Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Monday, 26 January 2009
Next thing to check was the outfall from the hatchery. A quick check through and there was the Glaucous Gull. A distant view but I'd caught up with a bird I didn't see last year. This chap had a very lucky escape a few days ago. The resident pair of WT Eagle are very partial to the odd gull and he was almost on the menu. There are some quite dramatic shots on Mullbirds website. As you can see he is alive and well for now but I do wonder if he'll be targeted again. A walk down to the shore to get the shots produced some nice views of Teal, Redshank, Goldeneye, RB Merg and Buzzard.
A drive to the campsite a bit further round the Loch produced 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 23 Ringed Plover, 2 Turnstone a soaring Golden Eagle and an Otter.
Saturday, 24 January 2009
Friday, 23 January 2009
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Yesterday's post had an adult male bird followed by two first year birds. Again check the bill colouration.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Also in the field with the geese were a few plovers. The Lapwings were well spaced out but I counted 28 (A huge flock compared to the 4 birds I have at home). The numbers will build though. I saw one Meadow Pipit and 2 Rock Pipit as I was driving to my next stop at the farm. I was met by 10 Oystercatchers feeding on the short grass and very close but someone else was there to greet me too. One of the working dogs came to say hello and proceeded to 'herd' the Oystercatchers away from me which, I'm sure, I didn't tell him to do- what a good dog eh?!
Time was cracking on so I started to head for home. I was flagged down by the farmer who told me there was a Glaucous Gull hanging around. Had I seen it? Nope. It'll be good info though.
Monday, 19 January 2009
Yet again the weather has not been too grand. Although it always looks fantastic it's not always the best for wandering about looking for things. I had a look down the Loch to see what was coming in the next half hour or so and it didn't look good but you only have to wait! Another check and you could see some blue sky approaching. Get the gear ready and take a quick shot from the door - that'll do. Todays target was to find some woodland birds.
Saturday, 17 January 2009
With a nasty looking hail shower travelling towards us we headed off back to where I had the Slav. We dodged that shower and stopped to look through a flock of Greylags (nothing extra there) but picked up Blackbird, Song Thrush and Dunnock. Back on the lochside we had a flock of Teal close in, Golden Eagle over the ridge behind us, Mallards and Goldeneye distant and Slavonian Grebe up and down. It's never good looking for them on choppy water - we got 5 in total and also 1 Black Guillemot. En route to lunch we saw plenty of Shag, RB Merg, the odd Slav, GN Diver, Black Guillemot and a single Goosander. Star prize for the day goes to Barnacle Goose. They are usually on Inch Kenneth but today they were on the beach on our side. There was approx 80 birds.We headed onto Loch Beg, my local patch, and immediately picked up a Hen Harrier, Stonechat, Lapwing, Little Grebe and a distant Otter. The sky was now grey and threatening rain - not much time left! Greenshank, Redshank and close views of a Kestrel and another hunting Hen Harrier were in the bag before the rain started. Cracking views of Shag, RB Merg and GN Diver were the finishing touches to the day and we dipped the BT Diver and Common Scoter - can't get 'em all. I had 40 birds on my list but there were extra birds (Sparrowhawk, Fieldfare, Goldfinch etc) that I didn't see. Another great day out!
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Off I went to see what I could get shots of. As I pulled up so did this Buzzard so it was out with the 'scope and the camera and snap away merrily....not. I'm sure this bird was transfixed by the antics of the lunatic trying to photograph him. The lenses were all misted up and I was having to demist before every shot - what fun! It kept the Buzzard amused anyway.
I'd had enough of the 'wipe and click' game so it was time to check the Loch. I was hoping to get a shot of the Black-throated Diver but every time you point a scope at it, off it goes. I put my eye to the scope and there was an Otters tail just disappearing from view - did I imagine that? No, he was there heading somewhere with a purpose and that somewhere was closer to me. I had a quick scan with the bins to see if there was anything else I should be paying attention to and there was the trusty BT Diver making haste away from me but heading for the Otter. Camera back on scope in a hurry and try to get the shot - not a great result but you can see the BT Diver and the Otter in the top left.
The Otter was heading for a point of land a bit too far away and he'd probably emerge where I couldn't see him so I had to dash along the road and try to get in position. He was well into his breakfast before I was in position and, you've guessed it, the lenses were misted up again. I managed a few shots but he was chewing that rapidly that his head was always blurred. Fish finished he was off like a shot running towards me then a toilet stop and then into the water..bye! I watched him swimming away from me and turned my attention back to the Divers. No chance of any shots but the BT was still there and a decent count of 11 Great Northern Diver.
Next on the hit list were the Common Scoters that we'd seen on the bird race. A quick scan around and the Scoters were in the same area but the Otter was heading in the same direction. He had another fish so he was going to haul out again. He surfaced close to a GN Diver which skittered off over the surface calling away and that put the Otter off his choice of where to haul out. I left him in peace and concentrated on the Scoters. When these birds turned up they both had the white faces of female/juv birds but one of the birds is now moulting and it's a male - superb!
All of that in an hour was pretty good going so I headed back to base and took some snaps of this Redshank and also some hinds that are hanging around. Thought I'd leave it at that and try again after lunch.
I headed off round the other side of the Loch to see what was on offer. The usual Little Grebe, Lapwing, Curlew, Teal, Wigeon and Shag. I caught a flash of movement on one of the points and there was the second Otter of the day - back lit but better than this mornings effort. He was soon asleep with nothing to see but a bit of fur sticking over the rocks....onward.
I'd seen an adult Golden Eagle flying around earlier in the day and I was quite surprised to find this juv bird sitting proud and watching the day go by. You can see the white on the tail and the lovely golden head. This was quite a distance away - scope on 60X and camera on full zoom too. It won't be too long before the Goldie's are in full display mode and this one will be put in it's place. I was short on time so I moved on. The tide was well out and so were all the seabirds so I scanned the ridges again and there was an adult Golden Eagle but too distant to photograph or chase for that matter.
I tried for some more shots of the juv Goldie but the sun was behind clouds and a breeze was picking up. I headed for home not expecting to get any more photo opportunities - foolish. Red-breasted Mergansers are a pain to digiscope but I'll get a decent shot one day. Here is today's effort plus the closing scene for today's entry - a view down the Loch.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
As we set off again we immediately picked up a Hen Harrier, a good banker on a bad day. Little Grebe was next on the list with, yet again, just a single bird. The wind was starting to increase and making life difficult to spot the birds we desperately needed from the Lochs. Not a Merg, Diver or Auk to be seen on a normally productive stretch but we still had time. A quick stop at a garden feeder gave us Goldfinch and Coal Tit. A high point overlooking an inlet gave us the RB Merg that should have been on the list this morning but nothing else. Damn! White-tailed Eagle was easy enough with a female sitting in a regular spot and a first-year bird clearing the trees behind her and eventually landing right next to her. The young bird was a female too but not one of the adult birds youngsters as she failed last year. A Meadow Pipit flushed from the side of the road put us on 45 and we knew that the only hope of winning was if everyone else was having the same problems as us. A flock of Barnacle Goose, 3 Mistle Thrush and a single Kittiwake had us into the last half hour. The only thing we picked up was an Eider. A total of fifty on the day.
It was hard work and we had fun battling the elements but we didn't win this year. One of the other teams turned in with 60 for the day. 72 species were seen on the day by the four teams that competed. Here's to next year!!
Friday, 9 January 2009
So, who gives a hoot? Going back to 5th Jan I was standing outside admiring the view when I heard a strange barking call coming from the wood not too far away. I heard the call 3 times and then attempted an imitation of the call and out flies an Owl straight over my head. Bear in mind this was about 5:30pm and dark, the bird could have been a Tawny but the wings looked too long and I've not heard a Tawny 'bark'. I'm wondering if it was a Long-eared Owl (see pic). The Tawny's have been making a right racket every night, kee-vik, whoo-hoo, so they do give a hoot.
We went off to stick making (a shepherds crook or walking stick in case your wondering) classes last night and the hope of a Barn Owl on the way. Not two minutes down the road and Barn Owl was in the bag for the year, my 100th species this year. The drive back home at about 10:30pm produced another 4 Barn Owls and a Woodcock. Result!
Tomorrow is winter Bird Race day so hopefully a few more year ticks to be had there. It's going to be wet and windy so that will provide a challenge for everyone. Last years total was 73 species with 89 species seen by all teams.
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
I've been following blogs for a while now and like many others I feel inspired to give it a go.
I had a quick run out this morning to get some local stuff on the year list. First on the list today was Black-throated Diver and while watching this the familiar 'chip-chip' of a Crossbill could be heard flying over then landing in the top of a conifer. 2 birds sitting pretty, marvellous. Back to the Loch and there is a couple of Common Scoter loafing, not that common up here! The Great Northern Divers were in good numbers and encouraged to call by the low cloud/misty conditions. I did see 3 Porpoise just before I rapped in for lunch.