Birds

Freezing

The temperature suddenly plummeted. It’s -7 at dawn down here by the lake. We’re trying to keep up with the birds’ appetites, but the shops are running short of seed. They’ll be eating the wife’s porridge next!

For Christmas day our back garden robin put his best blue jacket on:

The nicest surprise has been the return of flocks of long tailed tits. We counted 9 at the feeder on Sunday.

The folk who live around here are used to constant grey skies on cold winter days, but the sun is up there. Luckily we aren’t distant limited for lockdown, so we skipped up the Jura. For those unfamiliar with the region the band of cloud in front of Mont Blanc is hiding Geneva:

Where we managed to catch a crossbill enjoying the lovely day as much as we were.

Hope this brightens someone’s day.

Birds

November

Autumn has been spectacular. The weather has been really mild and the seasonal colours have been magnificent and lasted really well. We’d become a bit lazy through October and hadn’t been up for our pre-breakfast strolls. The kites have flown and with them the summer visitors: swallows, swifts, linnets. But another round of lockdown kick started us again. And surprise surprise, there are still tons of our old friends out there. The herons are still standing around. The buzzards are more “visible” with the sky clear of kites. Woodpeckers, tree creepers and kestrels are all still here. The mornings turned suddenly freezing this week. However, the sun still comes up and the morning light is glorious. So to start with I’ll post some of the countryside round here in the morning light.

Really worth getting up for. You may remember the nest of kestrels not far from this spot from earlier this year. There are still two at least hanging around the radio mast:

Feeling the cold I think

I repaired the roof on the bird house and fixed its broken window. There is food in it and we get the occasional great tit dropping by but in general the open table behind the house is more popular. Crowds of sparrows and tits of all sorts, but the marsh tit is probably rarest here:

The gold finches have been attracted to the garden too:

I hope this brightens your day. I’ll try and catch some more soon 🙂

Birds

July Noted

As the last post talked about our morning walk, I thought it might be nice to share where we see some of our favourite birds. This month we’ve been lucky enough to localise a couple of nests and even get some pictures of the youngsters.

Walking uphill on the Route de Colovrex past the runway lights you can turn left on a quiet country lane (Chemin de Saint-Oyend) that winds round to the Horse farm and the village. The first 100 metres has a copse of trees full of kites, crows and smaller friends.

As the trees open out the fields on either side have herons, kites and sometimes the odd hare. The small roadside trees often have linnets.

As you near the farm the dense trees on the left have lots of finches. Greenfinches being the most common just now. These are ladies who lunch, see earlier posts for chaps who chomp.

Turning right at the farm you can enjoy the hens, goats, geese and assorted visitors to the farmyard before crossing the Route de Colovrex by the pedestrian crossing. About 50 metres on the left is a large pine where a kestrel family is currently installed.

Ignoring the chemin des Bisons on the left and continuing down, turning right on the footpath you come to a gap that cuts across the field to the Route du Valavran. In the trees on the right there is a huge kites’ nest with a somewhat sulky but noble inhabitant…

As mentioned, we’ve seen hares. Also foxes, Roe deer and a badger. The deer are fairly common in the evening, so I must start taking my camera later in the day!

 

Birds

May in Lockdown!

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So we can only go out for exercise. We chose walking, staying within a half hour walk from home. I don’t think we’ll go stir crazy!

We are strange people who have enjoyed the total lack of commercial air travel and near total emptiness of the roads. Normal tidying of verges and hedgerows has also been stopped. This has been wonderful for the birds and the bees and us! We’ve walked first thing on a morning and generally that’s when I’ve taken the pictures. Evenings have been great too, especially for bird song and the wonderful perfumes of spring blossoms.

The morning sun is a bit of an obstacle to picking out colour, so identification has been a challenge sometimes, as has photography. I hope you enjoy the ones I thought worth sharing:

This is a blackcap, singing very sweetly and very loudly:

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Next an obliging Greenfinch who was happy to pose:

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This kite waits on the same wire every morning:

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The stonechat and the linnet are elusive, here the focus is rubbish, but I love the colours:

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There was one morning where the kites had decided to mount a guard around the vineyard. We think that there was flight/hunt training going on for the youngsters.

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This couple were at the row end …..

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The Heron, famous for waiting at the bus stop, has been a usual sighting. Here he borrowed our footpath for a while before showing off on the fence.

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A special treat one evening was this very young nuthatch. Actually in the village outside the school car park.

Just finished a nice big spider… Picture which I’ll spare you 🙂

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And finally the farmer has got back to work with haymaking happening in almost every field! We get kites after the tractors like the sea birds and crows back in Scotland. Notice the aviation car park in the background!

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Hope these have been fun.

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!