Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Scotland in brief

I have spent much of the second of my two weeks away from home and Birdwatch in Scotland with the family. This is traditional practice - my Dad lives in Edinburgh, and heading north at half term is always a welcome break for Haze, Ed, Ava and I. Naturally, there are birding opportunities too, and after dozens of visits over the years I feel like I've got to know some of the best sites along the Firth of Forth pretty well.

This time last year I spent a day undertaking a big loop around Dumfriess & Galloway and then southern Ayrshire, largely chasing (and finding) vagrant geese, but family commitments this year meant that I stayed much more local - the Whooper Swans (above) in Fife and Long-tailed Ducks (below) off Longniddry being among the assorted highlights. Longniddry also boasted far more Velvet than Common Scoters this year, something I've noted at Musselburgh before but not here. Scotland in winter boasts a seaduck spectacle of which we birders from the South-East can only dream ...

... and this February, those still in London can also dream about unseasonal Siberian vagrants. While on the long drive up to Edinburgh, I got a text about a rumoured Dusky Warbler being discovered on my old patch at Walthamstow Reservoirs - a first for London if confirmed. Within 24 hours it had indeed been relocated, and finder Lol Bodini has doubtless been celebrating his success. He has triumphed where I failed, yours truly having found but then lost a possible Dusky Warbler on Walthamstow Marsh back on 20 October 1990, at a time when several others appeared on the east coast. It was mentioned briefly in the Ornithological Bulletin of the London Natural History Society at the time, but I didn't get enough on the bird to claim or submit it, and consigned it to history as one that got away.

There hasn't been a sniff of a Dusky in the capital since, so congratulations to Lol for adding it to the London list - I only hope it stays (and survives) until I return at the weekend.

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