Sunday, 27 January 2013

Caption contest...

"So, Sam, what do you reckon?"
"Er, not totally sure, but it looks like a Black-header to me"

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Iceland Gull and Digital Camera Perils

Have had some fun with the Iceland Gull hanging round Collieston in the last couple of weeks. Having aged it as a 2nd year due to the extent of grey in the upperparts I started to wonder about the possibility of kumlieni when I got these photos last week, in dull, overcast and windy conditions.
It was also puzzling to see an apparently dark eye, and not more pale in  the bill including the tip, at this age. Today however , in bright conditions, it was almost like I was watching a different bird. The pictures also look markedly different with the grey tones almost not visible in the brighter sun. Note the pale iris!

Still a very striking tail band, but not offset by a very contrasting white rump. The sandy-buff colouration in the outer primaries was barely visible today in the field or in the photos. Quite an education!
Great to see Smew again on the patch today as well.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Have I Got Smews For You!

A delightful find today - two redhead Smew on Sand Loch, a long-awaited personal 'first' for this site! They arrived late afternoon and, although flighty, remained until dusk. Sadly the light and distance weren't conducive to quality photography, but sufficient for some record shots of what is a scarce species in the area.

Two Smew on Sand Loch
This was as close as you could get!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Mid-week update...

A smidgeon of cold-weather movement this week, with a few Skylarks and the odd Fieldfare on the move. Also a pair of Redpolls unusually feeding among weed stems at Waterside car park, Forvie.

A couple of Short-eared Owls were hunting around the Forvie Centre this afternoon, with an attendant female Kestrel. We've often seen the local Kestrels mugging the Shorties for voles, with much excitable calling - is this interaction between the two species unusual?

Now's probably the time to admit that all photos in my posts are provided by my other half - thanks Rosie! Hopefully she'll get lots of nice pics of all the rare migrants we're going to find this spring...

Redpoll at Waterside, 23/1/13

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Midwinter goodies

A nice selection of wintry fare in the area this afternoon, including a photogenic flock of Long-tailed Ducks which remain on the Ythan Estuary, though sadly there was no sign of the Slavonian Grebe present on Friday.

On Cotehill Loch the pair of Whooper Swans are still present; only their activity prevented the entire loch from freezing in the week!

We took a trip around Slains looking for geese, in a vain attempt to re-find a remarkable adult Pink-footed Goose with bright orange legs and feet that I'd seen on Friday. Interestingly I saw a similar bird in the area back in 2007, and would love to think it was the same one.... but no luck today. Excellent consolation prizes were had, though, in the form of a Merlin hunting the Chaffinch flock at Feu Farm, and the long-staying white male Hen Harrier quartering the fields there. Three Fieldfare were also present at Feu.

Had a look at Collieston harbour last thing, noting the Scoter flock still offshore, and had good views of a first-winter Iceland Gull by the flagpole, despite the failing light. A fine afternoon's birding.

Iceland Gull, Collieston harbour
Long-tailed Duck, Ythan - one of c.20 birds
Whooper Swans still keeping Mallards company on Cotehill Loch

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Where's the snow?

Everywhere else seems to have got the snow, but this corner of NE Scotland has mostly escaped. There appears to be a greater concentration of gulls and geese than usual in the fields as a result, with a mass of gulls flying from inland onto the coast at Cransdale this morning.
A pair of Red-breasted Merganser were there this morning, and an Iceland Gull again. Still a small group of Common Scoter offshore there. Increased numbers of Kittiwakes in the area as well in the heavy seas.
Picture shows one of the two 1st yr Glaucous gulls at Peterhead this morning, a particularly dark bird.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Still plenty of Short-eared owls on Forvie with three flying around behind Cotehill this afternoon.

Cotehill Loch has a fine drake Goosander on it and also a Pintail.  Pintails are more usually a spring migrant, occurring most frequently on Meikle Loch.  So its an unusual sighting for the time of year.  A couple of Whooper swan are still around and a Long-tailed duck on Meikle Loch.

Some cold weather forecast so expect some interesting sightings and a few more birds in the garden.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

New Year!

There was another Iceland Gull just prior to the New year around Cransdale Head , a 2nd year this time, as good numbers of gulls fed in the sea on the debris from the recent storms.
Around the area today, the 5th, were at least 3 Short-eared Owls near the Sand Loch, a male Hen Harrier again crossing the road late on going towards Forvie NNR and a few  flocks of Common Scoter visible on the sea from Cransdale and Old Slains Castle. There are still a few Long-tailed Ducks both on the sea and the local lochs and floods. Larger numbers than usual seem to be in the area since the storms.
Long-tailed Ducks

Short-eared Owl