Sunday, 5 July 2015

American Wigeon

Last week Dave and I paid a return visit to Scotland. The key reason for going was to see a number of Butterflies that we do not get in the South of England but I was also hoping to see the King Eider "Elvis" that has been based around the Ythan Estury and Nairn for the last couple of months. Needless to say Elvis waited until we had booked our hotels and then did a disappearing act.

To stop the blog getting too long I have split it into three parts covering birds in the first and butterflies in the next two.

First stop on the way up was at Old Moor RSPB where an American Wigeon and a Little Bittern had been reported. We had limited time so it was unlikely that the Bittern would appear whilst we were there but the American Wigeon would be a life tick for me. Well we saw it, but it was very distant.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

Compensation, of sorts, for the poor shots of the Wigeon came in the form of close views of a Green Sandpiper and Redshank.

Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper


We spent about an hour looking for the Little Bittern but it had not been seen all day, so in the end we decided to move on. We did have one scare whilst we were there, when a "common" Bittern flew over being mobbed by an assortment of Gulls, and other birds. Any other day we would have been overjoyed at the sight but not on a day when there was a possibility of a Little Bittern. 

Day 2 was mostly about butterflies but we ended up late afternoon at an Osprey site that Dave had visited before. I was expecting another Loch Garten or Bassenthwaite lake where you are kept four hundred metres or so from the nest. When I found that we were standing only sixty or seventy metres away I was a bit wary of disturbing the birds.  However, there was a well used footpath going past the spot and groups of kids moving through between us and the nest tree and neither the movement or the noise seemed to bother the parent Ospreys.

It was late afternoon and the lighting was poor so the picture opportunities were limited but it was great seeing the birds so close and getting glimpses of the chicks as they moved about in the nest.

Both parents on the nest with one of the chicks also visible

Male on his favourite perch

The weather looked even worse on Wednesday so we decided to spend the afternoon over in Oban harbour looking for Black Guillemots. Whilst we had both seen them before neither of us had managed to get a good picture. We stopped off first at the Corran - Ardgour ferry just off the A82. This was our fallback site if Oban failed to deliver. We could see the Black Guillemots on the sea loch and also landing on the pier on the other side of the crossing  but we decided to carry on to Oban rather than take the ferry across.

Oban delivered but we had our doubts for a time. We eventually managed to track them down to the sea wall just in front of the cathedral.

Black Guillemot

A Rock Pipit turned up whilst we were photographing the Black Guillemots and there was also a tame Chaffinch that had joined us for lunch one day that was worth recording.

Rock Pipit


The bird list for the five days sits at around seventy which is not too bad when you consider that we spent most of our time looking for Butterflies. As ever, time was all too short and there are many more places that I would have liked to visit during the trip.

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