Thursday, 21 September 2017

The No.26 - Onwards to the Levenhall Links (Musselburgh Edition)

Its been a while since my last post but hopefully this will be the start of some more frequent ones.

I was staying in Edinburgh over the weekend (8th-10th September) as part of a Reroute residential meeting, the flights didn't work that well so I couldn't get back home until the Sunday, a day after the meeting had finished so I decided to head out to Musselburgh on the east side of Edinburgh as there had been a good few birds (Red-necked Grebe, Black Tern and Spotted Redshank), that I wanted to see, in the area.
So the night before I made a plan to visit the place by public transport, I had never visited Musselburgh by public transport before so it would be one of two adventures I'd be having that day.

I woke up at 0600 on the Sunday and set off to grab a bite to eat before my bus, it took me a while before I finally decided where to get on the bus but thanks to the friendly barista in 'easycoffee' I was sorted and was heading on the No.26 at 0730.
It took around 40 minutes before I reached Musselburgh and soon I was off to another unexplored part of the city, the Musselburgh Train Station. It took around 45 minutes to get there, grab my train ticket and then make it to Musselburgh Lagoons/River Esk mouth.

It was great to be finally doing some south birding after so long, and it was a real treat seeing such big numbers of Mute Swan and Black-headed Gull that you just don't see in Shetland, one treat that I did find was my second ever Kingfisher sitting happily on a ladder, the last Kingfisher I saw was just a blue streak so seeing it in its full orange and blue glory was amazing!


 Levenhall Links aka Musselburgh Lagoons

Next came the mouth of the River Esk which was absolutely teeming with waders, ducks and swans, it was such a expanse of ground it was difficult to see any of the farther away waders, a couple of Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin were only real birds of note that I could see and a young Herring Gull trying to catch a Pipit was pretty odd.
Moving further along the shore, I heard this strange squeaking noise which I had never heard before, next thing I knew a winter plumage/juv Sandwich Tern flies in (not exactly a Black Tern but good enough!), the first one I'd seen in a while. A few more goodies were picked up while trying to find Red-necked Grebe, a pair of Great-crested Grebes and some possible Velvet Scoters were a good addition to the trip list, not always easy birds to get back home!
Next it was time to go to the Levenhall Links and check the wader scrapes, passing by some woods yielded Great-spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Magpie, Woodpigeon and a pair of Little Grebes on the boating pond. 
Arthur's Seat in the distance

The mouth of the River Esk

Finally reaching the Links my main excitement grew, as I remember this place was amazing for waders and geese, this time was no exception, there were a few Greylags but there were good numbers of waders on a couple of the scrapes with a Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Ruff making a nice find. After a while I met a few birders who informed me of a Spotted Redshank and a Semi-palmated Sandpiper  that had been seen in the area that day! Hearing that news certainly had me more excited and scanning the pools for a good while, more birders came and went but one couple came with a scope and I asked if they could scan the far away wader flock for the Spotted Redshank as it would have been a lifer for me, ten minutes later and I had my wish, the couple with the scope had picked it out among some Redshanks!

Spotted Redshank is the bird on the right hand of the gulls, photo taken through a scope
I've been trying to catch up with Spotted Redshank for a few years now, from Northumberland to Shetland and now to Lothian I've been looking for them but now I've finally landed one! this Spotted Redshank was a beauty, the couple with the scope let me have a look through it to get a better look and boy it was amazing! Its grey plumage was great, the face notably whiter than a normal Redshank and a much thinner bill as well, it was gorgeous. It wasn't long before a Curlew Sandpiper was picked up as a well, a bird I have very rarely seen before so that was a nice addition to the trip list.  Time was soon getting on though, with no Semi-palmated Sandpiper in site and my time running ever shorter I decided to head off and go to the train station, ending my day at Musselburgh.

A Bee sp on Creeping Thistle

It was an eventful day, with a lifer and a few nice birds I hadn't seen in a while, I always love exploring these new places and hopefully Musselburgh will become a regular site for me once I go to University, but that's a story for another time.

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