Friday, 28 February 2014

Close encounters of the furry kind

A trip out to look for Otters in decent light was reasonably productive. Riding shotgun with Doc it wasn't too long before we came across our first Otter. A squad of Oystercatchers kept their distance...
...and a Shag kept it's eye on us... the Otter swam by.
Another otter was seen in the distance and heading our way - it wasn't too long before they were together and they headed for the holt.
Another Otter was seen a bit further along and this one had an obvious kink in it's tail. With high tide fast approaching it was no surprise that this one headed into a holt too. A well marked Rock Pipit was flitting along the shore as we headed back to the car.
A few Slavonian Grebe were seen on the loch with just one of them coming close enough for a shot.
A Dipper was seen keeping a low profile behind a rock...
...and a flock of Teal were hugging the shoreline on the high tide.
We had lunch beside a 30 strong flock of Curlew...
...a Sparrowhawk landed on a post right next to the car so there was no chance of getting a photo of that while the Golden Eagle was a bit too far!
White-tailed Eagle, another Sparrowhawk, two more Otters that were a bit distant were all seen before we managed some close encounters of the furry kind. We spotted an Otter heading for shore with a crab but it hid itself away in the rocks to eat it's catch. A bit of patience and it was back out fishing again then back to shore and into the rocks. Back into the water again and then it brought a crab onto a rock - much better!
It certainly had a good spot for catching crabs.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Beaver patrol

We had a trip off island to visit some friends but just before we left the island four Whooper Swans dropped in - there is a Goosander in the background too.
We just happened to be staying close to Beaver country so we had a wander round the area looking for signs of them. There was no intention of attempting to see them but it was nice to see the area and the lochs that they inhabit.
A lodge was seen but it was a bit obscured.
There was plenty of evidence of the Beavers recent activity as can be seen below.
A tree stump that had been removed with a saw showed all the classic signs of gnawing round the stump to fell the tree.
The chips of wood around felled trees were quite large and you can see how the teeth work as chisels.
Felling the trees gives the Beavers access to the high branches that they will strip off bark for food. The favoured trees are Aspen and Willow - the photos below shows part of an Aspen branch that has been stripped of bark. You could see faint teeth marks along the branch where the bark had been stripped off.
It wasn't a birding trip so very little was seen - Crossbills in the forestry, a female Bullfinch...
...and a Razorbill were the highlights.

Monday, 24 February 2014


We often see the Common Crossbills in the trees near the shop and you can get good views at times but there is nothing better than seeing them coming down to drink. I heard a few birds calling and we watched as one bird went down to the shore and another landed on a telegraph pole. When this bird dropped to the shore I expected to find them drinking but I was most surprised to find them feeding on the strandline!
It not an easy life living in the wild so only the strong will survive. I mentioned the young Otter that looked to be a bit of a runt - I had a trip out to look for the family and found no sign of them and the following day I found the female with just one cub.
It's not definite but the runt may have been abandoned which will give the remaining cub a better chance of survival - harsh but necessary. I watched these two for a couple of hours where the female fished for herself and never fed the cub and I never seen it catch anything either. The female is not struggling to find food...
...the Hooded Crows are ready to pick up any scraps left over...
...but the remaining cub looks healthy enough, a good swimmer and capable of catching it's own food.
While watching another Otter a Hen Harrier gave a good show.
When I arrived home the feeders were quite busy and a Coal Tit was busy working it's way through a peanut.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Golden Eagle

With an errand to do I traveled a bit further on this run out. I stopped to get a couple of snaps of this Redshank...
...but a bird flying along the hillside caught my eye. By the time I had parked the bird was not flying but perched on a rock. A Golden Eagle is always an exciting sight...
...but you can't beat a well marked first year bird when it takes to the air.
A Reasonably close Great Northern Diver was next bird to slow me down but by this time the light was starting to go...
...and it was raining when I located a few Barnacle Geese in a field.
A Song Thrush allowed a close approach which helped with this image.
It always seems to be the female Red-breasted Mergansers that are closest to the shore while the males seem to move off quite quickly.
A quick run out with Postie in the afternoon to look for the mum and two cubs was fruitless but we did see a couple of Golden Eagle and three separate Otters...
...and a pair of White-tailed Eagle.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Spine tingler

A stroll along the road was well worth the effort. The road skirts the edge of the loch so it's bound to give up something. A male Hen Harrier flew across the loch, a couple of WT Eagle could be seen at one of their regular spots, Crossbills 'chipping' in the forest, a Buzzard on a post and an Otter hauled out on a distant islet. It's never boring but the common birds can be overlooked - House Sparrow is a declining species but the only people that will spend a bit of time looking for them are the people that have lost them from their local area. It's a cracking bird when you take a good look.
It's just a Curlew and it's brown - the speckled and barred plumage helps the bird disappear into the grassy moorland breeding sites but everyone loves to hear the evocative bubbling call of this stunner.
The Great Northen Diver is starting to feel the passing of winter as some of these birds are renewing their bonds with their chosen mate and you can hear a lot of calling from these birds. It's not often you get the full 'song', most of it is contact calls, but if you do hear it echoing off the hills it's a real spine tingler.
Greenfinches seem to disappear in October/November and reappear in February although I'm sure you will find them feeding in a garden somewhere. Either way, in February, they will become more noticable as they start to pair up and the singing begins.
This pair of Oystercatchers are on territory and mating already but they won't actually settle down to nest until the middle of April at the earliest. The piping calls of these birds can go on all night!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


I'm still not getting that far from home so short trips out are the order of the day. Plenty of sightings of both type of eagle, as long as you keep your eyes open, but nothing close enough for a photo. Guillemot numbers are starting to rise and if the wind is strong enough there is always the odd bird close to shore.
There are lots of Red Deer close to the road and easy to view and you could spend all day with them. It has to be something different for the camera to come out so this one antlered beast was the chosen subject.
The Otters are showing well in various locations so to find this beast close to the road was no surprise.
It was a decent sized fish it had but it was keen to bite the head of this one despite the fact there was still fleshy bits left!
There must be plenty of Starfish around the shore and I wonder if the rough seas wash a few closer in at which point they become easy prey for the plunge diving Herring Gull - good catch.
A proper blue sky day saw us heading out to look for Adders again but there was no sign. Not sure if the ground is too wet or there is another problem - we'll find out in time. A Grey Wagtail was nice to see as we had a look across the patch... a brutish looking Razorbill was sailing past.
We were just about ready to go when an Otter put in an appearance so that is always going to slow you down. We left it fishing in the bay after a wave of the tail.