Friday, 21 May 2010

Dull days

Wednesday was a warm enough day but the cloud was down to the ground. What do you do on a day like that? With the guests on board we headed into the murk rattling off a great list of birds to start the day -Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Meadow Pipit and the list goes on. Two Mountain Hares on the top of a mound caused a bit of excitement too. On the way to the next stop the road rises and puts you further into the cloud base and there was less visibility and comment was passed that a male Hen Harrier flying through this would be nice but probably invisible. We found the usual Whinchat and Stonechat before a Cuckoo put in an appearance but flew deep into the mist. We followed a Willow Warbler down the fence and it eventually perched up on one of the posts - excellent!
As I was taking that photo a shout went up for Buzzard and immediately after another shout for another bird. If I'd taken one more shot of the Willow Warbler there would have been an out of focus male Hen Harrier in the background!! What a stunning bird. It flew past us then round the back and down the other side - you couldn't ask for any more. Half a dozen Common Tern were flying around in the bay as we continued on our travels. Despite the apparently dire conditions we had over 40 species on the list by lunchtime. The afternoon should have been a difficult one but the birds were keen to show themselves. Golden Plover, more Dunlin and Greenshank were seen before we headed off to get Golden Eagle. The cloud had lifted just enough for us to scope one of the Goldies on the cliff so that was a big bonus for the day. The water was flat calm as we searched for Otters but nothing was moving at all. Plenty of Great Norther Divers to be seen but very little else. We viewed the WT Eagle nest and I was delighted to find there are two chicks in the nest. Another try for the Otter produced nothing again. I dropped off half of the guests and headed off to drop the others at their accommodation. You can't help but look for stuff as you drive along so this Red Deer lying down was nice to see.
A WT Eagle was seen out on the rocks and we found an Otter too! A cracking day all round. An evening treat was had when we heard a whole load of splashing in the dark as a small herd of Red Deer were crossing through the shallows. It was a bit late so the photo (it was near enough black before I brightened it up!) is just capturing the moment rather than my usual masterpiece;-)
Thursday was another dull day with another bunch of enthusiastic guests. There were no expectations but plenty of keen eyes to pick stuff up as I'd informed them of the good fortune we'd had the previous day. We bagged two Otters at our first stop along with numerous sightings of  GN Diver, Eider, Razorbill, Common Tern, RB Merg and GN Diver.
Miraculously the cloud lifted briefly and we able to get Golden Eagle on list yet again and as the cloud descended again we moved on. The Dunlin and Ringed Plover were performing well as a Greenshank flew across the loch and a Bar-tailed Godwit was found - it was all looking good again. Two Common Buzzard were perched up causing great alarm to a Blackbird. One of the Buzzard looked particularly precariously balanced.
A Grasshopper Warbler was heard as we picked up Whinchat, Stonechat, Common Whitethroat, Twite and Rock Dove. Two Green-veined White butterfly were mating on the Iris stems while we looked for the Gropper.
Our last stop of the day turned up the three Black-tailed Godwit...

...along with two Whimbrel. There were plenty of Linnet flying about, a cracking Mountain Hare trying it's best to hide and some stunning views of Twite. The Lapwing that was on the nest has finally hatched the youngsters too. On the run back to base we managed to get Great tit flying alongside the motor, Grey Wagtail and a Cuckoo. Another amazing day out with over 60 species put on the list.
Footnote: Thanks to a bunch of people that staked out the Golden Eagles all day on Wednesday, blocking at least 4 passing places in a row, you now can't park near the birds. Marvellous!!


Wilma said...

love the deer at night photo.

East Ayton Birding said...

Shame about the problems with other birders in recent days Bryan.

Got a week booked on Mull during August, hopefully to get a few whale & dolphin shots amongst other things, and weather permitting.