Round In Circles

February 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Another week on Islay and only four hours of sunshine. The Glaucous Gull was taken through the video camera where I do not require sunlight – perhaps as well!

One of the attractions of Islay, apart from the qeese, are the Chough and it is of course the Scottish stronghold for this species. During the week I have spent some time trying out a new lens and in the short period of sunlight have obtained some good shots, one being this Chough trying to fly into a 40mph headwind.

On our last day I found an Otter swimming towards me at a distant of four hundred meters. There was a perfect rock in front of me for him to bring prey onto so I hid and waited for him to appear. Unfortunately there was a recess in the cliff before this rock and he duly disappeared from sight. Nothing happened for a while until a movement above my head caught my attention. There he was, large as life, looking down at me. He disappeared again, I moved higher up the cliff then looking down to my original position I found him on the exact rock I had intended to film him on! You can’t win them all!

White – Winged Gulls Galore

February 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm

This week’s photo is of a hunting Kite filmed in Dumfries and Galloway, where I toured last week. We have been on Islay enjoying an abundance of Iceland and Glaucous Gulls. As usual Islay is good for Raptors and we have watched Hen Harriers, Merlin, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and Golden Eagle. Good numbers of Chough have been seen but only one Snow Bunting has been found. Like back home there are only a few Redwing and Fieldfares this Winter.

One Otter has been seen even though we have not made any special effort to look for them as the tides have not been favourable.

Bullfinch Record

February 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Last weekend’s snow brought a new bird to the garden in the form of a Pied Wagtail and produced a record seven Bullfinches together (four males,three females) In addition the first Siskin of the Winter appeared and there were fourteen Blackbirds feeding together on one occasion. The Willow Tit is now a daily visitor.

I travelled the two hundred and forty miles to Stranraer on Tuesday to commence my four day lecture tour of the Scottish Ornithologist Club. As last year I counted the Raptors on this journey with the Buzzard continuing to increase at nineteen sightings compared to the Kestrels two and Kites one. Last year it was fourteen Buzzards, three Kestrels and two Sparrowhawks.

Loch Ryan at Stranraer was brilliant for Scaup and Pintail and I spent a good two hours at high water filming them close in shore with plenty of Turnstones even closer to hand. At Mossdale a pair of Crossbills were present, with the female collecting nesting material and being escorted back to the forest by the male to build her nest. The young forest at Laurieston produced four Blackcocks that flew over the car. These being the first I have seen on tour for many years. A good afternoon was spent filming the Kites that had now built up to more than eighty following another good breeding season.

In a wild part of moorland forestry I was able to admire my first Great Grey Shirke for years. Better still were eight Crossbills that were bathing and drinking in a roadside pothole that had the ice broken by passing forestry venicles. I sat for an hour under the camouflage cloth awaiting their return but falling snow forced an abandonment in case I became stranded in the back of beyond without the luxury of a four wheeled drive vehicle. Another one that got away!

Wanderer Returns

February 5, 2012 at 7:37 am

Just when we had given up all hope of seeing the Willow Tit this Winter it turned up on the twenty ninth of January for the fifth consecutive Winter. Perfect timing as it was the RSPB Garden Count day and it knocked our total up to twenty one different species in the hour slot. Not bad for a garden less that thirty foot by fifteen foot.

At long last we have had a week of superb Winter weather. I have visited Leighton Moss on several occasions and finally found a feeding Bittern. Unfortunately it was four hundred yards away and out of reach of the camera. I did however obtain film of a Marsh Harrier hunting the reed beds and even saw an Otter on the same day.

On Hopwood Jack Snipe and Woodcock have been present despite the low temperatures. The Dipper is still on the stream and a Green Woodpecker was encountered looking for ants in some frozen mosses.

In the snow of the fourth we had our best species count of the Winter with 22 recorded. These included Willow Tit, Goldcrest, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk and Great Spotted Woodpecker