Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Happy New Year

Monday I had a thrilling day typing up the diary and sorting out the photos from the last two months or so. It's done now so I'm one step closer to backing them up as it's been three years since I last did it!
Tuesday I was out on tour for a change. After the cold calm conditions of the last few days it was blowing from the NE. Absolutely BALTIC! Thankfully the cloud was high and broken but any heat the sun had was stolen before it reached us. While I was waiting for the guests to arrive I watched an adult WT Eagle come down off the hills and settle on the rocks in the middle of the loch. We raced along the road to get a better view and lo and was gone! We could hear gulls alarm calling in the only direction we couldn't view so that was the end of that. We headed back the way we came in the hope the bird may be still flying around but no luck there. Our next stop did get us WT Eagle but this time a juv being harassed by a Raven. We drove on keeping an eye on the ridges but nothing was flying. A lone Buzzard crossed our path to keep the interest going. The next stop was a real treat as we located a Golden Eagle on the hillside on a fresh sheep carcass.We watched the bird for a good half hour hoping that another bird would join this first one. There were plenty of Hooded Crow and Raven but nothing else turned up. We headed back down the road in search of other things. There were plenty of stags on view but this collection of hinds that were out 'human' spotting were worth stopping for.'Are they humans there, look?'
Off to look for Otters next. The loch was quite choppy as we headed round but there were some sheltered spots. We picked up the likes of RB Merg, Redshank, Curlew etc but no sign of the furry beasts. Another stop and another look gave up a GN Diver or two and the appearance of two large birds in flight coming towards us. We held firm as the birds approached and got stunning views of the two WT Eagle as the passed right by us!The road wasn't too bad but there were a few treacherous places along the way. We were advised not to go much further as the conditions were worse further along. We headed back the way we came still looking for the elusive Otters and connected almost immediately. I caught a glimpse of an Otter taking to the water and got everyone onto it before we moved closer. The better position revealed there were two youngsters on the shore as well as the female in the water - tremendous! As with the Goldie earlier on we had prolonged views as the youngsters tumbled around the rocks and into the sheltered parts of the small bay with the female occasionally bringing a fish in.We pressed on when we'd had our fill. It was slow going at first and a relief to get onto clear roads. A quick, quiet, lunch had us nicely warmed up and ready for some more action. A few Buzzards along the way set us up nicely for the Golden Eagle that flew over the top of us as we watched a group of Common Seals 'bottling' in the bay.A single Fieldfare was a decent find....along with a few Meadow Pipits.There are plenty of areas for these birds to feed in better weather so they can be hard to locate at times. A few Rock Doves........were on the opposite side of the road and another Golden Eagle perched on a hilltop. The eagle took flight and dropped out of sight - that was our cue to move on. We headed for our last stop of the day and the place was heaving. Lots of Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, a few Snipe and a cracking Grey Plover!Shame about the lack of light and the hefty breeze. A single Pink-footed Goose amongst the Greenland WF Goose.There were about 80 Golden Plover in the fields with a smattering of Lapwing and Skylark amongst them.
A Happy New Year to all and hopefully a bird filled 2010.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas crackers!

I had to go out on Christmas Eve to run an errand and I was gifted with this tremendous sight.Four WT Eagle sitting together - an adult bird on the left, a first year next along, a second year at the front and a three your old on the right - cracking!
Christmas Day there was six of us headed out into the ice and snow to work up an appetite. First on the score sheet for the day was a cracking male Hen Harrier. We watched the quartering for about 10 minutes before it landed and we left it alone. Not too far down the road we clocked 4 Red Deer on the hillside and 2 Otters on the shore. I walked back to get this shot of the Deer.......before having a look at the Otters. The expectations were that this was mother and cub but on a closer look it appears to be a dog and a bitch.The female is fairly well dwarfed by this big male. We stopped for a cuppa, cakes and biscuits before deciding to head for a beach for a change of scenery. It was nearly not such a good idea as we turned off the main route the road turned to sheet ice. The track we had to walk down was not much better and the surface water on the sand was frozen too - slippy, slippy stuff. Was it worth it? We had a Raven flying around us as we started down the track, there were Lapwing, Golden Plover and Ringed Plover in the fields, a single Barnacle Goose was trying to hide amongst the Greylags........and two Golden Eagles put in a brief appearance. Not a bad haul for a bunch of people watching their footing! A slow drive back looking at the scenery - Ben More looking good covered in snow.......a Dunnock scratching around for tasty things.......a Stag with a half decent set of antlers.......and best of all a snowman with a snowdog!We had a quick look at the 3 lochs in Glen you can see it's a bit cold but we did manage to get a WT Eagle while we were enjoying the view.
Boxing Day was spent resting so after some overnight rain I was out this morning checking the road conditions - lethal! F-stop and PS saved the day by taking us out in their truck. A cracking day again with Red Deer stags to start quickly followed by the same two Otters from yesterday......and a WT Eagle sitting on a high point across the loch. A couple of GN Diver were just close enough for a snap but the BT Diver was too far out - can't grumble though.Another 3 Otters, a mum and two cubs, were too far away to photograph but nice to watch. Plenty of stags on show in the glen with all the better looking ones too far away - no surprises there!Two more WT Eagle sitting together were, as you can see, distant.We headed off to see how the thaw was progressing in Glen More - it wasn't. At our first stop we picked up a Golden Eagle sitting on the ridge and then another one appeared in the opposite direction. We stuck with the bird in the air and it wasn't too long before another bird joined it. They touched talons and called to each other which set off the bird we had on the ridge too - magic stuff. The photo of the two flying birds shows it was an adult and a juv bird.
That's enough excitement for today and thanks for run out!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

More fun in the snow

Yet another pleasant day and an opportunity to 'do the view' - it's hard not to.Another sortie out the back of the shop finally gave up a Coal Tit that was too hungry to fly away!Maybe you were wondering why there wasn't a photograph of the view South yesterday, here it is...The tide was just dropping away and the waders were flitting about so it was time to have a go at them. I'd seen a single Common Snipe flying about and I relocated the bird feeding on the shore with the Ringed Plover and Turnstone. A more bizarre sight was a Blackbird that landed in the water and seemed to be enjoying the experience of 'relaxing in the radox' - just the head and tail sticking out. It soon moved on when a car came past. With the water flat calm it was worthwhile trying to get a shot of the birds in flight complete with a reflection. Plenty of poor shots but this one of the Turnstones has the single Dunlin that is hanging around for the Winter.This is what I was trying to get though....I got distracted then by a bird singing in the trees - not a song that many will be familiar with but one you should seek out sometime - a Common Crossbill in full flow. I found the female bird but I couldn't find the male that was singing.I managed to get a run out in the afternoon with f-stop and PS - really worthwhile! You could point your camera at anything and it looks good with a bit of snow on. We tried it out with a sheep for starters........and then a Grey Heron.We were keeping our eyes open for Otters along the way but it was a WT Eagle that was next on the list - what a monster......a three year old bird still sporting some brown in the tail by the looks of it. The sun was getting close to the horizon but there was enough light if you looked East.......but not much time left if you looked West...A different angle on the view to the West was always going to make the blog.......and a mini mountain of snow on the road was worth playing with.We finally caught up with two Otters that were crossing the loch heading in our direction. A bit of patience and we had them close inshore - a fitting end to a cracking day.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas

As you can see from the photos below we are pretty well snow covered at the moment. There is traffic moving about the place but I have no desire to join them - I'll just enjoy the view. I took these photos this morning as the sun was getting up. First off is the view to the North.........the view to the West........and finally the view to the East....It was a cracking morning but there has been another inch or so of snow this afternoon with more forecast. Hopefully this will stay till Christmas! I've spent the day trying to photograph the birds at the back of the shop with mixed results. First off the local Robin having breakfast......and the same bird waiting for lunch - it's non-stop in this weather!The Coal Tits were too quick and Donald Dunnock wasn't coming out to play so I had a go at the Collared Doves instead...Last but not least the cheeky Chaffinch....As the blog title says Merry Christmas to everyone and thanks for reading!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Snow hope

It really does look nice up here at the moment but the travelling can be a bit dodgy. We spent the weekend in Tobermory with friends and did no birding at all. The most exciting thing we saw was on the Friday night as we drove through Craignure and two Otters were cavorting on the roadside. We stopped to have a look and made sure they crept back into the undergrowth before we moved on. The drive back on Sunday afternoon was a bit slippery in places with signs of a few folk having a scary moment or two. Needless to say, it was stunning this morning.I had a quick look round outside the shop to see what was out in the shallows. One Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebe, 9 Golden Plover, 18 Turnstone, 11 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, 6 Redshank, 3 Curlew and a Great Northern Diver. Most of the gulls had gone to the fields along with the rest of the Curlews. There were two Golden Eagle sitting on the ridge in the distance and a flock of 10 Common Crossbill had a fly around. I did hear a single male Crossbill singing it's heart out a bit later on as I was trying to photograph a Goldcrest out the back of the shop.I'll get a good shot one day!I received an email today with regards to a colour ring record that I put in for Black-tailed Godwit in April. I have sent a few photographs and some extra info to the coordinator as they said it could be a bird ringed in the Wash but they need to rule out the possibility of one of the rings being a flag. Hopefully I'll get a quick response!