Monday, 1 May 2017

Five a Day - I Wish...

In wish every day was like today.  Five new ticks for the 2017 year list.

Whitethroat, Ruff, Dotterel, Shore Lark and Brambling.

The first of my 5 a Day
I saw the Whitethroat on my morning walk down the old railway line to Cortes.  There is a campaign to restore the railway which is gathering momentum. If the campaign succeeds I wonder what will happen to the wildlife that has taken over the line


Rowe Deer by the old railway line
The second of my 5 a day
After my walk and breakfast I went to the Loch of Strathbeg Visitor Centre. After the last few days it was the place to go.  Here was the Ruff.  Not, I was told the same one I did not see the day before. (no picture I'm afraid)

The third
This was a Dotterel.  Just as I got back home I got a call from Alex to say he had found three Dotterel and a flock of summer plumage Golden Plover at Coralhill  just a few miles up the road.  I put the shopping trip on hold ad hot-footed it up to Coralhill.  The first part of the drive is straight forward on public roads, albeit single track with passing places.  The last few hundred metres was along a farm track full of potholes and with a grass strip down the middle.  Fortunately the car managed to get there without grounding.  Alex was still there as was Kenny.  My first sighting of the Dotterel was through Kenny's telescope, after that I was able to pick them out with my 'scope.

Golden Plover hiding in a ploughed field
Dotterel behind the Golden Plover
Dotterel (heavily cropped photo)
The above photo is of a female Dotterel.  They are one of only a few bird species where the female is more brightly coloured than the male.  It is the male that does most of the incubation of the eggs and therefore has to be camouflaged.  The female job is just to lay the eggs and to be attractive to the males so they can afford to be more flamboyantly feathered.  They breed on the high mountain tops and are only seen in these lowland places on their way there.
News of their presence soon got out ( I posted it to the NE Scotland Rare birds 'Whatsapps' Group) so I left the site before everyone arrived and made it difficult to get out of the single track road and farm track system.  Anyway I had to get home to do for lunch and to do the shopping.  

The forth of the 5 a day
This was a Shore Lark or Horned Lark.   I got the 'Whatsapp' message about this bird just as I was to leave for my shopping trip.  Getting my priorities right I did the shopping first before heading out to Rattray where the Shore Larks had been seen.  I am not sure which track is in the worst condition the one at Coralhill of the one at Rattray.  Halfway along this track I met a birder coming the other way .  He told me that people had walked all the fields and could not find the birds.  I carried on anyway and met up with Alex and Kenny again.  They told the same story, the birds were not to be found.  I went with Alex to chase up a report of a Lesser Whitethroat seen t the Rattray Lighthouse Cottages.  We did see a Willow Warbler.

Willow Warbler
 And a baby Rabbit

We caught a glimpse of a bird that could have been a Whitethroat but were were that sure it could be counted.

Meanwhile Kenny left for home.  During our futile search around the Lighthouse cottages Kenny phoned, he was looking at the Shore Larks.  We got back to where Kenny was as quickly as the 'road' conditions would allow and looked through his telescope to see a Shore Lark.  After that it just disappeared blending in to its surrounding so perfectly that it could not bee seen.

The fifth of the 5 a Day
Kenny, Alex and me were getting into our cars when I got a message from Jill.  She had seen a Brambling in our garden.  I invited the others home for a drink and a look at the Brambling.  Needless to say when we got there the only sign of the Brambling was the photos Jill had taken.  This was the second time that a Brambling had been in our garden while I was out.  And I needed it for my year list.

Coffees were drunk good byes were said and I set to work cooking the tea.  All of a sudden under the bird feeders just outside the Kitchen window the female Brambling Jill had photographed appeared.  I had got my 'tick'.  It went before I could get my photo.  Twenty minutes later it returned.  Here is my photo

Female Brambling
It is the same bird that Jill saw it had a silver ring on its right leg.

Five 'ticks' in a day.  If ticks came that easily we would have to raise out target for the year to a lot higher than 200.

Total on list 164

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