Monday, 30 April 2012

A trip to the shop.

Saturday I was sent on a mission to find some marshmallows. Not some weird bog plant but the type of thing you toast on an open fire. Just before my mission was given to me there was a bit of a commotion with the gulls outside. A quick peek from the window and I could see the gulls were up and so were the Greylag Geese (not this one, obviously).
The reason for the terror was the large bird that was making threatening moves toward them! It got nowt and settled down for a rest so I had a cup of tea and waited. Half an hour or so and it was on it's way again.
I headed off to hunt down the elusive marshmallows clocking a nice Sparrowhawk along the way. Not the best of the shots but I liked the Pied Wagtail in this one - 'I'll have you!'
A single Whooper Swan was another nice find along the way.
A quick check for waders turned up about 20 Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin and about 60 Golden Plover.
With no luck on the marshmallow front I headed across to Iona getting some nice views of Gannet.
A quick visit to the shop and I had the marshmallows sorted. What to do now? I had a bit of a wander around seeing plenty of Linnet and Twite but not much else so that was me on my way back home. I got the offer of a lift back to Mull on the MB Iolaire...via Staffa! The prospect of getting a few snaps of the Puffins was too much to resist. A few Twite kept us company as we waited for the Puffins to come ashore.
The Puffins put on a great display...
...lots of posturing.
A Whimbrel had a bit of trouble keeping it's footing.
The Puffins carried on with their business of pairing up and defending their nest holes...
...and a bit of fly watching to pass the time.
Well, it made me laugh too.
A bit of nature in the raw as we left Staffa as a couple of Great Skua were harrassing a Common Gull before, finally, taking the bird out.
Not your usual trip to the shops!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

In a flap.

Wednesday wasn't a bad day and I was hoping to get a photo of something good. I'd already seen a male Hen Harrier on my way to the shop so I was surprised to find one on way back out. The bird was moving away quickly but it soon crossed the road and I managed to get slightly ahead of the bird. It was still some distance away but a male Hen Harrier is always worth a go.
 It got closer at one point...
 ...and the landed in the river for a drink...
 ...and then it was gone. Everything seemed to be in a bit of a flap after that as you can see from this Goosander that was seeing off a Red-breasted Merganser.
A small group of Eider all hauled out and they were all in a flap too!!
 Thursday was a bit showery and chilly too. I had a quick run out which produced a couple of nice sightings. A Song Thrush posed nicely... a Willow Warbler was catching insects.
I caught sight of four Curlew type birds flying to shore and out of sight and when I approached the area a Curlew was standing proud but there was no sign of the other three birds. A Hooded Crow flushed the Curlew and two Whimbrel flew up too. Not sure what happened to the fourth bird but I did see what had really scared the birds off. I saw this Great Northern Diver with it's wings out - nothing strange there? - it kept them out as it looked about.
Suddenly another bird surfaced and it seemed to be a battle of some sort.
The summer plumaged bird got the better of the other bird and there was a bit of calling as they separated - awesome stuff!
Just to calm you down after all that excitement - 'Larry, put your LEFT leg in!'.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Surprise migrants.

Tuesday the weather was mostly nice with a splash of rain at the end. Just when you think the winter visitors have left you get a nice surprise in the shape of a couple of Whooper Swans.
They made up for the lack of summer migrants. There are still very few Swallows, House Martin (not seen one yet), Sand Martin or even Wheatears about down here. Another surprise at our next stop was just after this WT Eagle had frightened the life out of everything...
...and my first Whimbrel of the year flew into the bay. Three Twite were obliging as they wandered around on the grass next to us then onto the fence before they moved off.
We had about four sightings of male Hen Harrier and each one was better than the last. Adder had been top of the list of things to see so the male one that we saw was the icing on the cake. We managed to get some cracking views of the Short-eared Owls but it was just too far for the camera but you can see how they got their name!
We had a look at a Curlew on the nest before getting a Golden Eagle and another Shortie. I picked up a distant Otter but after driving to a better viewing point it had moved on so the GN Diver had to suffice.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Sunday was a bit of a damp one but we managed to get out in the evening to get some fresh air. We found a female Curlew on the nest that was difficult to see...
...but the male bird was quite alert to what was going on.
The Short-eared Owls are a popular thing at the moment. Getting decent shots is not that easy but they are a delight to watch and listen to.
With the damp conditions the Snipe were encouraged to do a bit of display and perch in prominent places.
Just before we headed for home a Hen Harrier came hunting across the moor...
...and Shortie posed at the side of the road - awesome!
Monday the sun was back. A good start to the day with a couple of WT Eagle and a sleeping Otter. Another Otter proved to be elusive as we got brief glimpses of it as it worked it's way between the rocks and finally disappeared from sight. A couple of big birds were picked up by one of the guests and when we stopped for a better view the two Golden Eagles flew overhead.
Another Golden Eagle was seen after lunch with a male Hen Harrier trying to see it off. Not a great shot but the small bird on the left of the picture is the harrier - tiny in comparison.
A single Golden Plover was a good find at the end of the day.
We thought we might miss out on the hares as we saw two people walking their dog in a good spot for them. Then a couple of Mountain Hares exploded from cover as the dog wandered around the shore - result.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Buzzard food.

Thursday night I took a quick snap of the sunset.
Friday I had a run out in the morning to try for some Willow Warbler photos and to check on some of the flowers. First thing I picked up was an Otter so I headed for the shore to get a bit closer. Halfway down to the shore I put up a Short-eared Owl.
The owl landed on the seaweed covered rocks so I got out of sight as quick as possible. The Otter never came close enough for a decent shot...
..and the owl headed back to the shore to roost a couple of hundred yards away from me.
The plants I checked on are coming along nicely but no flowers on the Butterwort yet. Wood Sorrel looked good...
...the Primroses are abundant...
...and there are lots of Dog Violet too.
I managed to catch up with a couple of close Willow Warblers but I never got any decent shots until I got back to the car and one landed in a bush right next to me!
Saturday we had the usual suspects but it was nice to see a few more Wheatears about.
You always see the Common Buzzards hunting whether it's hovering above the grass or staring at the ground from a post and more often than not they will catch a vole but on Saturday we saw a couple of different prey items. First off we saw a Buzzard with some grass dangling from it's talons and we were able to follow this bird until it landed to have it's meal...a Frog.
The next one I wasn't so lucky but I did get a shot of the bird as it headed off with a Slow Worm!
The varied diet is one of the reasons these birds are so successful but it's not often you get see these events.