Thursday 30 April 2015

Scotland Trip

Birdwatching around Dumfries & Galloway

The first place visited was the small harbour town of Portpatrick to look for Black Guillemot that breed in the holes around the harbour walls.

Two birds were soon spotted on the water within the harbour and on closer inspection were the Black Guillemots we were looking for, these birds are matt black with a triangle of white on the wings and blood red legs a very smart looking bird.

Out at sea a few Gannets passed by with a couple of Eider duck, on the cliffs Fulmer, Kittiwake and Shag were seen, and a lone Rock Pipit flew past.

On the grass bank at the back of the harbour several Meadow Pipit and Wheatear were busy feeding.

A quick check around the rock pools found only a single Redshank.

Next stop the RSPB Wood of Cree nature reserve, a little quiet but we managed to locate a pair of Nuthach and a single Wood Warbler calling.

Other birds seen included a Goshawk over the trees a couple of Coal Tits, also a Cuckoo calling from the open moorland area with several Wheatear and Meadow Pipits.

We returned again in the evening to find four Goosander on the river with a Grasshopper Warbler reeling from the reedbeds, a Peregrine flew up and over the tree line and as we left a pair of Tawny owls were heard.

Mammals seen here were Red squirrels and Hares.

On our way to Threave Castle to look for Osprey we stopped to look at the estuary, still good numbers of Pink Footed Geese around well over a thousand birds.

Flying up the estuary were four Sandwich Terns and a Raven sat out on a rock!!

At Threave we walk down the pathway to the river Dee where the Ospreys nest, when the birds are back a watchpoint is set up to show visitors the birds so they are very easy to locate here.

Within a couple of minutes both birds flew in and perched on a dead tree opposite the nest platform, wonderful to see that they had returned again for another season.

Other birds seen included Several Swallow, House and Sand Martins and a Single Tree Sparrow coming out of a hole in a dead tree.

Next we headed for the Galloway Red Kite feeding station at Laurieston as feeding time had just stated, we arrived just in time to see around 75+ birds on the wing swooping down to pick up the food from the ground, this is a truly amazing sight to see.

A short trip into Galloway Forest found around half a dozen Tree Pipits out on the felled areas.

A very enjoyable time birdwatching in Scotland. DT

Sunday 12 April 2015

Special moment

I was recently carrying out a survey for wildlife on a farm, when I had one of those magical wildlife moments. It was a species that I had seen a number of times before, its hard to say why it was so special - it just was!

I was walking through a wood on a south facing slope, the trees were a mix of conifer and deciduous, so there were gaps through the trees ever now and then through which I could see a field being left fallow and an area of scrub behind. Then through a gap, in the early morning mist a shape caught my eye.

A stag fallow deer in the morning mist

I think the thing that made it special was he was on his own and he had not seen me! I slowly worked my way closer by staying in the wood.

So far so good....

I continue to work ever so slowly forward...


It was a special half an hour, as I say something I had seen before but I managed to get away with any disturbance and left him eating his breakfast. (NA)

Sunday 5 April 2015

A change is in the air!

Spring seems to have been a long time coming this year, but I think we are now in severe danger of having reached it!

I saw a nice selection of flowers out today, including some particularly violet-coloured violets, here's one of them...

I love the veins in the petals on violets.

There was lots of bird activity too with meadow pipits streaming north back to their breeding grounds, as well as flocks of golden plover also heading back to Scandinavia to breed, UK goldies are already back on their breeding grounds, so any moving at this time of year are heading further north. Many skylark, yellowhammer and corn bunting were singing on the downs, there was even a passing swallow or two!

Insects are starting to stir as well, I saw brimstone and small tortoiseshell butterflies and a selection of ladybird. There were good numbers of seven-spot ladybirds as well as this chap...

two-spot ladybird

A little smaller than the seven-spots and always nice to see!

Mammals were also on show, with hares busily chasing around fields and a reasonable number of baby rabbits. Personally I have not seen many rabbit for a fair few years, so hopefully they are on the up again. Finally, back to birds and bullfinches are having to switch their feeding to buds from seeds as shown by this female, I think this passes for bullfinch gymnastics! (NA)