Sunday, 31 July 2011

We're not leaving.

An eventful end to the month with the local social life going down well. A spit roast lamb was a delicious event and a Swedish candle to keep us warm - a big thank you to the Pink Kipper Club for that one. Roll on next year!
On the wildlife front the last two days of July had similar sightings but one day was blisteringly hot and the next day was a wash out. The usual suspects were seen on both days with the highlights being the return to the nest of the first fledged WT Eagle. Obviously they are typical of the younger generation - we're not leaving home!
We didn't see Otters on Saturday but when I picked one up on Sunday the previous days guests were just driving past - lucky or what?! The Common Seals are an ever present beast but sometimes you get a close one.
The reptiles are still showing well but I've not managed a photograph yet - must try harder. The poor weather on Sunday didn't stop the Mountain Hare from showing but it was the only one we saw.
The only other notable event was getting a Mull tick when I picked up a Sandwich Tern. Let's see what August brings.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Garden list.

Just for a bit of interest here is my garden list...

1. Whooper Swan   2. Red-throated Diver   3. Grey Heron   4. White-tailed Eagle   5. Hen Harrier   6. Sparrowhawk   7. Common Buzzard   8. Golden Eagle   9. Kestrel   10. Merlin  11. Peregrine   12. Common Snipe   13. Woodcock   14. Curlew   15. Common Sandpiper   16. Common Gull   17. Herring Gull   18. Great Black-backed Gull   19. Cuckoo   20. Barn Owl   21. Tawny Owl   22. Long-eared Owl   23. Short-eared Owl   24. Skylark   25. Barn Swallow   26. Tree Pipit   27. Meadow Pipit   28. Pied Wagtail   29. Grey Wagtail   30. Wren   31. Dunnock   32. Robin   33. Whinchat   34. Stonechat   35. Northern Wheatear   36. Blackbird   37. Fieldfare   38. Song Thrush   39. Redwing   40. Mistle Thrush   41. Common Whitethroat   42. Willow Warbler   43. Blue Tit   44. Great Tit   45. Coal Tit   46. Hooded Crow   47. Raven   48. Starling   49. House Sparrow   50. Chaffinch   51. Greenfinch   52. Goldfinch   53. Siskin   54. Lesser Redpoll   55. Common Crossbill   56. Yellowhammer

Not too bad for the first year in residence.

Highlights.

I've had the spycam out trying to get the Tawny Owl but to no avail. I did get the cat though.
Just a bunch of highlights from the last few days....Tuesday we had five Golden Plover which only stayed around for a couple of hours. A Greenshank and an adult WT Eagle were in the same area. Cracking views of a Golden Eagle too.
The only other notable sighting was a Red-throated Diver.
Wednesday was a day off but Thursday was a cracking day with nothing in the range of the camera. We had one of the adult WT Eagle coming in to see the two chicks before we picked up an Otter. A Sparrowhawk was seen too. A single Slow Worm and Common Lizard were seen before we followed  a Golden Eagle down the road to find it perched on the ridge after we lost sight of it! Good numbers of Mountain Hares were seen at the end of the day. A drive around in the evening produced three Barn Owls and a single Short-eared Owl.
Friday was another sunny day. The Mountain Hares were showing well but a bit keen to chase each other about.
Cracking views of a male Hen Harrier crossing the moor. Two Otter were next on the list and a fly over Peregrine. Three Oystercatchers having a bath provided some amusement.
One of the WT Eagle youngsters fledged today but we also had both adults in flight.
After we left the nest area we picked up another Otter but got distracted by one of the WT Eagles appearing with a Golden Eagle displaying close to it. No sign of the Otter after that! All three species of reptile were picked up with two Common Lizard, one Slow Worm and a two year old Adder still sporting the ginger colouration.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Piglets.

Friday was a sunny day and a bit tough on picking up the wildlife. We started the day with a fly past Peregrine and a fly over Red-throated Diver. We had seen some of the commoner birds along the way but the camera hadn't seen any action - piglets will do to see if the camera remembers how to work!
The wee pigs are nice to see but they stop everyone from looking for things. The heat was building up but we kept plugging away picking up Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Bullfinch and a trio of Common Lizards. A search for Otters didn't turn anything up but the WT Eagles made up for that. We had to stop to get a better look at a sunbathing Grey Heron as we had another attempt at the Otters.
As I drove away from the Heron the motor was making a strange sound so we had to stop again to find out what was going on. It turned out to be a flat tyre - marvellous. If you think that everything happens for a reason the plus side of this was that we found an Otter - thankfully that doesn't happen too often!
Not much to report from the weekend except a Tawny Owl paying us a visit on Sunday evening.
Monday was a cloudier day but still warm. A pre tour sighting was a Peregrine that had taken a young Oystercatcher. It was chased off it's prey by the Hooded Crows but it gave them the slip and returned to it's catch.
A cracking start to the tour with the young WT Eagles displaying their prowess at flapping and jumping. At least one of them should fledge in the next couple of days. The Otter search was another hard one but a fleeting glimpse of something moving had me reversing. It wasn't my imagination as we soon had an Otter in our sights. A pair of Red-throated Diver and a male Hen Harrier provided a bit of a distraction too. A bit of a magic moment next as we picked up a WT Eagle in flight...
...and as it disappeared two Golden Eagles came into view - top notch. A bonus bird for me today was a female Blackcap as we tried to get better views of some Redpoll. A fair spread of other birds were seen including Whinchat, Stonechat, another Hen Harrier, Skylark, Dunlin and a single Whimbrel. The mammal list was boosted too with Rabbit and Mountain Hare but once again the piglets came out on top!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Elusive.

Another fine day on Mull, another tour. With the lochs flat calm a search for an Otter looked like it would be a simple task. Oystercatcher, Grey Heron and Curlew were fairly evident with the tide rising. A single Cormorant drying it's wings while a Skylark was dust bathing in front of the motor. Despite all these birds in evidence there was a great silence around the loch, a sure sign that the breeding season is almost over. A Common Buzzard landed close to us and I almost got a decent shot!
We found an Otter not too long after that but as it dived we moved along the road and couldn't relocate it. We moved on and picked up a cracking Red-throated Diver.
Another stop and another Otter. This time it was distant but at least we could see this one for a while before it came ashore out of our sight. You could say they were being a bit elusive. We took a look at the WT Eagles in the nest and watched an adult flying over the ridge. Otter number two was back in the open water when we returned but still distant and Otter number three turned around and went the other way when we got in front of it. Sometimes you just can't get close! We were happy with what we'd seen so we travelled on only to bump into this very obliging chap.
It was a close encounter but you couldn't get a more relaxed Otter than this...
...or this.
We scaled different heights when we caught up with all three reptiles that we have on Mull. A single Slow Worm, three Common Lizard in various stages of moult...
...and two Adders.
We finished the day off with the Mountain Hares and a whole heap of stunning views on the ride home.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Spyvid.

No need for words - enjoy!!
video

video

video
Good or what?!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Klingon.

Tuesday...awesome...in places. Awesome view in the morning.
What we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality. We started with a WT Eagle in a tree...
...and watched it fly off as we viewed the youngsters in the nest. A slow crawl along the loch gave us an Otter that came ashore as we pulled up. It was soon back in the water for more fishing so we waited to see if it would come ashore again. We got lucky.
If you thought Star Trek was just a TV programme then you'd be wrong - is that not a Klingon Otter? Anyhoo, the lobster was very nice and it took a while to devour.
Once again the weather started closing in after that but we tried to stay in the clear. A male Hen Harrier gave us some distant views and then it went a bit quiet. Red Deer, Common Seals, Lesser Redpoll and Slow Worm kept us going. We had a look for Golden Eagle but had no luck. Five Dunlin and a single Ringed Plover were a good find.
We took in the Mountain Hares in sunshine before we headed back in search of the Golden Eagle. We set ourselves up for a long wait. First off - a cup of tea. We waited and scanned around. Plenty of Buzzards, a Kestrel and Hen Harrier all showed but no sign of their larger cousin. It was getting close to leaving time and a shout went up, we looked, checked and we had another Buzzard. It dropped out of the sky and strafed the ground below and something big and black moved. I put the scope on the point where the Buzzard had stooped and found a golden head sticking up. It was a Golden Eagle but not the best view so we headed closer. We didn't have to wait too long and the bird was in the air to give pretty spectacular views.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Crazy Buzzards.

A WT Eagle was hanging about on Monday morning so I took a couple of snaps while it looked around.
Just as I was changing the card in the spycam the same bird flew overhead...with a Buzzard giving it some jip. Fearless or crazy?!
Another location in the afternoon and I had a Golden Eagle getting the same treatment.
This was flying over where I had left the car. Naturally, I was nowhere near!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Typical July.

Two days, two stories, no photos! First day we started of with the two, now fully grown, flightless, WT Eagle chicks and then had the adult fly in within two minutes of setting up. Being a very pleasant day we saw nowt for ages after that! We did find a pair of antlers sticking out of the Bracken that may have been attached to a live animal but it was difficult to tell. Slow Worm, Adder and a Golden Eagle brightened things up considerably. Another two Golden Eagle (good) that couldn't get away quick enough (bad) and a Reed Bunting set the pace for the afternoon. A couple of Mountain Hare and a male Hen Harrier were good finds. We also managed to relocate the antlers we'd seen earlier this time with a full view of the attached beast. Brimming with confidence now I retrieved the card from the spycam to find a stunning photo - see below.
We finished the day off with an Otter and a Spotted Flycatcher - typical July fodder there!
Typical July weather the next day - low cloud, rain, wind - a bit summery then! The weather was due to get worse through the day so we were looking for a good start. Ten minutes in and we had an Otter, a Hen Harrier flew past us and two Great Skuas frightened the life out of the Curlew and gulls. Next up was an adult WT Eagle perched up plus the two youngsters on the nest.
Guest - 'One of those in flight would be nice'
Me - 'It could be a long wait'
Guest pointing over my shoulder - 'What's that?'
Me - 'That'll be one of them WT Eagles in flight!'
The rain started after that but we ploughed on with the common birds and still finished up with a good tally of birds at the end of the day. We also checked through the spycam shots from the previous night...An Otter passed through...
...then came back again.
A few hours later another Otter poking it's head through the Bracken.
Must remember to set it on video mode next time.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Deaf, dumb and blind.

I've been busy over the last few days but I don't have much to show for it yet. I've seen a fair bit while I've been out but mostly from a distance so it was nice to come across this pair of WT Eagles in the air together. Surprising how different the shape of the male bird is...
...compared to the female.
A quick trip out to check a few areas for the surveillance camera proved interesting. I could do with a few more cameras but I'll just have to keep plugging away. There were quite a few Common Terns buzzing about today and a pair of very noisy RT Diver too. A nice encounter with an Otter in the afternoon. I watched it swimming with a purpose to start with.
It then caught a fish which it brought ashore close to where I was sitting.
Finally, I watched as it made it's way through the shallows, up the shore, across the road and up the hill before being lost to sight. Another place and another Otter - this one seemed quite nervous or maybe it just likes looking at cars as it stopped to look at every one that passed! It even stopped cleaning itself to watch the traffic. As you can see from the photo I was a fair distance away, the wind in my favour and it clocked me when I made a slight scrape with my boot.
Some people think the Otter are deaf, dumb and blind - no chance. Their hearing is good, they will see you move and they are certainly not stupid!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Spy cam!

This could be a regular feature but as usual it will be up to the wildlife to perform. Finding the time and places to put out a surveillance camera has paid off. Not too many surprises but plenty of interest.
Here we go then...Common Sandpiper...
...and a Dipper looking for food.
Dipper getting it's best side on the camera.
A change of location and a bit cramped here so I wasn't sure of how things would turn out. First one to perform was this young Robin.
Then a Short-tailed Vole.
What is that on the left hand side of the photo? Could it be whiskers?
The the next photo after the one above showed nothing but disturbed ground - close but no prize!
Another vole but this time after dark.
Probably the owner of the whiskers - an Otter. As you can see the cramped area doesn't help with the photo but the information gained is useful.
An hour later another head appeared through the vegetation, this time Red Deer.
The next time the camera went off something had stopped right in front of it and I had nothing but a white photo. The next photo gave a clue.
You can see the hazy look of the photo above as an Otter pokes it head through the vegetation. The sequence of photos showed that Otter backing off and the hazy look got worse as another Otter put it's face in front of the camera!
That will do for something different and hopefully there will be more.