Thursday was an absolute stunner with the sun shining and the day to myself I headed off to try to get a few photos in the good light. First port of call was the Water Pipit that I had missed out on Sunday. I headed for the spot that the pipit was frequenting and found the bird on the footpath but with the sun behind it. I followed the bird until it ended up in it's favourite place on a few boulders, tucked away in a corner of the beach.The Water Pipit was quite ferocious in defending this small territory from the Rock Pipits. It would fly into this area every time a Rock Pipit turned up and chase it off but it didn't seem to be bothered about the Pied Wagtail...you can see the fly this bird has it's beady eye on.........or the Grey Wagtail that was hanging around.The tide was just starting to go out so the Golden Plover, lapwing and Curlew were all in the fields.I was struggling to get any flight shots of these birds as they wheeled around so I headed for the wetland area instead. A few Gadwall at close quarters were worth looking at........and the Teal were just stunning in the sunshine.......and the Lapwing can't be ignored either.It was certainly nice to see the birds at such close quarters as we don't have the luxury of a hide up on Mull! I headed back down to the shore as the tide dropped and exposed the rocks for the birds to start gathering on. A decent flock of about 20 Sanderling had a Redshank sitting amongst them.Three Purple Sandpipers were a treat for me as I'd not seen any since a single bird in May.I moved on to the Briar Dene car park for the Med Gull and bumped into fellow blogger Brian who was in search of the gull too. The bird was actually on the sea so I had to amuse myself with the local Starlings.... while I waited for someone to entice the gulls into the car park with some scraps. I didn't have to wait too long before it appeared....I called in to Earsdon cem to see if there were any owls there. A Tawny Owl was sitting in a hole in a tree but it was in the shade so not a good photo opportunity. Next stop was Prestwick to try for the Short-eared Owls. The birds are reluctant to get into hunting mode until the sun is low in the sky so I wasn't too hopeful of getting any photos. Another blogger Davy Turner arrived just after me so we exchanged pleasantries while we waited. We finally got a view of four birds just after 3pm but only one bird came in close enough for a photo.The large flock of Fieldfare and the occasional Common Buzzard had kept us going until the owls turned up so it was a successful day all round.
Friday we set off in a real pea souper. It didn't look like the fog would lift through the day but as we drove North it did, thankfully, clear. We'd heard about a Pomerine Skua that was feeding on the beach at Hauxley so that was the first port of call. It's a surprise that we were too late for that but we did have the consolation of 5 Scaup on the sea.We headed back onto the reserve to see what was about. A moorhen feeding in front of the hide......a couple of Little Grebe, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, four Snipe and about forty Redshank were a good haul. A not too shy Carrion Crow provided a nice view.......but the Tree Sparrows were difficult to see unless you peered out of the toilet window! These Pheasants were begging to be photographed as we left the reserve.We cruised past Cresswell to see if anything was on offer and I was delighted to pick up four Grey Partridge from the roadside. Not seen one of those for about 3 years! Next stop was Newbiggin for more Med Gull madness. We turned up in the car park with nothing but a bag of crisps. Before the bag was opened this Rook was ready and waiting......and when the bag was opened a few gulls came in for a closer look. One of the many Med Gulls in the area perched up pretty much straight away.I threw a few crisps onto the ground hoping the gulls would come down but all I got was two Greyhounds who wouldn't go away! I left them to it and headed off to see if I could improve on the Tawny Owl photos. We arrived in Earsdon in heavy fog which is not the best. The bird was present again but the fog was not helping matters.
By Saturday the fog had cleared enough to warrant another visit to the Tawny Owl but I was thwarted again this time by the presence of someone in a luminous coat close to where the bird roosts. We called in yet again later in the day to view the bird - success at last. It was pretty dull conditions but I'd best give you something to look at!Sunday saw us heading back to Mull. A fairly uneventful trip back except for the foggy conditions around Stirling and stunning scenery as we cleared the fog at Tyndrum.