I had arranged to meet Paul at 0730, though he arrived a bit earlier than planned so I was a few minutes earlier leaving than intended but it meant that we could maybe squeeze in a hunt for Dipper for Paul's list first. A trio of squabbling Goldfinches were a different way to start the list for the day, though the usual Herring Gulls were seconds behind. Feral Pigeon, Magpie and Carrion Crow joined them, as did Starling, Blackbird and Woodpigeon before I arrived at our rendezvous point. After suggesting the Dipper site we headed for Trottick Ponds and hopefully a Dipper for Paul. Collared Dove was added as we waited to cross the Kingsway.
We checked first from the road bridge over the Dighty but drew a blank. Crossing the road to check upriver however was instantly successful as a Dipper called loudly and flew upriver and out of sight round the slight bend behind the site of the former pub. A Moorhen flew out from the bank as the Dipper passed. We then walked along to the footbridge into the Trottick Ponds Nature Reserve to see if we could relocate the Dipper. A trio of Goosanders flew past over the golf course. We successfully re-found the Dipper and watched as it fed in the water at the edge of the Dighty Burn.
As we were already in the reserve I figured we might as well check the ponds. The Goosanders had landed on the main pond. A Common Gull and a Black Headed Gull stood together on a small wooden fence section. On the water were a pair of Coots. Mute Swans and Mallards were on the other pond but there was no sign of the expected Tufted Ducks. Great Tit, Robin and Mistle Thrush were all added before we headed back to the car to head for Riverside Nature Park to try for Jack Snipe.
We arrived at the park just before 0815. Carrion Crow, Magpie and Chaffinch were all seen around the car park. Blackbird, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Long Tailed Tit and Robin were all added as we checked the bushes and trees surrounding the open area to the north of the car park. Woodpigeon, Pied Wagtail and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen as we walked along the path to the north of Buzzard Wood. A small party of Curlews headed inland. I spotted a Redwing fly into Buzzard Wood. Paul spotted a pair of Oystercatchers on the grass to the east of Buzzard Wood. A Fieldfare and a couple of Redwings flew up from the raised bank in front of Buzzard Wood as we rounded the corner to find the path mostly underwater.
We walked along the hedge-line to the small gap that would take us to the edge of the rather more boggy than usual marshy area. A pair of Snipe took off and flew rapidly away from us, but despite much searching we found no more Snipe and no sign of any Jack Snipe. A trio of Great Black Backed Gulls flew over and we found a singing male Siskin in Buzzard Wood. Scanning the trees around the car park, I found a pair of Greenfinches. As we walked back to the car park a skein of Pink Footed Geese transited over the airport and headed northwards. Skylarks could be seen lifting from the hill and rising skywards singing loudly. A pair of Starlings hurried over.
A few Feral Pigeons passed overhead as we followed the path round in the direction of the Lochan. Paul found a Bullfinch and a Wren in the bushes before we reached the gap in the hedge that allowed us to check the Lochan without disturbing the birds. There was a pair of Shelduck on the water and a number of Teal around the far side. A few Oystercatchers and Mallards were also dotted around. On a smaller pool nearer the road a Grey Heron stood with an Oystercatcher for company. Black Headed Gulls dropped in and off again. We added Yellowhammer on our way to the hide overlooking the bay. Redshanks and a few Dunlin were mostly sleeping on the small island of pebbles in the burn, with many more along the near shoreline.
With only a limited view from here we walked up to the bridge over the railway for a better view. This gave us a better view of the gulls - mostly Herring Gulls but also a Lesser Black Backed Gull. There were 4 Greylags visible across the far side of the bay and plenty of Black Headed Gulls in the same general area. A pair of Grey Wagtails flew past us. Further round in the bay we added a Cormorant on the pipe with a few more much further upriver on the small island that sits somewhere beyond Kingoodie. Another Yellowhammer and a few more Blackbirds were seen as we headed back to the car having managed to see 38 species in/from the park.
We decided to head for Piper Dam next in the hope of getting Canada Geese for both of our year-lists. Oystercatchers and a few Buzzards were spotted on the way. Unfortunately we were out of luck with no Geese of any sort to be found on the Loch. A Cormorant and a distant Grey Heron were seen in addition to the Goldeneye and Mallards, before we moved on again. We headed inland next adding Rook and Yellowhammer as well as a Sparrowhawk displaying over a large wood, which may have been something more interesting, but we were unable to stop. Jackdaws were seen perched on roofs as we passed through a small village.
We found a field of Greylag and Pink Footed Geese with Whooper Swans and Mute Swans nearby. There was also a Lesser Black Backed Gull, a Shelduck and a few Lapwings around too. Coal Tit, Long Tailed Tit and Goldcrest were also seen around the outer edges of a garden. Next we headed to a piece of open moorland where a handful of birds were seen, though things were mostly quiet. Meadow Pipit, a distant perched Raven, a Kestrel and a pair of Red Grouse were added to the list. In addition I found a Roe Deer. Next we headed for Backwater Reservoir, stopping to view a flock of Chaffinches and Bramblings in a few trees and bushes by the road which were feeding in a field opposite also.
At Backwater, Mallards were seen on the water. The large wood behind the car park has been chopped down almost completely, reducing the habitat for the few species that are usually to be seen here. On the way back down the road we watched Mistle Thrushes in the fields and a single Curlew. A surprise was 10 Bullfinches perched on a wire - not something I remember having seen before. Kestrel and Buzzard were seen near the Dam and a Crossbill was heard, albeit faintly. A Reed Bunting was seen as we turned back onto the 'main' road. Loch of Kinnordy was our next stop.
Paul's 3rd year-tick of the day was added as we headed in fron the car park to the Gullery Hide - a Treecreeper on the trees near the feeders. This added to the Dipper and Red Grouse seen earlier. Although there was a lot less ice than on Friday, the birds were still mostly rather distant. Teal, Wigeon and Tufted Duck were all new for the list (outwith the park). In addition there were 2 Cormorants, a few Redshanks, Coot, Mallard, Whooper Swans and Mute Swans to be seen. A walk along to the Swamp Hide gave us Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Wren as well as a Gadwall pair. I managed to get paul onto a Snipe I saw lift from the reeds across the far side of the Loch and we both watched it fly around for 30 seconds or so before landing back out of sight again.
Siskins were seen in the trees as we walked to the East Hide. Tree Sparrows were seen at the feeders along with Pheasants and various Tits and Chaffinches. There was no sign of any Bramblings though. A few gulls and Greylags were seen from inside the Hide but nothing new. A pair of Treecreepers were seen near the car park which allowed me to get a few decent photos. We decided on a quick stop at Forfar Loch in the hope of adding Little and Great Crested Grebe for the day. Disappointingly there was little to be seen except a few Goldeneye and Mallard as well as Common, Black Headed, Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls (at least 8). A Song Thrush was seen here too.
Next we headed for another brief stop at Murton. A trio of Pied Wagtails plus distant Wigeon, Teal and Mallard were seen from the car park hide but as of late it was relatively quiet. Having been recognised and told that there was a Scaup on the other pool, we walked down to the other hide where a pair of Shoveler were quickly added. A few Lapwings, Tufted Ducks, Mallard, Wogeon, Teal
and gulls were seen here as well as a single Greylag. Round at the pool where we'd found 2 Green Sandpipers on our previous visit we found a small flock of Tufted Ducks. Among them was the 'Scaup'. A drake, but not a Scaup. The head shape showed a hint of a crest, or at least a bump rather than the rounded head that would be expected. The back was also darker and less obviously vermiculated than a Scaup would show. The sides also looked less than the clean white that would be expected. The black on the 'nail' of the bill was also too extensive. My suspicion is that the bird was a hybrid Pochard x Tufted Duck - a mix I've seen here before, and apparently there have been at least 3 similar birds around in recent years (maybe survivors of a single brood?).
We decided against stopping at Balgavies and instead headed for Arbroath. By now the wind had picked up in strength and the temperature felt much lower than it had done earlier. The young Iceland Gull was one of the first birds we saw on our way along to the cliffs. A Guillemot flew past and a trio of Shags struggled to make headway into the gale, low over the water. A Rock Pipit picked around on the path and Paul noticed a few sleeping Eider out on the rocks. We tried spotting from the cliffs but the strong winds meant even holding binoculars steady was almost impossible. A pair of Guillemots were found out among the swell but it was otherwise very quiet.
We headed back down the hill only to discover a Peregrine hanging in the wind above the field next to the cliffs. A distant Fulmar was another addition. Another stop along by the harbour and another beyond the cinema added nothing new. By now, enthusiasm was beginning to flag though we were determined to try and reach 80 species from the 78 we were on. Westhaven was tried but Cormorant, Redshank, Mallard and a single Bar Tailed Godwit were all we had to show for our efforts. Monifieth waterfront was next, but the flock of waders along the shore turned out to all be Bar Tailed Godwits, so with the time now around 1730 we called it a day and headed for home.
Despite nothing new for my own list we managed to get 3 new ones for Paul and managed 79 species in total as well. The strong, cold winds limited our options as the day progressed and a number of expected 'easy' birds were not seen at all, but that's birding.
|Pink Footed Goose|
|Grey Heron & Oystercatcher|
|Black Headed Gull & Teal|
|Herring Gull & Lesser Black Backed Gull|
|Dunlin & Redshank|
|Pink Footed Goose|
|Pink Footed Goose & Greylag Goose|
|Oystercatcher, Greylag Goose, Lesser Black Backed Gull & Whooper Swan|
|Pink Footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Lapwing & Shelduck|
|Mute Swan & Whooper Swan|
|Brambling & Chaffinch|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker|
|Shoveler & Coot|
|Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrid|
|Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrid|
|Iceland Gull & Herring Gull|
|Bar Tailed Godwit|
Species seen - Bar Tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Brambling, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dipper, Dunlin, Eider, Fieldfare, Fulmar, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Guillemot, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Iceland Gull, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pink Footed Goose, Raven, Red Grouse, Redshank, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Rook, Shag, Shelduck, Shoveler, Siskin, Skylark, Snipe, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Treecreeper, Tufted Duck, Whooper Swan, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.
Mammal seen - Roe Deer.