Sunday, 28 November 2010

In no particular order...

...the highlights from the last few days. After a nasty reaction to a Yellow Fever jab that saw me drive past a WT Eagle photo opportunity, I've not had that many chances to get out. I've noticed that some parts of the country have been hit with a little snow here and there. We seem to have escaped the ravages of the snow but it certainly is chilly up here as you can see by the frosty grass around the new neighbour - isn't she sweet?!
Other than distant views of Red Deer stags up the hills the chance to see a decent sized one has been lacking of late but now is the time for them to return to the lower ground. This is one that I've had crossing the road in front of me in the dark a few times recently - nice to see him in the daylight for a change!
Not a very good photo of a Herring Gull flying past you might say - there was another target at the time and the gull was just coming in for a look. I'll come back to that.
If the cold weather continues for much longer this could be what we'll have coming out of the taps - icicles! It's down to a trickle already.
Even the Mallards are cuddling up in these cool conditions.
Back to the Herring Gull and what it was looking at - an Otter bringing a fish to shore of course.
She wasn't bringing the fish back for herself though, as the youngsters need to learn the skills to survive too.
Just so you can see how much snow we have over here I took this shot this morning.

Despite the fact that the weather isn't too bad up here, the few winter migrant thrushes that we did have seem to have moved on - they will be back though.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Nothing special.

The last couple of days I've been trying to get more shots of the Great Northern Diver but it's not working out. It has been too shady or overcast when the beast has been close in but perfect light when it is too far away. This is the best I've had. Nothing special.
There have been a few RT Diver around too but always too far out so the Grey Herons have kept me amused. It was good to see this one wrestle with a fish for a while...
...before finally swallowing the spiney meal.
I had the close attention of this Hooded Crow for 5 minutes or so...
...before he headed straight out onto the rocks for a quick snack that was left over from the Otters.
It's nice when it just happens but sometimes it can be a struggle. I've had a real hard time spotting Golden Eagle from the garden despite some hard looking. I finally put that one to rights today:-)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

About time too!

It's been over a week since the last entry on the blog but with fairly poor conditions in that time I've busied myself with other things! Thursday night was the turning point as we set off for home after a night out. It was lashing down when we went for dinner but clearer skies were visible as we drove home in the dark. We put up the odd Woodcock from the verges and also bagged a nice Tawny Owl, two Barn Owls and a huge looking stag that stared at us as we drove past.
Friday was the calmest weather we'd had and decent light too so I had to get out for a fix. I had a quick count of the gulls on show with 134 Common Gulls and 6 Black-headed Gulls amongst them and about 10 Turnstones hiding in the seaweed. The usual winter count of four Little Grebe were fishing in the shallows and a couple of Stonechat posed close to the car.
A flock of Chaffinch were feeding on one of the tracks with a Goldcrest in one of the conifers behind them plus a 30 strong group of Crossbills 'chipping' away overhead. I got superb views of a Black-throated Diver but it wasn't hanging around for photos and the Great Northern Divers were all too far out to worry about. It was the usual suspects that provided photo opportunities with Grey Herons aplenty...
...Common Buzzard in flight...
...Hooded Crows foraging along the shore and posing on the rocks...
...and, of course, the views.
A quick pit stop for lunch gained me another 6 Crossbills in flight and then I was off on my travels again. No more than a minute down the road and I could see something large sticking up from the rocks - a WT Eagle. Out with the scope and the digi camera for a quick shot before driving to a better view point. A good scan around revealed two WT Eagle, two GN Diver, 12 Shag, 6 RB Merg, a couple of Curlew, a dozen Oystercatcher and an Otter! Needless to say I spent a bit of time there just soaking it all up. The cloud had built up a bit so the photos aren't up to much but here we go with RB Merg...
...and WT Eagle.
As the light was starting to go I headed for home and had a quick look at the feeders in the garden. It was nice to see the feeders quite busy with Chaffinch, Great Tit and Blue Tit...
...and a supporting cast of Blackbird, Redwing, Song Thrush, Dunnock and Wren too.
Saturday we headed off to do some visiting and do a bit of spotting along the way. We got decent views of two Golden Eagle and a WT Eagle sharing the same air space before we stopped to scan through the Tufted Ducks. With the sun glaring on the water it was difficult to pick out the 8 Goldeneye amongst the 20 Tufties but that was as good as it got...
...until we had a fly past Hen Harrier. The geese had a thorough checking next. With about 80 Greylag were a flock of 22 WF Goose a single PF Goose and a single Brent too. I was just setting up to take some shots and I could hear a quad bike on the move - sod's law the farmer was checking the sheep in the field where the geese were. A quick snap of the Brent Goose...
...was all I got before they were all in the air.
We headed off to visit friends before getting back on the trail of the geese and luckily we caught up with the Pink-footed Goose...
...a single Greenland White-fronted Goose...
...and this very mucky Whooper Swan.
We'd had a good haul for the day so we headed for home but the wildlife wasn't finished with us yet. A WT Eagle sitting on the rocks was a good one... were the Common Seals 'bottling'.
A Greylag Goose was grazing down near the shore too.
Saving the best for last......a Great Northern Diver close to shore - superb.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Call of the wild.

The weather has been a bit grubby over the last week so I didn't venture out until Wednesday when it looked a bit like this - perfect!
I picked up PS and headed off to see what could be found. There was no sign of the Greenland White-fronted Goose flock but a cracking Grey Plover made up for that and a couple of Lapwing that just wouldn't pose for a decent photo.
A Mountain Hare tried it's best to blend into the vegetation.
I don't get to see Jackdaws that regular so it was nice to get a  snap of one in flight...
...amongst a couple of Hooded Crow...
...and a group of Rooks.
A quick pit stop and an effort on a Curlew in flight before we moved on to better things.
We picked up a Sparrowhawk that was being mobbed by a couple of Hooded Crow and then nabbed some photos of Common Seal the were hauled out close to shore. PS wasn't happy with the photos as the seals weren't looking at us so I had to do a bit of seal singing to attract their attention!
With the clear skies it had been a bit of a cool start to the day - minus four - and there was still a bit of frost around in the shady areas.
A couple of miles further down the road and we had out first Otter of the day along with a Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver. We picked up a few waders at our next stop with about 8 Turnstone, 6 Ringed Plover, 6 Golden Plover, 1 Redshank and 1 Greenshank.
A group of three Otters were next to be subjected to the camera with a single trying to have a kip...
...and the other two out fishing before coming ashore to play hide and seek.
There was plenty of fish to be had and lots of photos of tails disappearing or nothing at all but I was impressed with this Otter doing a roll in the water.
As you know there are Grey Herons everywhere so I took a snap of this one that was keeping an eye on the Otters.
We'd not seen that much activity over the ridges except for Raven and Hooded Crow so a couple of Buzzard doing their thing had to be snapped.
It was starting to get a bit cloudy by now so we thought it best to go find some big birds to complete the day. First up was a juvenile WT Eagle that dropped from sight just as we pulled up and then a couple of Golden Eagle put in an appearance. They were too far away for photographs to start with so I asked PS to call them in 'Come on you big birdies' or words to that effect and amazingly one of them came straight at us - by, she's good!
A quick stop at the shop on the way back through got us another Sparrowhawk when all the waders took off in a panic as the hawk flew through. We'd seen a few GN Divers on our travels but none of them had been particularly close so I had to make the effort for this one but it was quite dull by this time. Nice to see one with a fish rather than a crab though.
Thursday was a real stinker of a day but I was out on a tour regardless. A bit of a tough start but we did get plenty of Red Deer, Greenshank, Redshank and a few Turnstone.
There were a few Curlew that allowed a close approach too...
...but with the showers pushing through on a regular basis we were struggling with everything else. We'd had close views of Kestrel and a couple of Buzzard perched up so we were pleased when we got two Golden Eagles in flight. A long hard search eventually turned up a couple of Otters but with constant rain there was no chance of getting any photos. After lunch we were driving along with the window open to stop things from steaming up and I could hear a lot of squeaking coming from the shore. As I hauled in an Otter appeared quickly followed by another. We got stunning views of the youngster as it clambered over the rocks in front of us - cracking stuff. A bit of a surprising find was a single Sanderling with a group of Ringed Plover.
We finished the day off with a female Hen Harrier and the Greenland White-fronted Geese - another grand day out in poor conditions.