Sunday, 28 April 2013

Lochdon, Mull

Well here we are on Mull, since we stopped last year the cottage has had Wifi installed, so a quick post is called for.

We arrived at about 4.30 yesterday afternoon after a great scenic drive over Glencoe from Edinburgh.

On the loch in front of the house aMale Goosander drifted quietly by so a great start and we hadn't even unpacked the car! After unpacking we sat with a well earned cuppa looking out over the loch as the tide came in, the result:

Goosander, Shelduck, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Starling, House Sparrow, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Chaffinch, Robin, Hooded Crow, Blackbird, Great Tit.

Some divers that in the fading light were to far away to identify, a raptor flew through but the sighting was fleeting an possibly a Twite. So a good start.

Sorry no pics as I can't get them to my iPad.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Water of Leith

Well it's Friday and after finishing work, (working from our daughters flat in Edinburgh) we went for a walk along the Water of  Leith from Stockbridge to Leith.  The weather was mixed, ranging from sunshine, hail, to pouring rain, but my wooly Albion hat kept my bald spot warm!

So as this is a birding blog, I had better mention some birds!

It's quite surprising what you can find in the middle of a city. We even achieved a year tick, our first House Martins. The total list:

House Martin, Grey Heron,  Willow Warbler, Grey Wagtail, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Blackbird,  Song Thrush, Robin, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, House Sparrow, Lesser black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Goldfinch, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon & Moorhen.

So tomorrow we set out again heading for Mull, hopefully to bag some Eagles, Otters, Divers and much much more we hope. No Internet access where we are staying, so will write it up when we get back.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Attenborough Nature Reserve

On Saturday we had arranged to meet some friends that we met in Sri Lanka last year. The chosen venue was the Attenborough Nature Reserve (Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust). We had been trying to get together for ages and finally managed it.

It was great to see Wendy & Tim  again and have a proper catch up instead of swapping emails. With the added bonus of being on a nature reserve as well!

This was our first visit to the reserve, which is pretty extensive and has a good variety of habitats, so anything was on the cards. We really liked the layout with lots of good walks it also has a very good Visitor Centre with shop and cafe. The weather was glorious, but the only down side was that with the weather being great and being not far from Nottingham City Centre it was packed! People, Dogs and Bikes everywhere, this meant that the hides were very busy and quite noisy when one is used to the more sedate hides at Upton or most RSPB hides for that matter. So as a general bit of advice if you want to visit I would suggest avoiding the weekends. We elected to take a circular walk around the reserve, in our case we chose a 3 mile walk.

The start of the walk produced our first Willow Warbler for the year, followed quickly by a Chiffchaff, so a good start, a Dunnock in excellent voice gave me our first photo opportunity:

The lakes seemed to lack variety, but we picked up Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Teal Canada Geese, Coot, Moorhen and so many Great Crested Grebes they were impossible to count:
We did get our first Little Ringed Plover of the year, this is a distant record shot:
A Willow Warbler then posed:
followed by a Blackcap, who just wouldn't keep still for a photo. We saw many Blackcaps but I didn't manage a photo of any! Ah well, seeing is the main thing! I do put a lot of pressure on myself to get a decent photo, but as you all know birds don't know that and don't care!

As we continued the path led us between one of the lakes and the River Trent, this is where most of the Greylags were congregating, but we did spot a Common Sandpiper on the river bank, again a distant photo:

The reserve boasts a Heronry, that we didn't find, but did see plenty of Herons about as we walked. The next highlight was a Sparrowhawk whistling over our heads which was a bonus.

We eventually made it back to the Visitor Centre where we encountered what was for me the highlight of the day, 3 Red Crested Pochard, this was only our second ever sighting, the first being in Norfolk last year and at some distance, this was a little closer:
Prepare to dive:
So off to the Visitor Centre for a bite to eat and a cuppa!

Suitably refreshed we set out again for another slightly shorter walk past the sailing club, looping around back to the Trent, just after we set off, a Middle Eastern Surprise in the form of 2 Egyptian Geese:
Just after this we came across a couple of Arctic Tern skimming the sailing lake, another year tick. I didn't expect to pick those up until we go to the Farnes in June. So after that the only additional bird picked up on this loop was a Kestrel, but all in all a very nice walk.
We finally ended back at the Car Park (£1.50 all day and entrance to the reserve is free), found a bench and  had a a final cup of tea and a chat before heading home.

The last additions here was a solitary Gadwall gliding past, some Long Tailed Tit and a Song Thrush going through its full glorious repertoire! Our total count for the afternoon was 40 species, but this included 10 year ticks, so that was fabulous.

Finally thanks to Wendy & Tim for a great day out and looking forward to meeting up again.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Are You Local?

Sorry to repeat myself but another very busy week, we didn't do any birding the weekend for various reasons, but I did manage to get out at lunch time and take a walk to Warrens Hall along the canal.

Now I had high hopes following the Warrens Hall and Bumble Hole thread on Bird Forums as although nothing mega there sounds like there was plenty about.
The walk along the Canal resulted in what you would expect, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Canada Geese, plus Blackbird, House Sparrow, Dunnock and Crow in the hedges rows.

Once I arrived at Warrens Hall, first spot was a Grey Heron on the fishing pool:
I stopped for a Coffee at the Visitor Centre (A bargain at 60p!) then proceeded over the canal, suddenly everything disappeared! I hardly found a thing, A Chaffinch, more Blackbirds and a couple of Gulls:
I wandered around the reserve for a while, I heard a few birds and a call a didn't recognise (not surprising I'm pretty useless at calls, but this was one I hadn't heard before) it was only a few feet away, but I just couldn't find it! So frustrating!  It then went quiet, so I presume it had moved on.

Anyway just about to head off back to work, when I heard my first Chiffchaff of the year and even managed to track it down:

So that was it....

When Tina came home though we went for a walk around Haden Hill again plenty of Birdsong but very few sightings, the highlights being two Buzzards flying together over the trees and a pair of Nuthatches calling to each other, here's a poor shot of one of them:

That's all folks


Friday, 12 April 2013

It's been a while

I haven't posted for over a week things have been a bit hectic with work so just haven't had time!

Last weekend we did a Saturday afternoon National Trust visit to Hanbury Hall not far from Upton. We had a coffee to set us up then wandered around the estate, highlight being a flock of Redwings down in a copse on the edge of the estate, didn't get any decent photos as they were well in the trees and in the shade, but very enjoyable none the less. Plenty of Blackbird, Blue & Great Tit, Chaffinch, Crows, Wood pigeons etc. A flight of 5 Teal flew over us heading towards the masts, so I guess they were on the way to Upton.

There were also some Pheasant wandering around, it was a very pleasant couple of hours. We walked on up the hill to the Church, first time we had done this in all the times we have been there, the views are brilliant, well worth it. The walk up there took us through the a field full of Sheep with Lambs, so an obligatory cute photo is required:

So back to the car, where we saw more Redwing and a Jay. So pleased with that. We hadn't left ourselves a lot of time, but we sneaked in 45 minutes at Upton the way home. We went to the Moors and chose the wrong hide as the sun was shining directly at us, didn't think, so only one photo of note: 'Makin BHGs':

So, the usual culprits:
Great Crested and Little Grebe, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, mallard, Canada Goose, Cormorant, BHG, LBBG, Herring Gull, Snipe (just the one), Coot, Cormorant, Kestrel, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Long Tailed Tit.

The Garden has been more interesting this week, with rare visits for us of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Long Tailed Tit and a first for the garden a very brief visit by a  Goldcrest. We also now have a pair of Magpie building a nest in the Leylandii at the bottom of the Garden, but sadly our 3 bird boxes, whilst being checked out are at the moment empty!

The pond has burst into life, its a frog orgy down there, it's rapidly filling up with frog spawn, so interesting times ahead!

Don't know yet what we are doing this weekend, depends on the weather!  But we do have a trip coming up to the Attenborough NR in Nottinghamshire to meet some friends and the at the end of the a month a long awaited return to Mull, cant wait to see the Eagles again and this time hopefully get some better views of Otters.