Wednesday, 31 May 2017


We have recently come back from a weeks family holiday on Zakynthos (Zante), this definitely was not a birding holiday, plenty of sun, sea, food and the odd alcoholic beverage!!

We stayed pretty close to our villa near Beloussi with walks down to the beach side tavernas, so the only birds were what we saw as we mooched about. These were predominantly Swallows, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Collared Dove, with the odd House Martin and Swift making an appearance.

The swallows though were a delight, skimming our pool and perching in our veranda.

Tina and myself had a sight seeing drive around the island on the Thursday and we bumped into this little chap,
followed by a Woodchat Shrike a bit later on.
A few Yellow-legged Gulls were seen and while we were driving a Honey Buzzard flew by but we couldn't stop to get a better view.

On our last day this chap paid a visit to the villa,

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Worcestershire Nightingale (Croome Park)

A day out yesterday saw us at the National Trust Croome Park with then intention of going for a longish walk, it was a lovely day and much warmer than we though it would be.
As you would expect at this time of the year the Swallows and House Martins were very busy. These were our first House Martins of the year and it was great to see them swooping around and going up into their nests on Croome Court.

I didn't mange to get a pic of the House Martins, but a Swallow did oblige,

As we walked along the 'River' (I've put this in inverted commas, as it's not a real river)
we saw our first Goslings of the Spring, both Greylag and Canadas,

We did see some Reed Buntings as we progressed on our walk, along with Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Coot, Jackdaw, Crow, Buzzard and Kestrel.

We stopped for as usual a late lunch at the end of the river, where not much else was seen but plenty heard, apart from a flyover by a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

We continued our walk through a wooded path, when in a clearer area we heard Nightingales, there were at least two and were really close, but we just couldn't see them, we spent a while there listening, it was awesome. It would have been nice to see them but in this case hearing is just as good.
This was our first encounter with Nightingales in the UK, the only other place being Lesvos (So far!)

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Scotland Again - Cape Wrath and Bits and Pieces

This is the last post for this Scottish trip, but it won't be the last for Scotland this year as there is at least one more more wildlife based trip planned this year.
So on our 'Windy' Thursday explorations we added, Redshank and Greenshank to our list of birds,
 Stonechats were everywhere,
 and we came across Pink-footed Geese on a surprising number of occasions
 and another great sighting of Black-throated Diver was had.
 On the Friday the wind had dropped so after checking with John the Ferryman we drove north again and went for the ferry at 10:30. The 'ferry' only takes four people at a time and there were 15 of us, plus the mini-bus driver. While we were waiting we saw our first Sandwich Terns of the year, I didn't expect to see a Sandwich tern until we visit the Farnes in June.
 A Rock Pipit obliged us as well while we waited for John to row out and get the slightly larger boat,

 The crossing.....
Once all of us were assembled and after adding a Willow Warbler to the list, we boarded the bus for the 1 hour, 11 mile journey to Cape Wrath, where upon the weather decided to stop being nice and it rained the whole way and with 16 people in a bus the windows steamed up fairly quickly, but we did see some Red Deer and then some Whoopers in a small loch. Others on the bus saw some Red Grouse, but neither of us saw them. We eventually made it to the most North Westerly point of the UK and the rain stopped, hurrah! So we pose for a photo, where the next stop behind us would be Canada!
 Up on the point we saw thousands of Pink-foots heading to Greenland for the Summer, plus a few Redwing, Meadow Pipit, Fulmar, distant Gannet, Razorbill and Guillemot
 After an hour it was all back on the bus and the return journey, then as if on cue the rain started again! Only allowing a murky scenery shot along route,
Once back we drove up to Durness for a late lunch and a visit to Smoo Cave and waterfall.
 Then as the weather was now not very nice, wet and cold, we visited Cocoa Mountain, a brilliant chocolate shop at Balnakiel and had the best Hot Chocolate ever!!
We paid one last visit to the harbour at Kinlochbervie before going back to pack, the reward this time being another Red-throated Diver (in the rain of course!!)

 So finally on the way back home via Edinburgh, we stopped to see our faithful pair of Osprey, at first the nest looked deserted, but after a few minutes we weren't disappointed and we had about 10 minutes of decent views, a great birding end to a week in Scotland

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Scotland Again - Handa Island

We looked at the weather and Wednesday was suddenly looking better along the west coast so we phoned the ferry man Tuesday afternoon and decide to go to Handa Island, managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, what a brilliant day. We spent just short of 5 hours on the island and did the prescribed circular walk, stopping for coffees and lunch as we progressed.

When you arrive on the island after taking the 10 minute crossing on a RIB from Tarbet,
you are met by some of the wardens at the beach where they bring a gangplank for you to walk down onto the beach. They then take you up to the Visitor Centre,

where they give you a 5 minute talk about the island and of course asking you to keep to the paths so as not to disturb the breeding birds. It's best to make use of the facilities here as there is no where else to go on the island.

I suppose the star of the day for us on the island where the Great Skua, they weren't bothered by people at all, of course we kept to the paths and weren't tempted to stray to get better views or a better photo. I did take loads of Skua photos and it's difficult to pick what to put on the blog, but I will add them all to Flickr in due course, that can be accessed from the link on the menus of this blog site.
Anyway here are a few;

As we walked up from the vistor centre up to the Cliffs (about 1.5km) we flushed a pair of Snipe that were right next to the boardwalk, which was a nice sighting. At the Cliffs there is a small loch where the Skuas go to wash as can be seen above, but then you find the Fulmars,

I have a real soft spot for Fulmars, they seem to fly around the cliffs just for fun!

Of course wheres there's cliffs at this time of year there will be Razorbills,
and Guillemots.
Just behind these rocks we saw our one and only Puffin of the trip, it scurried down a burrow before I could take his photo and sadly didn't come out again. Never mind there's always the Farne Islands in June!

Once at the far side of the island we came acroos plenty of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits,  Wheatear and views!

We stopped for lunch overlooking a bay frequented by Otters, so we were told, but of course not today,
after which we carried on around the island heading back towards the visitor centre, seeing plenty more Skuas and a few other birds too

 and plenty of Rabbits,
 There were a number of Shag about, some overflying Divers,
Ringed Plover and Oystercatchers, then from the boat on our return to Tarbet a pair of Eider

I really loved our time on Handa, the weather was great, the walk was brilliant and the birdlife outstanding.