Sunday, 23 April 2017

Wheatears Whilst Waiting.......

Wheatears are always a welcome sight during spring and this evening was nice with a male Whinchat and Redstart joining them to forage albeit briefly. Cuckoo, Swallows, Sand Martins, Willow Warblers, Common Buzzards, Kestrel, Lapwing, Curlew and drumming Snipe all added to the mix.

Dartford Warblers are rather active out on the heaths of late and Firecrests show in nearly every wood I pass through on may out to the heaths as per the individual below. 

But and it is a very big but this is all just the supporting cast for another 4 weeks until the interesting stuff arrives and I hope to find myself sat with a brew enjoying (fingers crossed) the warmth of the sun and Hampshire-Blue sky above over-looking a nice block of timber waiting for a ceratin species to lift out, heres hoping....

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Sun and Migrants.

Had a stroll out to a favoured valley this afternoon and with the warmth of the sun and some true migrants made it feel true spring like. A pair of Wheatears, the first of the year for me were much appreciated, a single Willow Warbler singing added to ambience with Chiffchaffs also singing from what appeared to be every tree. 

Firecrests are just every where at the moment and I just cant help but click away at these Forest Flamers and they make Goldcrests look so drab. 

Arriving at the valley I decided to take a seat in order to have a cuppa whilst enjoying the view, this is a favoured valley of mine where I tend to get a fair few Merlin sightings throughout the winter period and today, yet again there was a perched bird, this time a female just looking over the valley. 

Lapwing are now on territory in most places but hearing Snipe drumming really is somethig that bit special especially when they are right over head at dusk just as I was starting my return walk. Sightings of Woodcocks are becoming more frequent as the spring snow-balls in time and size. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Winter Hen Harrier Survey Draws to a Close.

So another winter Hen Harrier survey comes to an end but with the change in weather and spring here there is more to be getting on with until the next winter season survey commences. 

There has been some good days this winter sitting out on the moors and heaths looking and waiting for Harriers to come in at the days end. I have to say that I visited 3 different sites reguarly this winter but my own survey site location failed to produce any sightings which is disappointing but a reflection of what is happening elsewhere with this species throughout the country. Talking with Dorset roost watchers they also state that this was a poor year compared to others. 

So as I walked off site staring at the fire-balling sun as it set over the heath I pondered on how the next winter season will be for the Harriers. 

The day ended with two Hen Harriers, an adult male that drifted through and then a female lingering, dancing in the buffeting wind. A Female Merlin sat motionless in a nearby bush watching over the nearby valley.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Out on the Moor.

Had a venture out today and with the recent drop in temperature and falling sleet whilst out on site I was hoping for a little more activity than what actually took place.

Always good to be out no matter what the end result is but it was quiet today, real quiet with just two Ringtail Harriers but the Great Grey Shrike put in an appearnce be it distantly and brief. A couple of Raven had a fly around but that's all folks.

This Ringtail Harrier came in just on 17:20hrs hence the light and poor quality shots, the first Ringtail came in at 17:10hrs but was to distant to even contemplate any shots. 

The Moor seemed harsh and lifeless as I arrived on site today but the cold-fresh air was good but I forgot my hat so luckily I got a new one today from a Snow Board shop just up the road from site which did the job and a discount for cash, tomorrow is a survey day so I hope it is rewarding.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

North Ronaldsay Day 2.

Day two on North Ron was a much duller day, the wind had picked up and it felt like a "tough going" day lay ahead as I walked out in the rather buffeting & chilling wind. I decided to take a stroll around a few different areas today before going on the Harrier Hunt. 

The golf course held a mixed flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin  but several "scan-through's" didn't produce any colour ringed individuals.

Fulmars were entertaining as they flew low over the golf course, foot paddling at times allowing for some close views. Gulls drifted along the shoreline including a juv Glaucous Gull.

The wind was pretty tough going as the day progressed and so I wanted to get to Loch Hooking where I decided to spend a few hours, The 2 Whooper Swans were still present as was the drake Smew. 

It was tough going sitting it out, waiting in the cold buffeting wind AND the female Hen Harrier  showed only once today when it went in to Roost at pretty much the same spot but the Northern Harrier only managed a solitary fly through but I was grateful to see it again although never being able to nail a reasonable photo during both days.

Then it was that time of day and I had to head to the airport for my return flight back to Kirkwall. All in all a very successfull trip, with the Snowy Owl & Northern Harrier combo, a new location for me, with some good Scotish / English hospitality and good food.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

North Ronaldsay = Northern Harrier.

So After departing Eday I shortly arrived on North Ronaldsay but the light was pretty much fading fast and no time to do anything other than to head in to the Obs where a good evening meal and some good hospitality was had before heading off for the night.

The following morning after a decent breakfast, I headed out in order to spend the day trying to see the Northern Harrier, both Sam & George were helpful on tips where to try and catch up with this bird as well as sending me texts on the latest update on the Harrier and it's where-abouts during the day. I decided  to spend time at a high point on the island allowing views over the surrounding area. Loch Hooking (above) is where I spent most of my time and this paid off as I had my best views of the Northern Harrier here usually just passing through briefly during the late morning - mid afternoon but I originally saw the Northern Harrier from the cross roads where it was rather distant through scope views. Two female Merlin put in appearance hunting in sync over the airfield, both hunting the same passerine together, one from above and the other from below, something I have never seen Merlin do before. 

A drake Smew and two Whooper Swans were nice additions to the day which has been a long time since I have seen both species and a Juv Glaucous Gull was also good to see. 

At one point I was settled in viewing the loch when this nice female Hen Harrier drifted by allowing a couple of clicks before passing through.

As the day went on the Northern Harrier began to show itself and linger around the area of the loch although never coming the right side of the loch until late in the day, however views are views and through the scope it was a rather smart well marked and contrasting bird.

Eventually as the buffeting windy day slowly began to draw in, both of the Harriers appeared around the Loch again and both were seen going in to roost. The timings were quite different as the Hen Harrier went to roost at 14:36 hrs and the Northern Harrier went in to roost at 16:14 hrs both birds roosted on the same side of the loch but perfering different habitats of the loch edge. 

"Back-of-the-NetSo that was that, manged to connect with the Northern Harrier on the first day on North Ron and so after seeing both the Harriers go in to roost and the light was fading I started to head back longing for a hot cuppa and the warmth of the Obs but did stop a few times on route, image below shows the lighthouse near Sinsoss Point.