September 2012.

WWT – Brandon Marsh.

Over the last couple of weeks my visits to Brandon Marsh have turned up a few good sightings, a complete list is shown below. Sadly with the amount of daylight now reducing day by day and as we move closer to autumn we will have less time to go birding! However, I am looking forward to regular and hopefully some not so regular winter visitors.

The evening skies are also providing superb orange and red backdrops to the ends of each day. This Grey Heron was spotted at the back of Teal pool.

Recent notables are a Barn Owl fledgling at Newlands, Egyptian Goose, Pink Footed Goose, Kingfishers and the odd few hybrid geese.

As each day draws to a close huge numbers of Greylags and Canada Geese have been seen leaving the reserve and what a noise they make too! The sight of these geese is quite something as there are hundreds.

Recent news of a White Tailed Eagle over Brandon had me thinking of our recent trip to Scotland and seeing these magnificent birds in the wild. The local press has reported that “Stanley” a White Tailed Eagle is at large (Large, very large bird) apparently, he’s escaped from Warwick Castle. Let’s hope he visits some of our local lakes or pits while enjoying his freedom, before eventually being returned to his owner?

Birds seen recently on the reserve are, Blackcap, Blackbird, Nuthatch, Blue, Great, Coal and Long Tailed Tit, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pheasant, Chaffinch, Starling, Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Shoveler, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Cormorant, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Pink Footed Goose, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Barnacle Goose, Kingfisher, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rook, Kestrel, Buzzard, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Barn Owl, Snipe, Gadwall, Widgeon, Egyptian Goose, Teal, Jay, Magpie, New Zealand Scaup (Escapee) Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Redshank, Cetti’s Warbler, Robin, Great Crested Grebe, Bullfinch, Oystercatcher, Song Thrush, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Wren, Little Grebe, Mallard, Greenfinch, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Goldfinch.

29th of August 2012.

Portree, Isle of Skye, West of Scotland.

After a huge breakfast at Mrs MacLeod’s B&B, we visited the Aros Centre just outside Portree. Within the Centre there is an RSPB Sea Eagles interactive exhibition. The warden was extremely knowledgeable and gave us good advice as to where to see both White Tailed and Golden Eagles on Skye. There is also a small cinema here that shows a film from a helicopter flying over the Cuillin Mountains of Skye, this is not recommended for anyone that does not like heights as its soars over the peaks revealing huge drops down sheer cliffs etc.

White Tailed eagles were seen throughout Britain for thousands of years, but by 1918 they were hunted to extinction. They were reintroduced by conservationists after an absence of 57 years on the Isle of Rum and have since continued to grow in numbers throughout Scotland.

Armed with lots of information on White Tailed Eagles we set off to Portee harbour to book a boat trip to hopefully see the Eagles on the cliffs of Raasay Island. We boarded the MV Stardust vessel that took us out across the sound to look for birds of all kinds.

After half an hour of everyone on board searching the cliffs we came across our first White Tailed Eagle very high above us, even at this height it looked huge, within two minutes from behind the boat and souring high was another? As these birds fly a great speed, photographic results are purely down to luck! These record shots were managed, not brilliant, but records at least!

Birds seen today were, White Tailed Eagle, Shag, Cormorant, Kittiwake, Great Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Gannet, Razorbill, Oystercatcher, Goosander, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Raven, Hooded Crow, Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon, Collared Dove, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Starling, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
Today and yesterday will go down as very memorable birding days first a Golden Eagle, then today two White Tailed Eagles! I am already planning of returning to Skye, maybe in a different season to see more of the Island and of course more birds.

As someone who enjoys wildlife, pertuculary birds, a huge thanks must go to all the conservationists involved in the reintroduction of Eagles to Scotland.

28th of August 2012.

Isle of Skye – West of Scotland.

Today we decamped from Arisaig and took the ferry to the Isle of Skye, the weather was very windy with 40 mile an hour winds predicted. Crossing to Skye we had good views of the Gannet’s and Manx Shearwaters, however, once on Skye and due to the weather the only birds seen were seen during a layby stop for lunch. These were seven Goosanders. Via more breath-taking scenery and after we stopped in many laybys because the word “WOW” was back in our vocabulary, we finally made it to Portree.

The afternoon ended with us finding accommodation in a bed and breakfast overlooking the sea and the Island of Raasay. What happened next will live with me forever! A call to the window from my other half saying, there’s a big bird coming towards us! It looks like an Eagle, only a Golden Eagle right in front of the B & B! No time for the camera as a sighting was the most important thing at the time. We were soon out in the car and following its direction out of Portree. Driving for over two miles we sadly didn’t see it again.

27th of August 2012.
Arisaig to Morar – West of Scotland.
A wet walk today with full foul weather gear on, I’m one of those people you often see walking in the rain! Leaving the campsite we followed a route of white sandy beaches and B-roads towards Morar a small village 3 miles away.
Birds seen today were Dunlin, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Great Black Backed Gull, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Pied Wagtail, Grey Heron, Greylag, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Buzzard, Goldfinch, Red Breasted Merganser, Little Grebe, Curlew, Hooded Crow, Jackdaw, House Martin, Swallow, Starling, Common Tern, Tree Sparrow and my first Scottish Robin.

Other notable wildlife seen today were Red Deer with their young and the free roaming huge Highland cattle with their calves.