Friday, January 29, 2010

Ballast Bank

I was back briefly in Ayrshire last weekend and had a search for Tree Sparrows as well as the recent Barnacle Geese following the Pink-foot/Greylag flock. Fail Mill near Tarbolton had at least 17 Tree Sparrows and 33 Yellowhammers. Checking for waders and wildfowl at Pow Burn and Barassie didn't turn up much but 55 Knot were later located at Troon - a good count for Ayrshire at this time of year. The Ballast Bank held a nice collection of waders where I later made these long exposures below: Purple Sandpiper (12), Knot (22), Golden Plover (32), Turnstone (21), Ringed Plover (4) and Dunlin (3).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The thaw is on

The thaw is on but London water bodies are still largely frozen. In Kensington Gardens this morning, a few Skylarks were heading north and both Great Tit and Mistle Thrush were singing, a sign now that the winter is rapidly progressing and some species at least are once again pairing and preparing to breed. At least two pairs of Mute Swans were displaying beautifully in patches in the ice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Caerlaverock on the Solway Firth

In a Christmas holiday dominated by Woodcock and Jack Snipe and fruitless searches for Tree Sparrows in the snow, the main birding focused around a four day stay in the farmhouse at Caerlaverock WWT reserve in Dumfriesshire photographing and watching Icelandic Whooper Swan. On the merse we saw Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine and various waders and wildfowl. Flocks of Barnacle Geese were sparse and in low numbers due to the pasture being frozen hard. Most geese were feeding way out from the observation towers. The highlights must have been the Badgers coming to feeding just inches from the window at night and the Woodock that flew in under the floodlight, settled for 10 seconds and then vanished into the night. Last year was Winter of the Waxwings. This year must surely be Winter of the Woodcocks.

A Proper Winter

More photographs from Christmas & New Year in southwest Scotland. Locations from top to bottom are: Troon, Firth of Clyde; Dean Castle, Kilmarnock; Irvine Harbourside; Bringan Ford, Craufurdland Water; Dean Castle Country Park; View from Loudoun Hill; Troon, Firth of Clyde; Dean Castle Country Park; Dean Castle Country Park; Assloss Bridge, Fenwick Water; River Irvine, Shewalton; Dean Castle Country Park; trig point on Loudoun Hill; Craufurdland Water; Ballast Bank, Troon.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Catching up with 2010

Just arrived back in London this morning after two weeks home in Scotland with the best winter weather for 14 years. Conditions were beautiful for birding, photography and even just walking in the countryside. Lisa and I stayed in the farmhouse at Caerlaverock WWT on the Solway Firth for three nights to the constant sounds of Whooper Swans and Barnacle Geese. More to come later...