Pre-dawn the flash water in the fields had a thin covering of ice reminding us of approaching winter as we headed north on a delightfully empty A1. First stop was forty minutes up the road at Mcdonalds a traditional Scottish restaurant on the outskirts of Berwick for a Mcmuffin traditional Scottish breakfast.
Fuelled with hot tea my son and I stepped back to the morning sun breaking on the horizon as we crossed the current border. Normally I bird alone and use Radio Four for company so having a reading from Paddington Bear was a break from the usual routine. Torness was as grey as ever and whilst my son's thoughts lingered in Peru we arrived at Musselburgh Lagoons courtesy of the Birdguides site guide and map links.
Bins on the main lake as we unpacked coats and cameras revealed an adult winter Med Gull loafing with the dozen Black-headed, still noteworthy in Lothian unlike so many locations further south.
Like it's more famous namesake from the Tom Hanks movie of several years back the phalarope had departed leaving us and the four birders we met to mention its name in each conversation as if the incantation might summon it back.
A chocolate stop and thirty minutes later we were at Aberlady Bay in the small parking area adjacent to the wooden footbridge crossing the Peffer Burn. We began to scour the banks and pick through the Redshank when a typically dour and bearded Scot crossed the bridge and gave the game away, that the long-staying Lesser Yellowlegs was playing hide & seek just below the near edge a mere 20metres away. As we parted company with him it obligingly decided to cross with us and lifted into the air dropping onto the intertidal mud at the other side.
Lesser Yellowlegs, Aberlady Bay.
I've gone commando (manual) on the camera in a bid to learn more so I had a bit of fun with the strong sun and reflected light but managed one or two record shots in which LY is recognisable and doesn't have green legs.
We made a few stops to view across the Forth as we headed to our lunch appointment with the gulls at Eyemouth but whilst we had huge amounts of common waders and duck, a couple of Long-tailed Duck were the only other notable sighting.
Bass Rock made for an impressive Gannet-free picture amid a calm sea and Joel and I agreed to head out there perhaps next year so he can experience Bass in all its guano filled glory.
A, sadly dead, roadside Barn Owl south of Grantstown will be despatched to the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme next week.
Despite getting to Eyemouth just as a boat pulled in about 200+ white headed gulls there was nothing of significance with 98% being Herring Gull. We had to content ourselves with watching Seals and taking more photographs of accommodating Eider as well as a few gulls. Two juveniles with completely unmoulted scapulars were likely to be of northern origin and therefore probably argentatus.
Herring Gull L.a.argenteus 1st-winter.
One or two Shags plied their trade with the gulls and seals in the white wing free harbour.
Shag, Eyemouth Harbour
Last stop Stag Rocks for another attempt at this year's showy Black Guillemot which was again absent. Single Slavonian Grebe, another two Long-tailed Duck and a couple of Red-throated Diver the best we could manage.