Tuesday, 29 November 2011

All at sea.

I just had a quick run out today with no real intention of taking photos as it was lashing down again! As it turned out the first thing I came across was an Otter running across the road and as I pulled up another Otter was heading into the sea in front of me. A nice surprise, for sure, but you can see the raindrops - nasty weather!
I couldn't go back home with just a few grainy shots so I went for more. A decent number of Great Northern Diver were on show but none of them close so this was the best I got.
The rain was hammering down and I was all for heading home to put the fire on when I picked up another Otter. I watched this one fishing and with a good catch rate it wasn't going to be too long before it headed for shore - wrong! The fish it was catching were all small so it stayed out for a while.
Notice the rain in the photo above? It stopped...briefly, just as the Otter headed to shore with a crab.
I had to stand and listen to the crunching of the crab being devoured as I couldn't view the place where it hauled out. I never got any closer to the Otter but there were a few distractions along the way. A flock of Greylags landed out on the loch with a lot of splashing and cackling, there were quite a few Red-breasted Mergansers flying up and down the loch too.
A single Dipper was calling and eventually revealed itself as it flew off, there was a Black-throated Diver well out and a Red-throated Diver in the distance too. The Otter came back out on the shore but once again it was distant.
I could see the rain approaching again so I headed back to the motor and grabbed a quick snap of a very cheesed off Hooded Crow - could it get any wetter?!
I managed to catch up with the RT Diver just as the weather hit again. It's surprising how dark they can look when the light goes.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

On the run.

Not a great deal to report at the moment more down to the poor weather than anything else. I had a quick run out on Friday and found a Black-throated Diver way out on the loch. I gave it a bit of time and managed to get it a bit closer but not really close enough.
The wind was pretty savage and getting worse so I headed for home. A couple of Buzzard were hunting the side of the road and one of them stayed long enough to be photographed.
A single Whooper Swan dropped in on the loch and hung around for most of the afternoon before flying off into the gale. Not the best photo but you can see how much the bird was leaning into the wind!
The weekend was really wild with gale force winds and plenty of rain - needless to say I didn't bother going out!
I picked up the spycam this morning so here are a few pics from that. First into the frame was a cat.
Next up was the main target - an Otter. It hung around the camera for a while before disappearing.
I think I was lucky that the camera didn't get washed away too. There were quite a few shots of water splashing the lens and you can see the tide is well in!
Doing the rounds this morning I managed to get a snap of the Grey Heron that stands in the river every morning as we head to the shop.
I did well with the birds of prey too. A nice Hen Harrier to start things off...
...then a possible Merlin that was perched up. Not that sure as I couldn't stop but it looked a good candidate. Next up was a Kestrel that would give nothing but rear end views.
As the Kestrel veered away from me a Peregrine came screaming in and tried to take the Kestrel - times must be hard in the poor weather. A real bonus next as I was checking out the flock of 18 WF Geese a male Hen Harrier put in an appearance.
If you thought those last few photographs were pretty bad, brace yourself for the next three!! I was heading for home when an Otter came out of a burn and onto the road in front of me. I followed it up to a point where I could stop and the Otter left the road and headed for the sea. It was fair distance away by the time it came out of the long grass - splash...
It didn't like the look of the next bit of water so it took a leap...
...across to the other side.
It was certainly on a mission and it could still be on the run now!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Getting the eye.

Another day of grey skies but no rain in the morning. As I type this the wind is howling and the rain is lashing off the windows - brrrrrrrrrrrr. As there didn't seem much point in going too far today I had a quick scan outside the shop picking up the usual Teal, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank and Little Grebe plus an adult WT Eagle. I kept my eye on the Eagle in the hope it would fly a bit closer as it was about half a mile away. Half an hour later the bird was in the air and heading my way. It had it's eye on something as it came back to earth with talons at the ready.
The prize it had collected was a half eaten carcass of a Mallard. I watched as the Hooded Crows harassed the raptor as it ate it's meal but when I took my eye off the proceedings the WT Eagle flew off! Not a great deal else to photograph so I pointed the camera at the cat - you can see he is not impressed at all!
As I headed for home I took a quick detour and picked up two adult WT Eagles gliding into the strong wind. It was good to watch the interaction between this pair as they moved along side by side, looking at each other.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Does my bum look big in this?

The predicted sunshine did arrive yesterday but there was still a fair bit of cloud around too. I settled myself onto a comfortable rock to wait for an Otter to come a bit closer. I watched and waited as this Otter clambered ashore, some distance away, and promptly settled down for a kip!! I turned my attention to a few RB Merganser that were heading my way and managed to capture this male as it flapped it's wings. 
Not the best shot of the day but if you look in the top left of this one you can see the Otter snoring.
A quick change of location got me some closer Otter action - 'You can't see me, right'
Nice reflections in the calm water...
...and .Does my bum look big in this?' I would have to say yes!
I managed to get the spycam out again today so we'll see what that brings. I picked up a few raptors along the way too with the usual Buzzards and one each of Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Golden Eagle. I was stuck at home in the afternoon so the best I could do was point the camera at some garden birds. The ubiquitous Robin was first to present itself.
With the feeders full the Chaffinches were around but not posing well so I made do with this Great Tit on the Willow.
There were a few Fieldfare just across the road 'chacking' away but I never saw them until they flew. The Blackbirds were not so shy.
One of our most stunning birds is the Blue Tit - even in a bad photo it looks good!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Back to normal.

I was standing outside the shop this morning when a flock of birds came up from the shore to land on the wires - an impressive flock of 22 Rock Pipits! While looking at those birds I could hear the 'pit, pit, pit' calls of Long-tailed Tit just before twelve of them came flitting overhead - a nice way to start the day. I couldn't resist going out to see what else was out there. Most of the water was flat calm so it wasn't too long before I'd picked up an Otter. It didn't take too long before it came ashore but it was a fair distance away - not a bad effort though.
The Otter paused on the edge of the rock and dipped it's face in the water and then had a good shake.
Enough of the regular stuff...there wasn't that much stuff on the loch but a single Guillemot, a Dipper, one Red-throated Diver, Shags and about 12 Great Northern Diver.
There are still plenty of Blackbirds around...
...but the Fieldfare and Redwing seemed to have dispersed. I spent a bit of time watching this Cormorant fishing it's way towards me - it was worth the wait.
The Red-breasted Mergansers are fishing in decent sized flocks around the shore but most of them keep their distance but you do get the odd close encounter.
As for the Stonechats - you can't drive past them can you?!

Sunday, 20 November 2011


...but not up here. To be honest it's been overcast with plenty of drizzle. Plenty of birds around though with the best of the bunch being a single Common Scoter. The Turnstones are showing really well on the high tides...
...and the Dippers are still hanging around the shore but they are very flighty.
With the rain coming down quite hard I took some snaps of the Oystercatcher before calling it quits.
The temptation of a couple of rare birds on the East coast and a chance to see the kids was too much. A quick visit to Hauxley in Northumberland saw me connecting with a Greater Yellowlegs that had been in the area for the best part of a week. Not unlike a Greenshank the bird was constantly on the move and feeding well.
It did do a bit of posing too - awesome!
Next up was a trip out with the kids to Holy Island.
There was another tasty little bird to catch up with too...
I've seen plenty of Black Redstarts over the years but this Eastern Black Redstart was something else.
Of course, the sunshine helped!
There were plenty of other birds on offer too with Scaup, PF Goose, Brent Goose, Bar-tailed Godwit, Wigeon and plenty of Magpies around. It's not just the rare ones though - this Mallard looked particularly splendid in the morning light...
...and the Herring Gulls gave me a welcome back in Oban.