Thursday, September 18, 2014

Heralds of autumn. 17.9.2014.

Yet another day of high pressure, blue skies and warm sunshine. I've a feeling the next comments might just be about a need for rain though!!!  Sadly, the above conditions, linked with (still) an easterly wind meant that sea watching was somewhat unproductive. Adult Gannets plied back and forth but no other passage was in evidence despite a rather flat sea and good visibility.

Outer Loch Indaal was almost devoid of birds too, but the Inner Loch made up for things with a couple of groups of Red-breasted Merganser, Common Scoter, Eiders and a few auks.  The biggest change was the presence of almost 300 Wigeon at the very head of the loch, which is a sure indication autumn is upon us. Waders too are in better numbers with Oystercatcher, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit  being prevalent amongst equally large numbers of gulls. A low tide, haze and distant views made identification of a tantalising group of godwits impossible. They might well have been islandica Black-tailed Godwits ( a little late? ) but remained an unresolved challenge and a distant, shimmering image in the warm afternoon air.

Grey lag Geese were much in evidence today at both Bridgend and Loch Gorm, but I'll feature these in a separate Blog at some point. Other than the geese almost 100 Tufted Duck were on Loch Gorm, a family of Mute Swan, but little else. The weather conditions must be assisting the passage of night migrants, both of departing birds and those arriving with us or even passing through. Circumstances change from day to day and provide the very essence of what birdwatching is about.  At three separate locations single Greenland Wheatears were present and a patient examination of the various alba wagtails around showed one or two good "Whites" to be present.

Whilst Swallows were seen at a number of locations, the numbers are now depleted, as are the mixed finch flocks which could be seen previously at a couple of places. Moved on the pastures new?  Certainly the autumn song of Robins is now in evidence, a good proportion of which will be incoming birds as we don't carry that high a population. With much of the harvest now gathered in our attention can turn to the stubble fields which remain. One of the real pleasures I hold for this time of year is to see the inevitable Skylarks, there's usually at least two together (!), indulging in that yo-yo flighting over the newly cut fields whilst calling all the while. So, change is at hand, the next major phase of which will be the arrival of the geese......