Birds

May in July

Everyone I ask in Carnoustie has heard of May Island but have never visited. I hope these few pictures will encourage them. The Island is in the Firth of Forth and can be reached from Anstruther in Fife by boat or rapid inflatable. There is also a possibility from North Berwick. Check out the sites here & here

We went in July when nearly all the birds are raising young. The main attraction is the huge colony of Puffins, over 80,000 this year. The skies are full of them racing back and forth to feed the wee ones.

SkyfullNot the most elegant of birdsOne Puffin flyingbut pretty good at fishing!

The puffin chicks have to walk to the sea from their burrow and sometimes they get lost. This fellow was being taken away from the island to be released away from the gulls.

Pufflin

There is also a large population of arctic terns who defend their young most vigorously. It doesn’t help when the chicks stray onto the path… Arctic Tern chick

Here’s the parents in attack mode, take a hat!

Arctic Terns protecting young

If there are no babies about they are a lot calmer and probably the most elegant bird on the island

Arctic Tern Stood

Arctic Tern flying

There are also Razorbills and Guillemots on almost every cliff ledge

The guillemot babies have to jump into the sea before they can fly. Sometimes hundreds of feet. Brave wee chaps. Finally found out that the best distinguishing feature between a shag and a cormorant is the yellow at the base of the beak on a shag.

Shag

There are also gannets, fulmars, kittiwakes, and every kind of gull. We just didn’t have enough time to catch them all on film. The island also hosts “land” birds too. Here’s a rock pippet singing his head off, or telling us to go away

Rock Pippet -loud

And a very fat and tranquil colony of rabbits who have no natural predators there. Oh, and of course the grey seals all around the rocky shore….

The icing on the cake was the pod of dolphins we were able to sail alongside as we returned in the evening. You should also check out the fish and chips at the Anstruther Fish Bar!

 

 

Birds

Still no rain

It’s July 11 and we still have only had a light drizzle overnight.  It’s been incredible weather, but hot, especially for the natives. We saw this blackbird spreading itself out in the flower bed. Sunbathing or trying to get cool?

Blacky sunbathing

We put out a “bath” for the birds a few days ago and it is much appreciated, although in town it is mainly drawing sparrows, blackbirds and of course pigeons. Who can be a bit dominant:

Bather

The garden is a great place to get decent photos though. Here’s a rook posing proudly in his baggy trousers:

Rook Carnoustie

Friday we walked to Auchmithie up the coast, with the promise of  lunch at the “But ‘n’ Ben”.  Magnificent day and lovely to see the farmers leaving large borders of wild flowers for the butterflies and bees. We saw reed buntings dressed for the summer and after lunch we spotted puffins off the shore, but too far out to capture on film.

Reed bunting Summer

At the weekend we walked round Loch an Eilen and by Loch Garten. Coming back south we dropped in at the Osprey hides at Loch of he Lowes. The two chicks are nearly ready to fly! This link is to the live web cam. Here’s a still from the site. I could never get that close!

Osprey 2018

There is a super corner with bird tables at the Loch of the Lowes centre where you can see almost every local bird really close up.

Chaffinch - Loch of the Lowes

Like, “Who are you looking at?”

The walk round Craigmill Den is a great spot for birds too and we saw chaffinches, long tailed tits and a reed warbler there last week.

ChaffinchEastHavenChaffinchF easthavenLongTailed

LongTailed2

Reed warbler EastHaven

Well, the Open Golf Championship is on for the next fortnight ,so no golf for me. Hopefully more time for walking and bird spotting!

Birds

Summer – and some!

It’s now the end of June and time has imitated my favourite subjects and flown!

ReedWarbler

 

At the start of June we heard a new song in the bushes by the motorway. We searched and searched and finally spotted her in the low trees. She never really sat still. After a lot of shots I managed to get enough detail to think that this is a reed warbler. The tail is quite impressive but she’s amazingly shy.

 

The Migros magazine told us that there were now Bee eaters near Lausanne, so we pootled out to have a look. They are not usual this far north. Another sign of global warming, for there are many pairs nesting in the quarry  at Penthaz. This site has better pictures. I only managed a silhouette and a distant shot to pick up some of the colours. This might mean time for an expensive lens 😦

 

I did get a cute shot of a red kite with a mouthful of  nest building material. This was opposite the decheterie in Bellevue where there are often many wheeling in the sky. KiteOnPost

And I thought I’d put this photo up too which I took a while back. I thought initially it was a buzzard but it may actually be a black kite (colouring and tail shape). Either of my two followers who would like to enlighten my ignorance would be a star!

BuzzardSoaringA

Higher things

To celebrate Catriona’s birthday we went up to the lac de Salanfe above Martigny. Easy to say. 10km and 1000m. But so rewarding. The chamois and marmots all posed nicely though the Ibex scampered off before I could snap them. I think it was near the end of the hike where removing the lens cap might just have given me a hernia.

Chamoix

Marmots
Marmots – not flying

Then just as we approached the dam face I saw a new friend scampering along like a blackbird with a worm. But not the right colours.

RingOuzel4

Interesting pattern on the thighs. Sunbathing in tights?

RingOuzel2

I give chase, literally as he’s not away to fly. But he does keep under cover …

Ringouzel3

Is that a white collar? It’s not the vicar that’s for sure …

Rimg Ouzel

Ahh… a Ring Ouzel. I’m really turning into an anorak!

Then back to Geneva where surprise surprise, we are in the tropics!

Parrot

I think they’re called accidentals. I think this one accidently escaped from a nearby house. He adored our cherries, which I hope you are all eating!

And so to Scotland

Where skipping along the coast path from Carnoustie to Arbroath we see a Reed bunting in his rather smart summer feathers.

Reed Bunting

There will surely be more soon as we’ve had to stop cutting the hedge for fear of upsetting the fledgling Great tits. And it’s time to see the Ospreys too!

Birds

Bleak skies in Scotland

Easter has been harsh this year. The daffodils stubbornly refusing to bloom except in some shady corners. The winds have been freezing and snow right down to the low hills of Angus.

Luckily the woods provide some shelter to small birds and there are a few out that I’ve not been able to see before. We caught a pair of Bullfinches in Craigmill Den

There are also people with feeders that attract a wonderful variety. Here are some shots of yellowhammers:

And for those who haven’t seen the most elegant sparrow  here’s a Dunnock:

Dunnock

 

Birds

Spring in the air.

I hope you can. Nice to see the snow disappear, even though the skiing’s been great.

Snowdrops have been lovely, and the crocuses are shouting their heads off at the sunshine. Primroses all over the lawn (sorry, the moss). Won’t be long before the daffodils are out.

The long tailed tits were back earlier in the week and today the crested tits made an appearance for the first time since I got the camera. He is seriously cute!

CrestedTit

 

My book doesn’t help me determine if this was Mr or Mrs, but they were a pair. I have a good shot of the other one’s rear end if that would help?

We went to the wildlife photography exhibition at the V&A last week. Go if you can. It is amazing what some 10 year-olds can achieve. I think I learned two things.

  • I need a tripod
  • I need an enormous amount more patience

I mustn’t get discouraged 🙂