Saturday, 31 March 2012

Shibdon Snipe

This evening's visit to Shibdon produced the chance to watch one of my favourite birds, Snipe.
There were nine of them in the shallows in front of the hide. The water levels are as high as I have seen them for some time so I'm presuming the levels are managed.
Their colours seem very distinct at this time of year

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Seaton Sluice, Cambois & home

I think I heard someone say it was still March. That's a bit hard to believe when you can see loads of Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterfly fluttering about.

 Large bumblebees everywhere. The Tawny Mining Bees ,  Andrena Fulva, which normally appear in the front garden mid April are here already

Have just established that this one below is the male bee

and a green Common Lizard scampered across in front of us in the dunes opposite the Astley Arms.
Its all gone mad!

Monday, 26 March 2012


Its been some  time since  I visited Weetslade so with just over an hour of daylight left I went over there this evening. A pair of Gadwall, Canada Geese, nesting Mute swans, Wigeon, Mallard, Coot showed on the water.
It was good to hear a Chiffchaff, the first for me this year.
A Buzzard called loudly from a perch in a tall tree and soon another arrived and they both flew off to another nearby perch. More Canada Geese in nearby fields and Reed Bunting in pairs.
There were many Bats out hunting as the light faded.
A very pleasant wander.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


This morning's sunshine tempted us to have a look into Wallington to see how the gardens are progressing. This has always been a bit of a hotspot for Nuthatch but over the last couple of years the numbers seem to be down. We did catch two or three brief sightings nevertheless.

Alongside the lake above the walled garden was this Robin

 and which seemed to insist on having its photo taken.
Once inside the walled garden we soon saw a Grey Wagtail although difficult to get near which is much easier later in the year

There were at least three GS Woodpecker drumming away in nearby woodland and good numbers of Chaffinch in every area we visited

 As you will expect the gardens are looking good with the spring bulb  well on

and the woodland carpet is just starting to be formed by flowering Wood Anemone. Another week and they should be in full flood.

On the way out a couple of Buzzard were to be seen close to the road

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Trip Home

Time to travel home from the Mull of Galloway and at the south end of Loch Ryan were many Scaup

and just north of the airfield about a dozen Whooper Swans with Pink-footed Geese further over the field

The plan was to call into Wigtown to see an old friend, visit a couple of bookshops and have a look down to the harbour wildlife hide.
Having, completed the first two objectives, we drove down to the harbour and I was just out of the car when Barnacle Geese started flying over from one side of the river to the other. I was beginning to think that I had missed them but they just kept coming and coming.

They were still moving by the time I reached the nearby hide. 

 It was impossible to capture the size of the movement with the camera but here is a try

Driving back along the A75 there were large numbers of goose flocks in the air

Friday, 16 March 2012

Mull of Galloway part 2

After leaving the end of the Mull we headed in the only direction possible, North.
Port Logan was the intended destination where major work is being carried out on the pub.
Although there was much activity at the top of the beach beside the pub, about a dozen Brent Geese were plodging about at the waters edge

We wandered onto the pier and recalled many past sightings from here of Basking Shark fins as they fed in the bay. Too early for any this year.
Making our way back just outside Port Logan we spotted some Greylag Geese in an adjacent field with an interesting pal

At first glance I was getting carried away thinking, is it a Snow Goose? but on closer reflection it looks too large and a bit 'Greylaggy'.

What do you reckon?

On return to Portpatrick I managed to capture this single Black Guillemot who have occupied the harbour for years. I noticed before we left that a second one had appeared on the scene.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Mull of Galloway

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to revisit the Mull of Galloway earlier this week, staying in Portpatrick for three nights. This is an area with which I am very familiar, from the days, twenty years ago, when sea angling was the life driving force and in particular a point south of Portpatrick which has to be the most productive shore angling spot in the UK. I say shore but it is at the bottom of ninety foot cliff and that's and another story.
A birdwatching visit down to the end of the Mull was top of the list although I was unsure what birds may have arrived on the cliffs. It was soon confirmed, by the noise, that there were already substantial numbers. In the main, Guillemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes  had arrived in good numbers on those impressive cliffs.
A new addition to the end of the Mull  is a superb cafe which makes spending dawn to dusk there, easy. There wasn't even a toilet there the last time we visited.
.....but back to the birds

I moved closer to a cliff edge to get a better view, while trying to concentrate on my footholds,  I heard that unmistakable Peregrine alarm call.
I looked up to see the bird flying away from me and it perched itself on a  foothold on the opposite side of the gully

I wrongly thought that would be the end of the excitement for the day, .....but that's for the next post

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

At Home

We recently saw the signs of a Sparrowhawk kill outside our front garden and the subsequent lack of birds was leading me to think that it must be putting in a few visits. Late this afternoon a male Sparrowhawk flew through the back garden and perched on the fence.

It was a bit surreal since a male Blackbird was singing its heart out at the front of the house.
The Sparrowhawk stayed for over thirty minutes and in the end was sitting there illuminated by the street light above. It made one unsuccessful drop for a mouse.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Prestwick Carr

It was just like a spring day as I wandered up the bridle path at Prestwick Carr this afternoon.Very little bird activity in the hedges unlike those along the bumpy road.
Was nearing the sentry box when I spotted a white speck midway between the bridle path and wood. So I quickened pace up to the first gate and sure enough there was a Great Grey Shrike which I understand had returned  a few days ago.
Just got the scope on it in time to see a Reed Bunting, of all things, chase it off its perch.
The Shrike relocated nearby and then I thought I could see another black and white bird next to it.
I realised I was looking at the back of a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a trunk, but well beyond the Shrike with the Reed Bunting still looking on.

Always seeking out a high viewpoint

I did watch it catch something but too small to identify

A Buzzard was perched on a bush nearby, Fieldfares fed in the field, and  a couple of Kestrels hunted most of the time I was there

No visit could be complete without a couple of owl sightings and when I returned to the goat field there were three active Short-eared Owls