Thursday, 15 July 2010

Run to the hills

Monday wasn't too bad a day but a bit breezy. With the vegetation getting longer by the minute the promise of a Mountain Hare on a windy day was pretty slim. We searched around for the long-legged beastie but got little in return as four Dunlin flew in to land out of sight and a male Hen Harrier disappeared rapidly in the distance before we finally located a pair of ears sticking out of the grass. We got a view of the head eventually but it was a difficult to view spot so the scope was useless due to the heat haze. They can't all be good views so we left happy to have seen a Mountain Hares head! Our next stop gave us good views of Gannets fishing and our first Otter of the day. A second year Golden Eagle was nice to see as it wheeled around showing off the white in the tail and wings as we viewed another Otter. A couple of Adders were good to see as they moved off but we waited patiently until we got a better view as they slithered back out into the sunshine at our feet. I'm guessing that this is a faded Dark Green Fritillary sporting a lot of white along the edges of it's wings plus it was too big to be anything else!
Three Goosander were a nice find outside the shop. By the time we got good views they were hauled out on the shore and it looked to be a female with two youngsters. We checked out the Golden Eagle nest site and I was surprised to find that the youngster had fledged already. It was due to go until the end of the month but I guess the good weather we'd had meant the chick had been fed on a regular basis and got away early. The juv WT Eagle was still on the nest but there was no sign of the adults so we waited around until a big bird appeared over the ridge - another Golden Eagle that was. We'd a cracking day out so we called time and headed home.
Tuesday was another fine day with the wind picking up and the threat of rain in the air. As we headed round the loch the temperature was up to 20 degrees already with a maximum of 24 degrees through the day! We'd stopped to look at the Greylag Geese with the youngsters and they were looking a bit nervous. The youngsters can't fly so the adults take the opportunity to replace their flight feathers and they just wander round the shore grazing. One of the dangers for them are the Otters who are capable of taking either the adults or youngsters so they are always on the look out. We moved along the shore about 50 yards and there was the Otter that had the geese keeping alert. We followed the Otter as it slowly made it's way along the shore and we were rewarded with cracking views as it hauled out with a fish. An adult Common Seal was hauled out on the shore about half a mile down the road.
Three Cormorants were nice to see as they dried their wings before we caught sight of the male Hen Harrier and a Curlew was standing keeping an eye on the proceedings. I finally managed to get a picture of the Sundew in flower today.
I've seen plenty of them with the flower buds on but this is the first I've seen with a flower open - must pay more attention! A couple of Crossbills flying over and three Adders were seen before we found a beastie that would make you run to the hills - get an eyeful of this!
It's a Horse Fly of the type, Tabanus sudeticus, and they bite. You'd be sucked dry in five minutes by this thing! It must have been at least a foot long and chased us for ages - just kidding but it was a good inch long and looked the business!
It was a bit of a quiet afternoon but our last stop of the day made up for it. We had cracking views of a Snipe asleep, 20 Linnet, a juv Whinchat, 4 Stonechat, 6 Greenfinch, a flock of Goldfinch sitting on the wires next to a Buzzard and a Mountain Hare. A paler Buzzard was running about on the ground probably chasing frogs as we left the area.
Just before dropping the guests off for the day we had one last look at the WT Eagle to find the adults sitting side by side in a tree. I tried for a photograph but the camera battery died and the spare was flat too - probably just as well as the photo wouldn't have been that good anyway.
Wednesday couldn't have been more of a contrast as the wind was howling, the rain was raining and the fleece was on! We headed off for the Golden Eagles first and it was a bit of a fight against the weather to get a view of one of the adults. We hung around for the rain to stop and hoped the bird would get into the air but you could see the bird was fairly drenched and just hanging it's wings out to dry - we moved on. The sea was really choppy so the Otters were always going to be difficult but we tried our best. No sign of the furry beasts so we went to the WT Eagles instead and got cracking views of one of last years youngsters in flight as well as one of the adults perched above the nest with the youngster in. After another check for Otters with no luck we got a different reward in the shape of  a female Hen Harrier right in front of us. I wish I could get the camera out and ready a bit quicker! The male Hen Harrier put in a brief appearance before we had the female back in front of us again! This time I managed a shot but it was still distant by the time the camera was out.
The Adders performed well with two of them on show and I managed a photo too!
The wind really picked up in the afternoon and made life difficult as we searched for some of the smaller birds. All things considered we didn't do too bad as we picked up Willow Warbler, Whinchat, Stonechat, Linnet, Rock Dove etc. We picked up a cracking Mountain Hare at the roadside...
...before we bagged another Whinchat, Wheatear, Lapwing etc. We headed back towards home hoping we could find an Otter before the day was out. We checked a couple of spots with no luck before we finally picked one up fishing. We watched as he caught a big fish and headed for shore and ate his catch under the watchful eyes of a couple of Hooded Crow. When he finished he headed back into the water briefly before reappearing on the land and headed off up the shore and into the Bracken - superb!


Wilma said...

You have a really great and varied selection for us in this post. The green fritillary is lovely. I have never seen a sundew in flower before; good catch. And the horsefly shots show an impressive level of detail. Good to see the seal and pale buzzard, too.


Anonymous said...

Superb photos as ever and that hare is a corker!! :-)
Maria (the hare nut!)