Saturday, 4 March 2017

Third, or Fourth Time Lucky

Only one birding day in the last few days in a week that has been dominated by the NHS.   Jill has a fractured and compacted spine so it has been off to the Doctors in to get pain killers and off again to find out all the whys and hows and what happens next. You can read more about this on Jill Blog Land of the Big Sky In the meantime a lot of time seems to have been spent at the chemists getting prescriptions.  I've been to the hospital as well, to get my hearing tested.  It would appear that I am moderately deaf as far as high frequencies are concerned.  This means that in the next couple of months I will be getting hearing aids.  Hopefully in time for the Dawn Chorus, and maybe I will be able to hear 'Crests and Grasshopper Warblers.

The birding day was another trip to Lochmuir in the Loch of Park.  You will recall in my last post that I had tried two times to find a Great Grey Shrike that has taken up winter residence there and that all I found was a hole in my wellies.

On Friday I set out again, pausing in Mintlaw only to buy some new wellies.  (nowhere in Fraserburgh sold them in my size!).  I did pause again to scan a field of Pink-footed Geese.  There were no other species but there was this leucistic Goose in the flock.

Pink-footed Geese

This time I walked the whole length of the farm track rather than risking my car again.  I got to Lochmuir at about 11.00 and after a couple of hours I had seen very little, a Buzzard was he only bird I managed to photograph.


Tired and hungry I decided to call it a day and made a mental note not to go looking for Great Grey Shrikes here again.  Along the farm track I met JMW.  JMW is secretary of the NE Scotland branch of the Scottish Ornithologists' Club and was off to find the Shrike.  We had a chat I told him I had not seen the bird and wished him luck.  When I was a couple of hundred yards from my car I got a 'ping' on my phone and found a message posted by JMW that he had seen the Shrike.  Of course I turned round and went back to Lochmuir, climbing over the deer fence for the third time that day.  I met JMW again he was quite pleased he had seen the bird more or less as soon as he got to the site. It was in the place I had scanned and searched and staked out for hours before.  
Does this mean I am blind as well as deaf?

The difference on my return was surprising.  There was a Stonechat, that wasn't there before.
 and a Reed Bunting.
Reed Bunting

A very shy Jay was in the trees to the side of the farm track


 And there was the Great Grey Shrike.

It was a long way off.  This next image was taken with my camera lens on 400mm.  

Great Grey Shrike
 The Shrike is the white dot in the centre of the frame.  Here it is after a heavy crop
Great Grey Shrike
I watched it for a while as it perched in the tree.  It only moved to turn its head and look the other way.
Great Grey Shrike
 At last I thought it best to get lunch from the car and go home.  It was then the the bird decided to do things.  It swooped of its twig and came in my direction.  By the time I had sorted myself out it had flown, not into but under a Broom bush and, it seemed, into a rabbit hole. 

Where the Shrike went

Here was my chance to get a closer shot.  So I waited, and waited.  The bird did not reappear.  While I waited I did see out of the corner of my eye the back end and brush of a fox disappear into the rank grass some way off as it pounced on some unsuspecting creature.  It all happened too quickly to get a photograph.  I did see the fox again as it came to the Broom bush I was staking out, looking for a rabbit i suppose
So a thanks to JMW and to the mobile phone network for getting me back to Lochmuir and the opportunity to get some good wildlife experiences and another tick on my year list.

Total on list 124

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