Thursday, 2 February 2012

Brilliant Birds

I have to say Musselburgh is becoming my favourite place for birdwatching in the winter! In my last two visits I've seen five lifers as well as numerous species that I have only occasionally seen before.

Today the weather was breathtakingly freezing, but it was so dry that there was no ice and very little frost on the paths (though puddles were frozen and grass was frosty). The sun was shining and the sky was clear so once I'd been walking for a while I barely noticed how cold it was!

I've found the best route to walk is to start by the main road bridge over the River Esk, walk downstream to the estuary then turn right onto the John Muir Way along to the Lagoons.

On a good day there are brilliant birds all along this route. Today I saw a lot of wigeon (such pretty ducks!) at the mouth of the Esk; a fair number of eider and more goldeneye than I've ever seen before in one place. There was a small group of red breasted mergansers, the males looking resplendent. Both mergansers and goldeneye were starting their courtship displays, well worth stopping to get a closer look! From the John Muir Way, I saw my first ever Slavonian grebes (not as spectacular in winter plumage as they will be in the summer, but still very impressive birds!), a shag (looking a bit like a greenish cormorant having a bad hair day!) a little auk (an adorable relative to the puffin) and five velvet scoters. Flying around the grass by the path was a small flock of twites. Today the lagoons were empty except for a small flock of curlew (beautiful waders with a wonderful haunting call), but really I was already more than happy with the birds I'd seen so far (and I've only mentioned the highlights!)

Once you get to the John Muir Way, there are generally very few people (or dogs!) around and most of the people who are around are birdwatchers. Most of them are more than happy to share their sightings (that's how I found out about the Slavonian grebe and the shag!).

Foolishly I had forgotten my camera, otherwise there would be photos.....

As ever, test in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

15 comments:

Ms Sparrow said...

Wow! I really enjoyed looking at all your birds. Thanks for the links.
The little auk is adorable. Some of the ducks resemble the many water birds we have here in Minnesota (Land of 10,000 Lakes). I was surprised to see one named a Shag. (I was under the impression that shag was a naughty word in Britain.)
I've been watching the "Doc Martin" episodes on TV and in one there are birds called Choughs nesting on the cliffs and many birdwatchers flock to see them. Have you ever spotted one?

Carol Steel 5050 said...

Sounds like it was a rewarding day outdoors!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Ms Sparrow yes shag is a naughty word in Britain! So is tit and we have several species of birds called tit!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Mss Sparrow - oh and choughs, I've been lucky to see them once, in Cornwall, wonderful birds

Gabrielle Bryden said...

Sometimes I see more when I leave my camera behind. Sounds like a wonderful place for a walk.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Great birding there!

Our Bald Eagles beginning their high-in-the-sky "kettling" courtships now. A couple days ago two got their talons locked together, fell to earth in the middle of one of our small downtowns here, and were there for a couple hours before they got themselves free. (We saw more than a dozen (mature and immature) sitting all together in a field near our house today!)

bunnits said...

Sounds like a delightful birding day. I would love to see a little auk !

Our bald eagles are busy at Lake Guntersville. :-)

Crafty Green Poet said...

Gabrielle - I agree, its often better not to try to take photos and i rarely actually photograph birds (apart from big, slow moving ones like herons) other than for ID purposes.

bunnits and Rabbits Guy - I'd love to see bald eagle courtship, sounds impressive!

Caroline Gill said...

Wonderful post ... and what a plethora of species, too. It brought back memories of the calling Oystercatchers when we were last in that amazing neck of the woods.

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Juliet,

It was lovely to read about the birds you have over there and must have been a great bird watching day.
They are so beautiful and especially love the wigeon, such pretty colours.
Thanks for sharing and hope you have a happy weekend

Hugs
Carolyn

Ash said...

Lovely post! Please don't forget your camera next time :-)

Marvin said...

Sounds like you had a enjoyable outing and great birding.

Kathiesbirds said...

Oh, but just reading about it is lovely! I am so glad you got to enjoy this!

Alison Wiley said...

No worries about forgetting your camera, Juliet -- these are great word pictures. I like the bird who's having a bad hair day. So relatable.

shoreacres said...

What a delightful day you had. My friend in England is beginning to mutter about a trip to Scotland this year. Since she's such a birder, I'm sending her a link to your blog as a resource for her trip planning!