It certainly has been a wee while since I last posted. I’m up in Aberdeen now, studying at Craibstone.
I’ve done a fair buit since moving up here so let’s start with the Campus Bird List. So far it’s on 43, with highlights being an unexpected Snipe which flew up from next to the soon-to-be new peripheral bypass which goes right past the back of the campus. A skein of Barnacle Geese, Collared Doves, Jays from my window, and Tree Sparrows have all made the list somewhat exciting. Omissions from the list include Kestrel (seen nearby), Common Gull (same), Redpoll, Starling, Stock Dove and Pheasant. I’m sure I’ll get them sooner or later, but who knows what else will crop up…
I’ve made 2 trips to Girdle Ness so far, one last Sunday and one today. I’ll summarise last week’s trip briefly as it wasn’t that great. Plenty continental Robins were about, getting my hopes up every time one flitted through the branches, a single Redwing, many Mipits and some Rock Pipits, and a Guillemot were the highlights, as well as my second Aberdonian lifer (first was Harlequin) in the form of c10 Purple Sandpipers which flew off from the rocks by the headland.
Thankfully today’s trip was far more successful.
Started out nicely with some Goosander at the Dee mouth, and then coming across some lovely Rock Pipits which came nice and close for pics. Unfortunately, after multiple attempts, it appears the internet in my halls isn’t capable of uploading a picture to my blog despite the fact that everyone (except me and 4 others) goes home for the weekend so no one else is using the internet. I’ll have to get a WiFi hub of my own soon… Anyway…
Walking towards the lighthouse I came across another birder, Andrew Whitehouse, who I’d briefly spoken to on BirdForum before. He told me what might be seen and what has been seen around Girdle Ness and got my hopes up for finally seeing a Yellow-browed Warbler.
A quick look out at the jetties revealed a nice number of Purple Sandpipers snoozing with a few Turnstones and loads of gulls surrounding them, mainly Kittiwakes.
Around to the headland I sat on the bench to eat my lunch and see if I could coax a skua out of the mist on the horizon. No luck on the skua front but I did get a Little Gull heading north towards the river mouth. Nothing else though other than gulls and a single Guillemot.
Around towards the Sewage Plant where I was hoping the Yellow-browed Warbler would hopefully still be. I passed a few continental Robins and Oycs on the beach. A few more Purple Sandpipers as well. Oh and another flipping juvenile Dunlin which had me thinking Curlew Sandpiper as it probed the muddy puddles of a car park.
I was coming up behind another birder having a look out to see whilst I was noting a Wheatear on the beach. We ended up having a really nice chat about birds in Aberdeen, including a few decent locations for sought-after birds, and I can also point you towards John’s website showcasing some brilliant photography from Scotland and all around the world: http:johnchapmanphotographer.co.uk . I’d recommend the Birds of Prey section personally!
After our chat we both went our own ways, and as I walked along the line of Willow beside the Sewage Plant, a small bird flew up from one of the trees, across the path and dived into the Willows. I ended up following it through a few groups of shrubs, all while looking up the call of a YbW in Collins. I do remember thinking, “It’s probably just a Coal Tit,” after hearing the call, but was pleasantly surprised when I read that YbW’s calls can sound like Coal Tit! A bit of perseverance and I’d added Yellow-browed Warbler to my life list. Not amazing views but certainly confirmable! Didn’t notice a leg ring which Andrew had said the bird he’d seen had had, so perhaps there’s more than one there. Anyway, 2 lifers in 2 trips, Girdle Ness must be good!
Other birds present in the area included 2 Skylarks, loads of Redpolls overhead but none dotting down to be examined, c12 thrush sp. flew over and were revealed to be Soong Thrushes as they fed on the Rowan berries, and finally a single Chiffchaff hweeted from the Willows.
After that I was satisfied that I’d had a good day and headed back around along the road, stopping at the seawatching point again, and had nice views of a small pod of Harbour Porpoise going past north, along with a single Common Scoter. Awesome.
A good day, although would’ve been nice if I could include pictures!
Other stuff I’ve been doing: tracking. Did a bit of tracking yesterday and managed to find Red Fox and Roe Deer tracks at the edge of the campus, and the leftovers of a Red Squirrel’s dinner in the form of some gnawed Norway Spruce cones all below one tree. We actually have both species of squirrel on campus, and my class got a nice view of a Red Squirrel ambling down one of the roads on the SRUC campus with a cone in its mouth, about 2 metres away from us all as well!
Anyway, I best get some sleep now as I don’t tend to get much sleep when everyone’s in halls as I’m tempted out and end up getting home at 3am. That being said, it did pay off when I walked home one night and saw both Red Fox and Hedgehog on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
Tomorrow I might get out on my bike and perhaps try to venture to Loch of Skene to see what’s going on out there!