Saturday, 25 February 2017

Kinver and the invisible Yellow-browed Warbler!

Friday took us back to Kinver for one of our favourite walks and the hope of seeing the Yellow-browed Warbler. Along the canal there was plenty of evidence of the previous days Storm Doris with a large tree down across the towpath, but we did manage to negotiate our way through the branches and continue our walk.

I was surprised at how quiet it was, our last visit about 4 weeks ago, the whole walk had been teeming with birds, but not so today, perhaps as it was lunch time (ish) they had all gone for a nap!

We arrived at Whittington about 1:15 and had a good look around, but no sign of the Warbler. So we carried on as far as the bench on the Staffs/Worcs border and had a coffee. We turned back as we needed to get back to the Vine at Kinver as we wanted to avail ourselves of the carvery and this stopped at 3pm and still allow a bit of time for looking for this ***** Warbler!

So we tried again and finally.......... nothing! We then made it to the Vine by 2:45 so we were good for lunch!

What is really annoying is that on @WestMidsBirds there were two allegedly good showings of the said bird at 11:45am and 3pm!! It's a good job that we love that walk anyway and weren't just twitching! The Yellow-browed Warbler would be a lifer for us, but hey-ho, that's birding, just grin and bear it!

Having said all that we had a great time and did of course see one or two birds! With Buzzards showing well a few times along the way.+
We saw our first Grey Wagtail of the year,
and it's always great to see a Song Thrush showing off.
We had the briefest of glimpses of a Kingfisher both on the river and the canal, a Jay flew in front of us and Long-tailed Tits gave us a a little show too. This walk however failed to give us a Goldcrest, we have seen them regularly on this walk but not today.
As lent approaches the Easter Bunny was out in the sunshine feeding up,

Birding wise it wasn't bad, they were just difficult to find this time. Eighteen species seen so pretty good and a really good lunch at the Vine rounded it off nicely!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

East Lothian

Whilst we were at our daughter  last week, we too the opportunity to explore around East Lothian and the nooks and crannies along the coast of the Firth of Forth. We had an interesting time exploring some of the villages, harbour and market towns. Of course we had our binoculars with us and the camera was always handy.

Dunbar turned out to be a favourite spot and looks like it would be a good place to do some birding, offshore there were Eider, Cormorant and Goldeneye, with Redshank, Oystercatcher and Dunlin showing on the shoreline,

We also stopped for a coffee just between Port Seton and Longniddry at the car park overlooking the sea at "Longniddry Bents 3" this again provided with Oystercatcher, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank, Twite, Linnet and Turnstone on the shore, I was then 'forced' to get the scope out to check offshore discovering Black-necked Grebe, Eider and our favourite UK duck the Long-tailed Duck, awesome.

As we drove along the coast we came to Aberlady and OMG what a surprise that was, the bay and estuary (Peffer Burn) was heaving with birds; Thousands of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Redshank, Dunlin, Godwit, Goldeneye, Mallard, a few Pink-footed Geese, Curlew Teal, Wigeon, the weather was very dull and we parked on the road so no photos and we had somewhere else to visit so we had to move on, but we will be back and also have a wander around the Aberlady Nature Reserve, it looks fabulous.

Later on we had been to the market town of Haddington and as we left we were driving down a country lane and pulled over a because I needed to find out where we were and also Tina took the chance to do some messages whilst the car wasn't twisting and turning. While she was doing this I spotted some movement on the field about 100 yards away and saw a small flock of Yellowhammer!

This was shortly followed by Redwing and a perched Buzzard. So on the whole very productive and we weren't even birding!

Our Annual trip to the Highlands (Braemar) Days 5 and 6

Thursday was another poor weather day but we decided to take a risk and drive to the Muir of Dinnet and hope the weather wasn't too bad to stop up us going for a walk. Even though it was drizzling a bit we went for it on the basis that we could turn back. Of course with a circular walk its then hard to judge once you have gone past half way.

Thankfully it didn't rain too much so we made the circuit around Loch Kinord. Of course with the weather being so miserable again it was very quiet. The woods around the Loch were spectacular with loads of Fungi and Lichen covering everything, it looked like a fairy tale land.

The Loch was quiet with a few Mute Swan, Mallard, a couple of Rafts of Tufted Duck, some Goosander, but plenty of Goldeneye. Again the poor light made bird photography very difficult as you can see from this Goldeneye photo, although I quite like it!
We were teased by a couple of flocks of small birds that stayed high in the trees and wouldn't let us get close to identify them. We did get a quick flypast by a Buzzard over a nearby field, but that was about it. Still a brilliant if somewhat tiring walk in the cold and damp.

Now Friday our last full day looked a bit better weather wise, so I put it to the others that we go back to Kinnordy. It was a good decision as the weather was lovely. As we were driving there probably somewhere near Glenisla a bird of prey appeared and then disappeared on to the other side of the valley, but there was really no mistaking the white ring tail of a female Hen Harrier. I did stop the car but we quickly lost sight of it against the bracken on the other side of the Glen.

We arrived at Kinnordy in good sunshine, we had been the only people there on the Wednesday, but today there were a number of cars in the car park. So the hides were busy at first, but never the less we had some good sightings,
 Whooper Swans,
 Mute Swan,
 and Shoveler.

We wanted to visit Lintrathen again, so we went for a short visit, on the way back, this time we could actually see the other side of the Loch. There were tons of Wigeon here, quite a few Goldeneye, Black-headed and Herring Gulls, Cormorant and Mallard. But in among the ducks was a much smaller bird, at first I thought a Little Grebe, but it didn't look quite right, so put the scope on it and discovered our first ever Red-necked Grebe! In winter plumage of course but definitely a Red-necked. I took some very long range pics which we used to confirm it when back at the shack.

So that was the end to our winter highland adventure. A good time was had by all.

Although Tina and myself hadn't finished with Scotland, we were going to Edinburgh to stay with our daughter for a few days and do some non-birding exploring around Lothian, but of course we did see some birds and there will be a short post to follow, I'm sure.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Our Annual trip to the Highlands (Braemar) Days 3 and 4

Tuesday (day 3) proved to be a  bad weather day, it rained all day and was very murky, and very difficult to see anything, this was about the best, as we stayed very local and drove around the area and explored the Linn of Dee,

although on our travels we did also see Dipper on the River Dee, Snow Buntings up on Glenshee and a hardy Buzzard out in the murk.

According to the weather forecast, Wednesday looked mostly dry so we made a plan to go to the RSPB Reserve at the Loch of Kinnordy, a lovely picturesque hours drive from Braemar.
As we were leaving the house and putting the days supplies in the car, Jimmy was watching the river, he ran (never seen him move so fast) and told me there was an Otter in the river right in front of the house, I rushed in the house and told Tina and Jo and........

We have stayed in some great places, in the hope of wildlife on our doorstep, but this time the promise delivered! So the day was off to a great start and as we drove alongside Clunie Water, we had some great Dipper sightings,

The weather at this point was OK, however as we descended down from Glenshee the weather worsened and became very foggy, not before though we had a good close up of a very trusting Mountain Hare,
well very happy, with day so far.
The fog though wouldn't budge and although the drive was still great, visibility was very poor. So we arrived at Loch Kinnordy, to find we couldn't see very much, but we persevered and were lucky enough to see two Red Squirrels near the feeders as we approached the east most hide. They disappeared much to quickly for a photo though. The feeders however were busy with Chaffinch, Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Robin, Blackbird, Pheasant and the star for me Tree Sparrows,

you can tell from the drabness of the photos how murky it was and this is highlighted even more by this Buzzard sitting behind us in the trees,
The fields to the east of the reserve held Greylag, Redwing, Fieldfare and a couple of Mistle Thrush.

We then worked the three hides from east to west, plenty of hot drinks were needed as in the fog it was freezing. As I said visibility was poor and you couldn't see very far out into the Loch, so we had to make do with any birds that came close, my scope was redundant and was returned to the car as we passed between hides.
Photo opportunities were few and far between, some birds did oblige, like this Wren,
 Reed Bunting,
 and some Long-tailed Tits.

We did see other birds in the gloom, Bullfinch, Teal, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Moorhen and Snipe.

We decided to call it a day and just pop into the Loch of Lintrathen, where the Scottish Wildlife Trust have a couple of hides, again it was very foggy, but we did add for the record a Red-breasted Merganser
 and a Cormorant that decided he didn't want to stay!

After a cuppa we headed back to Braemar, where on the way up over Glenshee, some Red Deer came reasonably close,

Here endeth the second post of the trip!