Trip reports

Aberlady Bay and Kilspindie

Aberlady Bay and Kilspindie
Roe deer - Rosie Filipiak

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Arriving at Aberlady Reserve car park it was evident we had a slight problem. John, the warden, had a working party assembled, which meant there were insufficient parking places for my group too. Some drivers parked in Aberlady village and walked back to the bridge. Should they have parked on the grass verge there was a strong possibility they would be ticketed.

Crossing the bridge, which shuddered under our footfall, but also due to high winds, we attempted to view the mud flats and river, spotting little egret, lapwing, oystercatcher, redshank and black-headed gull. The vibration was such that we moved along quickly without establishing if the reported ruff was present upstream.

Looking across the bay from the path, several shelduck foraged on the mud alongside a flock of curlew. A chaffinch tweet was heard as we made our way through the sea buckthorn tunnel. At the Marl Loch, once considered to be a gravel pit, a flock of greylag flew whiffling over as they aimed for a landing site. A solitary mute swan glided across the loch watched by a pheasant atop the concrete block while swallows flew over the edge of the copse and mallard scuttled into the reeds on our approach.
Scanning the vegetation as we continued down the path we were suddenly rewarded by a large flock of chattering goldfinch flying between the seed heads and hawthorn bushes. The odd woodpigeon sat aloft on the sporadic shrubs. Traversing the grasslands, we soon reached the dune but not before several juvenile stonechat delighted us by bobbing up and down between shrub and sward. Dave, slightly behind the group, spotted a wheatear. The odd meadow pipit peeped as it flew over and roe deer were seen running off as John's volunteers erected an electric fence along a mown path.

Climbing the dune we surveyed the almost empty beach and, as the strong wind buffeted us once again, we dropped down the other side to scan the sea. Here a large flock of mixed eider swam interspersed with a few common scoter. Looking left along the sands a cormorant sat at the water's edge by the rotting abandoned Italian submarines. Gannet sailed over the surface of the waves and plunged throwing up a white spray. Brian noted great black-backed and lesser black-backed gulls following in the wake of a trawler. Dave and Linda watched a pale red-throated diver fly across the water.

Walking towards Gullane point and lunch, Dave came across a dead scorpion fish on the sand. Springing up from our seats we watched a large flock of goosander fly past the rocky point towards Gullane Bay. A single turnstone picked over the rocks beneath us.

Up and over the hill towards the path through the sea buckthorn we emerged above the expanse of the grasslands overlooking the anti-tank blocks where blue tit and bullfinch were heard in the buckthorn. Two roe deer started and ran through the deep tufts of needle pointed marram grass. Looking across the bay a buzzard floated in the sky above the Kilspindie trees.

Perusing the saltmarsh, a grey heron sat, it's feathers fluffed up by the breeze, then a Canada goose swam into a pool in front of it. Returning to the Marl Loch we spotted a couple of tiny frogs struggling through the tall grasses at the verge of the path. By this time our solitary mute swan had gained a companion then, out of the reeds popped a moorhen. A robin could be heard alarming from the bushes followed by a wren. Moving on to Kilspindie we saw a couple of pied wagtail flying off. A larger flock of linnet flew back and forth along the narrow salt march eventually landing on a spit reaching into the bay.

All in all, a most enjoyable and more successful day than I had envisaged.

Winnie Thomson