Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

Well, it's the last day of the year and the year list finished on 148 while the Patchwork Challenge ended up with 108 species. Not a bad effort. The trip back up to Mull was good with a nice view of a Red Kite along the way.
I had a run out on this last day of the year to see a lot of rain, a single Black Guillemot and a few GN Diver.
The weather cleared eventually so the views of this Hen Harrier were superb.
An Otter took up the rest of the time.
It went into the sea and came straight back out with a large fish...
...which took a while to eat...
...before it headed off.
I thought I saw it cross the road as I climbed back in the motor but it was just a cat!
Have a good New Year and I'll be back soon when the sun comes out;-)

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Purple patch

A spare couple of hours saw us head out for a bit of relaxing and, of course, some birding. Purple Sandpiper is a superb bird to watch clinging onto the rocks where the sea meets the land. With the tide in they do a bit of foraging around the rock pools.
Back inland to Killingworth Lake for more waterbirds...plenty of Coot...
...Jackdaws picking at the scraps...
...and a couple of Magpies playing in the park.
Pochard is a duck that is not that easy to find these days but there always a few on the lake.
Tufted Duck - well named.
The Moorhens are used to people wandering past so it's a good opportunity to get a close up shot.
There were a couple of Little Grebe resting beside the ducks...
...and a bit of a flap for good measure.
These bird are well fed so it was funny to see this one desperate to get a tasty morsel off the ground. The bird was ringed on 27th November 2013 as a juvenile - I doubt it will stray far.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Cor, luv a duck!

The stormy weather is continuing but we are missing the worst of it down in Newcastle. A quick visit to one of my old haunts, Cresswell Pond, was just superb. It's all regular fare for the local birders but a lot of stuff is seen by us just once a year on the Christmas visit. There were plenty of Tree Sparrow on the track down to the hide (a blind for you guys in the States)...
...Moorhen is a bird that we don't see very often on Mull...
...and it was nice to find a few Common Snipe hiding in the reeds.
If you want a smart looking bird you can't beat a duck - Eurasian Teal showing off the wing pattern...
...and a smart looking head too.
Eurasian Wigeon are good lookers too.
A Curlew was probing around on the sand bar getting it's feathers ruffled by the wind.
The Redshank were coping a bit better but they are out of the wind.
The Common Snipe had a bit of a shuffle around - a walk of Snipe!
A few Reed Bunting were blending into the background.
A look across the pond was productive with Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine seen in the air, on the water were RB Merg, Little Grebe and an Otter with an Eel.
More ducks - three Wigeon on the right, a female Mallard in the water with a drake Gadwall just behind.
All of that in less an hour - superb!! A visit to Hauxley was hampered by flooded tracks but the Mute Swans came to see us...
...while the Goldeneye made off in the other direction.
There was just enough time to get some snaps of a Magpie before rain stopped play.

Monday, 23 December 2013


A quick run out to deliver a parcel paid dividends as I came across some of the raptors. First up was a White-tailed Eagle flying past as it got harassed by some of the local birds. Here is a view of two birds with white tails - one is the eagle but what is the other one?
The WT Eagle flew over the top eventually and revealed itself to be a four year old bird - full yellow bill, pale head and black tips to the tail feathers.
Another dull day meant high ISO settings and very little shutter speed but I couldn't resist pointing the camera at the stag.
Two female Hen Harriers quartering the same area was a nice sight but not that easy to get a shot of either of them.
At the same spot there was a Buzzard hanging in the wind, paying more attention to hunting than me, so I managed a few decent snaps as it peeled off.

Friday, 20 December 2013

How big is that bird?

Doc and I on the road again. We found an Iceland Gull among a few other gulls, Common and Herring, and you pick out the colour of the bird, long white primaries and the size compared to the other gulls. When a Barnacle Goose wandered across it gave a whole different size comparison. Big gull or small goose doesn't matter but there is only a couple of centimetres difference, in length, between the birds. 
If I'd said I had seen a gull that was as big as a goose, I'm fairly sure you would be thinking what gull is as big as a Greylag or Canada Goose! A bit further along the shore there were a couple of Goosander - lovely birds to see.
A Golden Eagle was found sitting on the top of a hill...
...while another was seen to fly along the ridge and out of sight. It didn't look like things would get any better until a change of location saw another Golden Eagle flying past but this time it was below the road!
It did hang around long enough to get a much better view.
A family of three Otters were seen but too far away for photos and invisible in the choppy water so it was nice to get one crossing the road as it headed up the hill.
Another two Golden Eagles flying past was a nice finish the day. Thanks, Doc:-)
I'll wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wildlife filled New Year - all the best!!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Clean up

A run out with Doc was fairly productive but hard work at times - maybe we ask too much! The sun was still casting a red glow across the bay as we made our first stop. The Common Seals were keen to keep an eye on proceedings.
A Hooded Crow was soaking up the early morning rays.
A Dipper was a nice find and reasonably obliging too.
A dead Mountain Hare was being attended to by a Buzzard and a couple of Raven - nice to see a clean up.
It took a while but we eventually found a family of three Otters.
There was plenty of social interaction going on...
...and plenty of spray...
...as they performed their own clean up.
We must have spent a good couple of hours with these three before they headed for the holt.