Trip reports

Linlithgow and Blackness

Curlew standing on weed, County Cork, Ireland
Curlew - RSPB Images

Saturday, 22 October 2016

A mist had settled over Linlithgow loch when we arrived and took some time to clear, to give us a dry but cloudy day with some sunny breaks to show off the autumn colours around the loch and Linlithgow Palace.

Using our bins or 'scopes under these conditions was tricky, but we quickly identified coots, mute swans, tufted duck, cormorants, mallards and moorhens. Walking around the loch we added two great-crested grebes in their winter plumage dozing on the water. The identity of our next birds, two female pochards took a little working out but eventually we were able to distinguish their brown heads. A pair of little grebes were quickly followed by a goosander. Small birds in the bushes were elusive but we spotted a robin, blue, coal and great tits, chaffinches, blackbirds among the leaf litter, a bullfinch and a couple of dunnocks. The call of wrens was everywhere but the birds took some time to spot. We were then rewarded by a peregrine flying overhead. We were able to pick out some common gulls from a raft of mainly black-headed and herring gulls.

Walking further around the loch we spotted a single goldeneye and then a mink slipped along a branch over the water spooking a couple of mallards. We were then able to add a song thrush, a family of long-tailed tits, a charm of goldfinches feeding in the willow trees, two shovelers a pair of jackdaws and a lesser-black-backed gull before returning to our cars. A couple of skeins of pink-footed geese flew overhead.

After lunch at Blackness, with a buzzard seen on the way, where we were able to find shelducks, curlews, redshanks, oystercatchers and wigeon. We walked to the castle seeing rooks both in the trees and foraging on the beach, a starling on a chimney pot and two pied wagtails picking at moss on a roof. After consulting the book we felt one was possibly a white wagtail.

We added a flock of linnets, dunlin and a distant grey heron from the castle grounds. Walking along the beach at low tide we saw and heard a large flock of greylag geese grazing on the mud, three bar-tailed and one black-tailed godwits, some lapwings and a single ringed plover. A small flock of golden plover then flew in. New additions to our list were a flock of house sparrows and a goldcrest in the surrounding bushes to end the day.