Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Eat your greens.

Tuesday was a, what's that word again, fine, that's right, a FINE day!! The big ask for the day was for an Otter sighting - it took a bit longer than the previous day but 10 minutes wasn't long to wait! The sea was surprisingly quiet today with only a couple of RB Merg, Eider and Shag to be seen. The WT Eagle site produced the goods before we latched onto another Otter. We took up position and waited patiently until it came past us to show really well. You can see from the photo that it's feeding well but look closer and you can see this one is eating it's greens too.
 We had a wander round the flowers including this Heath Spotted Orchid...
 ...managed good views of a male Hen Harrier, Tree Pipit, plenty of Buzzard and a couple of Adders.
 The star of the show for me was this Redshank keeping watch over it's young.
The kids on board today had a splendid time looking at the wildlife through the day and to top it off they got wet paddling in the sea - what more could they ask for? Cuddly bunnies? We can do that too;-)


 Saturday I had some time off so I went on an orchid hunt. Some are not quite in flower yet like this Lesser Butterfly Orchid...
...but the Early Marsh Orchids are flowering well.
I've had a check in the flower guides to find that this is Great Sundew and not Oblong-leaved Sundew.
Some of these plants are off the route of the tours so if you want to see them when you are on a tour just ask!
Sunday I had a day with family so not much birding done but I did see a Woodcock from the garden in the evening.
Monday I was back in action and we had a superb start as we drove about 100 yards down the road to find an Otter! It wasn't in a great place for viewing so we let it go before too long and headed off to find another one. That didn't take long either and we had tremendous views as this one came ashore for a wash and brush up.
After viewing the WT Eagles we headed off in search of a Golden Eagle. Another easy number as one flew over head after about 10 minutes wait and then a shower of rain arrived.
The day continued in good fashion  with a couple of nice views of GN Diver, RB Merg and the occasional Red Deer.
Lunch was an interesting one as usual as we picked up a male Hen Harrier, Cuckoo twice and a Golden Eagle sitting on the top of a hill. We wondered if the Goldie was one of the 'locals' and we found out eventually as the two resident birds appeared from behind us, flew over the top, and chased off the intruder. As we watched the three birds flying around another one appeared in the distance. An Adder showed well just before we left and we picked up a couple of Whinchat, a Tree Pipit and the odd Lesser Redpoll along the way. We struggled to find Mountain Hare so we ended up going for a stroll and picked two of them up and also cracking views of two Twite (one of these birds was ringed). Our next stop gave us two Red-throated Divers before we headed back to base. There are still lots of Dunlin and Ringed Plover around. This bunch were just outside the shop.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Another Yank!

Wednesday was a day off with family who were up visiting. A quick run out in the afternoon gave us views of the WT Eagles and also a couple of Otters (no such thing as a day off!).Thursday was back into the breech and with the guests on board we headed off in the unfavourable conditions. We managed to get Mountain Hare, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Lapwing and a lone Brent Goose among the Greylags...
...then struggled for a while. An Adder was a welcome addition to the list...
...as was the brief view of Golden Eagle that we had. A couple of Red-throated Diver were close to shore as we searched for Otters.
The WT eagles were on show and an Otter was seen not too far away. Cuckoo, Crossbill and Hen Harrier finally gave themselves up as did another Golden Eagle.
Friday we had more rain but it did have a pleasant start. While waiting for the guests to arrive I took a couple of snaps of the 'pet' Grey Heron. 
With the rain due to come in fast and hard I made an early decision to get both types of eagle as soon as possible. First on the list was the WT Eagle which gave a superb display flying from one tree to another and back again while the chicks looked on - maybe their first lesson;-) We headed to a Golden Eagle nest that I hadn't checked since Mondays poor weather and, unfortunately, it didn't look good. We didn't give it too long as the rain was starting to fall so I will go back and check it again. We dashed back to the lochside to search for Otters and connected with a mum and cub immediately. After enjoying good views of the two Otters we came across a closer one on it's own and I had a chance to get a couple of photos. This first one was using some digital zoom...
...and this one with just the full optical zoom.
The photos aren't meant to be a comparison but the digi zoom one doesn't look too bad considering the poor light at the time. We had a stroke of luck at our next stop when we picked up a Golden Eagle sitting on the ridge as the rain began to fall in earnest. The temperature was dropping and the wind was picking up but we struck lucky again as we located an Adder too. A bit of a dash for Mountain Hare while the visibility was still there proved to be extremely fortunate as the first thing we picked up was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper!!
We did get the Mountain Hare and good numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover while watching the Buff-breasted Sand. It might not be the best of weather at the moment but two Yanks in a week is not to be sniffed at!

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Monday was a day of real mayhem as the wind picked up a little bit to about 70mph!! The show must go on so the intrepid group set off in search of anything that hadn't blown away. Needless to say the bird numbers were low for the day but we got good views of what we did see. We started well with the WT Eagle and quickly followed that up with an Otter. The weather deteriorated rapidly after that so photographic opportunities were few to say the least. An Oystercatcher posed well...
 ...as did a Redshank.
We clocked up the usual Red Deer and Common Seals but it wasn't a pleasant experience getting out of the motor with the weather looking like this!
Nothing else of any great note was seen except for good numbers of Gannet and the day was cut short as a tree blocked the road in front of us!
Tuesday was a better day all round but still a stiff breeze blowing. The regular Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock started the day off with a cracking Mountain Hare next to the road too.
A few Common Tern at our next stop were worth looking for as they are still few and far between. Lunchtime was dominated by a pair of Hen Harrier with Cuckoo, Whinchat...
...and an Adder as the supporting cast.
We'd observed the Swallows sitting on the ground the previous day as they wore themselves out and I wonder if this Gannet was struggling too.
The afternoon went off in great style as we picked up two Otters - one in the water and the other hauled out right in front of us.
We got flagged down to be told we'd just missed a Storm Petrel fly past but as this info was related it (or another) came past where we had stopped.
A couple of GN Diver were seen as we headed towards the WT Eagle site where one bird was present feeding the youngsters. Awesome views of the Golden Eagles flying about and as we headed back to base a WT Eagle flew overhead to give a classy finish to the day.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Saturday was a real stinker where we had to suffer the lashing rain all day. With the rain forecast to get worse through the day we headed for Golden Eagle first but it was no surprise that we left that one empty handed. Our spirits were lifted not long after when we picked up an Otter. A small flock of Dunlin provided a short distraction while we waited for the Otter to come ashore.
Good views of GN Diver, Siskin, Ringed Plover, RB Merganser were had and a few Red deer crept out of the woods too.
We were also lucky with our sighting of Red-throated Diver as we picked up these two birds close to shore.
Good humour and a lot of patience seen us through the day and we got a nice surprise at the end of the day too. Close views of Mountain Hare were had, Lapwing showed well...
...Whimbrel are still in attendance and the Snipe were displaying but one in the Iris beds was keeping it's eye on us.
The surprise of the day was when we were looking through the Dunlin and Ringed Plover and we picked up a couple of Turnstone - not that exciting you may say. Check out the photo - from the left Turnstone, Dunlin and another bird with no black on the belly!
Pectoral Sandpiper, an American wader, is a fairly regular bird in Britain but this is the first that I have seen since 2007 - a fine reward for our efforts!
Saturday evening I was busy updating the blog and I heard the Cuckoo calling just outside and as I peered out of the window there it was sitting on a telegraph pole. Not the best of shots but it was getting late and it was taken through the window.
Sunday was a better day for the weather but it was still windy. We bagged quite a few Ringed Plover and Dunlin to start the day.
A Skylark performed well at the side of the road...
...and a Rabbit was the closest we got to finding a Mountain Hare.
A closer search of some of the sheltered areas eventually gave us views of Mountain Hare. Common Terns showed well and cracking views of Golden Eagle being mobbed by a male Hen Harrier kept us going. We had to battle through a herd of cows in the afternoon as we were looking for Otters and managed to find one just as we cleared the cows. It was a brief distant look but we needn't have worried as we picked up another three after that with some stunning views had! The WT Eagles were seen feeding the chicks which are getting quite big now but still in their grey and fluffy stage. We did the rounds of the plants including this Heath Speedwell...
...and a detour to look at Pale Butterwort. A Green Orb Spider was on the gate when I arrived home too.

Saturday, 21 May 2011


It was a real surprise to find we were to be subjected to sunshine, showers and a strong wind on Wednesday just for a change - not! We did the best we could and put some serious effort into some things too so after the usual array of waders we struggled to add some of the smaller birds to the list and no big birds were putting in an appearance! A change of tact livened things up when we waited out a pair of Golden Eagles we got our reward as both birds performed some serious acrobatic manoeuvres before disappearing as the rain arrived. With our spirits lifted we then failed to find any sign of an Otter. Photographs? I managed a shot of the Sundew in the sun but apart from that it wasn't happening.
We viewed the WT Eagle before heading back in search of an Otter which was high on everyones hit list. It wasn't looking good as the water was very choppy but right at the last moment I spotted a dot in the waves, put the bins up and there was our prize. It was a struggle to get everyone onto it as it started for the shore with a large fish in it's mouth but we all got a view. A brief look wasn't good enough so we changed position and refound the Otter just as it came ashore - result!!
Thursday the motor went in for a service so I was at a loose end. I hitched a lift with Postie as he headed for work and ended up on Iona. I managed a brief view of a Corncrake and heard a few more but I spent as much time hiding from the showers as looking for birds. A Wheatear was collecting lunch for it's youngsters...
...as was this Starling.
A different kind of lunch was being sought out in the Sound of Iona as the Common and Arctic Terns passed through with Gannets showing well too.
After having my lunch I met up with Postie again to see if we could get better views of a Corncrake or even a photograph. With the vegetation quite high we had to be happy with the head that popped up every now and again.
Cheers to Postie for the lift and the Hen Harrier we got on the way back to the garage - I don't how you organise these things!
A bit of a surprise on Friday as not only did we get wind and rain but we got some snow too!
As for the tour on the day we fared quite well as a Mountain Hare crossed the road and another ambled past the motor at the start of the day.
We got great views of the Golden Plover.
The Golden eagles put on another awesome display with quite a bit of just hanging in the wind...
...before opening their wings and shooting off at a tremendous rate and not a flap was seen. You have to see it to believe it! A sleeping Otter was a good find but the one having a wash and brush up was better again. The WT Eagles put on a good show too as we watched the birds change over, the chicks being fed and one of the birds being harassed as it flew off.