Thursday, 24 April 2014

Robin Fledglings

Over the last few days I was sure the Robin pair had a family.  I could hear the noise of chicks coming from the undergrowth.  The parents were to and fro from the bird table, taking bits of fat ball away in their beaks.

Yesterday evening I was watching a rather bedraggled looking adult feeding and it went into the trees, and then I saw it's youngster on the fence, getting a feed.  The next thing, the youngster flew down onto the top of the boiler housing (I use this as a large bird table), and chirped there for a while.

This morning I could hear the young again, and spotted a couple at the bottom of the garden.

Last year it was the end of May when I first spotted one of their young, so they were much earlier this year.

© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


This morning I was reading several reports of people seeing Blackcaps around, and thought to myself how I've never seen one.

I was just eating my lunch in the garden, watching and listening to the garden birds and decided to get out the camera.  I saw what I thought was one of the Robins in the tree, it had its back to me at the time, so I took a photo, and as I did so I thought it's head looked a reddish brown but it's breast wasn't coloured.  Luckily my binoculars were within reach and I then realised what I was seeing was in fact a female Blackcap!  A male Chaffinch then promptly chased it off.

Female Blackcap
© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Great Tits: Nest Box Antics 2013

I've missed blogging over the last year but I'm trying to make an effort to do more posting now.  While I wait to see if the Great Tits have nested successfully in the nest box this year, I thought I would post up the photos from last summer.

It was the first year I had a nest box in the garden, and was very excited to see Mr and Mrs Great Tit move in.  The chicks hatched around mid-May and the first couple fledged on my birthday of all days!  The final chick left the following day.  I think there were only three chicks.  They hid away for the first couple of weeks and then they were always in the garden, and at the feeders.  Lovely to watch them.

It was also a time when I saw some interesting behaviour. The adult male spent ages at the nest box hole staring in on the first night the  young had fledged (see video below for footage).  I also saw him on the feeder and he went completely still for ages.  A short while later a Sparrowhawk flashed past the garden.

You can view a compilation video that I took of the Great Tits on YouTube here:

Photos of the adults keeping busy with food and removing faecal sacs.

The little 'uns emerge, although one wasn't so sure!

Finally, after a couple of weeks since fledging, the youngsters started to appear at the feeders.

Having a bath!

© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way. 

Isle of Mull: Day Seven - Golden and White

Friday 7th March

Our final day on the island was very windy, but bright.  I watched the waves breaking on the distant small isles, some crashing as high as the cliffs at times. Hail showers were frequent.

View across to Inch Kenneth, 'white horses' on the loch 
Waves breaking along the shore of Loch na Keal
Parked by Killiechronan for a spot of birding while Graeme took Corbie for a walk up the road.  I was grateful for being in the car as a rather violent hail shower passed over while the other two were on their walk. They got ice blasted by the strong wind!

Looking across Loch na Keal to snow-capped Ben More
Next stop was the stunning waterfall, Eas Fors.

Eas Fors
Eas Fors
After we had spent some time at Eas Fors, we drove the longer way back to the cottage to see some more of Mull's scenery.  It's a good job we did, as in the distance, against the hillside, I saw a familiar dark blob flying - yes, a White-tailed Eagle.  Thankfully, we were near a track where we could stop the car, and I got out and managed to pick it up with the binoculars, confirming my eagle hunch!  I watched as the adult eagle battled against the strong wind, getting further away, and then it turned and looked as if it was heading straight in my direction.  I was in two minds whether to down the bins and try and get a photo, but then I would likely lose track of it. So I kept watching.  It landed in a tree in a nearby conifer plantation, wings and talons outstretched, its bright white tail highlighted against the dark green, as it came into land.  Unfortunately, it sat behind the tree, and I tried to find it as we got further up the road looking back at the forest, but no joy.

Another White-tailed Eagle 'blob' for my records!
The old boats at Salen
There were plenty of Red Breasted Mergansers, Cormorants and Oystercatchers as we drove back alongside Loch na Keal.

After lunch, we decided to have one last visit to Glen Seilisdeir.  Just as I was getting into the car I heard a Tawny Owl hooting from somewhere close by.  A Raven gliding alongside the cliffs.

Parking up at Glen Seilisdeir, I spotted two Golden Eagles soaring above, one of which was a juvenile, it's white wing patches visible.

Juvenile Golden Eagle
View across Loch Scridain, hills finally clear of cloud
I heard the Tawny Owl again when we returned to the cottage.  I scanned the nearby trees for it, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, especially as they are very well camouflaged.

The following day we headed home, but not without incident as all the ferries on the Oban-Craignure route were cancelled because of the strong wind.  We were lucky enough to just make the sailing due to leave Fishnish within seconds of us arriving. They let us on and the ramp was up and we were off before I had a chance to shed a tear!  So it was home via Fort William and the joys of the A9. Hopefully, it won't be too long before I return to 'Eagle Island'.

Another Eagle hiding - Henry didn't want to go home either!

You can read my other Mull Diary Blogs here:

© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way. 
Photos copyright Karen Hartnell and Graeme Low

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Peacock Butterfly

I spotted this Peacock Butterfly in my local hills today.  It flew past and landed on nearby flowers for a while.

Peacock Butterfly
A couple of other photos I took:

Sunlight across the mossy forest floor

© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Great Crested Grebes & Other Birds - Loch Leven

I visited Loch Leven on a glorious spring afternoon recently.  I went along mainly to watch the Great Crested Grebes and saw several pairs displaying, as well as a few altercations between them!  Plenty of other bird life around as well.

Reeds at the lochside, West Lomond in the background
A patient Heron
As well as the photos below, I took a video of the Grebes which you can view on YouTube at this address:

Great Crested Grebe
Great Crested Grebes 
Great Crested Grebes doing their courtship display - the Grebe on
the right has some weed in its beak
Coot, one of many on the Loch
Mute Swan
Male Tufted Duck
Male and female Goldeneye
© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way. 

A Colourful Interlude

A few photos of some colourful characters I've spotted recently.

Female Redpoll and male Siskin enjoying the niger seed 
Male Redpoll
Yellowhammer, near Errol, Perthshire
Male Bullfinch eating the leaf buds on a tree behind the garden

 © Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way. 


I spotted a large flock of Fieldfares on my walk in the local hills this morning; a lovely, sunny day for a change!

Not a great shot, but kept it in as it gives a good idea of in-flight colouring

© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way.