Monday, 30 July 2012

Death in the gutter.

Thursday I had a bit of  time for looking at nothing in particular. There are plenty of Scotch Argus on the wing, posing on the verges until you point a camera at them!
While attempting the above photo I was distracted by a couple of dragons in the ditch. Turns out they were Keeled Skimmers - nice.
The Swallows seem to be hanging around and possibly going for a second brood. Let's hope they have enough time to do the business.
The House Martins continue to have the same problems with the nest disintegrating over time. One chick is dead in the gutter and the other is being fed by the adult bird - it won't last long on the ground though.
Friday we started off with three WT Eagle - one flying in the distance, a chick on the nest and one of the adults getting some grief from a Buzzard.
A good supporting cast through the day with three Hen Harriers, Linnet, Twite, RT Diver, Stonechat and a recently fledged Spotted Flycatcher.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Big ones.

Wednesday provided some good entertainment with the wildlife in good weather. Our first sighting set the tone for the day as we picked up an adult WT Eagle that gave us a cracking view as it flew past with a Buzzard giving chase!
Mid July is always a good time to get the first returning Great Northern Divers. There was a smattering of reports from round the country and we managed to pick one up too. 
We picked up a male Hen Harrier hunting the marsh and followed it for a while. We watched as it dropped from sight and as it came back into view another male bird appeared too! The Golden Eagles played hard to get but after getting all the guests to see a distant chick on the nest the adults finally put in an appearance. A closer bird perched on a hill gave better views as it took flight and flew overhead.
A young Eider caused a bit of concern as it appeared to be on it's own but with a bit of looking around we found it's mother resting on the shore.
A couple of Red Deer were having a bit of a disagreement with the bigger of the two showing who was boss.
We'd had a good look for Otters with no luck so it was all eyes on the water in the afternoon. A few rocks and bits of seaweed kept the entertainment going before we finally found one in full view eating a fish. We spent quite a bit of time watching it getting further away in the choppy waters. As I was dropping the last of the guests off we managed to get good views of a Common Seal...
...and another Otter. We sat quietly watching the Otter swim past us and away. I had the good fortune to drive past that Otter when it got a bit closer to the shore.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


Tuesday was a cracking day full of photographs for a change. We started with a couple of Curlew...
...and the pale Common Buzzard or is it a Honey Buzzard/Osprey/Rough-legged Buzzard.
The menace of the sea shore was looking for trouble - Great Black-backed Gull.
We had a laugh trying to photograph the young WT Eagle on the nest after the adult bird tried to sneak round the back of us.
A Hooded Crow watched the proceedings from the safety of the fence.
An Otter was a welcome find but it never came close enough to be inducted into the hall of fame. Lunch was quite productive with a couple of Hen Harrier, a distant WT Eagle and two Golden Eagle. As we left the area we spotted a large bird above the forestry and by the time we stopped to get a better view there were two birds. They were both young WT Eagles and keen to have a bit of interaction.
They even came a bit closer.
We'd already seen quite a few Red Deer but a close one will always trump the distant crowd.
The Adders were on fine form with at least 10 seen on the day. This one has a milky eye so it's ready to shed it's skin.
This is one of two Young Adders seen - it's only about five inches long.
Our Hare Hunt was a bit of a hike but it was worth it. We did see a few Rabbits...
...and a Hen Harrier along the way.
The first Mountain Hare we spotted was keen to stay hidden but we eventually got three together. They all headed in different directions so you had to follow the right one! I missed out to start with but soon made amends.
You would think that would be enough for one day but the icing on the cake was the Goldfinch posing on the thistle.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Is it worth it?.

There has been the odd splash of rain here and there but it just helps to keep the place green. You can't beat a bit of lush vegetation with some raindrops and the Snipe helps.
A run out the other evening, in the rain, gave me my first family party of Red-breasted Merganser of the year - 9 chicks she had. That got me thinking about Goosander and not seeing any family parties of them. I did pick up one female bird but she was on her own.
This has probably been the best year yet for Adder sightings - it hasn't mattered what the weather conditions have been, they still seem to be on show.
Apparently one of the WT Eagle chicks fledged on Thursday. I had a look in on the nest at the weekend to find both birds there but the older of the two birds was certainly not on the nest. You can see it's sibling peeping round the trunk to see how this flapping thing works.
You don't want to be left behind so the only thing to do is follow suit while the other bird gives marks out of ten....7, I think.
Taking a tour on a rainy day usually invites the question 'Is it worth it?'. The wildlife can't just take a day off because of a bit of the wet stuff but people don't like it! Monday was that day. We had stunning views of two Red Deer stags just after viewing some Common Seals and Manx Shearwaters. Mountain Hares performed well with a nice supporting cast of waders. We followed a female Hen Harrier up the road, found a Dipper and even seen the Adder while it was still raining. We found an Otter in the loch and stood watching it while getting a good soaking - smiles all round. The rain stopped late in the day but early enough for us to see an adult WT Eagle drying off.
The cloud lifted off part of the hill so a quick dash towards the clear spot produced a decent view of Golden Eagle.
The Common Buzzards had been quite visible through the day but this one posing for us was worth the stop.
It had been hard work at times but we got some cracking views of the wildlife in the rain and a bonus clear spell at the end of the day that was spiced up with a male Hen Harrier. Is it worth going out in the rain?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Wet stuff.

The last few days have been the same old, same old - pleasant days with all the regular stuff. The camera has been fairly redundant though and you know I won't post without a few pictures! This post brings things up to date. A Cuckoo posed outside the shop but it never came close enough.
The only large bird I have pointed the camera at is a Golden Eagle that, normally, I wouldn't have bothered with - good job I took that eh?
 As usual the Red deer are just superb but even they wouldn't play ball in front of the camera.
So, you can see how things have been going and the Otter has the right expression.
A change in the weather brings a change in fortunes - a day of rain produced a heap of photos. I took this photo of the Herring Gull just to make sure the camera was still working!
I needn't have worried...Mountain Hare were easy to find.
Common Snipe were calling from close by so it was no surprise to find one keeping an eye on my movements.
The Dunlin are starting to move back through in numbers, well I say numbers but what I really mean is there were seven of them.
This Buzzard was trying to mind it's own business and just let the rain run off it's back but the Lapwings were giving it hell - it flew off eventually.
Oystercatchers are always a pleasure to photograph.
Common Sandpipers are starting to go quiet now as the chicks are well grown. It won't be long before they are heading back to Africa.
I followed this Common Seal down the shore as it was looking for somewhere to haul out. A bit of patience rewarded!
Last shot of the afternoon was a chance meeting with a female Hen Harrier. Leaning out of the window and trying to pan the camera with a slow shutter speed doesn't give the best result but that's the way it goes when the wet stuff is here!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Branching out.

Wednesday was another nice day. The target species for the day was Hen Harrier which we managed to get within the first ten minutes! It was a female bird that showed briefly...
...but the male bird that flew up the road in front of us more than made up for that. We bagged Mountain Hare and another male Hen Harrier too. The common birds were making up the numbers with Whinchat, Wheatear, Goldfinch, Lapwing, Eider etc all boosting the tally. A distant Golden Eagle sitting on the ridge wouldn't give us the pleasure of seeing it flying. We passed the time photographing the Adders and casting an eye over another female Hen Harrier. We got a Cuckoo on our way to lunch, much better views of Golden Eagle while we had lunch and another male Hen Harrier as we finished lunch! An Otter finally put in an appearance near the end of the day. We had a big finish with the WT Eagles. An adult bird was perched in a tree...
...and one of the youngsters was branching out.
Strangely, the most photographed beast on the day was this female Common Blue butterfly - awesome colours!
Thursday - it was nice, again. A bit of a steady day as we had to work for everything but that makes the encounters all a bit special. We bagged the WT Eagles, SE Owl and Hen Harrier without too much trouble. We got some cracking views of Kestrels through the day and one of them even posed for a photo!
A small speck on a hill top was a Golden Eagle - we waited for it to fly but it wasn't happening. We headed off for Mountain Hare and got a real close encounter.
Almost an hour later and the Golden Eagle was still sat on the hill top - we left it. A chance stop produced a much better view of a Golden Eagle and it flew too. Our best view of Hen Harrier was as we stopped to view a Red Deer stag - it flew straight past us and out of sight.
There was only Otter to get now. We managed to find one and got well in front of it so we could conceal ourselves behind some rocks and wait for it. Stunning views as it brought an Eel ashore in front of us - what a way to finish!!