Friday, 8 January 2010
Assault & battery
Another perfect day today so I had a quick drive round the loch. It was about minus 3 when I set off and by the time I got round the other side it was minus 6!! I was checking out a couple of Blackbirds that were feeding on the shore when I noticed that one of the birds had a partially white tail. Nothing unusual about that apart from the fact that the white was actually frost. There was no way I was going to get a photo of that but the Lapwing that was wandering along the shore was sporting the same frosty covering.I was getting numb standing there for 5 minutes so who knows how they cope. The bizarre thing was that 30 yards or so further along the sun was shining on the shore - why don't they stand there instead?! I headed for the sunshine myself and no sooner round the corner than there was an Otter asleep on the shore. I took a couple of snaps of the Grey Heron that was standing guard......before turning my attention to the Otter.Despite the fact that it was still minus 1 it was quite pleasant standing in the sun. I stopped again to watch a flock of Siskin and Goldfinch working their way through the Larch trees and scored for a couple of Crossbill too. It was getting really pleasant in the sun and while admiring the view I noticed a bit of movement on the shore. I stepped out of the motor to get a better view and heard a splash - where do I look first. Three Otters just offshore and two White-tailed Eagles sitting on the shore!!! This should be interesting. I don't think these were the same Otters from yesterday as these youngsters looked a tad smaller........but they were certainly experienced enough to catch their own fish.I managed to miss the first bit of action as the mother Otter came up with a fish and was chewing away, suddenly one of the WT Eagle took to the air and attempted to steal the fish from the Otter - top quality!!Another pass was made by the Eagle but the Otter was finished and back under water.The next assault was as the Otters came to shore with another fish. Both the WTE were perched in the trees and as the Otters got to shore down came the birds...As the second bird landed the Otters were just behind the lumpy bits of rock, out of sight for me, and I reckon the mother had a go at one of the birds as they both suddenly took off. I watched them fly over the water quite far apart before coming back together for a spectacular touching of talons.The Otters were still on the shore as the birds came back in - one landed on the shore and the other in the trees. Wondering if there was going to be another assault I switched to the digiscoping again, turned it on, tried for a shot and the battery went flat! A quick change of battery, switch the camera back on, took one shot and the battery went flat again - balderdash! I took the battery out again and gave it a bit of a warm up and jammed it back in expecting to get no more than a couple of shots but, thankfully, it was ok after that. This red ringed individual from Wester Ross kept a close eye on the Otters........and the blue ringed individual kept a safe distance!I didn't get to read the blue ring so I have no idea where it is from. I did get another flyby as a car approached and disturbed the birds.......but they were keen to stay in the area in case they could snatch an easy meal. I took the opportunity to move along and try to get the birds in better light. What a difference that made.......and a close up too.I couldn't see the Otters any more so I took the chance that that was the end of the action. A couple of Buzzard and another, distant, adult WT Eagle didn't hang around for photos but I still had to drive back along the way. Just the one bird perched up on the way back and still no sign of the furry mammals so I kept going. A cracking Greenshank was on the shore in the company of a Redshank but I knew they wouldn't stay put for a photo. It was nice enough to get a slow drive by on them. That's enough excitement for today!