Thursday, 30 July 2009
Off for the Shorties next. I put one up from the side of the road again but it was off like a shot. I found a place with good visibility and started to scan around - not a sign! In the distance a flash of a pale bird turned out to be the target bird that was soon joined by another two. The initial bird then put in an appearance but too far away for any decent shots. The best I could manage is shown below and it wasn't going to improve in the failing light.Wednesday was a day of torrential rain - it sounds bad but it's all lies as it was actually another fine day which is getting a bit boring now. The Curlews are still out in force but the Golden Plover and Dunlin seemed to have moved on. Another great show from the WT Eagles but still no sign of the youngster for me. We cracked on through the day picking up plenty of small birds and also doing the flowers justice too. It was nice to see Heath Spotted Orchid still in flower in a shady spot along with St Johns Wort - most other places they have gone to seed. We gave the Mountain Hares a good shot and were rewarded with 2 of them together. On the return journey a Swift was a surprise find as it swooped in front of us. It not that easy to get photos with a full complement of guests so it was nice to get some shots of Scotch Argus while having lunch.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Sunday was a day of rest with some hefty showers forecast - we weren't disappointed. A good change in the weather always brings a few birds in and makes life interesting. A clear spell between the showers had me checking the shore to see what was out there. The Golden Plover were there but only 20 of them and I could see some smaller waders too. There were 2 Turnstones, 23 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling and a Greenshank flew in too. Not a bad haul. A quick check of the ridges before the next shower came through produced 1 Golden Eagle getting harassed off two Common Buzzard before disappearing into the cloud. I also had a run out in the dark, in a clear spell, but it wasn't too exciting. A single Barn Owl closely followed by a Short-eared Owl that nearly killed itself on the front of the motor - just the wingtips clipped the bonnet as I buried the brake pedal - one lucky Owl! On the return journey the rain was falling hard so no Owls on the way back but plenty of Frogs and a single Hedgehog. The weather at the moment is low cloud and heavy rain - should be a cracking day then!
Here's one I need some help with from you Lepiwhatsits - it'll be a common one but I haven't got a good enough book to pin it down! Thanks in advance.
Friday, 24 July 2009
......the Marble Quarry on Iona......
......and despite the showers of rain we were spotting wildlife too. Davy, the skipper, announced that he could see what looked like a Basking Shark up ahead so we went for a closer look. This must have been at least 20 foot long - you can see the tip of the nose and the tail as this one surfaced.
It came in for a closer look too - shame about the weather though. You could see all of the Shark when it rose to the surface. One of the highlights of the trip.
We carried on round the West side of the Iona. You can see the shower that had just washed over us in the next shot with Ben More in the distance.
We visited a few more people in Bull Hole before setting adrift in the Sound of Iona to hold a raffle and an auction. We raised almost £800 on the night for the RNLI.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Friday, 17 July 2009
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Tuesday started off with a bit of drizzle but the forecast was for it to continue. Four WT Eagle started the day well with the female on the nest with the adventurous youngster out on a limb and the male bird was sitting close by. When the male took off, just after we'd been enjoying views of a Crossbill, I wasn't surprised to see there were two birds flying. The male was off with a female bird but it wasn't the adult as the tail was dark, a young female from last year. The curiosity of the young birds is amazing. They seem to be willing the young birds out of the nest, a reassurance that they won't be alone when they do leave. Fantastic to watch all the same. A Whinchat posed very nicely on a roadside fence until the camera came out and it went all shy.The species list was building quite nicely but a purple patch wasn't too far away. We bagged a couple of Adders with one performing very well as it made it's escape around our feet rather than heading off in the opposite direction. An impromptu stop to scan the loch panned out very well with a great haul of partially unexpected birds. Five RT Diver was a good start, 30 Manx Shearwater cruising around, 10 Eider with about the same number of Razorbill, a single Black Guillemot and a cracking male Common Scoter! With the sea looking flat calm we moved on to see if we could improve the seabird list. About 300 Manxies were gathered in offshore in 5 tight packs. One of these groups exploded into action as a couple of Porpoise started feeding. We all came away smiling from that one. We travelled onwards wondering what we would see next. On an inland loch we located a lone Swan but it was too far away to ID so we headed closer to it. Another fortuitous decision - it turned out to be a Mute Swan but the closest bird to us was yet another Red-throated Diver! The view through the scope was stunning and none of the photos do it justice. It was just too far away for the Lumix...........and the heat haze off the bracken put paid to any chance of a good digiscoped shot.There wasn't going to be any chance of topping what we had already seen but we were happy enough with the day. A couple of Snipe, lots of Greenfinch, Stonechat, Mountain Hare, the list goes on. Wrens are birds that you hear a lot but can be tricky to see on a day out. One of our smallest birds but the loudest voice - here's one giving it six-nowt!
Another day that was classed as an inspiration to get out in the field and have some fun. It's good for your soul, man!
Monday, 13 July 2009
The weatherman has been trying to throw some different weather at us for a while so the forecast of rain on Saturday didn't materialise. I was off for the day doing chores but I did find time to photograph this Orb Spider Araniella cucurbitina - class!It really did look like the weather was going to change as the clouds started rolling in late on. It gave a good sunset and they say 'red sky at night, shepherds delight'............I bet those shepherds were delighted with the next morning........it was a shocker! One forecast said it was in for the day and another said it would clear hmmmm! We set off with intentions of targeting the big stuff.....WT Eagle, no sign - Otter, no sign - Golden Eagle, no sign....oops. We struggled to start the day with anything decent with Linnet and Stonechat being the initial highlights. We then located an Otter close in to shore which was the turning point of the day despite the rain still falling.The young WT Eagle was up doing his thing and a Crossbill settled in a tree for a scope view. It looked like the weather was starting to lift too. A female Hen Harrier gave a superb flyby before the sun broke through and the coats were coming off. Common Seals, Red-throated Diver and Slow Worm were all bagged as we stripped down to T-Shirts. Golden Eagle was bagged soon after - a bird we'd just about written off for the day. The biggest catch of the day was a couple of fledgling Meadow Pipits on the side of the road - as cute as they get.Another Hen Harrier, a male this time, was a nice addition to list and a good finish to a day full of stuff.
Friday, 10 July 2009
Wednesday and Thursday were pretty similar weatherwise with the Northerly still blowing. A couple of drips of rain here and there but nothing to dress up for. Thursday turned out to be a tough day for no reason at all but nothing wanted to perform in the morning. All good things come to those who wait. We watched the juv WT Eagle exercising his wings and jumping up and down. Then nothing for ages except a flock of gulls feeding on a shoal of fry. The flock included about 20 Common Gulls, 6 GBB Gull, 2 LBB Gull and one BH Gull - not the most exciting thing but an interesting observation on the day. The Golden Eagles performed as expected but only after we had a close encounter with one of last years young Adders.It's certainly a different colouration on the young ones and great camouflage against the rocks.We finished the day in real style with 2 Otters, 2 WT Eagle and a male Hen Harrier all in the same place and within 15 minutes. What's wrong with spacing things out through the day?!
A bit of sad news from yesterday was an Otter getting run over on the road. I've not got full details of this so I'm not sure of the sex of the beast - it could be the dog or a bitch with no cubs. It should come clear over the next few days who's missing. It's not really anyone's fault as they are prone to just running out in front of you. I've had one under the motor that came to no harm and another that I had to follow down the road because he wouldn't get out the way.