Wednesday 17 April 2013

Brilliant birds at Musselburgh

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know I enjoy birdwatching near Musselburgh. I walk from the centre of Musselburgh along the River Esk to its Estuary with the Firth of Forth and then along the John Muir Walkway to the Musselburgh Lagoons. It's the best place for birdwatching near Edinburgh (certainly that's accessible by public transport) and unusual birds often turn up there.

I'd heard yesterday that swallows and martins had started arriving back from migration in the last couple of days and hoped today to see a few in Musselburgh. I was almost put off by the weather, it was dull and wet, the rain sometimes very heavy. However I'm so glad I persevered!

I took a bus from Edinburgh to Musselburgh. As soon as I got to Musselburgh I was greeted by good numbers of swallows and house martins flying high above the river. Visibililty was bad due to the rain, but along the John Muir Walkway I saw plenty of birds including velvet scoters and a summer plumage Slavonian grebe on the water, a grey plover on the shore and skylarks singing up in the sky  above the grassy banks.

The whole area around Musselburgh Boating Pond was alive with swallows and house martins (and the occasional sand martin) flying around just above the water and high up in the air. The swallows at one point all lined up along the fences! Willow warblers (also just back from migration) were singing from the willow trees, one came really close to me!  I could only tell it was a willow warbler and not a chiffchaff, because it was singing. There are small differences in the appearance of these two warblers, but really, they're more or less identical in appearance.

I was enjoying this magical atmosphere of spring just sprung, when a birdwatcher approached me and said I might be interested in what had just arrived on the Lagoons. So I went along and was totally delighted to find three avocets! These wonderfully elegant waders were once incredibly rare in the UK but are a conservation success and are much less rare than they were. This was my first time to ever see an avocet, but what beautiful birds! (And sorry no photos, they were too far away for my camera and I just wanted to enjoy the moment, but the Scottish Ornithologists Club shared a photo on their Facebook page, taken by David Allan of the same three avocets.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more. 


Jo Potter said...

It sounds like the birds put on a magical flying show for you!
Amazing that you saw so many variety of birds together.
My garden has a small stream and next door has a small wood and a lake! Everyday I can see and hear wild geese around the lake, woodpeckers are active now and the kingfishers. I love springtime!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

I remember the places you write about here ( I followed your suggestions very carefully at the end of the year)..but I took a bus to get there! You say you walked from the centre of town?...And I thought to be a walker!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Tommaso - I may have been misleading, I walked from the centre of Musselburgh, which is a town, not from the centre of Edinburgh which is a city!

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a fantastic day of birding. A great variety! I am waiting to see some new birds moving in.

Ms Sparrow said...

The avocets are quite distinctive and handsome birds. No wonder you were so happy to see them.

RG said...

The birds are in full glory!!!

Little Miss Titch said...

that sounds amazing ,all those birds fabulous

Bill said...

Sounds like a great day.