Sunday, 25 February 2018

Attingham Park, Shropshire

Our winter visit to Attingham for the Snowdrops and a lovely walk took place on Thursday, it was a bit of a dull and cold afternoon, but the Snowdrops still looked fantastic and there were plenty of birds about too. Hoever they were all pretty camera shy, or I was just to slow to get a shot.

At least the Snowdrops don't move, perhaps I should ditch birding for 'flowering' !

I did manage one bird photo!
The back of a Treecreeper!

We did see quite a few birds on our walk though...
Blue Tit
Carrion Crow
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Grey Heron
House Sparrow
Long-tailed Tit
Mute Swan
Pied Wagtail
Song Thrush

So not bad at all!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


After a week on the west coast of Scotland, we had a brilliant weekend in Edinburgh with our daughter, before travelling north and stopping in Tomintoul for 5 nights. The weather was pretty good for the drive up, and we stopped at the Lecht for a few minutes, just in case there were any Snow Buntings. We found one on one of the buildings.

We then carried on to Tomintoul, but once we had checked in, the weather turned and the roads were closed behind us, so for a few days we couldn't visit our usual haunts on the east side of the mountains.

Luckily the west side roads were open, with care....

It was all very pretty though.
Our first destination was Abernethy Forest and the RSPB Loch Garten, for Crested Tits and whatever else we could find..
Crested Tits Galore!

and at least 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker,

There were a couple of Treecreeper about too..
plus plenty of Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch;
Coal Tit,
Female Chaffinch and
 Male Chaffinch.

No Red Squirrel this time at Garten.. never mind.

The weather thwarted us on day two, we tried to negotiate Findhorn Valley, but there was a blizzard blowing and some of the drifts on the single track road were looking serious even for our Land Rover, so we turned around half way to the end. We did see quite a few Red-legged Partridge down there, but with the weather, I couldn't open the window to get any photos.

Day three we attempted to get up over the Lecht to the Braemar side, but even though some of the snow gates were open (to let the skiers up to the Lecht) as we went further we heard that a gate ahead of us had been closed due to drifting, so we turned around and went for plan B.

We drove back through Tomintoul and down to RSPB Insh Marshes, by the time we got there the weather was fairly miserable again, but we settled down in the viewpoint 'hide' for a couple of hours.
We didn't see that much as most of the wintering water fowl that should be there had disappeared.

Some Wigeon put in a brief appearance and there were about a dozen Whooper Swans over the far side of the marshes, but the main activity was on the feeders in front of the window,
where we saw our first Siskin of the year

 As you can see the Whoopers were very distant, these are two more flying in to join their mates.

We also saw a couple of Roe Deer through the trees, then just as we were leaving a Brown Hare turned up..

On our last day all the roads were open, so we had to decide where to go and we plumped for Glen Muick as we fancied a bit of a walk in a beautiful place.

We were well rewarded for our efforts, near the visitor centre we happened across a Red Squirrel, we had never seen one here before and we have been many times over the years,
then as we walked on in to a frosty head wind, with lots of ice under foot, we stopped to admire some Red Deer on the ridge.

As we were admiring the Deer a Snow Bunting came and landed next to us, so close that I had problems focusing the camera on it with my 500mm lens on, but I did manage a couple of shots;

The Red Grouse were also behaving well today,

As we completed our circular walk, we also had a Buzzard fly through the Glen,
the to our surprise we came across at least four Stonechat near the bridge on the approach back to the visitor centre.

So we stopped there for a bit to watch and have a coffee, I haven't mentioned coffee yet, but this was our second on the walk! We hoped that from the bridge we might see a Dipper, and with the way things were today, two turned up. Albeit quite distant, one either side of the bridge.

We finally made it back to the visitor centre, where we had a late lunch (and more coffee). We had another surprise there with a number of Rabbits about and a Red-legged partridge running through the yard. This was followed by six Black Grouse flying through, so a very productive walk, in a brilliant place.

After Glen Muick, we drove through Braemar and up to Glenshee, where we saw at least 200-300 Red Grouse flying in the valley, a number of Mountain Hare and more Snow Bunting around the top  car park at the Ski Centre.

It was very murky up the top of Glenshee and with all the skiers, it was bit like wacky races!
So that conclude our first Scottish trip of the year!

Pine Marten Video

As an after thought here's a bit of video.....

Scotland West Coast, Lochaber Area and Pine Martens!

We decided to explore somewhere new in Scotland this winter and stay on the coast, west of Fort William at Glenuig. This is in the Lochaber area.
Our main reason was to book a particular cottage where we were told that Pine Martens visit regularly, whilst the cottage didn't have all the mod cons we would normally like it would be worth it if we saw Pine Martens.
Was it worth it? I should say so we saw them every night, at least 3 different ones, judging by the spot markings on their chest and even two in the garden at the same time. I even managed some OK photos!

 oh! and a Badger as well!

Birding in the area wasn't as easy as our usual haunts, but we did find a few;
Great Northern Diver,
 Red-breasted Merganser
 and Tufted Duck

Plus as you might expect, plenty of Red Deer;
We did get a glimpse of a Golden Eagle over one of the ridges around Loch Sunart, way to far for a decent photo, so I didn't even try.