Friday, 29 March 2013

Good drainage

A bit of good news from in the draining going on in the Slains area just now, they have cleared the drainage ditch leading from Meikle Loch. Waters pouring out currently, and the level looked to have dropped already.
For the first time in many years we might be in for a reasonable mud edge to the loch and  at last attract some waders.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A rare fine day!

Fine days have been rarer than white-winged gulls here in the last few months. Appropriate then, on such a beautiful afternoon, that an immature Iceland Gull (probably the long-stayer, but couldn't be sure) dropped in at Cotehill Loch among a mass of other gulls having a break from following the plough.

An evening walk on Forvie produced a minor surprise in the form of the white male Hen Harrier, whom I hadn't seen for weeks and presumed had moved on.

Hen Harrier. Centre of picture. Honest guv!

The week's highlight for me so far was (in patch terms) a rare sighting of a Tawny Owl - it was sat on the parapet of the Bridge of Forvie late last night as I was passing in the car. Incidentally, several Short-eared Owls are still performing well in the locality, especially around the Forvie Centre.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Springtime freeze and drainage craze

Little change in the birds available, though like so many times this winter the conditions are forcing good numbers of gulls into the local fields. Likewise a good 30 Curlew on the way into the village just now close to the road. During the week the 2nd Year Iceland Gull was at Cransdale again, and over the last few weeks the 1st year Glaucous gull has been seen on Meikle intermittently.
Sad news concerns the level of farmland drainage activity all over the Slains area this winter. Though at the moment only partially effective due to the weather, I am sure this will have a significant impact on the breeding farmland birds this Spring. Lapwing is a good example of a bird that has crashed in population in recent years and will only decrease further with this loss of habitat. Some of the pools lost so far have been present for at least a decade.
All this goes hand in hand with some of the other farming practices, Corn Bunting now down to handful of breeding pairs compared to tens some years ago.
Seems there is little to no mitigation of this destruction provided by statutory bodies...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Spring equinox. Honest!

Not that you'd know it from the snow and sub-zero temperatures....

The wait for the arrival of spring goes on. A bit of movement seems to be happening though, with two Woodcock flushed from the Forvie ternery this week, and a couple more Whooper Swans north over the estuary.

Also today, I was interested to hear from a Reliable Source that there was a lone drake Common Scoter on the estuary. This is pretty unusual - I've only seen one there in six years. Here's the photo for proof!

# "Oh I do like to be beside the Quayside..." #

Meanwhile at least one Short-eared Owl continues to patrol the rough grass outside the Forvie Centre, and the female Scaup remains on Sand Loch.

Date of first returning Sandwich Terns? Mid-May at this rate. Place your bets now....

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Light flurries of snow....buntings

For any of our readers who regularly visit the area, South Forvie is proving very reliable for Snow Buntings just now, and well worth a look. The area around the ternery (where the electric fencing is being erected prior to the breeding season) is the best bet, and has also produced Twite and a lost-looking Redpoll this week. Meanwhile, the Long-tailed Ducks on the adjacent estuary are beginning to display furiously, somehow contriving to look and sound simultaneously splendid and hilarious.

The most improbable ducks known to humankind

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Here they come!

Five Whooper Swans flew high north over the Ythan Estuary yesterday morning, heralding the onset of spring passage. Their calls have a particularly resonant, almost human-voice quality from a distance, and for me it's one of the finest sounds in the natural world.

Whooper Swan 'up close', as opposed to 'up high'

Other notable sightings this week have included a pair of Grey Partridge by the Forvie Centre - the first ones there in ages - and two Snow Buntings in South Forvie by the ternery. Also a nice selection of waterfowl on Sand Loch including one Scaup, two Red-breasted Mergansers and nine Wigeon.