Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Isle of Skye, November 2015 - Part 1

Due to my Labrador recovering from cruciate ligament surgery a few weeks before our holiday, I didn't get to do many walks, but it was still nice to get back to Skye and its amazing landscape.

We stayed in the Trotternish area this time, south of Staffin.

Sunday 1st November

A windy day, but I caught a glimpse of the sunrise through the clouds. Views across from the house to islands of Rona and Raasay. Also the Old Man of Storr, Storr and across to the mainland and the peaks of Torridon.

Various birds spotted: Gannets, including juvenile, Robin in garden. Pair of Buzzards on the hillside. Plenty of 'hoodies'.

Popped along the coast to view the waterfall at Kilt Rock.

Walk to Brother's Point, very windy!  Great Black-backed Gulls, Cormorants, Herring Gulls all on islet.  Rock Pipits along shore. Several Gannets flew by. Common Seals frequented the bay, popping their heads up.  Male and female Stonechats on the shore rocks.

Kilt Rock

Brother's Point
View across to Kilt Rock
Rock formation, Brother's Point
Monday 2nd

Walked up the hill by the house and spotted four Seals popping their heads up out of the water in the bay below.

Spent a few hours at the parking area by Duntelm Castle. My other half was doing the long walk to Rubha Hunish, so I stayed with our Labrador in the car, giving me the opportunity for some birdwatching.

Three Buzzards, one being mobbed by a Raven.  Gannets flying over the water, one of which twisted and turned in mid-air as if it was about to perform a dive.  The Quiraing was obscured by lingering low cloud.

Curlew flew past. Great Northern Diver. Kestrel soaring by the hillside. A Raven flew past the car and spooked a Hooded Crow!  Another Raven flew up from the shore, pursued by two Hoodies, and then soared with the other Raven.

I spotted a pair of Buzzards gliding together and mewing. One landed briefly, then took off, jumping into the wind, no need to flap its wings.  Then saw three more Buzzards circling, then five in total flying near each other.

Starlings on a wire
View to the Storr
I'll be writing up the rest of the week in further blog posts.

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

Short-eared Owls, Loch Leven (2)

I spent a recent afternoon watching the Short-eared Owls at Loch Leven.  Once again, three individuals put in an appearance.  Here are some of the photos I took that afternoon; it's a shame the weather conditions weren't brighter.

Short-eared Owl quartering the edge of Kirkgate Point
Canada Geese
Incoming Greylag Geese 
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl 
Short-eared Owl chasing off the Kestrel
- it knows the Kestrel will try and pinch it's food!
Inflight battle - Kestrel vs Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl, prey in talons
The three Short-eared Owls
Short-eared Owl
Two Short-eared Owls
And to finish, my favourite digiscoped sequence!

Excuse me Owl, please can you look this way?
Thank you!

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

Last White-tailed Eagle Watch of 2015

29th December 2015

I had an eagle watch at Loch Leven just before the end of the year. When I arrived Turquoise H was no where to be seen, but within minutes she appeared landing in one of her favourite trees.  Perfect timing!

She stayed there, swaying in the wind, for a good half an hour, before taking flight - at which point I had my digital camera hovering over the eyepiece of my scope, and managed a quick digiscope photo of her as she took off. Not the best quality image, but nice for my records!  I also spotted her on 31st December, a nice way to end 2015.

'Turquoise H' takes flight (digiscoped x100)
Before Christmas, I caught up with more of the 'Turquoise' clan, 1 and Z.  This is '1' perched atop a conifer. She hunkered down whilst streamlining herself into the strong wind.  She eventually took off and disappeared, before reappearing and soaring for a while, her white tail shining brightly in the sunlight.

'Turquoise 1' (digiscoped x38)
Perched atop a conifer
Resting after flight
Sunlit eye, yellow beak
Talons holding tight
Then you go 
Your great dark wings
Outstretched soar with ease
The sun picks out
Your bright white tail
A beacon on the breeze.

Her mate, Z, also put in an appearance, giving a good fly past - always an exciting moment when they come to you!

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