Apologies for the delay in posting yesterays update. With the weather forecast being so wrong - it was a glorious day yesterday - we made the best of the conditions and started the last cut of the season before the geese arrive in five short weeks! Certain areas we can only get to when the water levels are low and as rain is forecast these were the areas we targeted. As a result there was little to be seen on the pools in front of the centre except wardens! That said whilst using the quad and topper I was accompanied by a juvenile ruff who had absolutely no fear of humans or machinary at all and spent the whole day no more than three or four feet away feeding on insects disturbed by the cutting!
Elsewhere other highlights included three marsh harriers, an osprey and a peregrine - no sign of the red kite since the start of the week.
Possibly the biggest surprise today has been a reeling grasshopper warbler on Mosstown Marsh. It may well have been reeling for a while but we heard it today whilst trying to find all our missing sheep!
It has been another grand day for raptors on site with the red kite showing distantly over the dunes, closer in there are at least two marsh harriers and several sightings of osprey.
Wader passage is continuing slowly, today there were nine greenshank, three ruff and single black tailed godwit and dunlin all on the pools in front of the centre.
The Red Kite has been putting in regular appearances during the week and even I managed to catch up with it today! After showing distantly over the dunes (where it seems to be favouring) it flew over the Low Ground, where it's wing tags were visible. Although we couldn't get all the details, we'll hopefully be able to find out a bit more about where it has come from and let you know. Whilst circling over the Low Ground, the Red Kite got into a bit of a rammy with an Osprey before the two birds decided to circle next to each other. At the same time, a Peregrine and Buzzard were circling just below them whilst a Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds. A couple of Kestrels over the car park completed an impressive display of raptors (although I'm not sure if anyone managed to see a Sparrowhawk today!). This magnificent sight took place in front of Jim Dunbar, who was the first RSPB warden of the Loch of Strathbeg in the 1970's and Jim commented, "If I'd seen Red Kite and Osprey circling together in my day, well, I'd probably have had a heart attack!".
Waders today included two Green Sandpipers, at least three Greenshank and a Ruff (along with hundreds of Curlew and Lapwing) on the Visitor Centre pools. Two Little Gulls were over the Loch and sightings offshore included a handful of Manx Shearwaters, a Bonxie and a Black Guillemot. The Ruddy Shelducks were last seen on Thursday, but nine turned up in the Montrose Basin on Friday, which it has to be assumed are the same birds?
The Red Kite was seen again today at Corsekelly (the farm adjacent to the North End of the reserve) at about 1.30pm. I haven't heard whether it strayed into our airspace, but it's good to know that it's still around (it would be even better if I could see it though!). There were again two Ospreys on the Low Ground and at least one Marsh Harrier over the reeds. With Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine all seen recently, there can't be many better places for raptors in the area at the moment.
Wading birds included two Black-tailed Godwits, eight Greenshank and nine Dunlin and at least six Ruddy Shelduck were still around. The large gathering of Herring Gulls is still using the pools - but no rarities to report amongst them yet!
Ospreys have been remarkably regular on the reserve recently, but I've also been off the reserve to show them off at some other sites in Aberdeenshire.
On Sunday it was the Lochter Centre (near Oldmeldrum) where the owner has put up a nesting platform, which has worked a treat. Great views were had by all.
This evening we had an 'Osprey watch' on the Ythan estuary, where we had a nice selection of birds to see - but no Ospreys! Four Spoonbills were probably the highlight, we also saw a colour-ringed Greenshank (and met the ringer who had ringed it on the Ythan last week!) and a selection of waders on their way south. Someone stumped me with the question of how far a wader can travel non-stop, so here's the answer: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070913-longest-flight.html. Amazing - a Bar-tailed Godwit that flew 7,145 miles from Alaska to New Zealand non-stop in nine days!
Keep an eye on the events pages of the RSPB website for opportunities to see all sorts of great birds across Aberdeen (city and shire) in the next few weeks.