Blog – 2021

Birding Ecosse Blogspot

Welcome to the Birding Ecosse blog, if it is your first visit then thank you very much for dropping in!

This blog will follow all my trips and tours, so if you have been out with me recently the chances are very high you will make an appearance! Most of the pictures on the blog are my own, however if I do use third party  pictures I will have obtained their permission and will give them full credit.

It is designed to be a light hearted read to show how and where Birding Ecosse operates, so if you are thinking of booking a tour check out this Blog and my Blog Archives and then read through the Testimonials and you should get a flavour of what to expect! Great Birds, Great Scenery with Coffee and biscuits thrown in!  Please note: All  birds will have been viewed in a safe and environmentally accepted way, that is to say by using public access at all times or by the use of hides specifically erected for the observation of this species and by keeping at a  safe distance and viewing through telescopes. Remember you can keep in touch via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dslaterbirdingecosse or twitter @birdingecosse

Did you know Birding Ecosse produces a newsletter?  Get up to date news and offers first if you subscribe, check out “latest news” page for the most current publication then just select subscribe.   The newsletter is a lighthearted look at what has happened the previous months, full of Pictures and information (many that are not published on this blog page) of places we have visited, we also produce our mid month “Planned trips” mailing which gives an update of all remaining spaces available on tours.

So sit back and enjoy the read, any feedback is appreciated.

Keep safe and keep Birding

Dave

Thursday 08 August 2021

Well with restrictions lifting a wee bit life has once again entered “warp” drive and I find myself running out of time to get things done, hence the lack of blogs on this page.  So much has happened since the last blog below, many day trips, a trip to the Outer Hebrides and my usual midweek and long weekends! It has been an absolute whirlwind and so so so much fun with lots of new and returning victims, laughs, scenery and most of all birds!  I will do “catch up blogs” over the coming weeks/months but to whet your appetite here as some pictures!

The above picture is of a rogue Capercaillie, which was attacking cars on one of the main roads near to Grantown on Spey, I am glad to report it was safely captured and moved to pastures new before it became a casualty!

One of our local Slavonian Grebes, looking a tad tatty after a busy season, I am unsure if the birds were successful as I personally never saw any fledged young on my visits.  You can just see the start of its winter plumage on the lower breast just above the water line.

The female Cuckoo (Definite female as it was seen mating with two other birds!) This bird was one of three in the area of “Dipper Bridge” in the Findhorn Valley (Strathdearn) they stayed in the area for over 20 minutes giving crippling views as they fed, mated and preened on the wires.

It was so nice being back on the Hebrides and in particular driving across The Committee Road on North Uist, this Short Eared owl was just one of five seen on our pre-breakfast trip, along with and adult and Juvenile Hen Harrier it was just an amazing start to the day.

The weather may have been dull and gloomy, however a fishing Osprey brightens the day!

Saturday 19 June 2021

Well the government message to “staycation” has certainly been a success, I have been flat out on our Fixed Price day tours.

In total 18 new victims joined the Birding Ecosse family, 140 hours spent in the field, 1516 miles driven in the Flying Pig and 106 species seen, it has been absolutely fantastic being back out and about seeing cracking birds and spending time with great people.

Highlights have got to be Rose Coloured Starling (only record shots obtained of this bird sadly) Tree Pipit, 5 Slavoinian Grebes in a day, Golden and White Tailed Eagles, Watching a peregrine chick in the nest (through our Swarovski scopes) Black Throated Divers and my first visit to a seabird colony in almost two years!

Below a selection of some of the birds we saw and managed to get pictures of:

Slavonian Grebe

Rock Pipit

Ring Ouzel (Male)

Common Sandpiper

Redshank (chick)

Redshank

Cuckoo

Tuesday 18 May 2021

A quick dash out to my local loch today, more just to get some fresh air than anything else, however sitting in the hide I was delighted to get some up close shots of this Little Grebe (aka Dabchick)

 

Sunday 16 May 2021

What a beautiful morning for a walk, the first time it actually felt like summer and with the temperature rising to a giddy +14 both Lucky Lynda and myself were shedding layers very early on in the walk and talking of changing into summer plumage.

The Dava is greening up nicely and the birds beginning to get harder to photograph through the branches, but I did manage to get a few.  Hope you enjoy:

 

Reed Bunting

Whitethroat

Being the first year on “the patch” I have no real reference for how many of each species we should be expecting, however so far this year we have had 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Song Thrush and 1 Blackbird.  There are rumblings that Whitethroat numbers are down throughout the UK this year so 3 may be a healthy population! Who knows.

Sights and sounds of spring – Willow Warblers

Sitting in the sunshine having a coffee we noticed 4 Buzzards thermalling high above us, this individual was very pale, sadly I didn’t get a comparison shot of the darker birds.

A rasping song started in the sedges right in front of us and a small bird briefly took flight straight up to around 10 feet then fluttered back into cover, our first Sedge Warbler of the year and species number 71 for the list! It did show itself briefly, low down near to the water giving me the opportunity to fire off a couple of “record shots”

A very fuzzy Sedge Warbler

A very loud car driving down the Rafford Road startled this Roe Deer, it ran directly towards us before realising it was heading for a bog, it then turned, bounded across the field, jumped a fence and disappeared into the woods, it missed a couple of walkers on the road by about 20ft!

Roe Deer Buck

Our wee Tree Sparrow colony were very vocal, but yet again they were very skittish, got a couple of nice pics, but they really are hard work at times!

Tree Sparrow – I will just lay my head down here!

Walking up into the forest road we were delighted to see the first Speckled Wood butterfly, it was sitting basking on a sunny verge.

Speckled Wood – Butterfly

Not far from the Speckled Wood we encountered two quite approachable Goldcrests, the UK smallest breeding bird it can be quite difficult to catch up with, today was a lucky day!

Goldcrest

Finally as we approached the end of the forest road we had more Butterflies, a Small Tortoiseshell and a Male and Female Orange Tip, however this aged photographer was just not quick enough to get any shots, but this stunning peacock ended the day on a high as it sat feeding on some gorse flowers!

Peacock  Butterfly

Tuesday 11 May 2021

As expected with life returning to more normal times, I find myself having to schedule time to update the blog!  So here is a brief summary of what I have been up to. 

Our Dava way walks are still going well with the species list now standing at a very respectable 70 the newest pair being No 69 Swallow and No 70 Cuckoo! A really nice bird to get so close to home!

Whitethroat

The habitat on the main part of the Dava is a lovely mix of open country side, the Dava Way proper with a fantastic selection of native trees and bushes lining the path, damp fields, arable fields and historic distilleries complete with freshwater ponds. It is such a good place to wander.

Not exactly rare, but definitely uncommon were a pair of Gadwall at Dallas Dhu, 

A Male and Female Gadwall.

It was also really nice to catch up with one of my favourite summer Migrants, Sand Martin, probably 100 birds feeding over a weedy marshy area near to the distillery, it was a lovely start to the day, sitting on a picnic bench, in the sun with Lucky Lynda, cup of coffee in hand and watching and listening to these beautiful little Hirundines.

 

Treating myself to a “Highlands Birds” day tour the local Oystercatchers looked to have settled back onto territories, although with most of the pairs being either in fields or the waters edge it looks like they have not started laying yet.

 

 

Sitting in the car enjoying a nice coffee and watching Sand Martin swoop and feed over a small Lochan and Willow Warblers sang in the nearby Willow Scrub, I had the memorable experience of a Slavonian Grebe drift past, I didn’t even have to turn around in my seat as it swam closer and closer, it’s stunning Red Eye glaring away in the bright sunlight, a fantastic encounter.

Slavonian Grebe

And within the hour after an unsuccessful search for Ring Ouzel, I had another coffee and cake encounter with some very friendly Snow Buntings!!  This birding malarkey is so easy!

Coffee, cake and Snow Buntings (without leaving the car)

Other things of interest has been my first Juvenile bird of the season, usually it would be a Blue Tit or Starling, but this year it was something different, a Juvenile Stonechat!

Juvenile Stonechat – in a snow shower!

And so back to my Dava loop, the weather has been very changeable over the last few weeks, however even the smallest amount of sunshine brings the local Tree Sparrows out, they are remarkably shy normally, but this once was soaking up the rays on a rusty grain storage bin that it calls home.

Nesting Tree Sparrow

And finally and so far the Highlight for me was actually getting a picture of a Bullfinch, in good light and sporting my proper lens, that was a good day!

 

And so that is you update date with all that’s been going on, I’m back out tomorrow so please call back and see what is about.

 

Monday 03 May 2021

Had a father and daughter day today, the first in well over a year, and with the chance of purchasing some new “bird pins” there was only one place for us to head….. the refurbished visitors centre at Loch Garten!

They have massively increased the parking slots in the car park, although contentiosly thay are now allowing campers to use the car park for a “donation” not too sure how that will work out. They have left logs and branches for people to place seeds into to coax the birds closer, I was surprised to see the  Coal Tits still coming to the hand for seeds.

The renovated centre is very nice indeed, with all the internal walls taken down it is a vast open area now, the viewing windows are the same and we were lucky enough to see both the male and female Osprey on the nest, so a nice first visit.

Obviously they are working within the Covid guidelines, and everything was very well organised and clear instructions given, it felt very Covid safe.  Hopefully as restrictions relax they may think about putting up more bird feeders again, the one thing I think is a shame is that are still planning on closing during the winter, a great time for people visiting to see the Crested Tits and Squirrels etc.

The pictures below were taken with the kind permission from the visitor centre staff:

  

The last sign always makes me smile, bit selective saying only guide dogs are allowed to smoke, there was a Jack Russel in the car park gasping for a ciggie.

Wednesday 21 April 2021

An absolutely stunning morning this morning, out the door for 0630 -1 not a cloud in the sky and flat calm, fantastic to be out at this time in the morning.  Highlight was not bird related but sheep related as we saw a very newly born lamb feeding of the female sheep for the first time, lots of blood and bits around just so heart warming to see.

Feathered highlights were the Dabchick being back on Dallas Dhu pond, numerous Willow Warblers calling on the Dava Way, nice views of male Blackcap, one of two birds today, one on the Dava, one near the end of wood walk, and three separate encounters and  bullfinches, a pair at Dallas Dhy, two females and a male at the top of the forest road, and 3 Males 3 Females at the posh house near the Grantown Road.

Sadly no pictures as have been travelling light, and quite enjoying not having the weight of the camera around my neck, however here are a couple of shots from a Meadow Pipit that we had a few nights ago on a moorland drive.  Just clock that hind claw!

 


Meadow Pipit

Redshank

Redshank

Red Grouse

Red Grouse

Sunday 18 April 2021

Exciting news today with the confirmation that as of 26 April 2021 we can start our modified trips and tours again, adhereing to the Covid 19 guidance, and so with that I have set up some fixed price big day trip, available for singles or a couple withing the same bubble. Really looking forward to getting back out on the road!

“The Big Day Out”

From a rocky headland and sheltered sandy bays to beautiful valleys and Glens, via freshwater lochs and heather covered moors, join Birding Ecosse for a full day tour taking in some of the many habitats this area has to offer.

What are we looking for? Red and Black Throated Diver, Red Grouse, Golden and White Tailed Eagle, Osprey and Ring Ouzel are some of the species we will be searching for.

What’s included? Pick up and drop off at the Grant Arms Hotel, all transport and guiding, all you need to provide is a packed lunch and a sense of humour. (Sadly due to Covid 19 restrictions we cannot provide our usual tea/coffee and snacks throughout the day)

How long will the day be?  Pick up in hotel reception area at 0800 – drop off back at hotel around 17:00

How much does it cost? Cost is a fixed price of £120 for one person or £190 for two people (who must be from the same household)

How do I pay? Card, Cash or Bank Transfer, whichever is easiest for you.

How do I book? Simple, just call David Slater on 07955336955 or 01309 676720 or email [email protected]

For current guidelines, Covid 19 restrictions and Covid disclaimer please read

http://birdingecosse.co.uk/covid-19/ prior to the trip. Also please note I have received both my Covid 19 vaccines.

Thank you and look forward to meeting you.

David

Dates Available

May 2021

Monday 17 May 2021

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Friday 21 May 2021

June 2021

Friday 04 June 2021

Monday 07 June 2021

Wednesday 09 June 2021

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Friday 19 June 2021

Wednesday 21 June 2021

Friday 25 June 2021

Monday 28 June 2021

Monday 12 April 2021

It was an entertaining start to the morning where as I sat munching my toast and watching the newly arrived Osprey “Luis” one of the Woodland Trust Osprey Live webcams trying to tidy up his nest for the beginning of the season, the problem was that last night we had very low sub zero temperatures and all the branches and twigs had frozen to the nest! He gave up in the end and flew off to get some fresh mosh and sticks!

We were out the door on our usual “Dava loop” well before 07:00 and what a day it was weatherwise, -3, bright blue sky, hard frost, bright sunshine and not a breath of wind, it was glorious!

A frosty scene looking down towars the Dava Way

As we started off on the Dava Way proper, skiens of Pink Footed Geese, “honked and inked” overhead, but as we noticed last week they all seem to be flying south, (should be heading North at this time of year) 

A lot of birds were in song this morning, Wren, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blackbird and yellowhammer.  The sunny weather and lack of wind really does make a difference to the amount of birds heard.

Blackbird (top) Greenfinch (lower)

Approaching Dallas Dhu it is always busy with birds, Blackbirds and a Song Thrush lurked in the broom, Dunnocks, Wrens and Great Tits called and the resident Tree Sparrows churruped close by. A tree Sparrow came out of a vent and posed beautifully for me, if we have any artisits reading this blog feel free to paint this image. I love it with the verdigris on the metal and the shadows on the brickwork.

 

The pond held the Pair of Mute Swans, Wigeons, Teal, Moorhen and a single Dabchick, The low sun created humorous shadows of Lucky Lynda and myself.

The walk from Red House Corner and down the forest road was quite quiet, Long Tailed Tit, Coal Tit and singing Chiffchaff being the highlights.  A truly wonderful way to start the day!

 

 

Sunday 11 April 2021

To Celebrate the Loch of the Lowes Ospreys laying their first egg of the 2021 season I thought I would copy this old blog entry and even older copy of the first page of my first proper notebook, from 1977 and I was just 13!  Don’t think Chris Rose or Keith Brockie have anything to fear!

 

Today was a real blast from the past. I was going through my bookcase when I found my very first notebook, and the very first entry was this one of the Osprey at Loch of the Lowes.

I used to get dropped off by my Aunt and Uncle then they would take my parents for lunch and leave me in the hide!  Happy days!

This fieldnote was made on 20 May………. 1977!


I can still remember the excited anticipation that built for days before the visit, my parents didn’t drive so I was dependent on my Aunt and Uncle for transport, and that feeling of seeing the Ospreys would stay with me for the whole of my birding life, in fact the older I get the more I appreciate just how much Loch of Lowes has influenced me as birder and  I still get a buzz every time I an Osprey and my mind always strays back to that first visits to Loch of the Lowes and hence the Logo for Birding Ecosse.

Wednesday 07 April 2021

And so the strange birds keep on appearing, it’s the first time in years I’ve actually noticed hard weather movements of birds and strange arrivals, today was the turn of a very natty plumaged Pied Wagtail, alongside a more normal female.  A quick drive out at night for some different scenery netted us a Grey Wagtail on the River Divie.

Unusually attired male Pied Wagtail

Female Pied Wagtail

Grey Wagtail – Female

Tuesday 06 April 2021

Today’s “what can we see from the window?” comes to you in the form of six Meadow Pipits! Another strange occurrence!

The storms, cold temperatures. snow squalls and gale force winds remain in the area and seems to be wreaking havoc with the wildlife, the Ospreys at SWT Loch of the Lowes are battling on even though their nest sustained a wee bit of damage and has been covered with snow, the Woodland Trust Loch Arkaig birds have not returned yet, and who knows whats happening at Loch Garten as their last update of any kind was 12 March! (information from the relevant societies webcams, apart from Garten which for the second year remains a blank screen with no updates as to what is happening, I can only surmise no birds have returned to that nest site)

It was at lunchtime today when Lucky Lynda glanced out the living room front window and uttered those three little words I love to hear her say……. “What are you?”  as it usually means an out of the ordinary bird!  And today was indeed the six Mipits. I assume these birds are arriving rather than departing our shore like yesterdays Bramblings, but they were nice to see nonetheless, and a new garden species to boot!

Monday 05 April 2021

Well what a difference 48 hrs can make! Saturday was +16, flat calm and beautiful sunshine, last night and today -2 snow showers and gale force winds! Yesterday Lucky Lynda and myself spent time re-winter proofing the garden, putting fleece on the plants and even putting other in the shed to escape this current cold snap!   However as they say “every cloud” and all that!

I always make a point of “keeking” through the lounge blinds every morning before opening them up fully “just in case” something of interest is lurking on the feeders or in the borders.  Today my caution paid off! As I peered out at the usual Goldfinches, Siskins and Chaffinches a paler bird caught my eye, a female Brambling!! Then hold on….. there is a male, and another male, then another female……. in total nine Brambling fed and hopped in the border and on the snow sprinkled grass, what a truly amazing sight, in the garden as well!!

I did have a bit of Ying and Yang going on though, the Ying being the fact I had nine (still cant believe it – nine!) Brambling in the Garden, the Yang being I didn’t have a net up (too windy) and one of the nine birds is wearing a bit of bling!

It actually took me back in time to when I saw my first ever Brambling, I must have been around 12 years old and was making my way home for Lunch from Arbroath High School, not far from the school was what was known as “The Provosts” house, a Mansion type building with a high wall surrounding it and some very mature Beech trees in its grounds… I was always worth a glance to see if any Redwings were rooting around in the beech mast, and there, on that day I saw my first ever Bramble finch, a female and just the one.  I still can see its image vividly. Its amazing how birds trigger these memories so clearly.

Anyway back to the present day! A Lesser Redpoll briefly paid a visit, so brief in fact I didn’t get a picture, and a Pied Wagtail was also hanging around, not hugely rare but unusual enough to get its picture taken!

So all in all a great start to the day, add to this I had my first haircut since December it feels like my Christmas and Birthday rolled into one!

Still 24 hours of storms forecast, wonder what tomorrow will bring?  Stay tuned.

Saturday 03 April 2021

Up and out early doors with Lynda doing our Dava Way loop, and what a morning, crystal clear, sunny, calm and a fresh +3, stunning! The crazy thing is that tomorrow we start two or three days of storms, snow and sub zero conditions. As I type this Lucky Lynda is storing away her shrubs that have started growing in the shed letting this storm blow through without freeze drying the fresh new growth.

Birds were in full song mode today,  Goldfinch and Yellowhammer sang from trees and Greenfinches “zizzzed” away in their display flight, butterfly like wing beats and tails outspread,

Male Yellowhammer

Goldfinch

In the field just before the Dava Way we had 5 male Blackbirds in a loose group, unusual at this time of year.  On the Dava way itself a Robin was busy collecting nesting material. On the path another two Blackbirds and two Song Thrushes busily fed on the grass verges.

A Common Buzzard made a surprise appearance and landed in a tree not far from us, it drew the attention of nearly every Rook in the area and was soon hustled away.

Common Buzzard

The sun at this point was giving off a beautiful light, I had brought the bridge camera today and it was around now I wished I had brought the DSLR, but it such is life! Even the local Blackbird looked stunning and yet another Yellowhammer belting out its “little bit of bread and no cheeeeese” song.  Surprise bird for this leg of the walk was a flyby of a full breeding plumaged Male Reed Bunting!  A nice bird for the list, and on the four legged beast list a weasel ran across the path behind us! A new mammal for the walk list

Male Blackbird

A little bit of bread and no cheeeeese – Yellowhammer

Approaching Dallas Dhu the bushes and trees were alive with birds, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Woodpigeon and 3 Female 2 Male Bullfinches, this seems quite a regular spot for these, and before we started walking this loop a bird we very seldom saw. However my wanted bird for the day was the Tree Sparrows, and for once, they did not let me down. Now these birds are very skulking, not a usual Tree Sparrow Trait, just seems to be this particular colony, but today, probably because of the sunshine they were in full “look at me” mode!

Tree Sparrows – playing nice as it was sunny.

It was quite nice to stand at watch them and it gave me the first proper chance to estimate how many there were, I estimated between 15 and twenty in the  colony.  More than I had originally thought.  Then up popped a House Sparrow, which gave a good opportunity to show you the difference between the two:

House Sparrow (for comparison with the Above Tree Sparrows.

The pond seemed a bit quieter than usual, with Moorhen, Mallard,  Teal, Mute Swan and a single Dabchick present, Red House corner seemed quiet at first but then livened up with a very gruff sounding Great Tit, Blue and Coal Tits, a pair of Treecreepers carrying nesting material and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers!

Dallas Dhu in the sun

By this time we were running behind schedule (we had our Tesco delivery arriving!) so we put a step on down the forest road section, still picking up another male and female Bullfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaffs called from the willow scrub and seemed to have arrived in good numbers this year.

Female Bullfinch – showing characteristic white rump.

Final surprise of the day was a Magpie, not far from home, in fact if we had been at home it would have been a garden bird tick!  Anyway was nice to see, but hopefully not many more of them.

And so back to normal life, birding done for the day, I may have to revisit the Tree Spugs with the real camera and see if I can some better shots. Walk list now stands at 62 with today’s Willow Warbler and Magpie additions.

Spring blossom – soon to covered in snow if the weather forsecast is correct!

Friday 02 April 2021

With the Scottish Government changing the Covid 19 ruling from “Stay at home” to “Stay Local” today was the first chance I had had for checking out my ringing site (although less than 5 miles from home the law is the law)  Its always with some trepidation that you turn up at the site, but today was a very pleasant surprise and with just a couple of branches being “pruned” and one new guy needing replaced the net was up and running for 08:20

2021 off to a “flyer”

The area was quiet, as was to be expected as I stopped feeding between Covid Lockdowns so there was no draw for the birds into the area, in fact the reason I stopped feeding as I was absolutely swamped with birds, many Blue Tits! I had however said to Lucky Lynda that I may put up some Nyger feeders next Autumn to see if I could attract some Redpolls.

Sitting having a coffee there was at least 3 of Chiffchaffs calling in the area, surely one would go in the net?  Round 1 – net empty.  Round 2 – net empty, coffee finished – Round 3 and……

First Chiffchaff of the season – happy days!

The next two rounds of the nets were blank, with the net blowing ever so gently it was pretty visible, so heading back to take the net down, I saw a bird hanging at the far end, as I approached its identity was till not clear, and when I actually reached the net……. bloomin heck a Lesser Redpoll, I have not handled one of this for at least 30 years, and after saying to Lynda about the Nyger feeders it was quite bizarre!

It was chunkier than I remembered and the pink/red wad a lot brighter than when you see them in the field, but what and absolutely stonking bird!!

And so with a final Chiffchaff in the net it was time to head home, hopefully the first of many many sessions at this site for the rest of the year….. stay tuned!

Thursday 01 April 2021

***Thank You!***

Well with March completed we got the final totals for our “50 Miles in March” for the Highland Hospice walking Challenge, drum roll…….. the team walked 638 miles and reached a whopping £1004 for the hospice, thank you so much to everyone that sponsored us, it was very much appreciated, and it was great fun along the way!  Many many thanks from Lucky Lynda and myself 🙂

Lucky Lynda at our local Lochan – modelling the Hospice Sponsored Day-glo yellow boot laces!

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Grab yourself a brew and biccie and have a read of our latest Newsletter. Included this month: Updated trips and tours availability, first signs of spring, a lifer “unblocked” and the final tally of the Highland Hospice 50 miles in March challenge all on the April 2021 Newsletter available here.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Out and about early on our Highland Hospice, 50 miles in March Sponsored challenge, only 4.8 miles left to do. Beautiful Morning +3 bright sunshine, but a biting wind. “Doh” moment for me was realising that I forgotten my binos after about 10 minutes of walking! Naked birding for moi then!!

The reason I forgot my binos is that I packed the Nikon P900, the bridge camera, it is on its final final trials, and today, with the bright sunshine it proved to be “okay” it may have won a reprieve…… for now!

Hartley the Brown Hare was present in the field nearest to the Knockomie Bridge and sat up nice for a brief moment to let the P900 focus.

Brown Hare

Once again a good showing of Finches along the Dava way, Green, Gold and Chaffinch, two duelling Great Tits was something not usually seen with both birds locked in a “hover” about 20 feet in the air!  Tree Sparrows at Dallas Dhu were as elusive as ever , chirping from deep withing the broom bushes.

For once since we have started the walking the Mute Swans were off the water and nowhere to be seen, all the pond held today was a male and female Teal and a heard but not seen Little Grebe.  Once again Long Tailed Tits at the entrance to the Distillery, today’s Highlight however was the pair of Oystercatcher on the distillery roof, hopefully breeders.

Oystercatcher in breeding mode (hopefully!)

The rest of the walk was quiet, chaffinches showed well in the sunshine, and at the very end of the walk a male Yelowhammer sang out his “little bit of bread and no cheeeeese” ditty, a nice way to end the walk.

Male Chaffinch

Male Yellowhammer

Thursday 25 March 2021

A real red letter day today for Birding Ecosse. Firstly tw0 new species for the Dava walk list No 58 Sparrowhawks and No 59 Snipe, And on returning home, early afternoon, the female Osprey returned to Loch of the Lowes, fantastic news, let.s just hope the male has learned how to mate this year and to not keep the fish he brings to the nest for her to eat to himself! We can but hope, fingers crossed!

Osprey female NCO back on the nest at Loch of the Lowes SWT reserve, this is a screenshot from their live webcam at Loch of the Lowes Ospreys it really is a fascinating watch, and if you are heading North to the Highlands up the A9 this summer, why not drop in and support the Osprey Cause, it is a beautiful reserve with great hides and small but well run visitors centre (Good for a loo break and coffee, Covid restrictions permitting that is) go on, you know it makes sense!  And the good news is this will feature on Birding Ecosse’s 2022 summer itinerary

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Bright and breezy walk today for our “50 Miles in March” for the Highland Hospice in Inverness (just over 8 miles left to do 🙂 ) was a bit of a late start as Lucky Lynda had some work to do first thing. It was amazing the difference in bird song and indeed birds leaving a couple of hours later.  Still a nice day to be out and about though. (even took the camera out for an airing) First bird in the viewfinder was this Wren, warming itself in the morning sun.

The sun was shining but the keen SW wind had a biting edge to it, however the blue sky made for a nice backdrop.

Male Chaffinch

Male Pied Wagtail

The pond was fairly quiet today with only the Mute Swan pair and a couple of Wigeon. The Long Tailed Tits at “Red House Corner” put in their daily performance which was appreciated by LL and myself.

As we approached the last leg of our walk we heard the call I had been waiting for for over a week now “Chiffchaff chiffchaff chiffchaff” so a quick detour off the normal route soon had us eyes on my first Chiffchaff of 2021. So nice to hear them back on territory.

 

And as a final treat, just as we were leaving our wooded path a small band of Long Tailed Tits surrounded us, at least three carrying feathers as nesting material.just a fantastic experience, light was pretty awful for picture taking but enjoy nevertheless.

 

Monday 22 March 2021

Well what a morning! Came down for an early breakfast, switched on YouTube to check up on the Loch of the Lowes Osprey and was greeted with LM12 tidying the nest, he had brought in a wispy pine branch then proceeded to faff around with this for the next 15 minutes whilst I watched munching my cereal. A great start to the day.

Soon Lucky Lynda and myself were out on our 2 miler for charity daily walk, and heading along the beautiful Dava way, our Song Thrush that had territory at the flooded section seems to have gone rather quiet, not been heard the last couple of days, however some of the old faithfuls are still belting out their songs, the Dunnock at the bridge, The Yellowhammer just at the marshy field and the Tree Sparrows near to Dallas Dhu, LL had a Chiffchaff calling not far from the start of the track, but cloth lugs hear failed to pick it up. The field puddle at Dallas Dhu held 15 Wigeon a Mallard and Curlew today, Good numbers of Yellowhammer and Greenfinches hand around this area as well, today also had a Coal Tit and two Long Tailed Tits.

Dropping off the Dava Way and making our way across the car park, the little pond seemed quieter than normal:

Dallas Dhu Pond

Even though quieter it still help a pair of Mute Swans, Moorhens, Teal, 1 Little Grebe, Mallard and A couple of Wigeon.

However highlight was when Lynda looked up and said, that’s not a Buzzard, and she was right. As I watched the tail view of the bird it moved and twisted with each flap, the bird then banked sharply and revealed the fox red “V” tail, pale braces on the wings, a stunning Red Kite! A first for the Dava loop walk list, which now stood at 57! Not bad for being a mile of less from our house.

After a quick freshen up and coffee we headed to Elgin to get my car MOT’d and Serviced with Lynda providing back up vehicle to bring me home, en-route it seemed churlish not to call in for the Ring Necked Duck that had been picked up a few days ago, it would be a lifer for both LL and myself.  We were lucky! (sorry cannot get the video central!)

 

Sunday 14 March 2021

A fantastic 3 1/2 mile walk today, taking in the usual Dava Way and Dallas Dhu, but this time we extended the walk down the Blairs Loch Road, and even stopped off at Blairs for a coffee!

The Wind did play a part in keeping the Birdlife more subdued than in recent morning, however our friendly Dunnock was at the top of the steps at the Dava Way to greet us with its cheerful morning song,  just a small way along the track our Song Thrush and Yellowhammer kept each other company blasting out their respective songs. We just stopped for a minute and listened, bird song surrounded us, enough to make your heart sore!

At Dallas Dhu area the flooded field today held 19 Curlew and 2 Mistle Thrush, and on the Distillery pond were Mute Swans, Teal and Mallard.

The area I have dubbed “Red House” corner is always alive with passerines, and today was no different, with today a nice close up flock of feeding Long Tailed Tits providing some light entertainment.

On the approach to Blairs Loch we picked up a quick movement in one of the pine trees, as we stood our parience was rewarded with nice views of Goldcrest (new for the list)

Arriving at the loch we soon added a good few new species for the Dava loop walk! Dabchick, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye.also seen Mallard, Moorhen and a calling Buzzard!!  Patch list now 52!

 

Coffee stop at Blairs Loch

 

Saturday 13 March 2021

Our latest Newsletter containing all our tour dates for 2021/2022 now available to read here. Why not subscribe and keep up to date with special offers and what we have been doing? 

Friday 12 March 2021

0826-0926 +3.9 Bright, Sunny but recent gals and still a strong wind. 21/32 WSW 31% Cloud 984Mb

Quieter on the feeders today, Goldfinch 9, Chaffinch 2 1m1f, Feral Pigeon 5, Jackdaw 5, Greenfinch 2 1m1f, Starling 2, Blackbird 2 1m1f, House Sparrow 3 1m2f, Robin 2 (together)

Goldfinch in full song throughout the last couple of days, nice to hear.

Thursday 11 March 2021

A tropical looking Dallas Dhu.

0645 – 0805 Bright, cold Westerly wind, +6

So we get up earlier, head out earlier but get home later?! That’s what happens when two birders head out for an early morning exercise walk! Cold wind this morning so hats and gloves on all the way around the loop.

Smaller skiens of Pink Foots today, once again all heading South, Dunnock and Song Thrush both in full song, Yellowhammer Male back in same location as yesterday, nesting soon nearby?

Tree Sparrows, just 4 today in usual location at Dallas Dhu, and on the pond 1 Grey Heron, 8 Teal 4m4f, Wigeon Mf , Moorhens. Mallards.  The heron took off and headed off before landing in a nearby tree, need to explore at weekend to see if nest building.

On Forest road nice flock of Coal Tit, 4 Long Tailed Tit and two Treecreepers.

Yet another fantastic start to the day!

Wednesday 10 March 2021

The Beast back o the sunflower heart feeder today, still seems aggressive to other Goldfinch, but leaves Greenfinches and Siskins alone, very odd.

Tuesday 09 March 2021

 

Dava way looking towards Dallas Dhu Distillery

0650-0755 Dava Loop, Bright, Clear Calm. What could be described as the perfect start to the day, lovely walk (3 new species for list) the back home for freshly made Blueberry Pancakes and Maple Syrup!

Gig movements of Pink Footed Geese today, 1 Grey Lag “honking” away with them.  Bird song building up nicely, a lot more than when we started this walk last week. 1 Dunnock singing just as the steps leading down to the Dava way, and one Song Thrush in Rowan tree near to the flooded area about 300 yards up the track towards Dallas Dhu. Male Yellowhammer singing near to Song Thrush location.

At Dallas Dhu pond Wigeon 4m4f new for list, then the usual Mallards and Moorhens, 1 Grey Heron.

Red House: Nice Tit flock, Blue Great and Coal all present, plus some nice Long Tailed Tits.

Forest Road: Brilliant views of pair of Bullfinches, plus watched the male in full song. in the same area Buzzard and Jay calling, both new for the patch list.

Just a great mornings walk.

Tuesday 02 March 2021

Overcast, damp, calm, temp +7

Brilliant ringing session in the garden today, 30ft net up from 0900 to 1630. 

Total of 24 Birds caught, including 3 retraps, Goldfinch 7, Siskin 9!! All new birds! Greenfinch 3, Great Tit 2, Blue Tit 2 Coal Tit 1

Good retrap on L551463 on a Blue Tit, first ringed 15/06/20.

L551463 – Blue Tit. 

Wednesday 24 February 2021

0900-1000, 9.5, Sunny but breezy, 17-39 SSW, 98% Cloud, 1004mb

Late start today as I had a big trip out to the chemist to get my prescription!  Very quiet in the garden.

Siskin 2 1m1f, Goldfinch 4, Feral Pigeon 4. Chaffinch 1f, House Sparrow 3 1m2f, Greenfinch 2 1m1f

House Sparrows collecting fronds off the pampass grass.  Check nest box (stone) and looks like a Blue Tit has been roosting, feathers and pooh present, great news!

Tuesday 23 February 2021

0830-0930, 8.1, Dull and windy, 13-30mph, 100% cloud, 1004mb.

Lots of birds on the feeders prior to count starting, typical! at least 7 Goldfinches!

Straling 2, Goldfinch 14, Feral Pigeon 6, Siskin 6 2m4f, Greenfinch 2 1m1f, Chaffinch 2m House Sparrow 2m2f, Blackbird 1m1f, Woodpigeon 1, 

Very good numbers of birds in the garden today 14 Goldfinch and 6 Siskin, not bad!

13:00 The Beast of Kensal Green is back! The Goldfinch/Greenfinch hybrid first ringed back on 20 October 2020. First picked up by Lucky Lynda as she gazed out the window, based purely on its massive size!

13:40, The beast back and showing well, beginning to get a green blush on the breast.

 

The Beast (Right hand bird)

The beast of Kensal Green

Sunday 14 February 2021

0825 – 0925, Thaw is on!  3,6, Overcast,  8mph ESE, 1013MB, Dull.

Goldfinch 8, Siskin 4 2m2f, Chaffinch 2 2f, Robin 1, Starling 3 (all ringed), Feral Pigeon 8, House Sparrow 2

Saturday 13 February 2021

Pied Wagtail Male brief visit to Garden.

Friday 12 February 2021

0825-0925, -1.3, No new snow overnight bur ground still covered, Cold S/E wind 17-31. Sky Clear 1034mb

Siskin 4 2m 2f, Goldfinch 8, Blackbird 1f, Great Tit 1m, Feral Pigeon 4, Starling 1, Robin 1, Chaffinch 1m1f, Fieldfare 1, Blue Tit 2, Mistle Thrush 1, House Sparrow 2 1m1f, Starling 2, Greenfinch 2 1m 1f, Woodpigeon 1, 

Blue Tit male really aggressive towards Siskin and Goldfinch. Goldfinches in full display, must be the sunshine!

Mistle Thrush

Thursday 11 February 2021

0826-0926 No new snow, -11.4!!, clear, 1030mb, Sky clear.

Goldfinch 13, Feral Pigeon 6, Woodpigeon 1, Blue Tit 1, House Sparrow 2f, Starling 2 (both unringed!) Coal Tit 1, Robin 1, Greenfinch 1f, Herring Gull 4 (3 ad 1st winter) Siskin 1m 1f, Chaffinch 2M

1100 – Fieldfare in Garden, new Garden Species! Feeding on Berries next to feeders, Showing beautifully. Even when flushed returned quickly,

1250 temp -1,4.

The garden is coming up trumps today! 1M Lesser Redpoll on the Nyger and Sunflower feeders, not a common bird in the garden at all!  Red letter day for KGBO!

Male Lesser Redpoll

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Brrrr KGBO in the snow!

0830-0930, -5.6, 7cm fresh snow, calm, 1024 mb 76% cloud, cold!

Chaffinch 3M 1F, Robin 1, Feral Pigeon 3, House Sparrow 3, Goldfinch 3,  Blackbird 1,  Jackdaw 1.

Tuesday 09 February 2021

0850-0950,  -5.6 , fresh covering of snow, calm, 1019mb, 70% cloud cover.

Goldfinch 7, House Sparrow 3 (all F) Feral Pigeon 4,  Blackbird 1F, Chaffinch 2 1F 1M, Siskin 1M 1F, Greenfinch 2.

Monday 08 February 2021

Spurred on by the enjoyment on the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, I have decided to carry it on throughout lockdown, gives me something to do and will be interesting to get a good insight to the daily comings and goings in the garden.

1000 – 1100 hrs, Bright, -2.5 calm, snow flurries, 1020 Mb

Siskin 2 (1 m 1f), Goldfinch 7, Chaffinch 2 (1m 1f), Blackbird 1f,  Coal Tit 1, Greenfinch 1, House Sparrow 3 (1m 2f)      Robin 1 

Sunday 07 February 2021

A pair of Blue Tits checking out wooden nest box nearest to the shed. Would be great if they nested 🙂

Possible new neighbors this year?

Saturday 30 January 2021

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

A genuine highpoint of the Birding year, the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, where you count the maximum group size of a species in any one hour (ie not the total amount of a species seen) it is a real jump off the world hour where Lucky Lynda and myself settle down with a cuppy, binos and cameras and just enjoy our merry bunch of regulars in the garden.

Calm, Bright Temp  +0.3 Ground still snow covered.

This years total: Greenfinch 4, Robin 1, Goldfinch 6, Blackbird 3, Chaffinch 3, Wren 1, Woodpigeon 1, House Sparrow 1, Starling 2, Feral Pigeon 7, Jackdaw 2, Herring Gull 2, Blue Tit 1, Siskin 2.

A great way to start the day – The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Friday 15 January 2021

Kensal Green: 10:00 Frosty.

Good start to the day in the Garden with a Wren feeding through Lyndas plant pots on the patio.

Wren

Also present Collard Dove 1, Blue Tit 1, Goldfinch 3, House Sparrow 2, Siskin 1F, Chaffinch, Feral Pigeon 1, Robin 1 (unringed)

Thursday 14 January 2021

Kensal Green: 14:00 Overcast, Heavy Drizzle.

Blue Tit 1, Feral Pigeon 4, Goldfinch 1, Chaffinch 2M 1F, Robin 2 (1 ringed) Blackbird 1 M (Unringed)

Wednesday 06 January 2021

Dava way loop walk 09:20 -2.7

0937, Redwing near to bridge steps down to Dava way, 1x Redpoll on Birch scrub. Wren, Herring Gull, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, 18 Fieldfare.

10:00 Approaching Dallas Dhu Distillery – 15 Fieldfare 2 Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Rook, 14 Goldfinch feeding in alder tree.

Lovely place to have on my daily walk – The Historic Dallas-Dhu Distillery.

Dallas-Dhu car park: Robin, Dunnock, Coal Tit, Woodpigeon, Goldcrest

Tuesday 05 January 2021

Woodland “loop” walk up near to Fairyhill quarry (Covid 19 friendly walk) 09:30 +0.3  Bright, sunny Calm.

Blackbird, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Carrion Crown, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Common Buzzard, Jay (calling) Coal Tit

Sunday 03 January 2021

15:30 – Driving home from Inverness big gaggle of 600+ Pink Footed Geese going into roost in fields across form the “Norbord” factory on the A96.

 

Male and Female Goldeneye

Friday 01 January 2021

Always a great way to start the year, a lovely brisk walk, and this years walk took on more meaning as on 04 January Scotland was once again to be placed in full Covid 19 Lockdown, once again back to being restricted to House and Garden.

Looking out the kitchen window waiting for the kettle to boil, the first bird of 2021 was a female Great Tit (wearing a ring) closely followed by the male, usually my first birds are Herring Gulls or Feral Pigeons! But before long both Lucky Lynda and myself were togged up and standing in the car park at a local Lochan.

First thing that struck me was the amount of people there, usually fairly  quiet it looks like most of Forres had had the same though as us! (I’m not very good at space sharing 🙂 )

Walking down to the first bird hide there was quite a lot of movement in the beech and birch trees, a Common Redpoll was a very welcome bird to add so very early to the list, not a very common bird here. feeding alongside 3 Siskin, 1 Blue Tit and 4 Goldcrest, a nice little haul.  From the hide 2 Mute Swans ploughed through the thin film of ice and a Little Grebe and Male and Female Goldeneye flew in and started feeding on the open water created by the swans.

Walking around our usual loop netted a lower bird count than usual, probably owing to the amount of people, but Jay, Pheasant, Herring and Black Headed Gull all counted to the days tally, nice way to start the year.