Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Well I have finally finished college, the work load got pretty intense towards the end but it's all done now and I can look forward to the Summer (if we ever get one) and planning for Finland at the end of August.

First of all an update on the situation in the garden. The Blue Tits that is wrote about HERE hung on for a couple weeks after and I saw adults coming and going but it was fairly irregular and finally I think they gave up as nextdoor's cat was too much for them. One morning I opened the curtains to the cat sat on top of the nextbox with it's paw in the hole. I would be lying if I said I didn't hate the damn things.

The small area of wildflower planting that I carried out a few weeks back is doing ok but again half of it is still looking pretty bare because the damn cat keeps shitting in it and digging it all up. Maybe I can persuade it somehow to go play nearer to the main road.

There have been plenty of young birds around and feeding in the garden including, Rooks, Starlings, Dunnocks, Robins, Blackbirds, Greenfinch, Sparrows, Great Tits and Chaffinch.

Young Starling
It's also nice to see up to 12 Swifts at a time over the house and Red Kites being mobbed by Common Gulls is a frequent sight now as they are protecting their chicks at the small breeding colony down near the Conon River.

With college finished for the year it was nice to have the time to go for a walk yesterday (18/06). The weather has been fairly miserable lately with the last couple weeks being very gloomy with lots of drizzle, definately nowhere near as much rain as parts of the South however.

I decided to take a walk down at Ferry Point and along the shoreline as it is a good couple months since I had been down there and as you can imagine quite a lot has changed. I decided to park at the small carpark as you come into Dingwall and walk down the path between two fields for a bit of a change.

As I walked down the path towards the shoreline I didn't really see much apart from plenty of Cow Parsley and a couple of Blue Tits. When I got to the bottom of the path there some clumps of Thrift or Sea Pink (Armeria maritima) at the top of the bank looking quite good in the sun.

Armeria maritima
I found a nice place to sit for a few minutes and scan out accross the water and the sandbanks as the tide was out. Quite a few Lapwings flying about and the usual Herring and Common Gulls. A large bird came flapping into view on the far side of the water. It landed whilst pushing a Herring Gull away from a fish that it had not long caught. It was an Osprey and it was now happily eating a free lunch but too far away for a picture. I made my way right along the top of the grass bank and I could hear plenty of Willow Warblers and spotted a few Greenfinch and Goldfinch in the Birch trees.

A bit further along there were 2 or 3 Sand Martins flying low over the water and back and forth to the steep bank where the earth has been eroded away and where they are nesting. I tried hard to get a decent picture but they were just too quick.

The best of a bad bunch.

Three swans then swam round the corner and into view, making their way towards the central sand bank. My first thought of course was Mute Swan but they didn't look right and a quick check through the bins revealed them to be 3 unseasonal Whooper Swans. One of them was was ringed with a metal ring on the left and a yellow darvic ring on the right but it was too far away to read it.

I carried on further round where the path heads away from the shore and round the back of small reed bed. Chaffinch, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Swallows were seen on the way with various Gulls and Carrion Crows. I walked behind the reed bed across a small bridge over a stream and round to the otherside. Whilst crossing the bridge which goes under and through some dense small trees I heard a bird calling loudly and repeatedly. As I looked around I managed to spot it, it was a Common Whitethroat and it was only a few feet away giving fantastic views. The call was very harsh and scolding and it jumped about from branch to branch calling continuously. It looked like a young bird to me.

Common Whitethroat.

There was also a family part of Wrens in the same tree giving good views but far too fast for a decent photo. I carried on further admiring the Bluebells and Lesser Stitchwort (can you tell I have been doing flower ID quite a lot recently?) and out into the open. I stopped for awhile to scan around and spotted a lone Oystercatcher. I noticed some pretty dark rain clouds in the distance so I decided to turn back. Just before I did I spotted a large bird coming towards me and I knew it was an Osprey. The bird flew right over my head and I managed to get a few record shots. One thing that surprised me was just how long the wings in relation to body size.

Heading back round to the reed bed I could hear a Reed Bunting calling and after a couple minutes a male hopped out of the dense reeds to sit at the top of one giving great views but just out of range for my camera although I did try.

Male Reed Bunting
As I made my way back towards the turn back through the fields another scan of the firth produced a group of Canada Geese a first for the year and part of the group that regularly spend their summers around the Cromarty Firth whilst they go through their moult. I counted a total of 36 overall.

On the last stretch back to the car I noticed a small bird up ahead fly up and over into the ditch that runs alongside the path. When I got a little bit closer I could see it was a male Common Whitethroat with a beakful of insects but it flew off pretty quickly.

Overall it was a very nice walk and well spent could of hours. It was nice to see the changes since I last visited and some new arrivals in terms of birds. Let's just hope the decent weather continues for awhile at least.

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