Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Angry August.

Friday it was back to an easy day in pleasant weather. A couple of minutes after picking up the guests we were watching 3 Otters and then off to see the WT Eagles - simple!
Another Otter and then two Golden Eagle plus a Slow Worm - just one of those days.
Saturday went along the same lines too. A couple of Otters at the start of the day were distant but good enough. We had some good eagle action after that with a couple of WT Eagles in flight and a Golden Eagle not happy with the bigger birds flying around his territory. No damage done as the WT Eagles just drifted away. It must be a time for Goldies to be angry as we picked up a juvenile Goldie that was seen off by a couple of adult birds. Next up in the angry stakes were a couple of Sparrowhawks that took umbrage with a squad of Hooded Crows - good to watch though.
Sunday was a day off and it rained all day. Monday was a day for fishing to try and catch some supper. With three men in the boat we headed off to see what we could catch. One of the first fish I hauled in was this Cuckoo Wrasse - not a common fish so that went back in.
Plenty Mackerel were hauled in before we had a go at catching Pollock. A few small ones were caught and thrown back before I caught this 5lb fish - supper!
Tuesday was another day off so Wednesday will have to do. An overcast day with little wind and some good birds. The usual suspects performed well with both juvenile WT Eagle putting on a show for us. Here is one of the birds with a Common Buzzard for company.
The Otter took a bit of finding but performed well despite the attentions of SIX photographers.
We got good views of Greenshank and Ringed Plover along the way. A bonus bird was an adult WT Eagle that was well camoflaged as it sat on the rocks. We almost overlooked this Common Lizard too.
If you look closely you can see the scales starting to grow back on the tail now. A bit more obvious was this Adder.
Only distant views of Golden Eagle today but three birds made up for the distance. There were plenty of Buzzard along the way mostly sitting on posts.
Plenty of Stonechat to see plus a couple of Whinchat, Common Whitethroat and a nice female Hen Harrier before we finished the day with Twite, Linnet and Skylark.

Friday, 26 August 2011

...and pigs might fly!

Wednesday was another good day for sightings but the weather was a bit iffy in places. First on the list was a male Hen Harrier that we picked up while looking for Otters. A cracking Otter sighting came next as we managed to get down to the shore and watch this one from close quarters while it was bringing crabs ashore to eat.
A bit of video footage too. There must be a way of keeping the quality but I haven't worked that out yet.
video
The WT Eagles put on a fine display after that and then the clouds started rolling in. With some good sightings in the bag we didn't worry too much about the weather. Decent numbers of Curlew along the shore, a few Wheatears are still hanging in and lots of Meadow Pipits everywhere.
The rain started in earnest after that but thankfully it didn't last too long. Four Eider ducks enjoyed the shower.
We put in a good effort for Golden Eagle while the weather cleared but there was no sign of them flying around. We made the decision to move on and try somewhere else. I made another stop to have one last look around and located one of the Golden Eagles sitting on a rock in the distance. We did get a bit closer but it was still a distant view. Next on the list were flying pigs - I haven't gone mad, honest! The pigs were getting fed when we arrived at the next Golden Eagle site and one of the sows was literally launching the piglets out of the way - so there you go, pigs do fly;-) A Golden Eagle hove into view and landed on one of the poles so we were into the motor and racing towards it in seconds - result!
It wasn't too long before it was flying again and not away from us either - have some of this!
Cracking weather for the rest of the afternoon, stunning views and plenty of sightings of common birds plus, of course, a good sighting of some eagle food.
One last photo opportunity as we headed for home was this Stonechat.
Thursday was a complete contrast as it was forecast to be pleasant all day with a decent breeze blowing - perfect eagle weather. Someone needs to tell the eagles about these perfect conditions as it was a struggle to find anything flying around! We did start the day with a superb performance from the WT Eagles as the male bird teased the youngsters with some food it was carrying but he wouldn't let them have it - lots of flying about ensued. A decent view of an Otter followed and then things got difficult. Most of the Buzzards that we saw were perched up and the skies remained devoid of birds. The commoner birds were seen but took a back seat to the obsession of finding the elusive Golden Eagle. There was some serious effort put in but it took all day before we finally cracked it. A male Hen Harrier hunting the moor was well watched and right at the last a Golden Eagle cleared the ridge briefly. We hung on for another view. A WT Eagle showed briefly, another brief view of Golden Eagle and then 3 big birds were picked up. It was three Golden Eagle together - a just reward for the effort we'd put in.

Sula - one year on.

As requested by a few people - an update on Sula, the kitten I found on the side of the road while on a tour. Here she is the day I brought her home - cute as a button...
...ten days later she's happy as a sandboy...
...three months later and she's the boss...
...six months old now and enjoying the heat from the fire...
...and here she is at one year old - no more cute little kitten as she's trashed the scratching post...
 ...and spends most of her time in prison;-)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Showstopper!

Tuesday was another day full of surprises. It was overcast for most of the day but it doesn't put the wildlife off. We started the day with a couple of WT Eagles, Buzzard and plenty of Hooded Crow.
Next on the hit list was a very obliging Otter eating a fish.
Just before lunch we got excellent views of an adult and juvenile Red-throated Diver (the photos don't do the sighting justice).
This Dung Beetle was examined closely while we were viewing the Common Lizard.
The Golden Eagles really made the day as they were on show for ages. They disappeared for a short time so we had a look at an Adder but nobody would have imagined the next event. As we walked away from the Adder the Golden Eagle appeared not 15 yards away. It flew past us without a sound but gave us a hard stare - I'm sure it winked as it went past!!
A bit of a showstopper that one so the good numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, flocks of Linnet and Skylark, three Twite, 2 Golden Plover and a couple of Mountain Hare all had to take a back seat!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Talented Otter.

Sunday was spent dodging showers while putting a pond in the garden. The Frogs and Toads now have a place to do their spring thing.
Monday was an overcast day but there is always sunshine round the corner. The Skylarks and Linnets showed well along with a single Dunlin and a Mountain Hare. The flat calm conditions were bringing out the occasional midge, no surprises there, but the Golden Eagle that we picked up at our next stop was worthwhile. Three Red-throated Divers were a bonus as we tried to relocate the Golden Eagle. Our good fortune continued at the next port of call when we picked up an Otter while viewing a Grey Seal that was hauled out alongside it's smaller cousins. Another Otter at the next stop showed a bit better as it hauled a fish out on the shore. A juvenile Hen Harrier and an Adder showed well too.
The next Otter was a lot closer but didn't hang around for too long so we headed off to look at the WT Eagles. We managed to get both of the adults and the two chicks in a field with quite a bit of interaction between them.
We managed to pick up the Otter again and discovered it had a talent for doing impressions. See what you think of these...Popeye complete with a pipe!
'I yam what I yam!'
A roaring Lion complete with mane...
...and, last but not least, a Tarzan dive into the water.
How talented is that?! We picked up quite a bit of other stuff including another couple of Hen Harrier, Kestrel and this Northern Wheatear.
Just to top things off nicely the skies cleared too.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Spot the Otter.

Friday was a bit grubby in places but as usual the sightings made up for it. A bunch of Mountain Hare to start the day before we set off in search of the elusive Otters. Along the way we bagged a couple of Hen Harriers...
...four Eider, two WT Eagle and a Goosander.
It might look like I use this photo a lot but it's a new shot every time - this Buzzard is a real show off!
We'd searched high and low for the Otters with no reward and not much to add to the list but common birds, Adder and a couple of Common Lizard. One last effort to get the furry beasties turned up trumps when we located the mum and two cubs. They spent quite a bit of time in the water fishing...
...and each time they came ashore it was in a place we couldn't see! At least we got them.
Saturday was decent weather with some cracking sightings but less photographs. Stunning views of two Golden Eagle close to the road started the day off well. We followed that up with the WT Eagle perched in a tree and off to find the Otters. The wind had picked up which might make things difficult but as I was explaining what to look for one popped up right in front of us - result! The down side was we lost it straight away as we tried to get in a better position. It was relocated and watched for half an hour and then lost in the choppy water. Another move and we had it back in our sights but this time it wasn't alone. Spot the Otters in this photo!
There are two Otters in that shot - one top left and the other bottom right. We managed to pick up the four Eider and the Goosander again plus another sighting of the two Golden Eagles. Reptiles showed well with a young Slow Worm and two Adders. Plenty of Buzzards around through the day but none better than the one we followed down the road. This one was taken through the windscreen so it's up to the usual standard!
Another good finish to the day with flocks of Linnet and Skylark, Mountain Hare and a Sparrowhawk.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Ring of bright water.

Tuesday was a pleasant enough day and the top priority was to locate an Otter. Within five minutes of getting some of the guests aboard we got our first view of an Otter. We had to head off to pick more guests up so we let that one go. A WT Eagle was perched in a tree so that got a good grilling too. With all the guests present we headed back to the Otter to get everyone on level terms. Golden Eagle was the next target and it couldn't have been further away! It was watched while it flew closer then it turned to go further away. A change of location and we got better views but while we had a comfort break another Goldie put in an appearance. A trio of reptiles, Mountain Hare and a few waders padded out the day. I'd not had a chance to use the camera all day so when the Tawny Owl put in an appearance in the evening I gave it a shot - what a waste of effort!
Thursday was a pleasant day with no wind and full of midges! On the way to pick folk up for the day I managed to see four Otters - the ring of bright water works well. Was it easy to find another one with the guests on board? The mill pond conditions were perfect for Otter spotting but all the ring of bright water bits turned out to be fish! We eventually found an Otter making it's way quietly along the shore away from us and out into open water. We got well in front of it and waited until it swam under our vantage point and hauled out - superb! After viewing the WT Eagles we headed back for more Otter action - another one with a crab for lunch was the best we could do.
A brief view of a female Hen Harrier was good and we saw the Common Lizard that is growing a new tail.
The female Adder is still showing well too.
Best sighting of the day was a Sparrowhawk that posed perfectly in the middle of the road.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Hen Harriers everywhere.

Saturday was the coos trip to the seaside - they love a good paddle they do. This unruly bunch are now staring in the window wondering what I'm saying about them! 
Sunday I was sh***ing all day. Fill in the blanks yourself but it shouldn't be mentioned in public (I did get some new boots and a pizza out of it though).  A nice male Hen Harrier seen in the evening made up for the shameful activities of the day.
Monday morning I headed off to pick up the spycam, which had drawn another blank, and saw an Otter and THREE Hen Harriers along the way! I had my fingers crossed that the tour would continue in the same vein. With the guests on board the first sighting was.............wait for it.................................a male Hen Harrier! A couple of Curlew and a few Heron later and another Hen Harrier, this time a female, flew along the ridge. The WT Eagles put on a premier performance with the female sat in a tree, both chicks on the nest and the male coming in with prey over our heads.
The Otters were proving to be a bit elusive but our persistence paid off when one was seen to clamber over a rock and disappear. We moved further down the road and relocated the beast asleep on the shore.
A nice Red Deer stag was seen just before lunch which was a lot better than the distant views of a herd of deer on the skyline. Three Common Lizards, a Golden Eagle, three more Hen Harriers in the distance and an Adder.
One of the kids found a caterpillar that looks like it could be Narrow-bordered Bee hawk-moth.
Yet another female Hen Harrier as we headed off...
...and a first for me - a live Mole! A nice Peregrine sighting in the afternoon and a selection of waders finished the day off nicely.