Friday, 2 October 2009

Tales of the unexpected.

Monday had a wet start and then threatening rain for rest of the day with a stiff westerly blowing. With nothing much going on I decided on a walk along the road to see if I could turn up any Goldcrest or even a Treecreeper. I've probably mentioned before the cold winter and wet spring that we had but if I haven't that was the way it was. The poor conditions affected the bird populations on the island with a drop in numbers of the small birds and reduced numbers of some of the summer migrants. The result of this is I've not seen either of the birds mentioned above this year. It was a bit too windy to be looking for the small stuff but I didn't even hear that many small birds in the sheltered areas. Blue, Coal and Great Tits I could hear and a flock of at least 10 Swallows still hanging around. No 'crest or 'creeper though. A couple of photos from the walk - a Hooded Crow waving a wing........and a Grey Heron waiting for a feeding opportunity...Tuesday was a day of real poor visibility but a bit less wind and a tour on too. It was a difficult start to the day but we still picked up a juv WT Eagle that briefly flew around before dropping out of sight. A tip off of an Otter feeding in the loch a bit further on helped us move along but when we arrived at the spot there was no sign of anything in the water. I located the Otter asleep on the rocks but it was, again, difficult to see under the conditions. The regular waders were better viewed and the Otter that was asleep had woken up so was viewed distantly before slipping back into the water. We pressed on to what looked like better weather further West picking up 5 Barnacle Geese in flight, heading West too, before getting into clearer weather. The best we managed was 2 Twite in a flock of 30 Linnet along with good views of Raven And the Buzzard below.Driving back through it was obvious that we were going to struggle in poor conditions again but we had a cracking finish with two adult WT Eagle sitting, one above the other, in an atmospheric setting!
Wednesday was a complete contrast with the sun shining and very little wind. The juv WT Eagle was sitting viewing his home range in the company of Hooded Crows and Ravens with the odd bird landing close and giving a superb size comparison. Two Otters were found cavorting in the shallows before one of them headed off with a purpose leaving the other behind. It was good to see, and hear, the interaction between the mother and cub as she hauled out and started calling for the youngster to join her. The youngster made good speed through the water and joined mum before long and they rolled around drying off and grooming before settling down to sleep in the sunshine.We trawled through the Golden Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin and Ringed Plover before finding one of the 2 Knot that are still hanging in. A single Greenshank was the best we could do for that species despite there being 5 out there somewhere! We had an early lunch that turned into a lucky break as we picked up Golden Eagle at close quarters before drifting off towards it's mate and then landing in sight but distant. Twenty minutes later and we would have missed the action. Mountain Hare have been difficult to locate recently so it was nice to have calm conditions and good views for a change.While watching the Hare above I picked up a distant female Hen Harrier that was joined by another female bird before one landed in a bush and the other disappeared. We gave it a bit of time and eventually both birds came a lot closer with one bird following the other. I was quite surprised when the second bird came steaming towards the first and literally kicked it onto the ground! The first bird just got back into the air and carried on as if nothing had happened and the second bird followed behind - strange antics though. There was a good number of Barnacle Geese travelling overhead - probably heading for Islay - the largest flock being about 50 birds. We also had a cracking male Merlin fly in front of us on the way back too.
Thursday was even better again than Wednesday so there was high hopes. Two friendly, polite spotters on board in the shape of B&B, plus cameras, we set off in search of Otters after wading through the waders. The rewards came quickly with 2 separate Otter picked up from the same location. We waited to see what direction the closest one was travelling in before turning around to get in front of it - it paid off. A quick snap of the Otter heading away from us in the sunlight........before the change of location and the Otter out on the seaweed, rolling about....We then went in search of the Otter which we managed to relocate so I grabbed a snap of a fish being devoured before we left him in peace too.While watching the Otters we could hear a stag roaring on the hill behind us so that was soon picked up too. Then it all went a bit flat for no reason at all. No Buzzard flying about and certainly no eagles either. We tried a few different locations and got nothing more than deer. A bit of a rethink, a change of location and a bit of a wait.....WT Eagle over the ridge in a Golden Eagle territory was a good WT Eagle and a Golden Eagle up together in the opposite direction and then the resident pair of Golden Eagle up too - phew! One of the Golden Eagles was tracked along the ridge and as it flew over the top of a stag that was skylined, the stag roared, head back, mouth open - what a sight! Lunchtime produced another two Golden Eagle plus distant views of two female Hen Harrier. A few mile further down the road we bagged two adult WT Eagle flying at close quarters. A small freshwater loch produced my sighting of the day as I spotted a duck in the reeds, stop the motor, check - juv Scaup! A quick check of the rest of the loch produced two adult male Scaup in with the Tufted Duck - result. Cracking views of Yellowhammer, Grey Wagtail and two Golden Plover were overshadowed by a male Hen Harrier and a female hunting in the same location. A Common Buzzard was doing some lengthy hovering so I had a go at digiscoping it, not the best idea but it looks like a giant Kestrel...The drive home was an eventful one as we came across an adult WT Eagle - it was close to start with but with the land rising sharply it was soon out of sight. I managed a blurry shot as it reappeared briefly....A couple of mile down the road, just as we were recovering from the previous sighting, another adult WT Eagle appeared right beside us not 20 yards away!!! There's nothing you can say about that - no chance of a photo for me but it was like being in a war zone as the DSLR fiends fired off. The eagle got as much of a shock as we did mind as it didn't know whether to fly back the way it came or carry on! Literally, just round the corner a juv WT Eagle was just clearing the trees and flying over the road! You couldn't make it happen!

1 comment:

Kate S said...

Just so looking forward to coming - guess I will need the full wet weather gear etc etc....can't wait!!