Friday, 30 April 2010

Where's me birds?

Wednesday was a bit of a grey day so not many photos. After picking the guests up and checking out the GN Divers we headed off around the loch. A mum and cub Otter were located and watched for a while until they hid themselves behind some rocks. The WT Eagles are still sitting on eggs so a view of an adult sitting on the nest was nice to see. It surprisingly quiet out there at the moment as the migrant birds are slow coming through. I've heard reports of Tree Pipit across the island but I can't find any down here at the moment. They'll come in time, I'm sure. I did get a couple of year ticks with a Common Whitethroat and a Whinchat both showing briefly. Our last stop of the day was probably the most productive with the usual selection of shore birds and a nice flock of finches that included 20 Linnet and 10 Twite. Best find of the day for me was this Brent Goose.
In the evening I finally made the journey up to Calgary to see if the Bee-eaters were still around. When we arrived the wind was howling and the rain was lashing down - not the best conditions so it was no surprise that we didn't connect with the birds and the lone Whimbrel on the beach was no compensation.
Thursday was a much better day with the sun shining and trying to negate the chilly breeze. With the guests on board we headed off in search of the days delights. We didn't even have to look for Mountain Hare as one raced across the road in front of us before we discovered 4 Dunlin amongst the flock of Golden Plover. There was no sign of the Twite today and only four Linnets were found. Our next stop gave up a few of the small birds and was looking pretty quiet when, suddenly, a female Hen Harrier cleared the ridge. Just as we were packing up we picked up a Golden Eagle in the distance but it was soon out of sight. A lone Black Guillemot was found while looking for divers and a Willow Warbler posed briefly nearby.
Lunchtime gave us another two Golden Eagles but closer views this time. The birds were up in the air when we arrived and still flying about when we left!
The Dunlin and Ringed Plovers were showing well outside the shop but we couldn't locate the Greenshank that was calling. Just before we got to the small pool where the Greenshank often hide out we found this Snipe sitting pretty.
While looking for Otters a juv WT Eagle flew straight past us scattering the gulls and geese. The bird flew out of sight and then reappeared as we pulled over again to watch an Otter. The Otter was fishing in the loch so I grabbed a few snaps of the WT Eagle.
We moved on from there to search for Red Deer which were easy to find and a Cuckoo was located perched up in a tree. A couple of Sparrowhawks were seen being mobbed by a Hooded Crow when we headed back down the road. Both of the adult WT Eagles were present at the nest site and a juv Golden Eagle cruised the ridges. On the run back through we picked up another Otter that was hauled out with a fish.
Today was a bit wet this morning with some heavy showers passing through and a lot clearer this afternoon. I had a look through the Dunlin and Ringed Plover to see if there was anything else but with only 10 birds of each it didn't take long. Two WT Eagle and two Golden Eagle were over the ridges in opposite directions but always distant.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The rain can stop now.

Monday was a day of rain but just the light stuff. We headed off in search of Otters round the loch and found a cracking Redshank sitting on the fence to start with.
Good views of Wheatear and Lapwing were had before we picked up our first GN Diver. While watching the diver we located an Otter fishing on the far shore so we watched as it made it's way along the shore. Next on the list was a juv WT Eagle sitting on a spit of land. Another 3 Otters were found a mile or so further round before we viewed the WT Eagle nest on the second attempt due to a heavy shower spoiling the view the first time! Another single Otter was seen on the return journey and also two more juv WT Eagle before the rain started in earnest. A quiet afternoon was had but we still managed to pick up Sparrowhawk, Whimbrel, Kestrel, Dunlin and Golden Plover amongst the usual fare. Six Mountain Hare were found lounging in the Iris beds before we had a quick look at the Lapwing nest while the sitting bird was away.
After I'd dropped the guests off and returned home I caught up with a male Hen Harrier flying past the shop - cool!
Tuesday was another day of rain but heavier than the previous day. Six WT Eagle were sitting around outside the shop while I waited for todays guests to arrive. I managed to get a shot of three of the birds together in the dull conditions just before one of the birds made a few attempts to catch a swimming RB Merg!
The guests arrived in time to take in the eagle fest before we headed off in search of Otters. Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper and the many Wheatears were admired before we picked up an Otter scrambling over the rocks. We had to reverse down the road to pick the beast up again as he headed out fishing. It was a tough day but we had many highlights including a Snipe that was drumming right over our heads, a flock of Twite performed superbly about five yards in front of us, cracking views of both Great Northern and Red-throated Divers, lots of Dunlin and this Pink-footed Goose was a surprise find too.
I could add to the list but a healthy 54 species on a rainy day isn't a bad result.

Monday, 26 April 2010

More rain please.

Friday was a bit dull to start with and then rain pushing in as the day went on. Luckily we had a cracking start to the sightings for the day with a good number of Otters. A dog Otter to start with which hid itself away not long after we found it so we headed off to view the WT Eagle nest. Both birds were present on the nest but not doing a lot so we went back to see if we could relocate the Otter. No luck with the dog but we found mum and two cubs a bit further along.
The female headed off and left the cubs to sleep so we moved on again. We got good views of 2 juv WT Eagles at our next stop one of which was busy demolishing a goose.
Another two Otter were spotted running behind the eagles heading for the sea. The rain started after this and washed out the afternoon a bit. We did pick up a few Redwing along the way and my first Gannet of the year before our last stop. A few birds had dropped in with the rain so the flock of 27 Dunlin were nice to see...
...and the Golden Plover did a nice fly by for us too.
A Mountain Hare was showing well at the side of the road...
...with a Lapwing sitting on the nest in the rain not too far away.
Saturday the weather was the other way round with cloudy conditions in the morning and brightening up in the afternoon. We set of in search of the Otters first and managed to get cracking views of one just after we'd been viewing Common Sandpiper and the first Whimbrel I'd seen this year.
We had the adult Wt Eagles in the bag before we located a couple of younger birds in flight. A cracking Golden Eagle at lunchtime was nice to watch...
...before we located a Cuckoo sitting on a fence post. The sightings of GN Diver had been good through the day but the numbers of Razorbill were starting to build and it was nice to hear the birds calling to each other. We had good Hare sightings again and a male Hen Harrier but no sign of the Dunlin today. A White Wagtail tried it's best to avoid getting it's photo taken.
Sunday was a day off and supposed to be an afternoon trip to Staffa. The weather was dreadful so we ended up on Iona instead. We heard a single Corncrake while we were there and watched the Rooks flying in and out of the Rookery.
The Snake's Head Fritillary was still in flower so a couple of shots of those too.
The Jackdaws were trying their best to stay out of the way so just a flight shot.
Lastly a it a Rook or a Carrion Crow? I've not seen a Rook with white in the wings before and we don't have Carrion Crow on the island!
I found out this morning that there are two Bee-eaters in the North of the island and have been there for a couple of days....I'll not be seeing those then!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The big and the small.

Wednesday was forecast to be a bit miserable but the threat of rain soon passed. We started the days tour with a brief glimpse of a male Hen Harrier before heading off to look for Mountain Hares. We located a single Hare pretty quickly but missed out on the Golden Plover and proceeded to have a quiet spell that gave no better than a few Swallows, Sand Martins and Willow Warbler. Our next stop warmed things up a bit with a WT Eagle calling from a spot that we couldn't view so we headed further down the road to see if we could improve things. Result - one adult WT Eagle sitting at the bottom of a cliff next to the sea. We also had a bonus as another Wt Eagle came from the same place and flew towards us before landing on the rocks down below.
This bird is a four year old from Skye. If you check out the photos of the White tagged birds from previous posts you can see there is a tremendous difference in plumage from 3 year old to four year old. A Red-throated Diver flew past while we watched the eagle. Lunchtime produced the usual sighting of Golden Eagle plus a couple of Crossbills flew over. A year tick at the next stop was a single Black-tailed Godwit. We headed off in search of Otters next and we weren't disappointed with a single male offshore before we located another asleep on the shore. A Common Sandpiper was quite obliging while we waited for a GN Diver to surface.
Another two Otters performed quite well just after we'd scrutinised this Rock Pipit.
The return journey produced a good number of antler free stags - boy do they look odd!
Thursday was another trip out with guests. The forecast was not a good one, starting with rain, but the usual Mull climate won the day and we stayed dry. We looked for the Mountain Hares while the rain came down and managed to find two as the skies cleared.
The Golden Plover were parading about in the fields again today, Meadow Pipits were everywhere and the odd Skylark gave a good display. Sightings of Common Seals, Swallows, Wheatears and Sand Martins kept us going until we picked up a Golden Eagle in flight. It was flying at low level and eventually landed in a Larch not too far away from us. It would have been a good picture but it flew off just as I got the camera out! It performed well and landed again before being harassed by Ravens. A flock of seven Common Crossbill, including three streaky juv birds, showed well at the top of a conifer. We had Otter on the list next as we located a male just waking up and having a scratch before heading off fishing. As the Otter moved off we picked up an adult WT Eagle flying along the ridge before dropping out of sight. We moved on and found 3 Bullfinch feeding quietly while we were watching a Robin. I managed to get a shot of the male Bullfinch before they moved on.
While viewing the two WT Eagles at the nest site this Wren completely stole the show. They normally find a perch and give a blast of song before moving on but this chap just stayed where he was!
We'd had a cracking day out and comment was passed that Herons are much overlooked - they certainly are handsome birds.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


The WT Eagle sightings are continuing at an obscene rate and I'm sure everyone is getting a bit sick of the photos. Well, I'm afraid, that's tough...
... those two put in an appearance on Sunday afternoon and I wasn't going to miss out on a photo opportunity. I had the camera in frustration mode, as you can tell, so I was pleased to get the next shot right.
F-stop and PS dragged me, kicking and screaming, around the loch after the above drama and we didn't see a whole lot except this Otter.
Monday was another day on tour in fair conditions but rain was promised before the end of play. We started off with good views of Ringed Plover displaying and a single Common Sandpiper trying to keep out of their way! We looked for Mountain Hare and it took some doing but we got there eventually with a good haul of birds including Golden Plover, Turnstone, Wheatear, Redshank picked up along the way. We located a Golden Eagle on the way to our next stop where we took in the delights of the singing Willow Warbler, displaying Rock Pipit and the dashing Sand Martins. We headed off from there wondering what was going to come next - nobody would have predicted White-billed Diver but that is what we got. A beast of a bird still in juv plumage but I couldn't get a photo due to nasty, nasty heat haze! Lunchtime was a long wait with nothing to see until the Golden Eagle put in an appearance just as we were packing up to go. A cracking male Wheatear was begging to get it's photo took through a fence so I duly obliged.
We bagged a couple of WT Eagle flying over the ridge before we finally got sighting of an Otter asleep on the shore. The clouds rolled in as we went in search of another Otter. We did locate one but it managed to sneak off before everyone had a good look so we checked out the local WT Eagle nest before returning to the Otter. This time we found the Otter bringing a fish to shore and enjoyed cracking views while the rain came down. A female Hen Harrier was seen on the return journey with a couple of Whooper Swans adding to the days total.
This morning I saw three very tired looking Whooper Swans in a sheltered bay and when we finally got to the shop we knew why - it was blowing a hoolie! On the way to the shop we had the now expected eagle extravaganza with at least 8 birds flying around. No wing tags were seen on any of the birds in flight but one of four birds that were sitting on the shore had green tags with the letter O - another East coast bird from last year. I've tried to keep my eyes closed for the rest of today but I have one more big bird photo show before I sign off....nanoo, nanoo

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The early worm gets the bird.

Thursday was another cracking day. I had a meeting to attend in the afternoon so I didn't do too much in the morning but first bird on the list in the afternoon was a WTE being chased by a Raven.
After the meeting I had a bit of a wander around trying to get a photo of Willow Warbler but they didn't want to play despite there being quite a few birds around now. Primroses are out in force as are Dog Violet with the odd Wood Anemone here and there.
I followed a GN Diver along the shore taking a few snaps along the way. With the light against me they were never going to be good but I did catch him in the middle of a fishing tale - how big?
 'It was huge, I tell you!!'
Friday was a continuation of the good weather and another sighting of four WT Eagle outside the shop. A good bit of interaction between two of the young birds and an adult WT as the youngsters seen off the adult bird. It obviously tired them out as they took turns having a lie down after that.
The adult returned an hour or so later and returned the favour!! I received an update from the RSPB on the bird sporting the ring Blue 80 - a bird from mainland Scotland on the West coast. I went to check on the Adder situation in the afternoon but couldn't find any at all. I wonder how many died in the winter cold spell. While attempting another warbler photo I snapped this Peacock on a Willow - nice.
 Staying with the insects there are a lot of Green Tiger Beetles about at the moment...
...and also the odd Bee-Fly.
A Northern Wheatear posed for a photo while I fumbled with the camera...
...before I located a stag, still sporting antlers, that had been wallowing somewhere - filthy or what?
I also found my first patch of Wood Sorrel before the day was out.
Saturday there was change in the weather with a bit of drizzle and a cold Northerly blowing. It was another tour and amongst the usual array of birds and beasts there was the odd surprise. A Bar-tailed Godwit was the find of the day...
...with a nice male Hen Harrier doing a flyby while we were watching it. Quite a few Swallows were seen through the day...
...and the same with Sand Martins. Wheatears were prominent too with a lovely display from 3 male vying for the attention of a single female. We did manage to locate an Adder today but again it was one of last years youngsters. The Lapwings performed well and looked splendid in the sunshine at the end of the day.
The Golden Plover flock has increased to about 200 Summer plumage birds - an impressive sight.
I wormed my way out of bed to watch the F1 this morning and it always pays to have a look around before doing anything else. I could see a few lumps at the side of the loch so I dug out the bins for a closer look...
...six WT Eagles sitting in a group - tremendous. The Green tagged bird on the right is the local breeding female and the white tagged bird is number 3. I had a good look along the shore and picked out another 3 birds - NINE birds it total!! Strangely there was no sign of White 7 amongst these birds.