Islay

July 2, 2017 at 2:23 pm

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Although most wildlife watchers go to Islay in summer to see the raptors there is no doubt that there are a whole host of other birds that will capture the attention of the visitor. Top of the list will be the Chough as Islay has more than fifty breeding pairs plus many non-breeding birds.
Wading birds breed in profusion on Islay and there are still good numbers of Snipe, Lapwing and Redshank. Skylarks sing in all parts of the island and this weeks gallery shows one in full song amongst cotton grass. During our recent visit we encountered good numbers of Black Guillemots together with Otter, Lizard, Adder and plenty of Hares.Click here

The Star Attraction

June 25, 2017 at 6:36 pm

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The star bird for any wildlife visitor to Islay in May and June is the male Hen Harrier. It is not difficult to encounter one hunting male each day but one day last week was exceptional. In the space of fifteen minutes we came across four different hunting male Hen Harriers. This is the most we have ever seen in such a short space of time and will take some beating. In answer to the question “Where are the female Hen Harriers?” well they are usually confined to the nesting area for seven weeks and do not leave that area until the young are more than three weeks old when the male needs help in providing food. Any female seen during this period is either a non-breeding or failed breeding bird.
This weeks gallery is highlighted by a male on a post which is a rare event to see let alone capture on film.Click here

The King

June 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

Golden Eagle
There is little doubt that the king of all Birds of Prey is the Golden Eagle. From a birdwatchers point of view no trip to Scotland is complete without a sighting of “the king”.
In the highlands the diet of the Golden Eagle comprises of mainly Heres and Rabbits but in the Hebrides the Eagles diet is different. In places like Islay some coastal Golden Eagles feed almost exclusively on Fulmars.They hunt them on the sea-cliffs and rely on surprise and speed to capture their prey. This weeks gallery shows a series of photos of one unsuccessful hunt before the Eagle alights on its favourite rock to rest and contemplate its next foray. Click here

Nuthatches Nesting in a Nestbox

June 10, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Nuthatch
Most people when they buy a house place a nest-box in the garden. Within a year or so Blue Tits will have found it or perhaps even Great Tits or Coal Tits. It would always be a dream to have a pair of Nuthatches take up residence in your nest-box. This weeks blog is all about such an event.
Soon after inspecting the box the Nuthatches will commence plastering with mud the underside of the lid to effectively seal it to the main structure of the box. This effectively means that from now on you will not be able to open the box to look inside otherwise you would break the seal of mud. However, should you decide to look inside the Nuthatches will re-plaster and seal it up again which is what they are doing in some of the gallery photos. click here

Dancing Adders

June 3, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Adders

As a keen schoolboy naturalist living in Bury I once came across a sign on my local moors which read”Beware of Adders”.It fired my imagination to find that Britain’s only venomous snake could be found locally. I searched and searched over the years but failed to find any and it was decades later in Scotland before I was to see my first Adder.
In recent years the big Adder challenge is to capture on film the combat dance of two males as they fight over a female. This dance occurs after male Adders have moulted their skins and go in search of a female to mate with. Day after day in April I waited for six male Adders to moult and then mate with the two female Adders that were nearby. Finally, one morning, five of the males had moulted their skins overnight and two were soon in combat. The fight lasted about five minutes and it was very difficult to photograph in the long grass.
Once the fight finished three of the males joined the female and provided me with some amazing photos as all their heads were visible on one occasion, as shown in the gallery photos. One of the males appears to have impaired vision. Click here

Dipper Success

May 28, 2017 at 5:59 pm

Dipper
This years dry Spring has been a big bonus for Pennine dippers with most now having fledged their first brood of young. This weeks photos are from one of those first broods and both adult birds were feather perfect. Spate flooding is always a problem for Dippers and it remains to be seen whether their second brood attempts will be as successful. Click here
During the last few weeks a great deal of time has been spent searching for Dotterel, Woodcock and Long eared Owls. One morning I was standing on the top of Pendle Hill before 7.00am but I was all alone with no dotterel present that morning. You can’t win them all!!

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