Saturday, 21 June 2014

White-tailed Eagle Ringing...

Again it's been awhile since I posted on here. Just a combination of never having the time to update things or not having the time to actually go birding. Now the dog is getting bigger and stronger and slightly more controlled when I take him out I have a chance to keep one eye on what's actually around too.

A couple miles down the river is the River Carron. It's a fairly easy going route with a good track so it's perfect for walking the dog and a bonus is that it's actually a very nice stretch of river. Over the last couple weeks I have been seeing Common Sandpiper down there making a lot of noise standing on the rocks at the river's edge or feeding from the track itself (part of the route is the old course of the river). Managed to get a couple of shots of them.

Also saw my first Swifts of the year just last week when I was through in Conon Bridge back flying over the house and screaming down the street. Nice to see as there really isn't any out here in this area at all.

My highlight of the month though or possibly the whole year or even the biggest bird highlight for me ever happened this week. One of the perks of working for Forestry Commission Scotland over here is that you get invited along to observe this year's White-tailed Eagle chicks being ringed. I went out with the lovely Dr. Alison MacLennan (RSPB), Justin Grant and Lewis Pate to observe them ringing chicks at an undisclosed location on Skye on FCS land. Also in attendance were Sarah Stephenson (local RSPB education officer) with three lucky primary school kids from Portree and a guy filming a documentary on the wildlife of Skye! So it was quite an interesting crowd.

Upon reaching the estimated area which had been recorded by Sarah who is also the WTE surveyor we first had to find which tree this pair were nesting in. After a couple minutes the female was flying over head giving fantastic views before she moved off and we located the nest tree. It was a big hairy Sitka Spruce which was going to make lowering whatever was in the nest to the ground a bit tricky.

Lewis and Justin scaling the tree.

But after a couple hours the single chick was lowered down safely and we could all have a look. I don't know who was more excited, me or the school kids. Everyone kept quiet as the camera man got some footage of the kids standing next to the bird and then Justin and Lewis starting to measure, ring and weigh the chick.

The chick is thought to be a female from the measurements taken and was a healthy weight with a nice full crop. The primary school kids named her Rio (is there a World Cup on?) and all 3 of them were in awe of the chick (as was I). I couldn't get over the size of the feet, massive!

Justin preparing the equipment.
Ringing the chick.
The bird was only the ground maybe 15 minutes and after the final weight was taken was lifted back up into the nest just as the female was back to put in an appearance. So all in all a successful morning and a great experience for me, I do love my job sometimes.

Monday, 19 May 2014

More migrants (19/05/14)....

House Martins back in numbers now. 20+ seen on the track across from the office today taking mud for nest building alongside several swallows.

Year List Addition:
74. House Martin

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Otter (17/05/14)....

Took the dog down to the shore at North Strome for a walk this morning and not only did I see an otter not 20 metres from the shore, I also had my camera and managed to get some dodgy record shots!

Not much else to report, migrants still moving into area according to Skye Birds site but I haven't seen anything new myself lately (not much time dedicated to birding lately) but I did see a Common Sandpiper fly from the shore of Loch a'Chroisg across the road on the way to Kinlochewe.

Also out doing a bit of White-tailed Eagle monitoring on Thursday with one adult seen on Raasay and two adults plus a chick in the nest in North Skye.

Year List Addition:
71. Common Sandpiper.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Marten and Gropper...

Had a great view of a Pine Marten on Tuesday morning. Driving past Achnashellach forest (seems to be quite a productive area for wildlife will have to explore more) and I had to slow down as it ambled across the road in front of me, paused for a second and jumped into the trees on the other side. My first proper clear view of a Pine Marten in the wild.

Things got even better that same evening. I stepped out into the front garden to let the pup out and heard my first ever Grasshopper Warbler reeling from the scrub literally on the other side of the road from the garden. I've heard it several times throughout the week since, an amazing noise for a bird to make, but haven't managed to catch a glimpse yet!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

More updates (27/04/14)....

I know, more updates! Blog has been quite boring of late it's turned into more a personal record for myself. Things are very busy at the moment with work and a new puppy so birding has taken a backfoot and it's only really what I see when I am out working.

Loads of Sand Martins now back at the Achnashellach colony. Quite a strange experience to drive through them as they are flying so close to the road, I'm surprised there aren't some dead on the road.

Weather here has felt like Summer for the last week and Spring has really taken off, with the migrants flooding in according to the Skye Birds website (great resource - check it out

Hearing the Cuckoo daily and finally caught a glimpse of it as it sat on top of a tree across the road. Hearing them all over the place through work also.

Although they have been back a week or so I saw my first Wheatear of the year just a couple days ago East of Lochcarron.

Tree Pipits are also back as I spotted one in display flight at Achnashellach.

Lochcarron and the surrounding area now full of Swallows too.

Pair of Osprey's also spotted back on the nesting platform near to the Grudie powerstation to the West of Garve.

Driving through Contin and then Conon Bridge I saw a Red Kite in both locations which is quite surprising considering recent events.

Year List Additions:
68. Wheatear
69. Osprey
70. Tree Pipit
71. Skylark

Sunday, 20 April 2014

More migrants (20/04)...

Absolutely stunning day again today in Lochcarron and the surrounding area. Feeling very like Summer as I spotted my first Swallow and heard my first Cuckoo of the year this evening from the house.

Year List Additions:
66. Swallow

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Nice surprise (19/04/14)....

A Barn Owl flew over the road tonight at about the height of the house which I wasn't expecting!

Year List Additions:
65. Barn Owl