Sunday started off with quite a bit of rain but it soon cleared up. The plan for the day was to watch the Moto GP and the F1 and it was worth it. Between the two races a bit of a foray outside to look for Crossbills proved to be a double bonus for me. Two birds that have eluded me this year, on the island, were Goldecrest and Treecreeper. The last time I saw both species this year was at Shapwick on January 1st and today I was lucky enough to catch up with both these birds again in the same tree! The F1 race at Brazil was one of the best of the season and Button finally got the well earned World Champion title.
Monday morning was absolutely stunning - clear blue skies and very little wind but it was forecast to change quite quickly - the weatherman was right again! There were 4 Whooper Swans on Loch Beg early in the morning but I didn't have any faith in them hanging around. Quite often they will arrive in the dark and all you know about it is the bugling calls but they usually don't fly off until about 10:30. With guests to pick up in Fionnphort it was unlikely we would catch up with the birds later in the day but there was some consideration given to the weather that was pushing in from the SW. With PS on board with the guests we started off looking for the Hares in windy conditions but it was a fruitless search. We did find a cracking Sparrowhawk perched up on a fence, trying it's best to look like a Peregrine, but this was soon put off by a female Hen Harrier that was just cruising by. Another female Hen Harrier put in an appearance a bit further along the road and we managed to pick up both birds together on the way back through the farm. A couple of Kestrel and some good views of Buzzard added to the raptor list for the day. By this time the skies were decidedly grey and heading for the beach it was noted that the islands South of here were not visible! We decided to push on and try to get Golden Eagle before the weather set in properly but it was not to be. Very brief views of two Otters kept us going till lunch by which time the cloud base was right down. Two GN Diver still in summer plumage were a treat to see and also a juv bird that kept its distance. A good spread of waders while we had lunch provided some interest with the Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Dunlin etc all showing well. Two Goosanders in close proximity to the RB Mergansers provided a good comparison but there was no sign of the Otters....yet. We moved round the loch and looked back towards where we had been and there they were! They must have been right underneath us and out of sight. We watched them fishing and crawling out on the land before they headed off and out of sight. We pressed on in poor conditions not seeing a great deal! Two hinds at close quarters stared at us as hard as we stared at them and then we were off again. At the next stop a Raven mocked us from the cliffs as we searched in vain. Another GN Diver put in a brief appearance before our fortunes started to change. The distant calls of Barnacle Geese could be heard and eventually we had them 20 or so in flight looking for somewhere to land. They came down amongst another flock - there were about a hundred in total. It was good to see them back for another winter. We headed back to see if we could relocate the Otters to get better views and along the way we saw this Grey Heron catch a fish....... it was decent sized fish but everyone was too slow with the cameras but you can see the lump at the bottom of it's neck! Back round to where the Otters were, we jumped out of the motor to see two Golden Eagles disappear into the cloud - result! We had the Otters back in sight too but I was keeping an eye on where the eagles had disappeared.......they came back! We had both birds perched on the hillside at close quarters......and then off they went again. I only managed the one shot of one bird but it was worth it - a stunning sight for all! A young Red Deer was frozen to the spot just beneath the eagles and it's probably no surprise to find it was still there twenty minutes later in the same position! We'd lost track of the Otters in the excitement but as we turned to look for them again PS had picked them up right in front of us and showing well....The day had come good at last. We were happy to call it a day after that but there was one more surprise in store yet. We rounded a corner to find a bird flashing in front of us and heading for a telegraph pole......up it went and landed behind on of the insulators....it was a female Merlin. We did a slow drive by and got a safe distance past and then scoped the bird - stunning. A first for PS who said it was a 'jolly nice bird'. Just champion, man!
Sunrise this morning.........red sky in the morning - we all know what that means!