Thursday, 27 June 2013

Update (27/06/13)...

Blog has been a bit quiet lately, busy with work and on days off weather hasn't been great. Getting out and about though with the new job and getting to see lots of nice and some new places. On Tuesday I had quite a long day as I had to visit a couple sites near Strontian down past Fort William. Beautiful area with some stunning scenery. It also meant having to get the ferry for the short crossing over and as we were going across I saw a Black Guillemot in the harbour which was nice.

Visiting a site near to Tomatin yesterday and a saw a Redstart which flew across the road with that unmistakable flash of fiery orange. Always seems to happen, see a new bird then start to see them all the time, well not quite but you know what I mean.

Hopefully get out this weekend if the weather isn't too bad, last weekend was heavy rain for two days so fingers crossed.

Year List Additions:
118. Black Guillemot

Corrieshalloch Gorge on road to Ullapool

Near to Strontian.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Update (11/06/2013)...

Just a quick update, saw my first Common Whitethroat of the year today whilst out on site visit for work just South of Inverness. The bird was singing from some windblown pine trees at the forest edge. On the same site there were also plenty of Orange-tip butterflies which was nice to see and on returning to the car a Weasel ran across the road in front of me. Enjoying the good weather we have had the past week but it looks set to go downhill this weekend.

Year List Additions:
117. Common Whitethroat

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Glen Strathfarrar (09/06/13)...

Had some great weather the past few days and Saturday was no exception. My friend Luke and I took a trip to Glen Strathfarrar a place neither of us had been before. Beautiful place with some stunning scenery. Highlights included plenty of Tree Pipits in the forest, a family of Dipper on the river, Wheatears on the moorland and another Cuckoo seen being chased by Meadow Pipits. A further highlight was a lone Common Scoter on the Loch at the top of the valley.

Year List Additions:
115. Dipper
116. Tree Pipit

Large Red Damselfly
Moth caught in a Sundew

Monday, 3 June 2013

Spotfly (03/06/13)...

I took a walk down to the local Conon River this afternoon. I took a walk down the river at similar time of the year last year and I found a pair of Spotted Flycatchers near to the start of the walk which was a nice surprise (see HERE). So I went down this afternoon again to see if they had come back again this year.

The weather today was very still and mild so there definately plenty of flys for catching. I made my way along the path and soon came to the large Larch tree that had previously fallen over where I saw them last year. I hung around for about 20 mins but I didn't see anything. I carried on with my walk for maybe 2 miles and then doubled back. Whilst walking I saw plenty of common woodland birds plus a juvenile Yellowhammer, Red Kits and Common Sandpiper. Also plenty of Swallows over the river itself.

On the way back walking through an area of shadier woodland made up of alder and chock full of bluebells something caught my eye up in the canopy. It was a Spotted Flycatcher "flycatching" from a branch. I only stayed for a minute or two though before I lost sight of it. Brief but good to see they are present in the woodland at least.

Close to the end of my walk and back at the big Larch again I checked one last time just in case and after a minute or two another Spotted Flycatcher appeared sitting exactly where I saw one of the pair I saw last year. So two Spotflys seen in two locations roughly 1.5km apart. Success.

Year List Additions:
114. Spotted Flycatcher

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Bogbuie Wood (01/06/13)...

The blog has been very quiet of late. The last month or so has been one of the hardest I have experienced in many years. After returning from Poland, I have been finishing off my degree which is now very close to complete, had extensive problems to do with my car (don't ask!), seeking employment, had an operation that has put me out action for the last week or so and recently some difficult personal stuff going. So when it came to getting out there I just haven't had the time, the transport, the motivation or all of the above and I have that feeling of missing most of the Spring action although the season has been late this year and it's not too late to see some stuff going on.

My birding consisted mostly of things seen around the house which has included up to 9 Swifts screaming around the housing estate and the first young of the year in the garden which has consisted of Blackbirds and Blue Tits. Not overly exciting but still a welcome sight nonetheless.

Today (01/06) I decided to go for a walk to try and clear my head. The weather was dry and mild and I was headed to Bogbuie Wood on the Black Isle to see if I could see a bird that would be a first for me if successful.

I parked up at the entrance to the forest not far from the aerial mast at Mount Eagle and headed West along the main forest road. Shortly after exiting the car near to the first clearfelled area there was plenty to see. 2 young Bullfinches, Goldfinch, Wren, Robin, Chaffinch and Blackbird. Ten minutes walk up the very long, straight road and I started to hear Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff and shortly after I saw a Willow Warbler in funnily enough a mature Willow tree.

I was now starting to get closer to the area which I wanted to check out based on information kindly provided by Kevin over at the Highland & Moray Bird forum. As I walked further a long the road and seeing a handful of Roe Deer a clearfell appeared on my right hand side. I stopped a couple times and scanned the area. Something caught my eye over the far side of the clearfell. It took off from a tree and flew low to the ground and seemed to land just out of view. My first thought was Sparrowhawk. But this was not a predator, it was a parasite, confirmed when it was chased off by two smaller birds. It was of course a Cuckoo, the second I have seen this year having never seen one before that. It landed on top of a tall tree called a couple times and headed off away from me into the forest. Great to see but not what I had come for.

I carried on a couple hundred metres before coming to a gate to my right and a track leading off from the main forest road. I then headed down this track to the far corner of the clearfell where a group of tall, skinny Scots Pine still remained. When I got to this area it was time to slow down and keep my eyes and ears open. I didn't have much hope because I never seem to have much luck when I come to somewhere for a specific bird.

It didn't take long before I saw a flash of fiery orange fly across the track in front of me and up into the tall pines. I stopped and tried to locate the bird hoping it was not another Robin (although they are also nice to see). I picked up a bit of movement up in one of the Pines, locked my binoculars onto it and there it was, my first ever Common Redstart and a stunning male to boot. It was particularly nice to see such a bird relatively close to my home too. The bird was favouring the Pines and was fairly mobile but seemed fairly happy to stick around so I did too. I quickly found a comfortable tree stump and for the next half an hour enjoyed great views of this impressive bird. I did manage to get a couple record shots which can be seen below. It's amazing how getting out there into the forest, walking in the sun and seeing a few birds can do to improve your mood even if it makes you slightly happier for an hour or so.

Year List Additions:
113. Common Redstart (Lifer)

Male Common Redstart (Phoenicurus ochrurus)