Friday, 12 April 2019

Seamill and Coast :: 08-11 April 2019

A visit to West Kilbride and Seamill to see the folks. We were again staying at the Seamill Hydro and so each morning I got up early to be on the beach by sunrise. Red-breasted merganserThe sun rises behind a hill and so it is closer to 7.05am before the sun climbs high enough to be visible.

My first morning out started with views of 6 red-breasted mergansers (3f,3m) offshore. The males were displaying to the females although they appeared to be completely unimpressed. I never managed to get them all within a single group by did manage a couple of photos before they began to exit, stage left.

I headed south from the hotel and stopped on the bridge to see if the dippers were showing. No sign. I was just about to move on when there was an Wheatearodd disturbance under the shallow water and to my surprise there was a sudden commotion, much splashing of water, and an otter shot off up the burn hugging close to the righthand wall.

Two wheatear (my first of the year) amongst the rocks in front of the houses overlooking the sea, one catching grubs for his breakfast. Just short of the Waterside Inn there were numbers of rock and meadow pipit and four further wheatear on the beach. In the field to my left there were also a further 16 wheatear.

I scanned each curlew sighting hoping for whimbrel Rock pipitbut no such luck.

The second morning I made it down to the beach and tried again for sighting of dippers (and now also hoping for another otter encounter!). I waited on the bridge and damn me, a dipper flew past me from the beach side, and up the burn and out of view.

I retraced my steps from the day before and found many of the wheatear had departed the cow field by the Waterside Inn, and most were now to be found on the beach and rocks. The rock pipit were showing well and could be seen with nest-building materials.

As I approached the burn, I saw a Water pipitlighter-coloured pipit and on reviewing my photographs confirmed it was a summer plumage water pipit.

In the late morning we headed off to Tescos for some provisions. We then detoured back from the shops to look at any birds showing at Irvine Harbourside. We found four sandwich tern fishing up the estuary and then a flock of pink-footed geese on the nearside spit of the River Irvine. Two wheatear showed across the river from Harbour Road on the opposite bank.

Sandwich ternPink-footed goose




Black guillemot

As I headed out on the third morning the sky was completely clear, and there was a pink appearance to the island of Arran. This became redder and redder as the sun climbed above the hills behind, until the beach, sea and islands were bathed in sunlight. No sign of the dipper or otter and I didn't add any new species to my list.

After lunch Charlotte and I decided to have a walk from Troon Harbour to the sea wall. At the harbour we saw 46 eider swimming around with 5 grey seals. There was also a single black guillemot, with two more outside the main harbour. Purple sandpiper

We started out towards the sea wall and as as we walked, we found a small flock of ringed plover with a single dunlin. As we got to the path along the sea wall we spotted 4 purple sandpipers playing chicken with the incoming tide; along the remainder of the wall we found 12 more. We also noted 5 redshank, more ringed plover, and 20 turnstone.

The fourth morning was the last walk for this visit. I could only find 2 wheatears though there were increasing numbers of ringed plover (8), reed bunting (2), and a grey wagtail outside Seamill Hydro.

I flushed what looked like a snipe from beside the cow Ringed ploverfield by the Waterside Inn but didn't get a good look to know precisely what it was. I decided a distant fuzzy photo of the birds distant behind wouldn't be conducive to obtaining an ID.

Sightings (50) included: black guillemot, black-headed gull, blackbird, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, collared dove, cormorant, curlew, dipper, dunlin, dunnock, eider, gannet, goldfinch, great black-backed gull, grey heron, grey wagtail, greylag goose, herring gull, hooded crow, house sparrow, jackdaw, linnet, magpie, meadow pipit, oystercatcher, pied wagtail, pink-footed goose, purple sandpiper, red-breasted merganser, redshank, reed bunting, ringed plover, rock dove / feral pigeon, rock pipit, rook, sandwich tern, shag, shelduck, song thrush, starling, stonechat, teal, turnstone, water pipit, wheatear, wigeon, woodpigeon and wren.

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