Thursday, 18 June 2009

Sparrowhawk

My Great Uncle Bob, who died 6 years ago, was a very keen birdwatcher with a big video camera.We were going through his videos a couple of days ago and came across this footage of a sparrowhawk at a song thrushes nest - amazing isn't it?

video

Me and my dad went to Holywell Pond yesterday with the other wardens for a guided birdwatching event organised by NWT. It was a really good evening and a big thank you to Mike and the other birders for hosting it and keeping everyone right on their birds - fantastic.

Monday, 15 June 2009

DAY THREE OF MULL

DAY THREE OF MULL – EXPLORING THE ISLAND On the third day of this fantastic trip, we toured the island by ourselves without a guide. We did the route we had done the day before with some extras. We started the day by driving towards Craignure. We didn’t see anything on the way so we carried on our route. We got to the spot where the hen harrier was but no sign of it then. We carried on down the road until we got to a junction and we left the normal route to go down a road that eventually led to Loch Buie where we were hoping to see red-throated divers. On the way there, we saw a brown wader fly out of the grass to our right. We soon found out it was a snipe. After getting some photos, we moved on. We soon got to the coast. There were lots of little rocks for waders to sit on. We kept looking to see which waders we could see. We saw 3 common sandpipers, 10+ oystercatchers and 4 redshanks. Not much there but a lot more to come. When we arrived at the loch, we had lunch straight away on the beach next to a tree. As we ate, a pair of chaffinches came down and starting eating the crumbs. They were very tame and we soon found out why. It kept the food in its beak so we knew it must have had a nest somewhere. We watched where it went and soon found out; the nest was in the tree we were sitting under! It was hidden in the tree so no photos but we could see the babies quite well. That wasn’t the only nest we found however. When we went further along the bay, we saw a pair of oystercatchers calling loudly at us so we got back in the car and watched where they went. After 10 minutes, we saw the oystercatcher walk back towards us and sit on the pebbles. Obviously, it was a nest that we had missed so when it left the nest again, we went over to have a look. 2 eggs were there in amongst the stones and it was very well camouflaged. But what we had really hoped to see were RT Divers. After moving away from the oystercatcher’s nest, we set the scope up and scanned the loch. After 10 minutes of scanning, we eventually saw them, a pair of them in the middle of the loch. They didn’t come any closer so we moved on. Next onto the sea eagles nest. On the way there, we past some mudflats. There was a ringed plover, lots of redshank, oystercatchers, common gulls and a heron. Further down the road we saw a hooded crow and a pair of curlew before reaching the sea eagles nest. When we arrived, the female was on the nest but it soon left the nest and flew out of sight. They are really massive! After that we went back to Tobermory. We did our normal routine. Fish and Chips then to the pub! On our way back from the pub. We were told that the otter was around. We couldn’t find it so we went back. We sat down to Britain’s Got Talent the 5 minutes later someone burst in and said: “The Otter’s out!” so everyone scrambled out and sure enough there it was and this time, I had the camera! It was quite dark but I still got some shots. It was climbing in people’s boats then it began to swim towards the bridge. Everyone ran round then it swam under the bridge we were standing on so we got some magnificent views. As we were walking back a peregrine flew over to just finish off a great day! Unfortunately the trip was nearly over as we had to go the next day. But the journey home also contained some good sightings...
Adult Oystercatcher and the nest
Friendly Chaffy SandpiperCommon Snipe
Otter PeregrineSea Eagle Hooded Crow

Monday, 8 June 2009

DAY TWO OF MULL

DAY 2 OF MULL - The Safari On the first proper day of the trip, we went on a wildlife safari in hope to see golden and sea eagles, otters and hen harriers. We left the hostel at 9:30 for Craignure where we were getting picked up. The tour began at 10:30 but we left enough time to go to have a look for the black guillemots on the old pier. We did see them although they were flying in the distance. As we walked back to the car from the pier we saw some house martins drinking from a puddle with a greenfinch. Then we went back to the ferry landing to start the tour. Just as the tour started someone said “what’s that!?” and we all looked up to see a sea eagle flying along with the van. We started to go fast to try and get in front of it to get some photos but just as we got out, it flew behind the trees and out of sight. So we went on. Our next stop was a lake to look for otters. I don’t know the name of the loch but there were houses next to it. Anyway, we did see some otters but they must have been ¼ mile away! On the way back to the van we heard a cuckoo. So we all got back in the car to look for it. Then when we turned a corner, we saw it on a telegraph wire. It took flight when we came but then it came back to the wire. After watching that for 10 minutes, we went on. A bit further down the road we saw a bird of prey flying across the field, it was grey. Say no more, Hen Harrier. We all scrambled out of the car to see it and get photos. As it drifted away into the distance, we all got back in and went further along to try and see it again. While we were looking we spotted a whinchat and a willow warbler. We didn’t see it anymore sadly so we went on to see the sea eagles chicks in the nest. We got there and everyone got there scopes out to have a look. The male was sitting next to 2 chicks in the nest. We wanted to see the female come to the nest but it never did so we got back in and went to see some golden eagles. We got some distant views of some goldies but not close enough for a photo. That concluded the tour and we got dropped back at Craignure. The main highlight of the day for me was the hen harrier although the day still wasn’t over. In Craignure, we saw some house martins building nests under the eaves of houses We drove back and saw a buzzard sitting on a post eating what looks like a frog? As we drive further down the road, we saw over 6 wheatear on rocks or on posts. Just as we were nearly back, we saw a sea eagle fly over the car with some great views with some good photos. A very special day!
Buzzard on a post eating a frog? House Martin Building Nest
Hen Harrier WT Sea Eagle Willow Warbler Wheatear
Male Greenfinch

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Isle of Mull Trip 28/5/09 - 31/5/09 DAY ONE

DAY ONE: The Journey to Mull
We left the house in Whitley Bay at 8:45am on Thursday morning. We arrived in Oban harbour at 2:30pm so we had time to go and look for black guillemots. On the sea there was 2 RB mergansers, 2 mallards and 30+ herring gulls. Just when we thought there was going to be no black guillemots, a pair floated straight in front of us giving
us opportunities for photos. There were quite a distance away although still a pleasure to see. When we got on the ferry 45 minutes later, we went up on deck and saw a great black-backed gull flying along with the ship. People were feeding it crisps etc. Sadly, nothing else was seen from the deck and we didn't see a Manx shearwater like we had wanted. But never mind! When we arrived in Craignure, we looked for the pair of black guillemots there but there was no sign of them. On the way to the hostel in Tobermory we saw 3 buzzards and a few hooded crows but not much else. A bit later on that night when we were returning from the pub at 8pm(!), we saw an otter swimming under the bridge we were standing on. It sat on a rock for 20 secs about 10ft away from us. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera as we had just been to the pub but it was still a very special view!
One of the many gulls in Oban Harbour