Trip reports

Barns Ness

Barns Ness
Yellow Wagtail - Brian Robertson

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Ahh, Barns Ness; a place that can make the heart race or feel leaden in equal measure - often on the same visit! But as birders it's the first assertion that gets us out there, ever hopeful for something unusual.

And get us out it did, with a great turn out of members strolling though the old caravan site is search of yellow-browed warblers. Movements within the bushes or tree canopy all resolved into goldcrests or robins or the like. Nice, but more akin to cake than icing!

Dunnocks, linnets and the likes drove up the species list but in truth we were searching for a YBW - unsuccessfully. Then, the call arrived, Suet, Suet. Faintly, and from within dense canopy, but unmistakably a yellow-browed warbler. We waited patiently for a sighting but were rewarded with no more than a couple of glimpses of a silhouette.

Ultimately we had to move on, catching up with goldfinch, yellowhammers, indeed all the finches and pipits you would expect to see at Barns Ness (I can take my cake without icing!).

Then some stonechats hove into view - always great wee birds to see and sadly missed when cold winters deplete their numbers. Hopefully a benign season this year will see them survive and thrive again on our coastline (and elsewhere). Watching them led our line of site to a bush where a whitethroat sought out some insectivorous morcel.

Heading for the lighthouse for a brief seawatch allowed us to catch up with many of the regular waders and, out to sea, gannets shearing over white horses. Eiders flew left and right - for reasons best known to themselves! And redshank quarreled with each other, because that's what they do.

A yellow wagtail appeared on the rocks; jumping about, flycatching between calls. We answered it calls and watched attentively. In truth, it was no more colourful than the grey wagtail that we had seen and less eye catching than the many pied wagtails that we had enjoyed but its comparative scarcity grabbed our attention. We celebrated this sighting with a coastal cocktail - curlew on the rocks. A delicious blend!

Moving on to the Whitesands Quarry Pond a whole new list of birds were seen with widgeon, tufted duck, little grebe etc. Gulls aplenty but sadly distant and all 'book-ended' by greylag geese and Canada geese. Actually this pond is building up a great reputation for geese and has since attracted some bean geese and white-fronted geese.

A quick visit to the 'Triangle Wood' failed to add anything to the list so that brought proceedings to an end for the day ...... except for one intrepid birder in our midst - Anne Sinclair. Anne returned to the yellow-browed warbler site and after searching for a further 90 minutes she was indeed rewarded with views of Phylloscopus inornatus. This latin name can be translated as 'uncelebrated warbler'! After 90 minutes of searching, I'm quite sure that Anne found that name totally inappropriate!

Brian Robertson