Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Leap year birding...

Today started quite early at 5.00am when I was woken up by a bird singing very loudly outside. I got up to check it out and it was a Song Thrush sitting in the tree just outside the garden singing his heart out. I never heard bird song so loud and clear before. I spent a good 40 minutes standing in the dark with the window open listening. It was also quite worrying because it was only my first of the year.

Later on the afternoon I headed out for a couple hours. First stop was Ferry point in Dingwall. It was about an hour before high tide and there were plenty of birds about. Good numbers of Redshank with Dunlin mixed in and c30 Oystercatcher. Plenty of Wigeon with some Teal. Lot's of Common, Black-headed and Herring gulls. I headed along the path beside the old canal and there were the usual treecreepers flitting about from trunk to trunk on the broadleaves lining the footpath. Further round were a couple of Curlew, 16 Shelduck and 2 Mute Swans out on the open water. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere a few thousand geese descended on the bay. So many it was hard to count but I estimate 500 Greylag and 2000 Pink-footed. It was quite a spectacle. I tried for almost an hour to find some White-fronted or Bean Geese but they were either absent or I just didn't pick them up. I did see a Greylag with a red neck collar but it was too far away to read it. On the way back to the car I managed by second Song Thrush of the day (and year).

Pink-foots and Greylags

Second stop was the Dingwall business park to check up on the "white-winger" situation. I located the 1st-winter Glaucous but there was no sign of the Iceland gull unfortunately. A couple of interesting crows came close.
Carrion / Hooded hybrid? Comments welcome.
Last stop of the day was Recastle over on the South side of the Black Isle. Plenty of Mallard and Teal in the bay aswell as a pair of Shelduck. Large group of Common and Herring gulls on the water. But the highlight was a group of 6 Pintails including 3 impressive looking drakes. A new species for me and a nice end to the afternoon. Unfortunately I was losing light and they were too far away for any decent pictures. Just as i was leaving 4 Whooper Swans flew over the bay headed towards Beauly.

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