We set of south early in the morning in warm, sunny conditions. We had three intended stops; Musselburgh, Caerlaverock and Leighton Moss.
We arrived at Musselburgh at about ten o’clock for a quick visit. A scan of the sea from the rivermouth produced the returning drake Surf Scoter showed distantly (though closer than last year). There were also about 20 Velvet Scoter, 5 Common Scoter, a couple of female Red-Breasted Merganser and several Eider.
We continued south and arrived at our next stop; Caerlaverock WWT. This was to be another quick visit, but we still managed to see some good species. The highlights were; over 1000 Barnacle Geese, five Whooper Swans, a pair of Pintail, fifteen Shoveler, about 20 Teal and similar numbers of Wigeon, my first Swallows and Sand Martins of the year, a Little Egret and a few Yellowhammer.
We moved on to our final stop – Leighton Moss RSPB – arriving at about half four. Just passed the visitor center, I heard a Marsh Tit, and after a moment it appeared and showed well. It was joined by a second for a while. From the Lilian’s hide there was an abundance of common wetland species. The highlights were Snipe, Pochard, Lapwing, Gadwall, Shoveller and Sand Martin. The best birds here were four Marsh Harriers (two males and two females), which showed well hunting over the reeds at the back of the pool. One of the males (pictured below) appeared to have a dark brown head and neck. I’m not certain, but I’m assuming that this is because it is not a full adult bird.
And so the trip ended. It had been my most productive trip to Scotland by far, and I’ve been birding there for quite a long time now. We saw 134 species in total, including 43 new species for the year and 2 lifers! A memorable couple of weeks birding.