Thursday, 27 February 2014

WTE Monitoring (27/02/14)....

So far the new job is going well, I'm enjoying it and the guys (there are no woman at my office) I work with are a good bunch. There have been days that have been enjoyable and days that have been a bit of a slog, especially with the weather we've had recently. But today was one of the days where I absolutely love my new job.

Today's task was to check out various sites where White-tailed Eagle have previously nested on FC ground and monitor and record any activity. Of course we were headed to Skye and the morning started off quite well with a couple of Fieldfares spotted at the road side. Nearer to the first location (of which I will be divulging none I'm afraid), and there were plenty of Hoodies about and a few Ravens. We were roughly half a mile from the nesting location headed to a vantage point on higher ground. After a brief shower of hailstones we found a spot to settle down and look across the glen. After about 15 mins I spotted the first WTE coming in off the sea and landing in almost the exact spot where there was a nest last year, success. It was visible through bins but even better through the scope but soon hopped out of site and we didn't see it again. Whilst we waited awhile for a second look a flock of about 20 Crossbills landed in the trees about us giving great views.

Another location was checked afterwards but no signs there so we headed off to the third site. By now the sun was out and it was a pretty nice day. Again we parked up about half a mile from the nest site but it wasn't long before I spotted the 2nd WTE of the day flying up and over the hill to the right of us which was then followed by another which appeared to be a sub-adult going by the white tail which still had a black band along the bottom edge. I did manage to get a couple distant photos.

White-tailed Eagle
Both eagles didn't hang around long and they were off over the hill and out of sight but we decided to have some lunch and hope that they came back again. They didn't unfortunately but whilst finishing my lunch something caught my eye coming over the hill to the left. It was headed our way and once it came a bit closer it turned out to be a Golden Eagle this time. Again it appeared to be a 1st-winter / sub-adult type bird going by the white tail with the black band and the obvious white patches on the wings. We watched it as it was first mobbed by two Ravens, then two Hoodies and finally a Buzzard had a pop. By then the eagle was a bit pissed off and turned and flipped 180 degrees to have a pop back at the Buzzard above it. Did get a photo again but again it's not the best.

Golden Eagle

Year List Additions:
53. Fieldfare
54. White-tailed Eagle

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Quick update (20/02/14)....

Weather has been pretty miserable all week here but a small flock of Common Crossbills spotted at Glen Udalain brightened up the afternoon yesterday.

Year List Additions:
51. Common Crossbill

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Loch Reraig (WeBS) (16/02/14)....

The weather was bright, sunny and still which was slightly different to the weather throughout the week that ranged from heavy snow and blizzards to gale force winds and torrential rain so I took the break in the weather to head out.

I decided to head out to an area known as Loch Reraig which is only about 5 miles West of here which looked like an interesting walk but also to scope out a potential new Wetland Bird Survey that I may take on!

The walk started at Leacanashie up through mixed broadleaves and shortly after up through mixed conifers up the top of the hill which afforded some awesome views of a snow capped Applecross peninsula and then down to the Reraig burn, around the edge of Loch Reraig and back around the coast passing through Ardaneaskan and back to the start with good views over to Plockton to the South. Just a short loop walk of about 5 miles or so.

Loch Reraig is a small sea loch and the tide was out by the time I reached it. Quite a few birds about and already looking more interesting than previous WeBS areas (although they did have their own appeal). I spent awhile there watching and counting and ended up with the following:

Goosander x 10
Oystercatcher x 6
Curlew x 3
Mallard x 2
Greylag Goose x 2
Common Gull x 1
Herring Gull x 3
Great Black-backed Gull x 1
Grey Heron x 2
Hooded Crow x 4

It is an interesting little bay and sea loch, a manageable size and fairly close to home so it looks like a good candidate. Unfortunately there is so many areas out here that never get surveyed so you can almost choose your own which is a very different situation, understandably, from back over on the East.

Some other species to add to the year list were a Woodcock that I flushed in the forest at the top of the hill, Siskin of which a large group was hanging around gardens at Ardaneaskan as well as a lone Mistle Thrush and several Shag that were spotted off shore. That takes me to 50 for the year at mid February. Not bad but not great either!

Well worth the walk and it stayed dry the whole time so I can't really complain!

Year List Additions:
46. Greylag Goose
47. Woodcock
48. Siskin
49. Mistle Thrush
50. Shag

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Golden Eagle (13/02/14)...

Working up near Glen Brittle, Skye this afternoon produced my first sighting of Golden Eagles this year, a pair spotted flying over the Glen at the base of the Coullins covered in snow!

Year List Additions:
45. Golden Eagle

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Well I have re-located to Lochcarron in the West Highlands due to work and have now been here for just over two weeks. For anyone who knows me knows I have managed to gain a permanent job with Forestry Commission Scotland based at the Achmore Outstation near to Plockton.

As I mentioned before the birding and wildlife possibilities here are almost overwhelming nevermind the landscapes so I am very pleased as I absolutely love the West coast so it is a bit of a dream to now be based here.

Haven't had much time to do much exploring yet as it's been pretty hectic but I have been able to see a bit of the area and visited Loch Kishorn a couple of times and the Applecross peninsula so there is a few year list additions.

So hopefully when things settle down there will hopefully be some interesting stuff to report soon.

Year List Additions:
30. Hooded Crow
31. Raven
32. Jackdaw
33. Little Grebe
34. Oystercatcher
35. Teal
36. Mallard
37. Goosander
38. Goldeneye
39. Whooper Swan
40. Cormorant
41. Redshank
42. Great Black-backed Gull
43. Great Northern Diver
44. Eider

The Five Sisters of Kintail (07/02/14)