Tuesday, 18 December 2012

White-Tailed Eagle Watch (again!), Loch Leven

Another eagle watch at Loch Leven on Saturday 15 December, in between showers.  While the boys, White-Tailed Eagles Yellow O (from 2010 release) and Red E (2011 release), still eluded me at the loch, female Turquoise H (2009 release) was on good form yet again.

I spotted her standing on the ice, which had started to melt, and within second she took off and flew into trees on the island.  Unfortunately, she took off so quickly after I had initially spotted her that I hadn't managed to get the correct settings set up on the camera!  I took these photos anyway.

 
Minutes later, she flew out from the trees low over the loch and out of sight.  I waited, and waited, and eventually she flew back in and sat in the trees for a while.  I managed to get some photos, but it wasn't bright enough to be able to pick her up very well.

 
 
You can just make out her turquoise tag (if nothing else!) in the above photo.

Maybe one day the light conditions, weather, eagle and I will all conspire to create The photo!  But that is all the fun of watching wildlife, just never know what will happen.  On the plus side, I have got a lot of artistic research done for a possible painting or two! 

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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Loch Leven 12 December

Another visit to Loch Leven, another cold day!

I was lucky again with my Eagle spotting, but only just.  I was about to leave and turned and had one last scan with the binoculars and saw something on the ice that wasn't previously there.  I recognised it at once, the two accompanying crows dwarfed by her presence.  It was Turquoise wing tagged eagle H, the 2009 female I saw the other day, as well as on previous visits - see here.

As the temperature has struggled to get above freezing for the last couple of days, the loch was almost covered in ice.  The Whooper and Mute Swans hugged the ice-free edges, together with various ducks.

 Pink-Footed Geese
 Pink-Footed Geese
 Synchronized Swanning
 Mute Swan breaking through the ice!
 Mute Swan makes it through the ice, leaving a clear watery path behind it!
 Whooper Swans
 Heron and Robin (the new dynamic duo?!)
 White-Tailed Eagle, TurquoiseH, with a couple of crows alongside.
 White-Tailed Eagle, Turquoise H, on the ice as Pink-Footed Geese fly overhead.
 Heron and numerous ducks
 Spot the Wren!
 View over to St Serf's, late afternoon
 Whooper Swans
"That's all folks"...

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Loch Leven 11 December

Back again to Loch Leven, trying to catch a glimpse of the White-Tailed Eagles.  I did manage to see one after about an hour of waiting, but as I went to take a photo I lost it and all I got was a photo of the panicking Geese!

 Cold morning
 Ice on the loch
 Whooper swans
 Sunrise
 Mute Swans
 Black-Headed Gull
 Geese, after the White-Tailed Eagle had gone!

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Loch Leven 10 December

Photos from a visit to Loch Leven on 10th December. 

 Mute Swan
 Black Headed Gull
 Crow
 Mute Swan in pursuit!
 Kestrel
 Wren
 Mallards
 Black Headed Gull
 Teal
Mallards and Teal

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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

White-Tailed Eagle, Isle of Skye

I almost forgot another White-Tailed Eagle I saw a couple of weeks ago, 18th November to be exact.

I was on holiday for the week on the Isle of Skye, one of my favourite places, but still awaited my first White-Tailed Eagle sighting on the island.

I didn't have to wait long. Day 1 and we were on our last walk of the day and I knew there was a pair of Eagles in the area.

I scanned everywhere with the binoculars and thought I could make out the potential eagle shape in a distant tree, half a mile away.  My other half had the camera so I shouted at him to stop and get a photo with the zoom lens.  Sure enough, that confirmed my suspicion - Eagle acquired! My first Skye White-Tailed Eagle and a quadruple of sightings for me this year: west and east coast mainland, Isle of Mull and Isle of Skye!


There were two more potential sightings: one not long after we were driving home from the first, but couldn't stop the car in the layby quickly enough and the binoculars were steamed up, and of course, by the time that was all sorted whatever I had seen was long gone. The second was a dark shape soaring high above a hill late afternoon, and again we were on the road so had to find a layby to stop in and by that time it was gone.  I'm sure it was an eagle but not sure if a Golden or White-Tailed.

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White-Tailed Eagle, Loch Leven

My main purpose of visiting Loch Leven this morning was to see if I could spot the White-Tailed Eagle that had returned to the loch over the weekend.  I was predicting an eagle return, given the wintery conditions over the last few days.

As usual, I scanned the trees on the islands with my binoculars and was sure that a dark shadowy, yet familiar form I had spotted was that of the Eagle.  The sun was still to rise, so light was limited, especially when trying to spot an eagle in trees - they may be big but they're not always so easy to see!

I got confirmation that it was indeed an Eagle when I was able to see it move, and later a crow perched close by giving a great size comparison.

White-Tailed Eagle in tree, with Pink-Footed Geese flying in the distance

Having started on my 'eagle watch' almost two hours previous, and still no sign of movement from said Eagle, I was starting to consider calling it a day and returning home, as despite gloves and thermal socks, extremities were in need of some warmth!  I had my dog in tow and, as much as he's used to going bird watching with me, even he was starting to wonder if I would ever go home.

"One more look through the binoculars," I said, and then I saw the Eagle flex its wings and take off!

 
Looking for breakfast!

It flew above the Loch, soaring around an area, before flying close to the surface of the water and making a grab for it's breakfast.  It must have missed, as it continued to fly low over the loch and made a second snatch from the water, and then another - third time lucky for the Eagle.

Eagle in the background, just after it made a grab from the loch

Breakfast held firmly in its talons, it flew back to the island and disappeared from view behind the trees.  The sun was now shining upon the tree that it had earlier perched in and I wished it had returned to that same spot to eat, so that I could have seen it bathed in the early morning sun. 

Taking its breakfast back to the island

It's the first time I've seen a White-Tailed Eagle hunt in the wild (not including the distant view I had on Mull of two adults collecting the fish thrown in for them from one of the boats I could see on the loch). 

An amazing, if cold, morning.


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Goosander, Loch Leven

I'm not sure if it's "Goosander" plural or "Goosanders", either way there were a lot of them on Loch Leven this morning!

I've seen a few before on the Loch, bobbing amongst the Tufted Ducks, but never the 50+ numbers I counted today.

 

They were congregated near the Boat House marina, with a Goldeneye spotted among them, its golden gaze standing out.

Male Goldeneye


Further round the loch, a family of Mute Swans floated past, silhouetted against the backdrop of a golden sunrise.

 
Young Mute Swans


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Monday, 12 November 2012

Tree Sparrows

I've been wanting to see a Tree Sparrow for sometime, but I've never been lucky ... until now!

I was walking along the Loch Leven Heritage Trail on Saturday morning and saw a couple of birds fly off from a nearby tree, landing close behind us.  I trained the binoculars onto them and was very excited to see two Tree Sparrows.  They were on my 'Birds I Want to See in 2012' list - I wonder if I'll be just as lucky with the Waxwings?!


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