Tuesday, 20 May 2014

River Severn

Feeling the need for some exercise and making the most of a good weather day we decided on a 7 mile walk to Stourport and back from one of the car parks up river (Near the Safari Park) taking the camera of course just in case, although not many opportunities presented themselves

On arriving on the river side path we had only gone a few yards when a Kingfisher shot past heading, so much for sitting in a hide and waiting for one a few days earlier! No time for a photo of course. So feeling pleased with ourselves we headed on.

A Damsel fly posed:
as did a Mallard:
and a newly fledged Robin:
A bit further on we saw our first Whitethroat of the year, he did pose at the top of a distant tree but the photos are  a bit fuzzy, never mind! Other birds along the way were Buzzard, Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinch and our first Mandarin Duck (a male) swept past us on the strong river current while we were having a coffee and was gone before I could pick my camera up. We carried on had lunch in Stourport and then headed back.

In the same spot as on the way we saw the Whitethroat again, this time a little closer:
A bit further on we had another Mandarin opportunity, this time a female with ducklings:
So quite a good day, adding a Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Kestrel before we arrived back at the car. 25 species counted for the walk.

The next post will cover an impromptu jaunt top Pembrokeshire and visits to Skomer and Ramsey Islands and a fantastic NT Reserve at Marloe Marshes.

Upton Warren - Early May

The first of 3 catch ups before heading off to Scotland again!!

The first is a visit to Upton to see the first Avocet chicks, this was back on the 9th......
As we walked past the Sailing Pool we stopped for some cute views of some Canada Geese Goslings:
We settled down in the Avocet Hider and our first views were not of Avocets, but a small group of Dunlin accompanied by a Ringed Plover:
But now to the main event the Avocets:

We saw probably about 8 chicks, so well worth the visit. There were plenty of Black-headed Gull chicks around as well, much cuter than their parents and less noisy!

A Shelduck posed nicely near the hide:
and the Plovers were fairly obliging, but never got that close:
After a good spell we decided that we needed to stretch our legs so we headed off to the Moors in the hope of a Kingfisher, but as usual no such luck. The Coot and Reed Buntings did oblige though:

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Another Scotland Trip - Part 4 - Culbin Forest, Spey Bay and More Osprey!

So the Day 7 our last full day. We split up for the first part of the day, Jo & Jimmy were going fishing and we fancied a walk in Culbin Forest.

The weather was brilliant and Culbin Forest is fantastic, the trees are not so dense that you can't see anything. As first time visitors we decided to do the easy to follow 99 Trail and go to the tower that takes you up over the forest. As is usual when walking in a forest you can hear a lot but see little until we stopped for a coffee at the old gravel pond, here we had sightings of Crested-tit, Willow Warbler,
Mallard, Woodpigeon, Robin, Rook and Crow along with plenty of Butterflies. We carried on to the tower and made the climb up to be rewarded with some great views:

After another coffee and a chat with some really friendly natives we headed on. We now started seeing more birds (eventually!) but wasn't able to pet the camera on them. A fleeting glimpse of a couple of Crossbill followed by Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit, a Siskin, Chaffinch, Swallow, Martins and more Crested Tit. Just a brilliant walk, we loved it!

So we now headed over to Spey Bay and met up with Jo & Jimmy again (They didn't catch anything by the way!) We managed a couple of Common Tern to add to the list here. Again there were Merganser and Goosander about, but the highlight was another Osprey, how lucky are we! This time successfully catching a fish but losing it to a crow!

So after all the excitement we went for a bit of a walk, collecting out first Whimbrel of the year:
So that was pretty much it for the day.

Day 8 and off home, with a quick visit to out secret Osprey on the way:

Another Scotland Trip - Part 3 - Moray Coast

Day 5 proved to be a showery, windy and very cold day so we hopped along the coast stopping at various spots to see if we could find anything.

We started at Lossiemouth, but there was literally nothing apart from a few distant Shelduck and Gulls, so we headed on to Kinston on the west side of Spey Bay, the weather at this point was really rough, so we parked with a good a view as we could get across the bay and used the car as a hide.

There was Teal, Mallard, Mute Swan and some Goosander visible but everything else was hiding, although this Yellowhammer (a species that we hadn't seen for a while) stopped on some gorse by the car:
From here we headed over to the other side of the bay and even ventured out of the car, but not for long, we did add some Merganser and saw some waders flying around but that was about it. So we carried on down the coast stopping at Portgordon, Buckie, Findochty and Portknockie to see what we could find in the harbours and sea. Primarily all we came across were Eider, Cormorant, Herring Gull and some distant views of Gannets. We did see a diver at Findochty but it wouldn't stay up long enough to confirm what it was before disappearing, we know it wasn't a Great Northern, but could have been a Red-Throated or Black Throated, we will never know!

We called in at Findorn Bay and the dunes at Findorn, where we saw another Yellowhammer and Meadow Pipits, but the tide was way out in the bay so apart from easily identifiable Shelduck and Oystercatcher we couldn't confirm anything else. A shame as by now the weather had cleared, so home and a G&T for Tina and a pint of ale for me!

Day 6. We headed back to Chanonry Point today to try again for Dolphins, the weather was bright but again a strong wind so the channel was very choppy we did get some sightings though:
We stayed for a while but the views didn't get any better, so we decided to head for a couple of RSPB reserves (via Cromarty) on the Black Isle, the first stop was the wonderfully named Fairy Glen, this was a wonderful walk up through woods alongside a brook, our first bird here was a Dipper flashing past. This was followed by many sightings, we must have seen 3 or 4 different Dippers. The weather had become a bit overcast now and in the woods it was fairly dark, so the photos aren't sharp, but these are probably the best Dipper sightings we have had:

We added two Treecreepers to the list:
and a beautiful Grey Wagtail:

Other than these we did see Mallard, Wren, Chaffinch and Dunnock on the walk.
From Fairy Glen we headed to Uldale Bay where we were surprised to find a large flock of Pink-footed Geese and a single Scaup:
There were plenty of Curlew about, plus some Teal, Lapwing and a pair of Mute Swan.

There we go then, G&T and Ale time again I think.

Another Scotland Trip - Part 2 - John O'Groats

This may seem madness but it was Jo and Jimmy's Idea, but day 3 saw us abandon our lovely apartment for 1 night and head up to a B&B in John O'Groats. We had never been that far north before, so pastures new for us.

We set off early (for us) only stopping for drinks and comfort breaks, I have to say though that we stopped at Loch Fleet on the way up for coffee and really liked the place, there were Fulmar circling nearby, Eider on the Loch, Curlew, Shelduck and Oystercatcher flying around a really lovely spot. I will come back to this later as we stopped on the way back as well, as we drove off we saw a road down to a Car Park and Nature Reserve!

We arrived at our B&B at lunch time and what a B&B, fabulous! The owners were brilliant, we had our lunch on the deck looking out towards the Orkneys fantastic. I can only say if ever you are planning a stop up there it has to be The Anchorage B&B, check it out on Tripadvisor!

Anyway after lunch we headed out in glorious weather to walk to the Stacks of Duncansby. The walk is brilliant, not difficult and  the views and the birds are well worth it:

So to the birds. Well this time of year it is definitely Fulmar central:

I usually get my Fulmar 'fix' at the Farne Islands where we see perhaps a couple of dozen, but here there are Thousands, brilliant! So what else; Guillemots and Razorbills are  here too:

Then there are the Shags:
obliging Puffins:

a surprising Brambling, shouldn't you be in Scandinavia?
Hooded Crow:
Great Black-backed Gulls, Meadow Pipit, Gannets on Fly-by:
But the star of the show and a lifer for us was the Great Skuas, our first sighting was a shock it came from nowhere and flew within a few feet of our heads and I didn't have the camera ready! I managed a couple of shots as it disappeared away from us, but that's the luck of the draw! Then as we walked back along the cliff edge Jimmy spotted another on the sea, way below us:
It was happy to sit there for a while before heading off:
Then a bit further out we saw 3 Skuas having an altercation, just brilliant to watch through the bins, but way to far for even my 500mm lens. But what a result!

So back to the B&B for dinner, where we could see Wheatear, Lapwing, Curlew and Rabbits from our bedroom window. Then a great dinner of freshly caught Lobster and Crab, with Prawns, told you, not your average B&B!

Day 4, we woke up to thick fog, we had planned to go to Dunnets Head, so after saying goodbye to our great hosts we headed out, we didn't stay at Dunnets Head long the visibility was poor, the wind was gale force and it was freezing! (Did see some Fulmar and Auks but just too cold!)

We stopped in Brough Bay for a coffee, driving down a track to the old quay, again plenty of Fulmar about, a Rock Pipit, Grey Seal, Jackdaw and  a Kestrel hunting, shame the visibility was so bad:
The hunt was successful and he flow off with a mouse or a vole.

We drove back to Burghead via Thurso mainly in thick fog, stopping again at Loch Fleet, the weather had improved a little here, this time in the small NR Car Park. There was plenty about, Common Sandpiper, Shelduck, Curlew, Godwit, Red-breasted Merganser, Lapwing, Goldfinch, Coal Tit and finally just as we were about to leave an Osprey came in fishing, brilliant, sadly the Gulls drove him off.

Our last port of call was Chanonry Point near Inverness in the hope of seeing Dolphin passing through, but we had missed the tide, although we did see some Linnet in the Car Park. So into Inverness for tea before heading 'home'

End of part 2.