Tuesday, 8 October 2013

White-tailed Eagle Sighting

A very exciting walk this morning spotting a White-tailed Eagle!

It was one of the east Scotland youngsters released in 2011, as identified by the red wing tags.  The aerial transmitter on its back was also clearly visible.  It must have been sitting in a nearby tree, and took off as we neared (we being me and dogs).  It flew towards me, then along the tree line, clearly in view in the binoculars and I was desperately trying to read the wing tag letter.  It looked like 'T' as it flicked up.  RedT has been in the area.

The eagle then rested on the hillside opposite the track, mobbed just a couple of times by two ravens before they disappeared.  I watched it for several minutes, frustrated that I couldn't make out the white letter on it's wing tag to know for sure who I was looking at.  I had watched some of the 'Reds' a few months after they had been released, back in October and November 2011 - see previous blog posts here from 1st Nov 2011 and here from Oct 2011 - so it was fantastic to get such a good view of one of them again after a couple of years. The tag looked like an 'E', then 'P' as well as 'T' so no idea if it was actually one of those individuals or another one, the tear in my eyes didn't help - emotional excitement from seeing one of the Reds or the strong wind?!

A great morning!

Here's a miniature portrait I did recently of RedP

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

A Red Kite Surprise

It was one of those unexpected wildlife encounter days today.  I had to wait in for a parcel, so I was late getting my dog out for his walk and just as I neared the place where I was going to take him, the car in front pulled into it with umpteen dogs in the car, so I decided to continue down the road to another walking destination. I'm glad I did.

The walk is a short steep hike up to a small rocky knoll.  Upon parking the car I could hear 'Noisy' the Buzzard, so called because all he/she does is make a noise almost constantly, not the usual buzzard mewing more like a gull, a sound which usually accompanies me on my walks when in the vicinity!

I was pleased to see 'Noisy' and another Buzzard soaring together and I watched them until they disappeared behind the hills out of sight, the din from 'Noisy' growing fainter as they flew.

I continued up the steep slope and stopped for a scan with the binoculars. I immediately spotted a bird with large wingspan, too big for a buzzard.  I kept watching and thought it looked like a Red Kite; distinct white underwing patches and light head visible.  As it glided and turned revealing its tell-tale forked tail, it was confirmed.

The Kite soared before finally landing on the hillside, where it preened its feathers. Outstretching it's almost two metre wingspan dwarfed a sheep that was grazing nearby. A couple of crows soon joined it, clearly unhappy by the prescence of the large raptor.  They each took it in turns to bounce up to the bigger Kite, before backing off. Then a Buzzard flew over and appeared to disperse the crows, the Red Kite took off and the crows left after getting 'buzzed' by the Buzzard!

At that moment through my binoculars I could see two magnificent birds of prey together, the Buzzard and the Red Kite.

There had been talk of a Red Kite lurking in these particular hills over the last few years, probably due to the revised management of the area, restricting sheep grazing which in turn has led to the increase in favoured food sources.  In fact, I was only talking to a fellow raptor enthusiast about it last week, but I hadn't yet seen the elusive Kite when out walking in the hills, so I was excited with today's raptor extravaganza -  there sure is a Red Kite in them there hills!

Photo of a Red Kite in Dumfries & Galloway, taken by my other half.

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Friday, 30 August 2013


I've been coming across some lovely feathers on my walks recently so started to collect them all and try to see if I can find out what bird they came from.  Being an artist, it's nice to see up close the intricate patterns on some of them. 

If I've made a mis-identification on any, please let me know.

Mute Swan - 47cm / 18" (couldn't fit it all in the scanner!)
Found along the shore at Loch Leven, Kinross-shire

Pheasant - 29cm / 11.5"
Found in the Ochil Hills
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 28cm / 11"
Found along the shore at Tayport, Fife
Black-headed Gull - 25cm / 10"
Found along the shore at Loch Leven, Kinross-shire

Wood Pigeon - 17.5cm / 7"
Found in Ochil Hills

Magpie - 17.5cm / 7"
Found in Ochil Hills
Juvenile Black-headed Gull - 7.5cm / 3"
(the pale grey hasn't shown up very well)
Found along shore at Tayport, Fife
Great Tit - 8cm / 3"
Found in my garden
Showing the scale of some of the above feathers alongside each other

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Feathers - part 2

I've collected the following feathers, but I'm not sure of the birds that they belonged to. Can anyone help? I've given sizes and where they were found.

Update 2 Sept: These have all been identified now and rather pleased with the first one!

Long-Eared Owl, secondary - 16cm / 6.5"
Found in Ochil Hills

Male Pheasant - 18cm / 7"
Found in Ochil Hills

Curlew, secondaries - 13cm / 5" 
Found along shore at Tayport, Fife

Redshank, tail feather - 7.5cm / 3"
Found along shore at Tayport, Fife
Showing the size between the above feathers.

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Monday, 24 June 2013

Crow Caught in the Act!

Caught this crow on the feeders yesterday - I had wondered what had been throwing them on the floor, especially as I haven't seen a squirrel here for a few years!

Isle of May

I recently enjoyed a fantastic trip to the Isle of May NNR.  We couldn't have picked a better day, with the sun coming out as the boat, the May Princess, neared the harbour after a not too choppy crossing from Anstruther, Fife.

During the sailing we were blessed with fantastic views of Gannets, some flew right alongside the boat, others were bobbing about in the Forth collecting seaweed.

Gannet with seaweed in it's beak heading back to Bass Rock
Puffins became more numerous as we neared the island, as well as other sea birds that nested on there.

When arriving on the island we had to run the Arctic Tern gauntlet!  The birds had chosen to nest either side of the walkway so the dive bombing terns had to be encountered to and from the boat.  Nothing like a peck in the head - so advise wearing a hat!

Arctic Tern - waiting to dive bomb us on arrival!
Puffins were out in force, I was not disappointed!  I had hoped to see one or two, but instead there were several thousand of the comical little birds all over the island!  A lovely sight.

Puffins galore!

Razorbills, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Guillemots also adorned the cliff face.

A Razorbill enjoying the warm sunshine
There were a lot of Lesser Black-Backed and Great Black-Backed Gulls around, along with Eider ducks.

Lesser Black-Backed Gull
Lesser Black-Backed Gull feeding its chicks
Great Black-Backed Gull with an unfortunate Puffin
Male Eider
After spending about 2.5 hours on the island, we made our way back through the divebombing Terns and onto the May Princess, and enjoyed a cruise around the rest of the island before heading back to Anstruther.  We saw plenty of Grey Seals and the vast Guillemot colonies, appearing to be perched very precariously in places!

May Princess in the harbour
Leaving the Isle of May

A Shag, with a leg ring, perched on the cliff face
Looking back to the island as we head back to Anstruther

 An amazing trip, lots of wildlife, and well worth doing.  I hope to return again in the future.

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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Dumfries and Galloway

9 June

Did a few walks in Dumfries and Galloway on a lovely warm summer's day (for a change!).

Saw a few new birds, a Black Guillemot, swimming off the coast, bright red legs clearly visible although not showing up so well in the photo.
Black guillemot

Later in the day we were doing a cliff walk and suddenly there was a loud swoosh sound.  My other half turned to me and said "What the **** was that?!" !  Then we saw it, a Peregrine Falcon, and then another.  It looked like a male and female.  They eventually flew back past us, and we will never forget the noise from the dive, such speed.
During the day I also saw a Whitethroat, Great Spotted Woodpecker and the usual cliff dwellers: guillemot, razorbill, fulmar and cormorants.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Wood Pigeon

Another regular visitor to my garden is the Wood Pigeon. 

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I'm lucky to have several Starlings who visit my garden like clockwork as soon as I put fat out for them.  Having just renewed the supply in the feeder, the Starlings soon appeared. I grabbed the camera and took a few photos of them.

I hope to soon have my natural feeding area sorted so that I can take photos without the feeders in the background!

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Friday, 10 May 2013

Another Male Redpoll

A new male Redpoll turned up at the feeders over the weekend.  This one has pink on the breast, the other male I've been seeing just has a red cap.  They were both there until the pink one chased the other away!

If ever I have the other camera to hand with the correct lens, I will attempt to get a better photo rather than the record shots I've managed so far.

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Song Thrush

A Song Thrush sunbathing at the bottom of the garden this morning.

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Monday, 22 April 2013


I had an exciting sighting on my bird feeders yesterday afternoon - two Redpolls (lesser), a male and a female.

I took a few reference photos, but I will try and get some better ones if I can as they are still around again today.

Male Redpoll with his stunning red cap
Redpolls: Male, rear, and female.

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Friday, 19 April 2013

Bird List 2013 (updated as and when)

I don't usually keep a list, but I thought it would be interesting to look back over my year and the species I have seen. It also gets me to look around and try and spot different birds.  It starts with my usual garden suspects, but will start to include a variety of sightings I have seen on my walks. Those marked with an asterisk are firsts for me.

  1. Robin
  2. Chaffinch
  3. House Sparrow
  4. Great Tit
  5. Blue Tit
  6. Coal Tit
  7. Blackbird
  8. Dunnock
  9. Carrion Crow
  10. Buzzard
  11. Pheasant
  12. Merlin
  13. Pink-Footed Goose
  14. Goldeneye
  15. Reed Bunting*
  16. White-Tailed Eagle
  17. Dipper
  18. Grey Heron
  19. Wood Pigeon
  20. Collared Dove
  21. Starling 
  22. Magpie
  23. Mute Swan
  24. Tufted Duck
  25. Goosander
  26. Cormorant
  27. Black-Headed Gull 
  28. Kestrel
  29. Pochard
  30. Great Black-Backed Gull
  31. Common Gull
  32. Song Thrush
  33. Wren 
  34. Goldfinch
  35. Jackdaw
  36. Mallard 
  37. Oystercatcher
  38. Shelduck
  39. Curlew
  40. Redshank
  41. Twite*
  42. Little Egret
  43. Common Crane*
  44. Whooper Swan
  45. Eider Duck 
  46. Peregrine Falcon 
  47. Red-Breasted Merganser
  48. Golden Eagle
  49. Rock Pipit*
  50. Great Northern Diver
  51. Slavonian Grebe*
  52. Pied Wagtail
  53. Redwing
  54. Greylag Goose
  55. Hooded Crow
  56. Herring Gull
  57. Great Crested Grebe
  58. Coot
  59. Teal
  60. Siskin
  61. Bullfinch
  62. Goldcrest
  63. Rook
  64. Grey Wagtail
  65. Lapwing
  66. Willow Warbler
  67. Razorbill
  68. Raven 
  69. Meadow Pipit
  70. Swallow
  71. Chiffchaff (heard several calling but couldn't actually see them among the trees!)
  72. Lesser Redpoll*
  73. Wheatear 
  74. Swift
  75. Gannet
  76. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  77. Feral Pigeon
  78. Shag
  79. Fulmar
  80. Sandmartin
  81. Turnstone 
  82. Yellowhammer 
  83. Winchat 
  84. Cuckoo (heard only) 26 May. 
  85. Osprey (1 June) 
  86. Jay 
  87. Whitethroat
  88. Black Guillemot*
  89. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  90. Kittiwake
  91. Skylark
  92. Puffin
  93. Mistle Thrush*
  94. Treecreeper
  95. Red-legged Partridge
  96. Spotted Flycatcher* 
  97. Ringed Plover
  98. Sparrowhawk
  99. Red Kite
  100. Green Woodpecker 
  101. Wood Warbler* 
  102. Common Sandpiper* 
  103. Common Tern
  104. Fieldfare 
  105. Kingfisher 
  106. Wigeon
  107. Bar-tailed Godwit
  108. Snow Bunting
  109. Stonechat

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Wildlife Sightings near Lochalsh

Photos of some of the wildlife I saw during my week in Lochalsh.  See this post for my White-tailed Eagle photos from the week.

Great Northern Divers, Loch Hourn
Red Deer Stags laying down on the hillside
Feral Goats, near Falls of Glomach
Herring Gulls
Black-Backed Gulls at Kylerhea Narrows.
Grey Seal, Loch Hourn
Rock Pipit, by Loch Hourn
Buzzard, Sandaig
Common Gull, Sand Bay near Applecross
Redwing, Plockton
Feral Goats, Kintail
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