Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The one that got away.

Well, that's February all done and dusted! The last day of the month so a last look round starting off with the Goldeneye..............leaving.
There are obvious reasons for not showing some of the wildlife at this time of year but a fly over White-tailed Eagle is not a problem....
....and made all the better by a second bird that is busy coughing up a pellet!
A nicer shot of the Pied Wagtail on the ground this time.
Now for the one that got away. I got some stunning views of this Hen Harrier but could I get the camera on it? No way.

Monkey business.

As February comes to a close we are stuck under a cloud - it's been dreich to say the least. I didn't do a great deal at the weekend but Monday I was out in the drizzle seeing not a lot. A look around for the white-winged gulls turned up a complete blank but there is always something to brighten the day. A Red Deer stag posed on the beach...
...and the Barnacle Geese were happy to show well in the gloomy conditions (they wouldn't do it on a nice day).
This shot of a Common Buzzard gives a good idea of weather conditions - wet! 
I was hoping for some improvement on Tuesday but I was obviously having a laugh - it got no better than this.
The good things were a returning Pied Wagtail singing at the top of a tree.
You can hear the Ravens coming as they are flying in pairs (not close enough to get both birds in the same shot) calling to each other.
The Hooded Crows are always worth the effort on a dull day...
...and you could spend days photographing Grey Herons in pools...
...or in flight.
Now that it's getting near the breeding season the gulls are starting to increase - Great Black-backed Gull is the biggest of our gulls.
I'm still working on getting a decent shot of a Red-breasted Merganser but it always seems to be the duller days that you get closer.
If only we could have a bit of dry weather the monkey wouldn't need ropes to climb the trees!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Happily ever after.

Most of this week has been wet so I've stayed dry by not going out! An early highlight was a close encounter with a male Hen Harrier flying beside the motor in the pouring rain on Monday. Thursday was a good run out but in very murky conditions as you will see from the photos. I started the day with a Glaucous Gull on the beach.
I had my first singing Skylark of the year while getting my best views of the, normally, very flighty Barnacle Geese.
The WT Eagles were sitting side by side on the nest and two Golden Eagle put in an appearance near the end of the day.
A Mountain Hare was close enough for a photo but the light was failing - you can't win!
Friday was a lot better - quite a few showers but there was sunshine inbetween. I'll start with a common bird that you probably wouldn't look at twice but you should - just look at the colours on this Mallard.
It was no surprise that the handsome chap had a pretty lady in tow...
...and I'm sure they will live 'happily ever after'!
I caught up with a Raven that was posturing and giving a quiet low pitched, call while spreading it's tail and blowing up it's neck feathers - awesome.
It was nice to get the Lapwing in a bit of decent light too.
A quick bit of lunch while it was raining and I was off again in the sunshine. A Common Buzzard flew past but it was heading into the sun.
The sunshine will always bring the Adders out. This is the one that came out of hibernation first...
...and these two were fresh out.
Check out the head pattern on the top one of the two snakes - a distinct heart shape that will make it easy to ID if I see it again. The rain was coming back in again when I found this Golden Eagle - it did the sensible thing and flew off away from the wet stuff.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A bit of spring in the snow.

The weatherman said Saturday would be quite blustery with snow showers later in the day - he wasn't wrong. On Sunday enough snow had fell overnight to cover the higher ground but the roads were fairly clear. We had a quick look for the adult type Iceland Gull I'd seen on Friday but we only connected with the 2nd winter bird again along with 20 White-fronted Geese. A flock of 20 Lapwing were a nice find as this Song Thrush added some music to the scene.
The temperature peaked at 8 degrees on lower ground but a bit colder near the higher ground. The Red Deer seemed to be round every corner in the morning but as the snow disappeared they were heading back to their usual grazing areas.
A walk on the beach next to try for better photos of the Glaucous Gulls. We passed a small flock of Greylag Geese that gave us a fly past about 10 minutes later.
We could see one Glaucous Gull in fields too distant for photos and another on the beach. As we approached the bird on the beach another Glauc came flying in and another flew over the top - four birds in total. Of the two on the beach, one swam off and the other perched on a rock to bring up a pellet.
Another change of location and another walk gave up a few more treats. First off was a nosey Great Tit.
There were plenty more Red Deer and a Golden Eagle perched on top of a very thin looking Larch. Best of all was to see an Adder out in the snow - I know it's not a lot of snow but it's not often you get both together!
We found our first lump of Frog spawn this year and, just so you can see how cold it is, this is covered in ice.
We had a nice view of a female Hen Harrier on the way home but I was hoping to catch up with an Otter. We checked a few places with no luck but finally we picked up a distant one. A bit of a wait as it made it's way towards me and eventually up on the shore.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


Friday was supposed to be a real stinker from the off but with no sign of rain it would be silly to waste it. A bit of a random journey with nothing in particular in mind but it just happened to turn into a gull day. First up was an Iceland Gull that flew in front of the motor and off into the distance. It looked grey on the wings so certainly near adult and one I will have to find again soon for a better look. It did leave a friend behind - another Iceland Gull, 2nd winter bird.
Good numbers of Herring Gull waiting for the Sheep to be fed.
The Common Gulls seemed a bit flighty today and always on the move so no photos of them. Next up was a particularly menacing Great Black-backed Gull that had just finished it's lunch.
It was just starting to rain by now and the light was going fast but I could see another white-winged gull in the distance. This bird wasn't happy with the approach of other gulls so it took flight a couple of times and settled on the beach before it was close enough for a photo.
It wasn't long before the bird was flying again.
The rain was fairly steady by now so I didn't try to get any closer to a second Glaucous Gull that was lingering in the fields.
a good haul of gulls for the day.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Stuck in the mud.

Wednesday started off with plenty of rain but it soon broke up into occasional showers. I stood and watched this Raven for a good half an hour as it paraded around the tree displaying and calling.
The bird certainly looked very smart in the sunshine but I couldn't find the bird that this one was displaying to. I guess the other bird was on the nest not too far away. The Red-breasted Mergansers are fairly well paired up now but this just increases the displaying as the males try to keep their females. Plenty of splashing about too...
...but it's worth it when you look this good.
Thursday was a bit gloomy but just bright enough to get some photos. First off was a WT Eagle perched in a tree - I could see a wing tag on this one so a closer look was required. It turned out to be one of the East coast re-introduction birds but I'd seen this one before in April 2010. I needed to find a closer spot for a photograph and I knew just the place - through the wood. I made a great error going into the wood as I didn't have my laces tied properly and as I sunk into the first bit of soft ground, off came the first boot, a bit of forward momentum and off came the second boot. I'm not a small bloke and I sink fast in boggy ground so I just had to keep going to the other side!! My boots were stuck so I just carried on to take a couple of shots.
I did manage to find an easier way out of the wood and I rescued my boots. I kept an eye on the bird for an hour or so and as soon as I took my eye off it, it disappeared! I could hear the shore birds calling so something was unsettling them and as I turned to look a Grey Heron was cruising over the shore and another, different kind of bird was breaking the sky line. I could see this was another, younger, WT Eagle and it was heading my way and off towards where the other bird had been.
After a change of clothes and some clean boots I was back out in the afternoon taking a few photographs of the pale Common Buzzard...
...and a cracking Great Northern Diver.
The Black-throated and Red-Throated Divers were both on show but way too far away for the camera. Not a lot else to crow about apart from the very dodgy internet connection I have at the moment hence the lack of posts. I'll leave the Hoodie to do the crowing for me.