Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Carnoustie Golf Birdies

Well, did you expect a post about golf.

I'm posting a selection of photos taken during surveys carried out for the Carnoustie Golf Links Committee over the past few years. A small dedicated group of Angus and Dundee Bird Club members regularly visit and record the birds seen on the three courses and along the beach and close inshore. It's likely that by the end of 2018 the species list will be getting near to the hundred mark.

Posted in alphabetical order because it's the easiest way! Photos taken as records mostly using a bridge camera, Canon SX50 or SX60.

A Goldcrest, Britain's smallest bird, a resident species at Carnoustie

Grey Heron, a frequent visitor to the golf links, mostly the water features

This Jay was flying over to cache acorns for the upcoming winter. It's thought they play an important role in the spread of oak woodland when they don't find all of the acorns they hide

A Kestrel is often seen sitting on any high point looking for prey

Usually three or four Little Grebe pairs rear young each year, feeding them with small crustaceans and fish 

Long-tailed Tits have a body size similar to the Goldcrest and often fly around in family groups, never feeding long in one place

A Meadow Pipit, a very common bird in Angus and the species Cuckoos use by laying a single egg in the Pipits nest. The young Cuckoo will push the other eggs out of the Pipit's nest and the parents will end up raising a giant compared to themselves

I think every one of the small ponds on the courses support a Moorhen pair while raising their young

Three pairs of Mute Swans nest in most years and are loyal to the sites they've used before and will defend them from incomers

I recall these Cygnets are the 2017 brood of the pair seen on the Buddon Course

Oystercatchers feed on the links over the winter and during stormy weather large numbers can be seen probing the soft ground for food

Many different species of ducks use the ponds especially in winter. These two are a male Tufted Duck to the left with a male Pochard which is a species in deep decline, thought to be caused by hunting and lead poisoning from fishing gear and shotgun pellets

Often heard but not always seen, Sedge Warblers are summer visitors and nest near water where sedges grow wild

Every golfer will have seen and know the Skylark, a harbinger of spring with their vertical flight and song over the fairways

Song Thrushes are found all over the links where they like rooting around in cover for worms and snails. Often they will have a favourite "hammer stane" where they crack open a snail's shell by hitting it against the stone

Where there's small birds you'll often see a Sparrowhawk which is usually a good sign meaning the prey bird populations are good

From late spring and into summer Starling flocks build up on and near the courses and numbers can reach at least 400 in large flocks. This backlit one has a leatherjacket in its beak

Not uncommon, but an often overlooked Dove is the Stock Dove and they can be seen from time to time flying over or in trees on the courses, usually outside their breeding season

Swifts are seen over the fairways from around the second week in May but they won't stay long before returning to Arica with this years brood. The young birds which won't breed for two years will never land back on the ground till they return to the UK to breed in someones loft or the like

A female Teal, Britain's smallest duck and a frequent winter visitor

Female Tufted Duck

Another but rare winter visitor to the links ponds are Whooper Swans. This one was driven from the small loch on the Buddon Course by the resident male Mute Swan

Willow Warblers spend summer and nest near the ponds at the west end of the links, more than 100 birds are likely each year

Wrens can be found wherever there is cover around the courses, this is a youngster still showing the remains of the wide gape it had while in the nest

Not so much a water feature, this Yellowhammer was bathing in a newly created puddle which formed where the early preparations for the Open Championship in 2018 were going on

Tern Time

Some photos taken at Scurdie Ness on Monday while a small southward transit of terns seemed to be on the go. Many birds progressed along the coast briefly fishing as they went, a mixture of Sandwich Terns with some juveniles and a few Common Terns, but mostly Arctic Terns. Also in the mix a few others seen at Scurdie and the Lurgies including some distant shots of the male Ruff on Sunday which couldn't be found on Monday.

Arctic Tern

Caught another sand eel

Juvenile Black-headed Gull, looks more advanced than others I've seen

Common Sandpiper, Lurgies

Common Tern, Scurdie Ness

Some of the 40 Goosanders in a group near Scurdie Ness, seen from the roadway

Blue Tit juvenile

Green-veined White Butterfly


Redshanks at Scurdie Ness, looks odd to me, photo with my Tamron lens

Ruff male at the Lurgies which was never close in iffy light

Far out in grey cloudy light


Sandwich Tern juvenile with its parent in the next photo

Sandwich Tern

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Murton Waders

A tidy up of photos sitting on my PC waiting to be considered for posting. I've given the new map/sign seen at Murton NR top billing. On both of two visits this week I saw seven species of wader on the "Wetlands" pond including the Common Snipe in the photo below which were feeding in the open. Also, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Dunlin. I'm confident that Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits might also turn up and later Wood and Green sandpipers are possible.
Lots of butterflies and day flying moths around at various coastal sites and Swifts have started hunting in my street as they did at this time last year, if I could just get a decent photo.

Common Snipe

Six Spot Burnet Moth at Easthaven

Small Tortoiseshell also Easthaven

Common Swift, seen flying at high speed in my street

My House Martin chicks had left their nest this weekend but as often happens they returned from time to to time in the hope of getting fed, and they did

One of the Feral Pigeons taken while I waited for the adult House Martin to feed the youngsters

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Easthaven north this time

Some more from Easthaven but going north this time. Less waders and fewer species, really a month or more too early to expect the bulk of returning waders and even later for the juveniles. I wonder if breeding was delayed across the Arctic, I read a report from NE Greenland where the birds had arrived to find a metre of snow on their nesting grounds. Many were under weight and apparently abandoned any breeding attempts.

Blog describing Greenland Breeding, click here

Not a species I expected to find, but I had gone looking and found 2 Snipe together on one of the scrapes in the grazing along the coastal path

There are 4 Common Sandpipers in this photo, the head of the fourth is on the extreme left. They are very wary and I don't think I got closer than 80 metres. Mind you there's no place to hide on a beach which can be busy with walkers

A 2 year old Kittiwake, a species I seldom see at Easthaven

The only Sandwich Tern around, I wonder how many are along at Westhaven and Carnoustie though. Note, at Arbroath there is maintenance work on the West Breakwater which may disturb and prevent some birds from roosting on it at high tide. Hope the work is finished soon before the majority of the terns arrive

Although distant the good light let me capture some of these Black-headed Gulls feeding in the shoreline waves

More juvenile Black-headed Gulls this time, this one was on one of the small scrapes

Often dogs don't react well to me if I'm sitting on the ground, maybe they're not used to seeing people sitting down. I wasn't sure about this one but as you can see it's got a rabbit keeping its focus. The smaller and also apparently unaccompanied alsatian type with it thought about giving me a hard time before moving on

Another Meadow Brown photo, taken so I could identify the flower, Field Scabious – Knautia arvensis, again the ID from Anne