Jump to content

OK, let's see what turns up - BY 2021


Recommended Posts

Soukous
2 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

Looking forward to hearing how you got on in Scotland  @Soukous

 

Don't hold your breath

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip, but bird-wise it was a little underwhelming.

Prior to setting off I did do quite a bit of research, bought several books and spoke to friends and guides who visit more regularly than I do.

Based on this I had a list of the places where I wanted to explore and the birds I hoped to see.

 

I have to say that almost without exception the RSPB reserves were a big disappointment, with a long list of what you 'might' see but few of them actually present.

2 birds in particular I wanted, Crossbills and Crested Tits, were apparently quite scarce this year; consequently I did not see either of them.

I did get some lifers though, which is always nice.

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 486
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Soukous

    222

  • Galana

    81

  • PeterHG

    30

  • Kitsafari

    22

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

It seems like an age since I last posted here. Family obligations managed to eat up the last part of August and the first 10 days of September. What with a wedding in Germany and then recovering

One of the things that my research did turn up is that Gotland is one of the very best places to see White-tailed Eagles and Golden Eagles. Apparently there are 55 pairs of Golden Eagles and 45 pairs

Anyway, enough of that, time to get back on track with a very stuttering BY.   This next one is definitely a record for me. Not a record I particularly wanted but a record nonetheless.

Posted Images

Dave Williams

Looking forward to your results to compare Martin.Interesting that so many of us BY folk ended up in Scotland and that the results were so varied in what we saw, or what we had hoped for and failed on! I'm waiting to see who has managed a Black-throated Diver which was top of my wish list as it was a friend of mine's. He left home after I did and I was able to get in touch and recommend a visit to Handa Island which he added to his plans. He loved the place and it was the birding highlight of his trip as well as mine but frustratingly for him he was dropped off at the ferry by his son who then happened to spot one a few metres from the road side at a small loch you have to pass on the road in and out to the ferry. Of course by the time he went back to pick his Dad up the bird was long gone. It would have taken the edge off my day that's for sure!

Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

Spectacular Gannet pictures Martin. Scotland seems to be very popular this year - rightly so. Looking forward to seeing more of your clicks there.

Link to post
Share on other sites
PeterHG

Great shots, Martin and your footage really shows what a seabird haven the cliffs are! The Barn Owl must have been a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one! Looking forward to more

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous
16 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

I'm waiting to see who has managed a Black-throated Diver

 

:D

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous
Posted (edited)

I'm very envious of those lucky folk who can spend a month on the road. The maximum I could get away for was 2 weeks, which was frustrating as while I was travelling I learned of places that I would have loved to add into my itinerary.

Handa Island is one place I had not even considered, but which I now wish I had managed to include.

 

The one thing I will say is that recommendations seemed to deliver much better results than any of the books or webistes I consulted. So many of the guidebooks list sites for birding and give a huge long list of what can be seen there, but that does not mean you'll see them.

 

My first 5 days in Scotland were spent in Galloway. It is renowned as a great place for wintering wildfowl, but is not such a great place for birding in summer. My reason for including it was that I'd never been and I needed to have more in my itinerary than birding to keep my other half interested. Although as it turned out, she didn't come anyway. :(

 

This guide from the Scottish ornithologists club gave me encouragement.

https://www.the-soc.org.uk/files/docs/local-branches/dumfries/birdwatching-in-dumfries-galloway-4th-edition-guide.pdf

 

galloway.jpg.9f0421155dda2cde8a2fe5cc98bbfe67.jpg

 

I based myself at Shawhead, close to Dumfries, and each day I made a trip to one or more of the sites they listed. Hmm.

I've marked the sites with orange dots.

 

If I wasn't looking for birds it would have been brilliant. Great scenery and - a first for me - the weather was terrific.

One thing which I really appreciated, apart from the lovely weather, was the lack of traffic. Either because it was the week before the Scottish school holidays or because no-one else was interested in the area I had most places pretty much to myself.

 

At this time of year the RSPB sites had very little to offer. Mersehead & Ken Dee in particular were a washout.

Mull of Galloway was great though. The southernmost point in Scotland; spectacular scenery, views and at least some birds.

 

My first stop was at Southerness, where a walk along the beach turned up a few species.

 

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover

 

Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis

 

Meadow Pipit

 

Meadow Pipit

 

and a Greenfinch - Chloris chloris - a specis that has been absent from our garden this year

which is # 100

Greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Soukous
Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous
Posted (edited)

Next stop for me was Mull of Galloway, the southernmost point in Scotland.

mull-of-galloway.jpg.6bf23e5a133d568b768da1fdf4fabbd2.jpg

 

The whole peninsula is very picturesque and the site itself is very tranquil. Once again, apart from 2 or 3 overnight campervans whose occupants were still asleep, I had the place to myself.

 

There was plenty of birds about too, although most of them are already in my list

 

A very vocal Song Thrush

Song Thrush

 

a very colourful Linnet

Linnet

 

and several Rock Pipits - Anthus petrosus - in some very different guises

 

#101

Rock Pipit

 

Meadow Pipit

 

Rock Pipit

 

Rock Pipit

 

Rock Pipit

 

 

Edited by Soukous
Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous
Posted (edited)

The next stop on my drive around the coast was Port Logan, where I saw precisely nothing of interest and wondered why anyone would visit the place.

 

From there I drove on to Portpatrick, which was much livlier.

portpatrick.jpg.f0288859464749b3f6be09fdad6edd59.jpg

 

The main reason for visiting Portpatrick, for me anyway, is the population of Black Guillemots that call the harbour home and which nest in the harbour walls.

black-guillemot-in-harbour-wall.jpg.433a3c7088d7517c506d1ddd2690b4c4.jpg

 

# 102 - Black Guillemot - Cepphus grylle

sure enough, they were easily found.

 

Black Guillemot

 

I followed one of them into a side lagoon where smaler boats were moored and watched it fishing.

 

Once it had caught a fish it then kept dropping it back into the water and retrieving it. I couldn't work out whether it was imply trying to get hold of the fish at a better angle to swallow it or whether it was something more complicated, but this went on for several minutes

 

Black Guillemot

 

Black Guillemot

 

Black Guillemot

 

Black Guillemot

 

Black Guillemot

 

Apart from a few gulls, there was also an Oystercatcher being very noisy and protective of its chick, which it was concealing amongst the rocks and seaweed

Oystercatcher Chick

 

From Portpatrick I continued my drive around the coast, but saw very little else of interest

Edited by Soukous
Link to post
Share on other sites
Zim Girl
20 hours ago, Soukous said:

 

Don't hold your breath

I have to say that almost without exception the RSPB reserves were a big disappointment, with a long list of what you 'might' see but few of them actually present.

2 birds in particular I wanted, Crossbills and Crested Tits, were apparently quite scarce this year; consequently I did not see either of them.

I did get some lifers though, which is always nice.

We found that just walking the forests gave us much more in sightings than the RSPB.  We saw both Crossbills and Crested Tits outside of the RSPB areas.

 

Interested in the Dumfries & Galloway section, thinking of maybe going there for a week in early October.  The Black Guillemots are a great sighting and one we wanted too.  We heard about some that nest in the harbour walls at Oban but they weren't there when we looked for them.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous
Posted (edited)

I won't bore you with a mile by mile account of my travels in Galloway, except to say that most of the places I visited were lovely, but fruitless for birds.

 

I would however recommend that if you are visiting the region you take the time to walk the cliffs at Balcary Heughs, it is spectacular - as long as you don't mind heights, because the path is narrow and does go close to the edge.

# 103 - Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus

 

Lesser Black-backed Gull

 

Lesser Black-backed Gull

 

Edited by Soukous
Link to post
Share on other sites
TonyQ

Good to see your Galloway photos (my next photos will come from there:))

We really enjoyed Mull of Galloway, and Portpatrick. I think we saw the same Black Guillemots, but you got much better photos!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous

So much for Galloway.

I had suspected that without the wintering wildfowl D&G might not bring me great rewards so I planned to spend a couple of nights in Grantown on Spey before heading across to North Uist.

 

My hopes were high as my guidebook mentioned so many sites where I would not be able to keep up with the number of species I'd see. Ha Ha.

 

Unusually for Scotland, the weather remained brilliant as I strolled through the conifer forests around picturesque lochs.

The only downside, and it was quite a big one, was that by now Scottish schools had broken up for summer and the fine weather, combined with the difficulty of travelling overseas, meant that there were people everywhere, with children dogs, kayaks, paddleboards and mountain bikes. So no chance of a peacful stroll. The birds obviously shared my sentiment and had departed for quieter places.

 

There were Warblers though. Willow Warblers in abundance and what I think might be a Wood Warbler. I won't count it yet, just in case in ain't.

 

Wood Warbler

 

i will count the next one though,

 

#104 - Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos

Loch Garten, Strathspey. June 2021

 

Common Sandpiper

 

Common Sandpiper

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous

Am early start next morning to go and see if a well known lekking site for Black Grouse was active. It was not.

 

from there I headed to a place where I hoped to catch a glimpse of some Black-throated Divers (Black-throated Loons for our North American cousins.)

 

I was in luck, sort of.

They were there, very distant (and a massive crop) but recognisable.

 

#105 Black-throated Diver - Gavia arctica

Strathspey, Scotland. June 2021

 

Black-throated Diver

 

I did see some other examples of these beautiful birds a little later on, but they were even further away. I tried taking some photos using my phone and telescope but that experiment probably won't be repeated.

 

Flush with success I went to a spot where Red-throated Divers had been seen recently but drew a blank.

 

I did however manage to score a couple of species without even looking for them as they were beside the road.

 

#106 - Red Grouse - Lagopus lagopus

Red Grouse

 

#107 - Common Gull - Larus canus

There was a spot where they cam inland in large numbers to raise their chicks

Common Gull

 

Common Gull

 

Common Gull

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
PeterHG

Lovely photos of the Black Guillemot!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous

After a quick visit back to the hotel for my breakfast  it was time to look for some more interesting species.

We don't get Dippers in our part of the country so I was very keen to see some. I had already tried several places where they had been in previous seasons, but according to members of the local birding club they were very scarce this year, as were other species that should be almost certainties, like Crested Tits & Crossbills (all 3 varieties) although it is quite possible that I was simply a few weeks too late.

 

The River Spey just outside Grantown is a great spot and sure enough I did see a Dipper. Unfortunately it was sticking ot the shadows on the far bank so light was terrible.

dipper1.jpg.840f2c40594111f67edc6f1c5d847800.jpg

 

A dreadful photo, but I'm counting it

 

#108 - Dipper - Cinclus cinclus

 

A little later on a juvenile appeared. Still not great photos but ...

Dipper

 

Dipper

 

There was also a Grey Wagtail in attendance

 

#109 Grey Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea

Grey Wagtail

 

Grey Wagtail

 

and some Goosanders sunning themselves on the rocks

 

#110 - Goosander - Mergus merganser

Goosander

 

Goosander

 

I could have had one more species but I did something really silly.

There was a female Goldeneye bobbing down the river just past the Goosanders, but for some reason I believed that I already had in in my count and didn't bother to take a photograph. needless to say I was wrong. I saw plenty of them last year, but had not recorded one for this year yet.

Lesson learned. Next time I'll take a picture anyway.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous

I also made a big mistake with the next species.

I was so excited to finally see one, and reasonably close too that I just kept shooting.

 

What I had not properly taken account of was that it was the middle of the day and the light was very harsh. This bird was very active and moving around a lot, and rapidly so I was a bit preoccupied with making sure I did not lose it.

The problem was that, because it was constantly diving its plumage was wet and gave off a terrible reflection.

I should have gone back later in the afternoon instead of wasting a couple of hours looking for eagles. Another lesson learned.

 

#111 - Slavonian Grebe - Podiceps auritus

Slavonian Grebe

 

Because it was out fishing it kept its plumage tightly compressed and the disticntive yellow tufts were not on display. :(

Slavonian Grebe

 

Slavonian Grebe

 

Slavonian Grebe

 

Slavonian Grebe

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous

Before setting off down the Findhorn river in search of eagles, I paid a quick visit to Loch Insh to see the Ospreys. The RSPB Osprey centre at Abernethy is - IMO - a waste of time. As I was nearby I stopped there but once I saw no less than 3 coaches unloading their passengers and shooing them towards the visitor centre I did not even bother getting out of the car.

Loch Insh is a much more rewarding experience.

 

The female was on the nest with young, 2 chicks I think.

As I looked for a good place from which to take photos the male flew in and brought food. He then left to perch on a nearby tree while the female took care of feeding time.

 

#112 - Osprey - Pandion haliaetus

Osprey

 

Osprey

 

Osprey

 

Next day, as my ferry to North Uist was not until the afternoon I took a scenic route from Grantown and, without having planned it, foundmyself passing Loch Ruthven, which is supposed to be a great place to see Slavonian Grebes.

Sadly though, with a family splashing baout in the water, with their kids and dog, there was little chance of the grebes being anywhere close. Also, for reasons known only to the RSPB, the hide was locked.

 

I did spot this fella in th etrees across the road though

 

#113 - Tree Pipit - Anthus trivialis

Tree Pipit

 

Tree Pipit

 

As I dawled along towards Uig, the port on Skye where I would catch the ferry I stopped off at a couple of places in search of - amongst other things - a better sighting of the Black-throated Divers.

I did see one, the youngster, but it was much too distant for a worthwhile photo.

 

Approaching Uig I started to see much heavier traffic and it looked very much like cars that were leaving the port. If that was the case, instead of being 2 hours too early for y crossing, I was in danger of missing it.

When I pulled into the waiting area for the ferry it was after the official check in time had closed. The large man in the made that very clear. "You're late".

i was, but even though I was the very last car to go aboard, I got on. Phew.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Peter Connan

Wonderful stuff from your trip Martin!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

Congrats on your 100th that was quite hidden away. 

Dull they may but I was very taken with your shots of the pipit and the song thrush as well as of the black guillemot which I think is better looking than the common guillemot. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous

would anyone care to venture an opinion on my possible Wood Warbler?

 

Wood Warbler

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
TonyQ

@Soukousa beautiful photo but I suspect it is a Willow Warbler.

The Wood Warbler is distinctly white on the chest and stomach

Link to post
Share on other sites
Dave Williams
1 hour ago, TonyQ said:

@Soukousa beautiful photo but I suspect it is a Willow Warbler.

The Wood Warbler is distinctly white on the chest and stomach

 

I thought I'd commented yesterday but now it seems I forgot to hit the post button! I thought initially it was possibly a Wood Warbler but have now changed my mind and agree 100% with Tony.

You had some good sightings all said, especially the BT Divers!! Where did you take the shot on Speyside?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Dave Williams
22 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

The Black Guillemots are a great sighting and one we wanted too.  We heard about some that nest in the harbour walls at Oban but they weren't there when we looked for them.

 

 

Perhaps you were looking in the wrong place? Although I saw a couple in the water near the harbour, the nesting sites are on the promenade directly in front of the long stay car park.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Soukous
2 hours ago, TonyQ said:

I suspect it is a Willow Warbler.

The Wood Warbler is distinctly white on the chest and stomach

:( I feared as much

Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

Beautiful photos, especially like the Guillemots and the Grebe. Congratulations on the century Martin. It's a pity I was on holiday in Scotland before I became a Birder! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy