet evening, it's time to reflect on what's been a stonking few days on the patch. As reported by Collieston Birder, things kicked off last week with a nice selection of common migrants plus PS's rather lovely Arctic Warbler on Forvie - a first for Rosie and I. The Red-backed Shrike that dropped in at Sand Loch Corner last Thursday was a welcome addition to the total as well.

Right on cue, this Shrike was one of several in the North-east last week.

After a weekend away (and predictably dipping CB's Icterine Warblers), we were back into the fray on Monday evening, in lovely conditions of light easterly and drizzle. Two hours around North Forvie at dusk produced a Greenish Warbler (making a nice 'double' after last week's Arctic), two Wrynecks together in one willow, a Wood Warbler, a Reed Warbler, two Pied Flycatchers and yet more common migrants. A champagne session on the patch!

One of two Wrynecks at the Coastguard's Pool, Forvie.

The following morning the Greenish was still present, and showed well if briefly - though its voice was a big giveaway while it remained hidden! Another Wryneck was also present alongside it, and could have been a different bird to the previous night's duo.

Upon returning home after the working day, things then continued with a brace of Reed Warblers performing in the garden throughout the evening.

Reed Warbler loving the scrub in the garden. There's a second one in there somewhere!

Even today, three days after the fall, birds continue to trickle through, with a Whinchat at Sand Loch Corner this morning and a Willow Warbler in the garden at supper time. Why can't the patch be like this all the time?!

One of many Whinchats to pass through in the last few days.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Autumn starts here

The last 2 weeks has seen a big surge in wader numbers on the Ythan, with good numbers of a number of species, though Dunlin seem especially numerous this year. A lot of Ruff are now coming through as well, with a flock of 60 currently just off the estuary south of Meikle Loch. A highlight was the adult White-rumped Sandpiper (CNG) which was present around the Newburgh end for 2 or 3 days last weekend.
The heavy rain on Tuesday of last week, and the persistent easterly winds resulted in a good fall of migrants, with the Forvie sands getting the star bird in the form of an Arctic Warbler (PS) found on Wednesday late afternoon.
 Surprisingly this was the first accepted of this species in the region  since 1979 I think. Interesting to note that bird was on almost exactly the same date as this one, and nearby on the Foveran links.
Wednesday morning also brought a Lesser Whitethroat, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, and good numbers of Willow Warbler to Kirkton. The number of Butterflies turning up as well was striking, especially Painted Ladies.
The fall continued to turn up interesting birds locally , with a Red-backed Shrike  at the Sandloch, found by a fellow blogger, and then an Icterine Warbler on Saturday 22nd in the Kirkton roadside trees. Willow Warbler numbers were high, and also notable were the number of Whinchats with a count of 8 in and around the village yesterday. The remained a few Pied and Spotted Flycatchers also.
A Marsh Harrier flew over Kirkton yesterday, a Wood Sandpiper is just over the crossroads yesterday and today on the small flood.

There were 3 Little Stint to be seen on the upper Ythan Estuary yesterday, and there were various smaller groups of Ruff on the feilds and the Estuary.

Painted Lady, Forvie Centre

Red-backed Shrike, Sandloch


Small Tortiseshell, Forvie Centre

Whinchat, Kirkton

Wood Sandpiper, nr Collieston

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Summer days

A hot week was followed, at least on the coast, by a downpour of biblical proportions and the usual haar brought by
Arctic Terns at Inches Point this evening

Sandwich Tern, Cransdale Head

Reed Bunting, Logie Buchan

Skylark, Kirkton

Swallow , Kirkton

Mute Swan, Logie Buchcn
the SE winds.
Local birding variety is provided by the variety of breeding birds on show and the increasing numbers of fledged juveniles. Notable features of this years crop are the number of breeding Lesser Redpolls locally (used to be a scarcity on the patch at any time) , the high numbers of Yellowhammer in and around the village and the gradually recovering Stonechat population.

 More unusual today were 2 Whooper swans in front of Waulkmill hide this morning.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Local breeders

Little in the way of fresh arrivals this weekend. The drake Garganey was seen again on Meikle Loch first thing on Friday, though very unobtrusive.
Black-headed Gulls feeding from the surface of the loch were a fine sight on Saturday, as was this preening Sand Martin pictured on a fenceline near Logie Buchan.

Black-headed Gull Meikle Loch 23.5.15

Sand Martin Logie Buchan 23.5.15

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Late weekend update

3 Dotterel graced the spring sown fields leading up to the Collieston crossroads on Friday evening. A drake Garganey then was good to see on Meikle Loch on Saturday. No further reports of either since then. More westerly winds has now slowed the migration in evidence, except for large numbers of hirundines being present at Meikle most evenings just now. Close to a 1000 mixed Swallows, House Martin, Sand Martin, and a handful of Swift were there this evening.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Arrivals continue

The pace of new arrivals dropped over the weekend, but new birds continued to be sighted along with some birds hanging on for a few days. The count on Saturday included 6 Redstarts, 2 Whinchats, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Tree Pipits, 1 Lesser Whitethroat. Today an additional new Redstart (a strikingly bright male-thanks to Ruth and Craig) brought the total up to 7 for the weekend. All these were seen around Collieston and Slains-certainly record counts for spring in the area. Of other more regular migrants Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler are all around in reasonable numbers now.
Up on the north coast White-billed divers continue to be a sight worth seeing off Portsoy, with 7 birds seen on Saturday including those now in full summer plumage. Around 13 Great Northern Divers and 1 Black-throated Diver..thanks to Paul Baxter for sorting the trips with the Gemini Explorer; great for dolphin watching as well.
Of interest a single Corn bunting remains frequenting the garden feeders in High Town and down to Sand Loch -as it has through the winter. It now regularly sings from the middle of the houses favouring the top of a wall. A sorry reminder that once numbers could be counted into triple figures in and around the village at certain times of year.

Blackcap, Kirkton

Corn Bunting, Collieston, Hightown

Lesser Whitethroat, Kirkton, Collieston 9.5.15

Male Pied Flycatcher, Kirkton 9.5.15

Male Redstart, Mains of Slains, 9.5.15

White-billed Diver, off Portsoy, 9.5.15

White-billed Diver , off Portsoy 9.5.15

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Spring falls

A big arrival of spring migrants on the back of easterly winds and torrential rain last night and early doors today in and around the village. Highlights were a "flava" Wagtail (thanks to Sam), a Wood Warbler, 4 or more Pied Flycatchers, 2 Whinchat, multiple Tree Pipits -3 plus, 3 Redstarts, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler and a supporting cast of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap in good numbers. Great spring viewing.
Pictures were hard to get last night in the conditions, but better in the early morning.

View from Hightown before the rain came

Wood Warbler Kirkton, Collieston 5.5.15

Pied Flycatcher 1,  Kirkton

Pied Flycatcher 2, Kirkton

Pied Fly 1 again

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Waders and weird wildfowl

With spring being slow to arrive this year, and indeed a couple of inches of snow falling last weekend, some nice passage waders have been a welcome distraction from the relative lack of passerines. Whimbrel and Curlew are currently passing through in small numbers, and can often be seen and heard high over the village on still evenings. They are also visible on the estuary, feeding on the mussel beds at low tide.

Curly-beaked waders large and small.
Also noteworthy in the wader department are several Ruff, which have somewhat unusually overwintered on the estuary. However, now is the time to enjoy them as they moult into their summer finery.

A black-and white Ruff...

...and a red one.

Finally, following on from my last post, where I mentioned the return of everybody's favourite technicolour duck, here is some photographic evidence to prove it.

The King is back. Long live the King.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Mid-April Miscellany

The first Wheatear of 2015 (that we've seen anyway) was present on the cliffs just north of Collieston this afternoon. Other notable bits and pieces seen during the walk were a pair of Ravens, a mix of returning seabirds including a handful of  Puffins, a single summer-plumaged Golden Plover moving north, and three Corn Buntings near the farm at Mains of Slains.

Cracking male Wheatear - welcome back!

The past week has seen some interest on the Reserve, with a ('the'?) King Eider reported on the estuary on Monday and Tuesday, and an Iceland Gull also there on Monday. A second-year Med Gull was at the ternery on Thursday with swelling numbers of Sandwich Terns, and best of all, a fine male Goshawk passed north on Friday (the latter a patch tick for me, and my first since the Brown Shrike back in 2013!).

Otherwise spring seems to have been slow springing on the patch, with just a handful of Goldcrests passing through the High Town so far. Bring on the warblers and hirundines!