Monday, 28 May 2012

An Otters tail.

Thursday the temperature went up again to about 28C - too hot for me! Not too many chances of photos through the day but some good views of the wildlife. WT Eagles performed well, a nice GN Diver but the only view of an Otter was a tail disappearing over a rock never to be seen again! A splendid Whinchat posed on a post but I had no camera to hand. Two Hen Harriers and two Golden Eagle kept the thrills going and a Wood Warbler was a nice find. More Whinchat, an Adder, a dashing Sparrowhawk, a couple of Whimbrel and two Mountain Hares seen us through the rest of the day. The run back produced some good sightings with a WT Eagle hunting, we lost it and then relocated it tearing a Greylag Goose apart.
The heat haze didn't help with that one but the Common Gulls flying along the road came out a bit better.
We finished the day with some views of Short-eared Owl.
Friday there was no let up in the heat and it may have been a tough day but we got some awesome views. The Eider ducks were on the shore at high tide.
A couple of Red-throated Diver performed well but a GN Diver was a bit more elusive. We got cracking views of a Golden Eagle being seen off by a Hen Harrier. The Goldie picked up speed with no effort and the harrier struggled to keep up.
An adjustment of the wings and the Hen Harrier was left standing - good viewing for us!
The Adders were a struggle to see in the blistering heat but we did find one that had just shed it's skin and better still we found a young one too.
This youngster was on a mission and well capable of swimming the stream.
We checked out the waders and Mountain Hare and then it was back on the trail of the elusive Otter. Any sighting would have done but when we stopped to see what had caused some ripples on the water we had our target. We crept closer just in time to see this Otter surface with a large catch.
The Otter was kind enough to bring it's catch out right in front of us - what a way to finish!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The heat is on.

Wednesday the temperature soared to 22C! A bit warm but the wildlife showed well. We started the day with a Curlew with 2 youngsters.
A couple of Otters wandered along the shore and gave us the slip now and again. You can see how well this one blends in to it's surroundings.
A Cuckoo was seen at close quarters before it retired to a pole.
There are plenty of Oystercatchers on the nest and most of them are obliging as long as you stay in the vehicle.
Another good Golden Eagle day with another fairly close fly past.
Some of the Red Deer are sporting quite big antlers already - looking good.
A couple of Adders and a Slow Worm today. The Whinchat numbers seem to be pretty good this year but it's not easy getting a decent shot.
The Common Whitethroat is always worth a look but it looks like we were worth spying on too!
A cracking Hen Harrier in the afternoon, a couple of SE Owl, Whimbrel and Mountain Hare were all seen despite the heat that normally means a quiet day.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Spine tingler.

Tuesday the weather took a turn for the better as it went from warm to hot! The House Martins finally arrived today and immediately got down to business.
When we turned up at the WT Eagle nest there was no sign of any adult birds which was odd as they won't be out of sight of the chicks at this stage. A bit of a look around revealed the adult bird hiding behind a branch so we moved for a better look and no sooner was that done and the adult flew to the nest - good times. GN Diver and SE Owl carried on the good sightings with a few of the commoner birds to fill the gaps. Next up was a stop for Golden Eagle and, boy, was it a good one. Nothing to see at first and then two birds were seen rising from behind the forestry and then they started to drift towards us.
A Hen Harrier rose up to buzz the eagles but maybe two was one too many as it disappeared pretty quick - the Goldies came closer.
There was no need for binoculars as both birds drifted over the top of us - a real spine tingler!!
You had to be there.
As we left the area we admired a male Whinchat and also saw a female Redstart. We managed to get decent views of an Adder before we had lunch and a nice display from a pair of Hen Harrier before I headed back for some reptile shots. There were two Adders curled up together - you can see the eye is clear on one beast...
...and cloudy on the second one. The cloudy eye is an indication that the skin will be shed soon.
After all that excitement we calmed things down in the afternoon with a wander on the beach and watched the likes of Stonechat and Sedge Warbler and finished the day off with more views of Short-eared Owl. I was kidnapped by BB as I arrived home to go watch the Shorties again - it's a hard life!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Moor or Wood? Ask the Doc.

Saturday was another day of sunshine and an early start with Doc. It's difficult not to stop for the Short-eared Owls and this was one of many seen through the day on the moors.
It's good to see the migrant bird numbers building up at last. One of my favourites is the Whinchat - an absolute stunner!
The Hen Harriers are feeding young at the moment so regular visits to pass food to the female will keep the males occupied.
The Whinchat just kept singing.
A change of location and a Snipe was watched displaying before settling into some damp scrub. On closer inspection a young Snipe was found crouching in the undergrowth.
Another session with the SE owls produced a few flight shots but nothing as close as this Skylark...
...and the calves.
Monday was spent checking out the woods with Doc again- a real treat. It's not that often that I get into the Oak woods so I was pretty keen to pick up the specialities. It was a bit of a late start but a Redstart singing was encouraging. It took another hour to hear it again but nothing to show except a Treecreeper, a few Willow Warbler and some Lesser Redpoll.
A quick break for lunch and a different bit of wood paid off instantly. A male Redstart singing came into view briefly before it moved on and a female appeared in the same area, just look at that tail!
A bit of patience and the bird was close enough for a decent shot.
I could hear the 'piu piu piu' call of a Wood Warbler not too far away but I wasn't close enough to hear the cascading trill. A slow wander towards the where the singing was coming from and all of a sudden there was the bird giving the cascading trill from a low branch. It's an awesome sight as the whole bird quivers as it sings.
It was flitting from branch to branch, feeding in one spot and then singing in another - totally awesome!!
I'd seen a couple of Spotted Flycatcher flitting about but there was not much chance of a photograph. A bit of a look round and a Spotty Fly was seen doing it's thing. Once again a bit of patience and the bird was perched out in the open.

Monday, 21 May 2012

How good?

Friday we were back to the good weather. With half of the guests on board I'd already been told that Otter was a must see species - we were lucky enough to pick one up ten minutes later!
We loaded up with the rest of the guests and once again they wanted Otter more than anything else. We dashed back along the road to find the Otter fishing and with a bit of luck we got cracking views again.
I think the guests would have been happy to be dropped off after that but the sightings just kept coming. We viewed the WT Eagles and the two chicks showed well, bobbing about in the nest. Superb views of Eider and two GN Diver displaying seen us up to lunch. We barely had time to eat in an action packed hour which started with the appearance of a young Golden Eagle being mobbed by a Hen Harrier.
The young Goldie shook off the attentions of the harrier and cruised over the top of us. You can see how well worn the tail feathers are as it should be sporting a black band!
That would have been good enough but there was more to come as a couple of adult birds appeared one of which was being hassled by a Raven - another close encounter.
Two more Golden Eagle circled in the distance - it's not that often you get 5 Goldies together. After lunch I missed out on a fly past WT Eagle but I didn't miss the Adder or the two Golden Eagle. Another WT Eagle showed briefly but we couldn't relocate that one so we headed off to take in the wading birds. We got the usual array with some nice views of Whimbrel flying past us being the best. The Common Gulls were admired as we saw a few of them on the nest.
The Mountain Hares gave us the run around for a while and then they posed nicely for some photos - a stunning day!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Raining Owls and Cuckoos.

Thursday was a constant rain day - not the best but it didn't dampen our spirits. We checked the Curlew nest and I saw one of the chicks clambering back under the adult and they were gone a couple of hours later. They will spend their time in cover for a couple of weeks before I see them again. A Short-eared Owl was sat on a post in the rain and we got cracking views in the scope. 
Both of the adult WT Eagles were at the nest and we even got one of the birds in flight! Next up was a stunning view of an Otter. We watched from the side of the road as the beast hauled out and rolled about on the seaweed - no camera for that one! We took a gamble to go for Golden Eagle at lunchtime and what a good idea it turned out to be. We picked up Whinchat, a couple of Cuckoo were flying around, a male Hen Harrier flew by, a Golden Eagle was seen but all of this was overshadowed by the Short-eared Owl chick...
...being fed by the adult - what a way to spend your lunch!
The rain never let up but with most things in the bag we were quite relaxed in the afternoon. A couple of Common Tern were a good find along with a couple of Kittiwake. The usual array of waders on show with a few Turnstone and the Whimbrel being the best of them, three Mountain Hare and just before we left I found a Common Snipe in the Iris beds.
One last piece of excitement as I headed for home. I found a Cuckoo being mobbed by Meadow Pipits.
There was no holding back either - impact!!