Thursday, 8 December 2016

Moving towards winter 2016

The leaves are falling, the daylight hours are getting shorter it can only be late autumn. Although there are probably less bird species to see they are easier to spot with less foliage on the trees and if the paths remain reasonably dry some great days can be enjoyed.

We had a long weekend up in south west Scotland with our friends John and Karen, a lovely cottage near Dalbeattie was booked for three nights and we met up with them at RSPB Mersehead for an afternoon's bird watching before heading off to locate the cottage.

Many thousands of barnacle geese arrive from northern climes at this time of the year but our first bird was a lovely greenfinch...

The barnacle geese were all around in the fields...

Shoveler duck (male) out on one of the lagoons...

Easy to see how they gained their name!

The geese came in close now and again...

...and then as often happens with recently arrived migrants, something would spook them and thousands would circle round before landing again!

As you can see the weather was not too photo friendly!

Returning the next day the skies had brightened and a sweet robin posed nicely...

A yellowhammer too

If it wasn't for the intrusive twig!

Out at sea the sky was interesting...

Reed buntings showed well

A male pintail duck

Ken Dee Marshes is another great RSPB reserve in the area and we always pay a visit when we are in the area.

Plenty of common species show well and a the now uncommon willow tit has a stronghold here,

Blue tit


Coal tit

Great tit

Willow tit

Nuthatch again

And another blue tit

Fieldfare in flight

Rather than head straight home on our day of departure we called at a little nature reserve near Lockerbie, red squirrels thrive here and come amazingly close with a little bit of patience. It is amazing how close the world of wildlife photography can be and within minutes of being there I realised two great Facebook friends were there, great to meet Stuart and Gill and we had a good chat between snapping away at the squirrels. Another gentleman who was using the hide introduced himself and so the circle of like minded wildlife photographers increases! Great to meet you Tony!

Anyway squirrel shots...

As usual a great trip with dear friends, virtual friendships made a little more real and a new friendship too.

Back home and reports of waxwings all down the east coast and heading our way, I got a report from a mate of them near Silsden and we dashed off to find them. We do not get these visitors from Scandinavia and Siberia every year, how true the stories of them being a sign of a cold hard winter to come are I don't know, but they are stunning birds.

Just my luck a grey and murky day but at least we had sightings and photographs.

I kept a routine check on the waxwings hoping for a brighter spell of weather

Finally a bright day arrived!

A red kite from my raptor watching...

More waxwings!!!

Although we have had some great sightings at my raptor watchpoint including, goshawk, hen harriers, peregrine, merlin, red kite, sparrowhawk, buzzards and kestrels recently not much has been close enough for photographs.

Some small birds are really comfortable there and one of my favourite photographs was this blue tit.

 The sun is usually setting when I leave the watchpoint giving me the opportunity to stop off on the way home to get a shot or two.

Splendid ends to splendid days, me and nature seem to get on quite well. The love of being out there in natural surroundings enjoying what the day brings is calming, peaceful and relaxing. The company of my friends at the raptor watch is treasured, learning is never over and I still have a long way to go to reach the levels of knowledge I aspire we enjoy a fair few laughs!!!

Many thanks to all who read the blog, don't forget if you do comment that they come to me first for moderationn