Gone a fishin’

We were watching the loch unaware someone else was too.

On the recent trip to Scotland as we scanned the large area of water in front of us a large raptor came into view to our left. It was the unmistakable shape of an Osprey. As we all watched it glide effortlessly along the shoreline above us it hovered … then stooped. We didn’t see it hit the water, the nearside of the loch was hidden to us. We waited. It wasn’t long before she appeared shaking and re-orientating the large trout in her talons. There then ensued a mild panic as we all scrambled for our cameras.Osprey_Z5A4620


Are you dancin’?

Don’t you just love Great crested Grebes in spring?

Great crested Grebes_MG_3309


Dozing in the heather

As I swung the vehicle into a gateway and orientated us so everyone had a view out over the ridge in front of us one of my guests pointed something out.

We were in Scotland last Saturday on the ‘Birders Scottish Long Weekend’. A Rough legged Buzzard had been seen earlier quartering the moor distantly over the valley. Although cold it was bright and if anything moved over the ridge we would certainly be aware.

However, it was not in the distance that my guest was looking. He was gazing no further than a couple of metres from where we had parked. Sat quietly dozing among the heather was a female Red Grouse magically camouflaged to her surroundings.

Red Grouse


I couldn’t resist

When you spend a little time with such an enigmatic species like a Ring Ouzel it’s difficult to stop taking photographs. After the photo of the male I posted a few days ago I thought I’d pop up a shot of the female (type) that also came into the garden this week. However… I just couldn’t resist posting a few more of that corking male too. There’s just something about them that mystifies me.

Ring Ousel

Ring Ousel 1 Ring Ousel 2 Ring Ousel 3


Just so lucky

It’s awful isn’t it? That feeling of missing out can sometimes leave you immensely deflated.

Having seen Andy’s tweet saying he’d had a Ring Ouzel in the garden down the road I thought I’d better get out and see what else was planning to spend the rest of Wednesday evening here on the hill. As I walked from the door the clatter of a Ring Ouzel disappearing over the hedge and heading high to the west was enough to convince me I’d made the right decision.

Out onto the lane and a further three came from the trees and headed north. We had a fall of Rousels! They’re always so timid these thrushes. It’s hard to get close and the few shots I got of these birds were of their rear ends disappearing into the distance.

I walked for another half hour or so and was watching a cluster of Wheatear on the ploughed field when a text burst onto my phone. It was from Sharon. It read; ‘Female Ring Ouzel bathing in the pond’; Bugger!

My speed hastened and I got back soon after but it had gone. Photography opportunity missed. Despite a vigil looking out over the pond until dark just a Blackbird came into bathe. We’ve had Ring Ouzels in the garden before but never bathing in the pond and you could wait a lifetime for that to happen again. A moment not to be topped and it had passed me by. Not to worry, Sharon had seen it and she was happy.

It was only the following morning as I glanced out over the garden that I saw a corking male had come into bathe! … and… a female too! Apparently lightening does strike twice!

Ring Ousel


Out in the cold

At the same time as a humpback was frolicking off Norfolk we were atop Cairngorm looking for the mountain specialities. As we scanned the mountain top for Ptarmigan the sixty mile an hour wind carried frozen snow that peppered our faces like gunshot. Finding the snug leeside of the ski lift was essential for doing any bird watching.

Despite the arctic conditions a pair of Snow Buntings fluttered down the mountain as if it were a summers day. Perching atop the crusted snow a few yards away they began to search for the odd seedy morsel totally unconcerned by the skiers or us.

2015 04 12 Snow Bunting Cairngorm Scotland_Z5A4988


Humpback off Norfolk

It always happens when you aren’t there doesn’t it? On Sunday the 12th April as I was stood at the top of Cairngorm watching Snow Buntings and looking for Ptarmigan Kayn Forbes was lucky enough to film a cetacean in difficult windy conditions off Kelling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzDioXQvRJU

Initially the still from the footage broadcast on twitter did look something like an Orca; but the markings and supposed body shading was all wrong for that species. Orca has occurred off Norfolk in the distant past but no proven recent records exist. (two recent records were unproven) Orca is not currently showing on the Norfolk mammal list but on historical evidence it will be shorty … a paper has been submitted for publication in the next Norfolk Bird and Mammal Report giving undeniable evidence of a record in the late 1800’s. Since the paper was written even older records have come to light so Orca must be a distinct possibility again off Norfolk at some point in the future.

Kayn’s video shows a large animal tail slapping at 5secs, 37secs, 1:12secs and 1:59secs. Blue Fin Tuna (very rare now) and Basking Shark (yes they do breach!) can be eliminated as on two occasions (53secs and 1:41secs) in the video a distinct blow can be seen – these things are always difficult to see in strong winds and to be fair Kayn did well to get footage at all given the obvious distance and choppy conditions. A further back arch giving an impression of Humpback can be seen at 1:42secs just after the second blow. Tail shape also seems to give an impression of Humpback and the tail slapping behaviour is quite typical of that species.

Although not definitive I think we can say Norfolk has had a humpback heading west off the north shore this last weekend. Cracking sighting that I wish I’d been there to see.

Back Arch Humpback

copywrite to Kayn Forbes

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April 2015
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