Saturday, 17 October 2015

Birds of September

Above: a lovely juvenile curlew sandpiper, only my second ever, and my best views to date.

September is a great month for adding species to the list. Lots of migrants are passing through, many summer visitors are still here, and more visible, as they feed up in preparation to migrate, some switching from gleaning insects to berries - sitting out in the open, gorging. However, having moulted, many are less brightly coloured, and from a photographic point of view, less interesting.

Above: a male velvet scoter.

One spot down the coast that often turns up passage migrants didn't fail to disappoint, with two very rare species for these parts - a pair of barred warblers and a wryneck. The former only stayed for a day, and I was lucky to see them; the latter, much more interesting to me, hung around for quite a few days, and I was able to return for better photographs than I'd managed to get at my first encounter.

Above: barred warbler. Below: wryneck.

Back in Scotland, I visited Musselburgh for the first time since the winter, and it did not disappoint. Excellent calm conditions and good light meant seawatching over the Firth of Forth was productive even for a novice like me, and I got a record shot of a Slavonian grebe and plenty of photographs of velvet scoters. A curlew sandpiper at the lagoons there showed very well, and although not a lifer, it was by far the best view I've had of this species. A couple of days later, I went to a spot a little further east to seek a surf scoter that has been there for some time. Alas, conditions this time were poor - choppy waves, overcast with poor light. No scoter (nor on a subsequent visit in better conditions a week or two later), but my first red-necked grebe was a nice consolation prize.

September 2015
7 species (6 lifers) - year total 163
Barred warbler
Curlew sandpiper
Red-necked grebe
Slavonian grebe
Velvet scoter
Yellow-legged gull

Below: two species I'd not expected, red-throated diver still in part breeding plumage, and sandwich tern - not new for the year list, but a treat nonetheless.

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