Saturday, 28 November 2009


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.
Bass Rock.
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.
Eyemouth 28/11/09
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.


Stewart said...

Nice one Alan, you did better than me...

Alan Tilmouth said...

Didn't see it or didn't get any pics?

Pete Woodruff said...

Enjoyed the read Alan and have my eye on your Lesser Yellowlegs image if you see what I mean.

I'll e-mail you as requested.

Regards Pete.

laura K said...

Alan, another good read. I hope to try your Scottish restaurant someday.

But one thing: did you know that here in the US, "going commando" means not wearing any underpants??? Thanks for that bit of visual to go with your post!

Alan Tilmouth said...

Yes Laura, it means the same here, about how I felt without the safety of the automatic settings on the Canon.

thedrunkbirder said...

Ah, dipping at Musselburgh Lagoons, a familiar feeling for me... and we've another 4 hours each way on you!

Birding about Northumberland said...

Nice pictures Alan especially the gull, you seem to have the camera tamed now

Andrew Kinghorn said...

Glad to hear you had a good day. I was dissapointed the Wilson's Phalarope wasn't there but I did get some good views of the Lesser Yellowlegs. My Dad got some video footage of the Lesser Yellowlegs and it turned out quite well.

Stewart said...

Didnt see the bird at all Alan. Not to worry I've had a few over the years....Its nice up there isn't it and only about 70 - 80 miles for me...