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Friday, 7 November 2014

Aberlady Bay estuary and Gosford Park: birthday birding.

To be able to spend a whole day birding is a rare treat these days due to busy home and work life. At least a birthday should be a good excuse to relax, get outdoors, and hopefully see a few birds. A November birthday means that it can be hit or miss with the weather here in Scotland but this year has seen an Indian Summer stretch all the way through October with temperatures near to 20 deg C. An added bonus this year meant the high tide was due at midday and so the gulls and waders would be pushed up the Aberlady Bay estuary for better views.

Map of the area: starting at the car-park I took a route out through the brush and dunes of North-East side of the bay then back along the waters edge; then a trip to the headquarters of the Scottish Ornithologits' Club, and Gosford Park.

Grid reference: NT 46614 80495


Setting off from the car-park and across the wooden bridge there were distant views of a Little Egret, Shelduck, and Curlew. Alongside the bridge were a small group of Wigeon and Teal.

Heading along the path through the patches of Sea-Buckthorn there were a number of Great and Blue Tits.
Then an abliging Reed Bunting briefly sat on a fence post for a photo or two.
A larger bird then flew onto the top branches of a small tree. The grey nape and dark collar identified this bird as a Fieldfare.
The loud call of a number of Wrens could be heard, and after a brief wait, one came out of the long grass to allow for a photo opportunity.
Leaving the brush and dunes behind I headed onto the beach and followed the rising tide across the estuary and back inland. Hundreds of birds lined the shore sleeping and feeding. Black-headed, Black-backed, and Herring gulls together with various Plover species, Lapwing, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Sandpipers, and duck species.
Sanderling were busy feeding back and forth with the waves.
While Turnstones picked their way amongst the pebbles and seaweed.
Their were 100s of Grey Plover.
And 10s of Ringed Plover.
A nice bonus was a group of 4-5 Snow Bunting. A new species for me. They were difficult to approach for a photograph but at least I got one ID shot.
Leaving the bay I headed down the road to Gosford Park and got nice views of a number of Redwing high in the trees.
And Little Grebe on the lake.
A trip to Aberlady is not complete without a coffee at Waterston House, the HQ of the Scottish Ornithologists' Club, talking to the staff and browsing the gallery and book shelves is a good way to finish the days adventure. As a birthday treat I bought the new 2007-11 Bird Atlas and a second-hand BTO Bird Migration Atlas.
If only, like the Queen, there were more birthdays in the year I would have more chances to enjoy this great bird-watching patch.
November 3rd, 2014.


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