Trip reports

Thorntonloch and Barns Ness

Thorntonloch and Barns Ness
Water Pipit - Magda Linchard

Sunday, 14 February 2016

10am arrived and the last of our group appeared as did a blizzard off the North Sea. We sat it out before heading off to the beach, picking up song thrush and robin en route. The sheep fields had several curlews feeding away, later to be counted as 40.
The beach provided us with decent if somewhat windy views of all the expected waders including comical sanderlings and aloof redshanks; curlew burbled away with the sound of the waves crashing in the background. Red breasted merganser and other sea duck went about their business as if to say, "what storm?".

Reaching the north end we walked off the beach to be greeted by a woodcock flypast! This unexpected delight kept us smiling as we walked into the wind. On the Torness walkway we scanned over the coast picking out gannets and, for some, a distant fulmar. Common gulls of various ages jinked about in the wind above the outflow with herring and black-headed gulls in the background.

The challenge of finding distant auks bobbing on (but mostly under) the waves was met by all but only a few got 'on' to the red throated diver. Walking back via the high path, some reed buntings entertained us as we headed back to our cars for lunch where some of the group were further entertained by a weasel hunting in the undergrowth.

We then drove around to Barns Ness where a water pipit had taken up winter residency. But first we stopped off at the quarry pond where we got either great or awful views of a black-necked grebe - depending on whether you needed it for your list or not! A pair of stonechats gave all a cameo performance before we found the grebe.

At Barns Ness we were met by skylarks singing and goldfinch twittering. Arriving at the beach we found several meadow pipits and pied wagtails feeding on the strandline and two more stonechats enriching the scene.

After a meadow pipit had fooled me into a wrong identification (honest, it was a very bright individual in very bright sunlight! ) the water pipit appeared giving all excellent views of all the various identification features that a water pipit should have.

With a water pipit being a lifer for many on the trip this was a great bird to finish with - and now in glorious sunshine.

Brian Robertson