Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Three Days Birding

On Sunday I was up at 4.00am to find some early morning birds on Deeside.  First stop the Boat Inn in Aboyne.  This is where Garden Warblers hang out.  On Sunday they were having a lie in.  There was not sight nor sound of them.

Second stop was the Oak Wood at Dinnet.  I was here the Sunday before with Trevor and Alex.  But t was in the afternoon so we didn't expect to find a great deal.  Early in the morning there should have been Redstarts. There wasn't, there were lots of Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches, the odd Great Spotted Woodpecker, a few Roe Deer and lots and lots of Wrens.

Dinnet Oak Wood
 From the car park to the wood you cross the river Dee.  Here is the view from the bridge

Down Stream

Up Stream

The final stop was the Forest of Birse.  I had a short trip here with Alex a few weeks ago but to be honest I didn't really know where to look.  There should be Whinchat and the smallest chance of a Merlin.  I walked a mile o so up the valley and into the grouse moors.  No Whinchat, no Merlin but there were lots of Meadow Pipits.

Meadow Pipit perched on Heather
 Common Gulls were plentiful as were the Rabbits

Rabbit in the Heather
There were Oystercatchers and Lapwing and views

Shooting Lodge

Old Kirk
All this heather and a big shooting lodge and I didn't see or hear a Grouse!

So Sunday was a 200 mile or so trip and not one bird added to the list.  If all the targets had been there I would have been on 199. But I did get some photos.

Monday I got an email responding to my request for information about Barn Owls.  So at 20:30 I set off for the Loch of Strathbeg.  I got settled into a hide and waited.  There was a Whooper Swan just in front of the hide.  It should not have been there it should have been in Iceland.  I waited some more.  The sun was setting so there were more views.

In the deepening gloom the Common Terns were still going back and forth between the sea and the colonial nest site at Starnafin collecting sand eels for their young.  The Mallard duckings were refusing to go to bed.

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Then, as the mist was rising at about 22:00 the first Barn Owl came into view.  It was and remained on the far side of the Loch.  Quartering slowly over the fields and reed beds occasionally it would go head first into the vegetation.  Then after one such dive it made a beeline for an old boat house to meet another owl.  Then both of them started hunting.  Capturing all this on camera was nigh on impossible it was so dark and they were so far away. This is what the camera with a 400mm lens captured

I resorted to digiscoping by hand.  To get any image at all the shutter speed had to be slow so wings are a blur.   Even so the lack of light pushed the ISO to maximum creating a lot of noise.  Here are the best! of the ones I took and they are cropped as well.


If you look carefully at the last one you will see one owl flying and two on the roof.  I didn't see this until I had the images on the computer.

 10 mile round trip max. and one tick.

Today (Tuesday) Tim posted on social media that he had heard a Quail at Longside in the morning.  Alex messaged me to say it was still there at noon.  As I had to go that way, sort of, to get some garden bird food some time this week I thought why not go now.  So I did.  A Quail is a bird that is heard but seldom seen.  I took a video of the field in order to record the sound. So put the speakers on and listen to the strange whip like call of a Quail.  You will also hear Tim as he drove up the road to stop and have a chat.

I have never seen a Quail.  I have heard them on several occasions.  They fly in from Africa for the summer and hide in the grass, or in this case a barley field.  The only way you know they are there is by hearing its call.

20 mile round trip that I was going to do anyway and one tick

Why do I go on these long journeys?

Total on list 197

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