I have spent two more enjoyable recording sessions in St Giles Churchyard since returning from Scotland. Both the bird list and the plant list have increased. There are now 14 bird species on the list, 4 butterflies, 41 plant species plus lichens mosses and fungi, grey squirrel and, although I have not see one, a fox.
Thursday 29 June 2023
Wednesday 28 June 2023
I was keen to check out the orchids in Cleethorpes dunes so set off full of anticipation early in the afternoon. It was overcast but very warm so I had high hopes of butterflies too. The orchids here comprise magnificent displays of common spotted orchid, southern marsh and the hybrid crosses between the two. They hybridise freely and the resultant crosses have hybrid vigour and the flowering spikes are often very tall and robust. I was surprised when I set off into the dunes to find that most of the initial plants I came across had totally gone over. I did eventually find some fresh specimens but even these looked somewhat care worn. I usually expect them to be in their prime round about my birthday on 23rd June so was surprised that they were well past their best. They seem, as do so many plants and insects, to be appearing earlier every year because of our changing climate.
Butterflies were plentiful, especially meadow browns and I stopped counting at 50. There were good numbers of small white and a few large skippers still and my first small skippers of the year. Ringlets were also on the wing in good numbers. Moths included 6 spot burnet and narrow-bordered 5 spot burnet as well as mother shiptons.
Although I was not birdwatching, I did manage to record 22 species.
The sea lavender on the salt marsh looks a picture.
Wednesday 21 June 2023
Having returned from our travels it was time to get back to the local patch. I followed my usual route and there have been changes. Everything is suddenly grown up and, on Gooseman's, at least, many more butterflies. I found my first meadow browns of the year in good numbers. It was good to find a few common blues too. Large skippers, speckled wood and small heaths were still on the wing and I recorded my first ringlets. Moths included narrow-bordered burnet moth and mother shiptons. The woodland burial ground had been freshly mown and so produced few butterflies: just 3 speckled woods and 4 meadow browns.
Friday 16 June 2023
Cloudless again today and already 23C by mid morning. Wandering down to Portobello Beach we looked forward with anticipation to our breakfast at The Beach House. We enjoy this restaurant but in the evening, in good weather, it is very busy but it is quiet in the morning and a good bet for breakfast/brunch and it was excellent. Fuelled up for the day we went back for the car and set out on a Pickwell traditional day: Musselburgh Scrapes, Port Seton, Longniddry Bents, The George Waterston Centre at Aberlady, the HQ of the Scottish Ornithological Club, seaglass hunting and finishing with fish and chips. We are nothing if not creatures of habit.
It was to be a birding day so we began at a favourite location that I have been visiting for years: Musselburgh Scrapes. These are a series of shallow lagoons on land reclaimed from waste from the nearby Cockenzie Power Station, now demolished. It is always a good birding spot, especially at high tide when it is a roost for birds washed off the mudflats. All the usual suspects were present but the star was the colony of nesting sand martins in a purpose built bank for them. Driving along the coast from here the sea was a wonderful deep teal blue flecked with wite caps. We pulled in at Port Seton for some photography of the harbour and more birding on the exposed shoals beyond. Here were eiders, cormorant, guillemot and turnstone. Our next stop was the headland of Longniddry Bents, as usual awash with the yellows of birdsfoot trefoil and outrageous pinks of bloody cranesbill. It was good to see curlew, turnstone and sandwich terns here too, my 4th tern of the trip. By now it was time for lunch and it was splendid to get out the camping chairs and watch the world go by.
The George Waterston SOC centre is always a good visit as there are regular art exhibitions and today was no exception with the work two super printers displayed. The highlight for me, though, was to sit in armchairs in the gallery and watch the swallows swooping backwards and forwards over the large pond and up into the Alpine style overhanging eaves to their nests. At one point there seemed to be some sort of invisible communication as the whole colony flew low over the water and dunked themselves in to wash and then skimmed over the surface to drink. Amazing. It was good to watch tree sparrows on the feeding station too.
In need of a drink, now, we retreated to the Ducks Inn in Aberlady for a ginger beer shandy and tea for Heather. Refreshed, we returned to the beach for some seaglass and driftwood hunting. Gosford Bay beach is the best I know for seaglass and we came away with plenty; Heather with armsful of driftwood. Back at the car park at Longniddry Bents we got the chairs out again to while away an hour before tea. I enjoyed watching gannets from The Bass Rock plunge diving as they fished off shore. The day was made complete with fish and chips from Bene's at Port Seton which we ate sitting on the harbour side followed by a pint in the very friendly Thorntree Inn. A perfect end to a perfect holiday.