Saturday, 29 December 2012

I'm Back!!

Hopefully if your are reading this it means my computer gremlins have been resolved!

Many things have occurred since my last blog so it will be a case of "catch up" over the next few days/weeks!

I have been out on many day trips and have met some great people over the festive season, some new faces but many returning victims  customers, it was brilliant meeting you all.

Highlights have been. Red (Grey!) Phalarope at Golspie, Good numbers of Black Grouse on a calm frosty (-12) local moor and Little Auks at two locations on the Moray Firth.

A Big thank you goes out to the fantastic BWWC at The Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown on Spey, a first class hotel and birding resource in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.  John, Nicola and Kirsty thank you for your support throughout 2012 and here is to a prosperous and bird filled 2013!

Red Grouse

Coal Tit pretending to be a Crested!

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas and I wish you all success, health and happiness for 2013

Lang mae yer lumbs reeks

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Turned out nice again!

Life has been hectic over the last month, so the blog has taken a bit of a backseat!

Had a brilliant tour with one of my most valued  customers, Kate from Elgin.  Always great company and dispenser of encouragement and information!  Thanks Kate.

The day started very well with a flock of 12 Waxwings on the outskirts of Forres, this was a lifer for Kate and my first Waxie of the season.

The destination for the day was Loch Fleet, via Golspie and the mound.  Then Embo, Nigg and finally Udale bay.

We were extremely lucky with the weather, no rain at all and the recent gales had dropped off completely.

Total for the day was 54 species and the highlight for me were crippling views of Redwing, Waxwings and a wintering Greenshank on Loch Fleet.


Imm Grey Heron

Kate recharging her birdwatching batteries

Saturday, 27 October 2012


Well it has been a fair few weeks since my last blog (sorry!) but life has been hectic since my return from Spain, and my vertigo has also returned (luckily not as severe as last year)

Anyway, Spain, had a fantastic week with brilliant weather, 52 species and 10 lifers.  It was fairly difficult to get to birding sites using public transport and we resorted to hiring a guide, Josse from Parknatur to get us out into the countryside for a day!  And what a top day both Lynda and myself had.  Torcal el Antequara, Fuente do Piedra, El Chorro, Laguna Dulce all jaw dropping places and all back on our visit list for next year!

The Paloma park in Benalmadena was a brilliant place to visit and only a 15 minute walk from the flat, but highlight was the Marina, unfortunately we never found the birding side of this location until the last day!

The only place we never got to was the Rio Guadalhorce, the reserve just south of Malaga, what I initially thought was going to be easy to reach turned out to be a logistical night mare!  However I have a new "cunning plan" for next year.

 Rock Bunting
Griffin Vulture

Colour Ringed Black Redstart

And finally, I have found a way to get Lynda to enjoy seawatching.  Take her to the Med!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The return of "What am I?"

So the nights are drawing in, the Geese are arriving and anyday now Redwings and Fieldfares will being logged on my BTO Wnter Thrush survey, and it is the season where I put some of my "classic"** bird pics on my blog for you to ID
** ("classically bad!)

So here goes for the first, no prizes just the smug feeling of satisfaction that you were the first to get it right.   Good luck.


Sorry folks I forgot to put the anwer on for this "what am I?"

It was indeed a .................. Rook!  It did look remarkable like a male Blackbird, well done all that guessed correctly!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The North Wind doth blow

Well in this instance it was a South Westerley and it was gale force, interspersed with heavy rain showers!  Unfortunately this meant most of the birds remained on the deck.
We did get distant views of two adult Golden Eagles along with Raven and Buzzard. Red Deer where in the area and gearing up for the fothcoming rutting season. Also a nice event was meeting Chris, one of the followers of this blog, it really is a small world! (I hope you got good views of the Eagles)
At Lochindorb a very confiding Red Squirrel sat beside the car intently watching us watching it and two Red legged Partridge in the same location was a nice addition to the day.
A great day out with great company and a good few laughs, with the weather adding a touch of  comedy throughout! 

Todays victims clients enjoying a cuppa at Lochindorb
(and no you don't get discount for not having milk)

Friday, 28 September 2012

Back to my roots!

Finally the wind and rain from the past week has moved on and the day was bright, sunny with just a few shower clouds hanging around.
Back  down to the foreshore at Nairn, this time togged up with all my gear and ready to give the place a thorough going over.  Nothing rare today but what I realised is how long it has been since I really worked an area, it was brilliant fun locating and identifying every bird that called or moved, I now know I had become "lazy" with my birding (as had been pointed out by Lynda as she pickes up birds I pass by with a casual glance!) So a bit of an eye opening learning experience for me today, and a real feeling of the buzz I used to get birding when I was much much younger!

As stated nothing rare or even uncommon, but the following list will show the diversity of species observed, it will be a fantastic place to do a Birding Ecosse workshop.


Part of a Skien of Pink Footed Geese in off the Moray Firth

Seawatching Heaven! Through the scope you can see Tarbat Ness light house, exactly in the middle  of the two ships.

Birds seen  (in no particular order)

1. Blackbird  2. Wren  3. Hooded/Carrion Crow hybrid  4. Pied Wagtail  5. Swallow  6. Blue Tit
7. Robin  8. Coal Tit  9. Goldcrest  10.Woodpigeon  11.Song Thrush  12. Oystercatcher
13. Herring Gull  14.Black Headed Gull  15.Shag  16. Guillemot 17.Red Breasted Merganser
18. Gannets  19.Red Throated Diver  20.  Great Black Backed Gull  21.Common Gull
22. Scaup.  23. Wigeon  24.Sandwich Tern  25. Redshank  26. Cormorant  27. Pink Footed Geese
28. Curlew. 29 House Sparrow  30. Razorbill  31. Rook  32. Goldfinch  33. Dunnock

Still no sea ducks to speak of so add another 5-10 species could bring a haul of 40-50 species in a day, not too shabby!

Having other duties to perform today I had to literally grag myself away from the place today, cannot wait to get back out.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

New migrant hotspot?

Every now again you visit a place that you have driven past many times but never given a second glance.
Nairn leisure park is one of these places, yesterday I drove past after a futile sea watching effort and noticed this park and it's many migrant attracting sycamore trees.  Today wasnt the best day for a recce visit, the rain is still falling, however Friday morning is looking good for an early morning jaunt.
Excuse the slightly fuzzy images, damp lense, but will give a flavour of the place.



Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Big Sky

Another beautiful morning up here in Moray.  Birdwise pretty quiet, good numbers of Gannets lingering around the Burghead area, two Sandwich Terns and two Wheatears near Netherton Farm.

Big Sky

Grey Heron


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A mixed season.

It is a beautiful morning up here in Moray, sunny with blue skies and a nip in the air.  Best of all it is my favourite time of year for birding, with the summer migrants such as Swallow and House Martins still hawking around giving their "chirruppp" calls against the backdrop of "honk honk ink honk honk"  of Pink Footed Geese skiens passing high over head.

I love autumn birding!

Monday, 17 September 2012

You want me to fly HOW far?!?

We still have one young House Martin unwilling to leave it's cosy nest!  And judging by todays heavy rain showers and strong chilly winds who can blame it!

Juv House Martin eyeing the outside world with a wary eye

Adult House martin trying to encourage the youngster to take the leap!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Hurricane season!

Was awoken this morning with rain lashing against the window and wind howling round the house, not good mist netting weather! Stayed in bed with a cup of coffee and read up on the new BTO winter thrush survey, looking forward to doing this survey as it will fill the void left by the conclusion of the Atlas (when does it get published anyone know?)

House Martin and Swallow still in the area and small skiens of Pink Footed Geese being reported in the area, Marcus from e-birder had 4 Long Tailed Skuas in the Moray Firth this morning, I would be happy with 4 Long tailed tits in the garden today!

Coming into my favourite season so hopefully some interesting blogs coming up!

Good birding.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Ouzel, Eagle and Sandpiper (Curlew not Pec!)

Fantastic day tour today with Steve, highlights were Ring Ouzel x 2, Golden Eagle (distant) and bird of the day Curlew Sandpiper.

Weather was not the best with heavy rain showers and gale force winds, but 53 species was not a bad haul for the day.


Curlew Sandpiper (left) and Redshank

 Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper
Ring Ouzel (below)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Time to fly the nest.

Fantastic sight today of 20-30 House Martins swarming to the two nests on my house, each had two chicks still inside (must be second broods) Some birds would fly up and cling to outside of  nests whilst other clung to the wall or hovered very close by.  All birds calling loudly trying to entice the chicks out.

Unfortunately all evaded my nearby net!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pesky Pec!

With a report of a Pectoral Sandpiper on my doorstep, Lynda and myself headed down to the west side of Findhorn Bay.  Now I must admit to not visiting this part of Findhorn Bay very often, this is due to the severe lack of parking spots.  But today we found a nice place not far from the path leading down to the bay so this may be put on my regular patch list.

Unfortunately the Pectoral looks to have either moved on or was out feeding on the vast expanse of exposed mud on the bay, however there was much to keep us both interested:

Osprey x4,  Black Tailed Godwit x 45, Canada Geese x 35, Whimbrel x1, Greenshank x 2, Knot 30+ and Pink Footed Geese 270!

A cracking couple of hours.

Findhorn Bay

And my favourite bird....... Lynda!

Friday, 31 August 2012

First taste of Autumn

Well it had to hapen, but not quite as early in the year as this!!  Temp  dropped to +2 last night and my car was covered in ice this morning! With reports of snow showers on Cairngorm and Ben Macdui looks like the summer is over!

Still relatively good numbers of Swallows  hanging around, however the numbers of House Martins have dropped off in the last few days.  A Wheatear just outside my garden area was a first and a low fly over of an Osprey was a nice reminder of long hot summer days (well one long hot summer day!)

Lots of seabirds getting recorded over the water at Tarbat Ness so will hopefully get out in the next few days to have a look at this side of the Moray Firth, reccing the area at Fort George....... I will keep you all posted! 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Nice commute to work!

On a recent tour of the Moray coast I decided as an "add on" to take my guests to a local loch to check out the Black Throated Divers.

Initially I thought we were out of luck, but thankfully the birds were at Loch side and showing very well, unfortunately the chick was not present, fledged and on the coast already?  I hope so.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A Taste of Summer

A beautiful start to the morning down at Findhorn Dunes.

 All quiet on the bird front however a fly-by Osprey and a few Juv Sandwich Terns were nice to see.
Plus the fantastic lighting made even the most common of birds look stunning.



As a post script to this entry, whilst in the garden tonight found a Garden Tiger Moth, stunning looking beastie!

Tiger Tiger!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Holidays are over!

Well the end of July means the end of my summer "down time" and I start preparing for the excitement of autumn and winter, possibly my favourite time up here on the Moray Coast.

Took Lynda across to Cromarty, to finally visit "the pantry" coffee shop and after a lovely coffee and slice of chocolate sponge we headed for the new RSPB hide at Udale Bay.

We were not disappointed, once again a hide with a "wow" factor.

Superb large viewing windows

Plenty of benches and opening windows.

The large viewing windows were excellent, but not suitable for digiscoping through, so my preference was for the opening windows.

Can't wait until the winter ducks, geese and waders pitch up!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

First Pelagic of the season

And a cracking day out it proved to be.  Overcast so no glare to contend with, and the Minch almost flat calm.

Birds seen throughout the trip were; Gannet, Storm Petrel, Manx Shearwater, Bonxie, Tystie, Arctic Skua, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffins, Raven and Hooded Crow in Stornoway, but highlight had to be a pod of about 50 Common Dolphin.  At one point the ferry was completely surrounded by these fantastic beasts.

Once again great company, many laughs and some brilliant birds.  Happy days and roll on the next trip in two weeks time!

Todays victims  clients, Roger and Lynne,
and no Roger I'm NOT having those optics on MY Blog! :-)

Stornoway Harbour

Common Dolphin, nice change from Bottle Nosed!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

I hear the patter of tiny feet!

Before any of my family, or indeed Lynda, pass out reading the title, let me explain....... Philbert and Felicity our tame pheasants have had chicks! (ten to be exact)  Plus the Great Spotted Woodpecker has started bringing it's chick to the feeders as well.  Summer is well under way although by the rotten weather you would never know!

Felicity the proud mum, bringing her chicks to be fed

Young Great Spotted Woodpecker

This young woodpecker was drinking the water out of the cupped leaves on the beech hedge.  Never witnessed this behaviour before.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Tasty Tysties

Fantastic day tour today of  Moray, taking in seabird colonies, estuary, river, moor and Lochs.

Highlights included; Thousands of breeding Gannets and Kittiwakes, Black Guillemots feeding in the clear waters of the Moray Firth.  Osprey plunge diving and carrying off a huge salmon. Red Throated Divers in full breding plumage and of course the best bit was the company of newly crowned pensioner Richard and his polite wife Chris (yes Chris Fulmar does start FU!!)  Happy birthday Richard and remember the Ruby Murray Anniversary in October!

Tystie (Black Guillemot)