Sunday, 14 May 2017

Day trip to Titchwell

We set off early this morning arriving at Choseley Barns at 7.30am where I scoped the Dotterel in the rain without too much help from the Jims who already had the tick from a recent twitch in Herts. Once I found the birds their mood changed and they jumped out to enjoy distant views along with Grey & Red-legged Partridge with Corn Bunting also adding value.

Red-legged Partridge in the rain
After putting news out we moved on to Titchwell where we found a few good birds......Turtle Dove in the car park, Spotted Flycatcher by the picnic area, Swifts over the reedbed before arriving at Freshmarsh where we picked out Little Stint and Little Tern.

Blackwit at Titchwell in cracking light
Cormorant taking on an Eel
Little Stint
Turtle Dove
Sedge Warbler
On the way home we diverted to Fen Drayton where a couple of hours gave only good views of a few Hobby but we failed the nail the Red-foot amongst them.

Year list now 230

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Scotland 2017 best of the rest

A few more images from this weeks Scotland trip.

Wheatear on Handa Island
Arctic Skua
Bill after seeing his first Great Skua        "it was this big!"
Great Skua calling it's mate.
Bonxie
Great Skua
Findhorn Valley
Great Northern Diver
Mountain Goat in the Findhorn Valley
Mountain Hare Findhorn Valley
Snow Bunting at Cairn Gorm
Ring Ouzel on the footpath at Cairn Gorm
Orchid at Kilchoan  (Purple Orchid if I had to guess)
Pair of Ptarmigan at Applecross
In the middle of it all

Friday, 5 May 2017

Handa Island

Wednesday:

We headed north this morning for the small town of Tarbet where we found the ferry waiting for us on arrival. After the short crossing we landed on the sandy beach to hear the volunteer talk before heading up the hill on to the board walk that leads out to the stack.

Sitting on both sides of the track were several Great Skuas allowing some nice close up shots.
We had dozens of Bonxies flying around us and they were joined by four Arctic Skuas giving great close up comparisons.  At the stack we enjoyed yet more Skuas flying around the cliffs with two Artic Terns for company. Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill are numerous here and a few Puffin had already made it in to start pairing up. Black Guillemot and Red throated Diver made up the numbers from the beach but the big stars were the Bonxies with over thirty splashing around in a small pool and several displaying pairs it was an experience to be remembered.

Great Skua
Arctic Skua
Thursday:

A trip south today moving down the A82 through Fort William and crossing the Loch at Corran we headed along the Ardnamurchan peninsular towards Strontian were we picked up a brief view of the Black Duck in flight up river before heading further down to Kilchoan and a ferry to Mull. Lunch in Tobermory then we moved on to Fionnphort where we took the short hop across to Iona. The weather seems to have held up the Corncrakes with only two heard and one distant sighting a complete contrast to last years experience. The Island was spectacular and the weather great but with a long return journey we needed to cut short and head back north via the Fishnish/Lochaline ferry.

Song Thrush on Iona
Hooded Crow on Iona
Friday:

Spent the day in the valley watching Mountain Hares and Dippers whilst hoping for some Eagle activity. The Hares and Dippers performed well and a Peregrine showed well but any Eagles we could have got we missed. Reports of several Golden and a couple of Sea Eagles did nothing to make us feel better about the blank. An Osprey put in an appearance and a smart Woodcock walked across the path in front of us but took flight as soon as the camera came out.

Young Dipper
Mountain Hare in the Findhorn Valley



Year list now 222

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Golden Eagle in the Findhorn Valley

Tuesday:

The day started with me running an early morning solo. The drive to Cairn gorm produced another Osprey sighting sitting out on a tree by the road side waiting to start his day too. The sun was up early so I decided to walk to the top of the mountain and bumped into three Ring Ouzel feeding on the foot path grit as I walked up. I had heard several Ptarmigan on the way up but at the top there were at least a dozen birds calling and flying around with more courtship going on and little scraps for territory. Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse and Wheatear were the only other birds at the top apart from a fly over Buzzard and Raven. Dotterel had been reported but I couldn't find any.

Osprey
Ring Ouzel at Cairn Gorm
Ptarmigan at Cairn Gorm
Following this I headed to a tip off location for Scottish Crossbill in the Glenmore area and found the birds feeding a short walk from the car park listening for the difference in call which I have to say I find very difficult to hear but the tip off was reliable so the short detour was rewarding.

The afternoon was spend chilling in the Findhorn valley where we are staying. A Sea Eagle flew over and a Peregrine kept us entertained while we waited for other Eagles to appear. A couple of distant Goldies were reported but they were too distant for me to confirm. As we headed back out of the valley we saw a large raptor climb and after pulling over to scope it we finally managed to firmly ID a young Golden Eagle as it flew low across the ridge giving much better views that the usual.

Sea Eagle in the Findhorn Valley
Another stunning day with the weather on our side the scenery here is just amazing.

The Findhorn Valley

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Ptarmigan in the pass of the cattle

Monday:

We travelled across to the pass of the cattle road leading to Applecross today. The road snakes across the mountain taking you over 2000 feet high and leaving you a relatively short walk to the top where the Ptarmigan hang out. We walked up in glorious sunshine and managed to find a single pair of Ptarmigan right at the very top. We sat and watched as they went about their business which included some courtship display and even mating. These birds are great to watch as they have very little concern for people and as long as you don't make any sudden movement and approach from a lower level they are quite happy with you being around them.

Pair of Ptarmigan at Applecross "The pass of the cattle"
We headed back down the mountain and crossed onto Skye where we took a boat trip to feed the Sea Eagles. Good bit was that we saw three seperate Sea Eagles bad bit was they weren't hungry and didn't come down for the fish. We picked up Black Guillemot here along with Guillemot and Razorbill. Back on land I got my first Hooded Crow of the trip and a Rock Pipit. On the drive out we found a fresh Whinchat at Kishorn which ticked over the trip/year list.

Sea Eagle at Portree
On the drive out we spotted an Osprey on the loch side and grabbed a quick record shot.

Osprey
Finished a glorious day with a curry in Aviemore.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Scotland 2017

A short break in Tomatin up in the highlands of Scotland has given me the chance to see some fabulous sites again whilst picking up a few year ticks and grabbing a few record shots.

First I visited a fish farm near Cairn Gorm and managed to see my first Osprey of 2017 without having the camera with me to capture the image. At Cairn Gorm I picked up a single Ptarmigan in the distance from the top viewing platform and heard another lower down.

Whilst sitting in the car out of the strong cold wind I managed to get a few images of the Snow Buntings and Ring Ouzels feeding around the edge of the car park. It was good to see the male in his summer plumage.

Snow Bunting at Cairn Gorm
Ring Ouzel at Cairn Gorm
From the car park I also picked up my first Red Grouse of the year.

Red Grouse
Day two saw me make an early morning visit to Loch Garten where the Cappers are having a year off and not showing at all and with the wardens alarming and depressing commentary blaming every visitor to the area for the birds demise I left. In the car park I watched the feeders and after an hour got lucky when a single Crested Tit visited. A Red Squirrel visited the same feeders and I managed a single shot of him too. I picked up Tree Pipit and Redstart here before finding Black Grouse in a nearby field as I drove down the A9. Later a trip down the Findorn Valley delivered Dipper as a final year tick of the day although I also enjoyed good views of six Mountain Hares.

Crested Tit
Red Squirrel at Loch Garten
Mountain Hare

At Lochindorb more Red Grouse and a few waders were enjoyed on a quick drive around the Loch.
Back at the cottage we had three Red Kites, two Buzzard and a Goshawk over along with a calling Tawny Owl and a few deers running through the garden. A very large Bat also hunted around the stream last night but I've no idea what species it would be.

Year list now 210




Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Whitethroat

A couple more from Sundays trip to Suffolk

Bearded Tit
Whitethroat  another of my favourite birds to point the camera at
Common Whitethroat
Whitethroat