Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Lindisfarne and Musselburgh

Lindisfarne: Circumstance gave me a couple of days based in Edinburgh. Lindisfarne was just an hour and a half away. As a teenager I had a few holidays around and on here, and remember it as one of the first places I got into birdwatching, so I've always wanted to return. Would it live up to my memories?

In short, it did up to a point. After looking on Birdguides I'd guess local birdies don't generally go there unless there is some specific wind and weather combination that makes it a magical migration point. I didn't get those winds so I got what is on the island on a usual April day. I didn't see any other birders either.

Briefly, the island consists of a village in the SW, which I didn't look round but does get rarities, a rough un 'improved' farmland in the south and a massive dune system in the north. 

There wasn't much on the island. Lots of local stuff like Lapwings, Curlews, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, but c30 Golden Plover flying around in summer plumage was a welcome sight, and then distant falcons chasing a bird. It was Merlin-like behaviour but then one broke off and behaved like a Kestrel. Could I tick the other one as a Merlin as it continued to twist and turn? Fortunately that conundrum was solved a few minutes later a a female Merlin headed determinedly across the field. 

Then the sea. Gannets galore, Kittiwakes, Eider Ducks, Auks, lots of Fulmars and a lone Common Scoter. Finally on the SE corner of the island a male Wheatear. I walked the coast road and looked over the flats as the tide came in; Red-Breasted Merganser, a lone Pale-Bellied Brent Goose, a Red-Throated Diver, many Bar-Tailed Godwits, a couple of Knot, and a bird which looked like a Slavonian Grebe, but long distance, only my old scope, light against me etc etc. 

So nothing to get excited about but very enjoyable. 

Musselburgh and Seaton. Musselburgh could become a place I visit a few timers a year so I thought I should get acquainted. Just working out where to park, where the lagoons are etc. So imagine my surprise when walking over a bit of landscaped ash tip I detected a slightly familiar call amongst a flock of Linnets and there on a barbed wire fence were two Twite! All buff-orange throat and pink rump. I found the hides over the old lagoon and proudly announced my exciting find to a couple of locals who were in there. "Yes there's usually twenty or so up on the old Ash heap." Oh well.

Completing the tour I had about 10 White Wagtails, and off the sea wall a pair of Long-Tailed Ducks including a male in transition plumage with the full length tail. Quite a place!

On local advice I headed east to Seaton and set up my scope. What a sight! The Forth was millpond flat and there were birds as far as the eye could see. Eider Duck everywhere, about 50 Red Breasted Mergansers close in, and amongst them all a few more Long-Tailed Duck, a couple of Velvets Scoters, some Razorbills, a Guillemot, a Red-Throated Diver and a Shag. There were many more ducks further out and some small flocks were clearly Velvet Scoter. With my old scope I couldn't manage any id's further out but the array of birdlife in scope view was quite fantastic. 

I will definitely be coming back. 

Commonly Spotted Orchids

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