Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Tea or Mothee?

Been away walking the East Highland Way last week. I’m now back in on the action and this is what’s been seen at St Abb's Head over the last few days.
East Highland Way Wildcamp
Noticeable movements of waders have been evident with an almost constant stream of Curlew moving south over the reserve. 4 Dunlin were on Bell Hill on the 26/8 and 4 Greenshank were at Millar’s Moss yesterday 27/8. A single Ringed Plover went south this morning and a Pectoral Sandpiper was reported on the 24/8.

A small fall of common migrants at the weekend brought 4 Pied Flycatcher as well as Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher and about 5 each of Chiff and Willow. This morning 28/8 several Wheatear were fresh in, as well as a Whinchat in the walled garden and a single Pied Flycatcher by the Loch. Also 11 Willow Warbler.

Butterfly numbers are beginning to decrease now with only 4 species recorded on the transect this week. Still good numbers of Small Copper and Wall Brown as well as the White species. The flowering Privet has also been attracting an impressive number of Small Tortoishell and Peacock. No Clouded Yellow… yet.

Small T
Small Copper
Wall on wall
A nice first for the reserve came in the form of a Least Yellow Underwing on Monday. First recorded in the borders in 2003 it has been spreading north and is now recorded frequently from coastal sites. Unfortunately the little bugger flew as I was photographing it so this is all I have.
Least Yellow Underwing

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Having been away for a week (kayaking, camping, cycling, island hopping and birding) it’s nice to be perched up at the lighthouse again. Having arrived back on Sunday it was clear migrants had landed… migrant butterflies that is!

Peacock and Painted Lady

 A mass of butterflies were adding a splash of colour to the now autumn looking grassland. Species in order of abundance seemed to be Large White, Small Tortoishell, Peacock and Painted Lady. Numbers were difficult to quantify but Large Whites were well into the hundreds.

It’s been a good year for butterflies on the reserve with 16 species seen so far including; Small White, Large White, Green-veined White, Wall Brown, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Copper, Northern Brown Argus, Common Blue, Grayling, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Dark Green Fritillary, Painted Lady and Speckled Wood. Speckled Wood having only been recorded once previously in 2004. This is clearly testament to the range of habitats available at St Abb’s Head… and the weather!
Dark Green Fritillary
It’s been fairly quiet on the bird front over the last few days with only a hint that things are beginning to move. Several Juv Wheatear have been lingering around the lighthouse. A single Dunlin was on Bell Hill scrape on 4/8. A single Greenshank and Snipe were seen at Millar’s Moss and small numbers of Swift, Common and Black-Headed Gulls have been passing the lighthouse.

Breeding bird highlights at the moment are the two broods of Little Grebe chicks on the Mire Loch… stripy little chaps. I’m now in the process of writing up this years Common Bird Census for the Mire Loch and surrounding area and it will be interesting to compare numbers with last year. Other breeders were showing off some spectacular aerobatics on the reserve yesterday as a family of Ravens flew over… CRONK CRONK!


The first dragonflies of the year have also been spotted recently, mainly Common Darter and a single Ruddy Darter these join good numbers of Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies around the Mire Loch.

Ruddy or Red-Viened Darter? (i think)
Common Darter (i think)

Common Darter

Finally both Minke Whales and Harbour Porpoise have been seen almost daily, with a Minke seen less than 150m off the head this evening (close enough to hear it blow). Only when you see them at this range do you truly get a sense of scale. Shame it was just too dark to get any decent photos.