Saturday, 31 December 2011

And another lifer rounds up 2011!

Took a spur of the moment trip up to Loch Fleet to try for the long staying Greater Yellowlegs (and also to give Lyndas new Swaro 8x32 their first outing!)

Having forgotten that we were on Taxi duty for my daughter this evening we were half way to Fleet before we realised!  Not to worry we arrived in plenty time and managed perfect views of the bird... and what a cracker it was!

Feeding in it's well reported patch in the flooded field next to the Coull Farm entranceit was very settled and confiding.  Definately well worth the visit!

Greater Yellowlegs - Loch Fleet 31 Dec 2011

All in all 2011 has proved a good year, Birding Ecosse has "taken off" and has been recieving some excellent feedback and re-bookings.

Year list stands at 174 UK 218 World and 5 UK Lifers:

1 Long Billed Dowitcher
2 Sandhill Crane
3 Bittern
4 Red Flanked Blue-Tail
5 Greater Yellowlegs

So Happy New Year to everyone "Lang mae yer lumbs reek" and here is to a bird rich 2012.


Friday, 30 December 2011

Winter wonderland with Golden eagles.

It was a surprise driving to Grantown-on-Spey this morning and encountering a blizzard! The roads weren't too bad though and armed with my new snow tyres I decided to attempt my Eagle Special up the Findhorn Valley.

I picked Pauline and Ian up from their guest house and headed due west.  The Valley was snow covered but in a very picturesque way.

Once again we were lucky and ended up with two sightings, of possibly the same individual Golden Eagle, as was to be expected it was an immature, this bird showing quite a lot of white on the underwing.  On the second sighting it was being dive bombed by a Peregrine!

A slow and snowy drive over Dava moor via Lochindorb gave brilliant close up views of the many Red Grouse, their dark plumage making them stand out like sore thumbs against the snowy background.

Another great day in the field with lots of laughs and some cracking birds, what a fine way to spend the day!

 Red Grouse


Findhorn Valley looking East

Findhorn Valley looking West

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Golden Eagle fast food!

Another brilliant day tour today this time with John and Nicola from Norfolk, and a drive up the Findhorn valley once again turned up the goods in the shape of a 1st winter Golden Eagle being mobbed by two Buzzards giving a fantastic size comparison! Also in the area Roe Deer and least four individual herds of Red deer, Good views of Mountain Goats and also the Mountain Hare pictured below.

White Rock? Ptarmigan?  No it's a.....

Mountain hare!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Long Live the King!

A half day tour with Peter today ended in complete success when the target bird, King Eider, was located actually in the harbour at Burghead.

This was a lifer for Peter who needed it to complete his list of all the British Ducks and Geese, I was really chuffed it showed so well!

King Eider at Burghead Harbour

Yet another top day birding with good company, lively chatter and cracking birds..... next trip the 27 December cannot wait!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Cracking day tour around the Moray area including Lossiemouth, Burghead and Lochindorb.
Weather started off wet and windy but cleared up to become a beautiful afternoon.

King Eider was showing well off the point at Burghead although we missed the Crested Tits in Lossie forest, heard at least four individuals but didn't get eyes on any of them!!

Reg Grouse at Dava Moor

Sunset over a frozen Lochindorb

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Loch Fleet

Had a cracking day with a visit to Loch Fleet in Sutherland.  The day started off with a horrendous weather forecast and radio warning of Black Ice on the road we we to travel on, but we decided to travel up and re-evaluate the conditions when we arrived.  Turned out the roads and weather we fine.

The new hide on the reserve is beautiful and very well situated, the gale force winds made the water choppy and the birds low, but a highlight was a single Whimbrel roosting directly in front of the hide, must be an over-wintering individual, but best of all it was a lifer for Robert. 

                                                                          Loch Fleet

The wind kept the woodland birds quiet, in fact the strength of it blowing through the drowned out nearly all other noise.

The drive along the south edge of the Loch was better, with plent of parking spots it makes for a fantastic area to scope for waders, and will be a definite for a Spring time trip.

Heading inland from the Loch towards Embo we came across a good sized, but highly mobile finch flock, mainly Linnets , Greenfinch and Chaffinch, but on one of the few occasions the landed in view we had one Twite perched on the wires with them, it would have been nice if the had given the opportunity for a longer view to scan through the entire flock!

Funny moment of the day was the sign for the vilage of Embo.... why twin yourself with places in France or Germany when you can pick somewhere warm.......!

Now I've never been to Kaunakakai but was wondering what is their equivalant for " Grannies Hielan Hame?"

Thanks to Robert for a great day, good company and sorry I didn't use the  "otter" picture   :-)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Banding in the Garden

Had a few hours spare this morning so threw up a net to see what was about, nothing special.  A few Fieldfare passing high over head also quite a lot of high flying flocks of Woodpigeon.

Coal Tit




Saturday, 19 November 2011

A trio of Ptarmigan

We awoke to a stunning sunrise this morning, the picture has been cropped but is otherwise as we saw it.

A nice visit to Speyside today, highlight was three Ptarmigan on Cairngorm.

Even by my standards the following pictures are poor :-)

No not a white rock, it is a Ptarmigan!!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Siskin are back!

Fairly quiet day today, couple of hours ringing in the garden produced the usual Great, Blue and Coal Tits a few House Sparrows, two Robins and a single Siskin.

Plenty of Siskin and Goldfinch in area but all stayed high in nearby trees.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Birding Ecosse strikes Gold!

It was just one of those days, brilliant company, stunning Scottish scenery enhanced by beautiful autumnal sunshine, and a bucket load of Golden Eagles (well three to be exact!)

All were juveniles and the one that gave best views had to be the one where I didn't have my camera!

The pics are a very poor effort but I will be back in the very near future to see if I can get any decent images.

Juvenile (1st Winter) Golden Eagle

Good numbers of Buzzard and Kestrel, Fieldfare and Redwing and also appearing were Mountain Goat and a large and noisy herd of Red deer.

A big thanks goes to Jackie, who picked up the first two eagles (I was being mother and making the coffee and tea!)  And to newlyweds Nick and Tracey!! (Aye newlywed 26 years ago!!) for being such good company.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A collection of Tits.

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Coal Tit

A nice day ringing in my garden, nothing out of the ordinary but just a really nice autumnal day and perfect ringing weather.

Bird of the day was Blue tit V332822 caught today aged as 4 (adult) Female  wing 63 weight 10.7g originally ringed 22 January 2008 as a 4 (adult) Female wing 63 weight 11.0g. 

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Eagles to Dolphins!

Full day guiding today Starting off at Lochindorb then Findhorn Valley- Farr Road the over to Black Isle.

It was one of those days where all the target species turned out on cue and showed off to anyone that cared to look in their direction.

At Lochindorb the Red Grouse were more numerous than I have seen in many months, the males strutting and calling to each other, all looking stunning in the early morning sunlight.

Male and female Red Grouse

Male Red Grouse

Female Red Grouse

Highlight of the day was when a White Tailed Eagle was seen soaring alongside a Golden Eagle and both being buzzed by a pergrine!

White Tailed Eagle 

White Tailed Eagle

All in all a brilliant day out, supporting cast included: Male Brambling at a feeder in Tomatin, Red Deer Rutting at Findhorn Valley and Breaching Bottle nosed Dolphins on the Moray Firth.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

A hide with the Wow factor!

Visited the new hide at RSPB Insch Marshes today and was very impressed with the layout and full length windows, it would be a close call for favourite hide between Insch, Fowlsheugh and the new Parrinder hides at Titchwell.  They certainly are producing some stunning designs.

Birdwise it was fairly quiet, with gale force winds and drizzly rain all afternoon.  A male Pintail was with the Wigoen at the far side of the reserve, Long tailed tits and Treecreepers showed extremely well in front of the hide, and star bird of the day was a male Hen Harrier feeding at North End of Reserve.

Definately a place to re-visit in the very near future.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Winter doth Approach!

Enticed out by the lack of gale force winds and for once a clear sky I headed for my patch at Findhorn.

It was a beautiful start to the day with the snow capped mountains across the Moray firth hinting of the on set of winter.

Birds were fairly scarce best news was the vast increase of Long tailed ducks and a fairly close fly-by of a male Velvet Scoter. 

However when it's quiet like this it makes you appreciate the common stuff so often overlooked.

Male House sparrow


Winter cometh.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Norfolk Part 1 Unblocking the bogey!!

A life time ambition was realised with a recent trip to RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk, and although the actual reserve was smaller than I had imagined, it was by far better birdwise than I could have hoped for plus the relatively compact size and excellent hide locations means there are no real blind spots on the scrape complex.

This blog entry is for me un-bloking my bogey bird, The Bittern, now I have been in the correct habitats at the correct times but never conected..... until now!

The bird flew down a clearing in the reed bed and that alone would have been enough, but it then circled and landed slap bang in front of the Bittern Hide!! It gave brilliant views however the lighting was very poor hence the grainy shots, but grainy or not they are the unblocking pics of my bogey bird!

At one point I actually thought we had a real life Bittern in the hide, however it turned out to be a lady called Jane giving a perfect redition of the "wiggle wiggle wiggle stab" motion of the feeding bird... Well done Jane!

Bittern at RSPB Minsmere

Probably my favourite picture, play spot the bird!!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The old and the new.

Just back from a fantastic 5 days in Norfolk, that included unblocking  my bogey bird and a chance twitch for a lifer.. more to be told in a later blog!

However one morning over breakfast I got around to talking about binoculars and how I  almost had a trip down memory lane by purchasing  a pair of my first ever binoculars off e-bay, a set of Prinz 10x50 porro prisms.

At this point Hazell remarked to Bernard (and thank you both for looking after me and Lynda so well!) "is that not the type we have" and lo and behold a pair of Prinz 10x50 appeared.  Happy memories and a real treat to compare the "then" and "now" and much as I loved my Prinz I will stick with the Swaro's!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Long Billed Dowitcher - Lifer number 2!!

This little beauty turned up at Lossiemouth Estuary, after dipping on it yesterday I connected with it twice today once myself and the second time with Keith and Fran from Wolverhampton.

A lot smaller than I imagined and was bullied a bit by the Wigeon, at one point a single Wigeon chased the Dowitcher up stream for a few hundred yards before chasing it back downstream again!

A top start to the day.

Long Billed Dowitcher

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sandhill Crane - A Lifer!

Went down to Strathbeg and St Combs with Lynda today to try for the Sandhill Crane. Pitching up at the main RSPB hide at Strathbeg we heard the dreaded statement, it flew about ten minutes ago and cannot be relocated!!
We stayed in the hide watching Greenshank and Spotted Redshank and then the  call came, the bird had been re-located at usual field at St Combs, a quick dash soon located a line of birders in a stubble field.

And here are the results :-)

Sandhill Crane - St Combs