Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rain and Shine

Marbled White @ Brandon
I’m not sure about the current drought situation in certain parts of the UK but it would certainly seem that locally we’ve most definitely had our fair share. On the three occasions this week I’ve been out and about I’ve not managed to dodge the showers particularly well.

Despite the weather though it’s not been too bad a week and a search of Brandon’s meadow areas on Tuesday and Thursday produced plenty of insects and a decent haul of Butterflies; Marble White, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Comma, Brown Argus, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Green-vein White, Small Copper, Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshell and Ringlet, the latter of which are now out in good numbers.

Common Spotted Orchids are now out in excellent numbers throughout the reserve and finally the team managed the first Bee Orchid of the year, thanks to a tip off from one of the regulars.

Hoverfly Volucella bombylans
As you would imagine at this time of year the birding has not thrown up anything out of the ordinary, the exception being 2 or 3 Green Sandpipers, which have been regular at Brandon more recently. Although the birdsong is not as prolific there’s still plenty to tune into with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Song Thrush, and more reeling Grasshopper Warblers at Sheepfield, Newlands and Carlton Hide, second broods perhaps?

One of the local Brandon Marsh Cuckoo’s is still hanging around too and with Cuckoo’s in mind I thought I’d give a mention to a really fascinating site being run by the BTO. The site enables you to follow 5 electronically tagged Cuckoo’s as they begin their journeys back south. Each of the five has a name and each have their very own blog, people are always telling me that all us bloggers are Cuckoo, so here’s the evidence, enjoy! Tracking Cuckoo's

Glow Worm
Finally, last night 21 of the Brandon Team, which included friends and family, enjoyed an Italian evening at the Brandon Badgers Tearoom, which was organised by Sarah who runs it. After a really enjoyable meal a number of us braved the appalling conditions to venture out onto the reserve in search of Glow Worms. I’m delighted to say that 8 of these wonderful little beetles had themselves braved the weather and enchanted us despite the deluge!

Oh and yes I feel I must give a mention to our beloved chairman, Paul Norman, who put on the evenings 5* entertainment! Its always-advisable not to place your fleece next to burning candles!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Right Place - Right Time!

Nesting Fulmar @ RSPB Fowlsleugh
After a short summer break from blogging it’s time to get back down to it and although things locally are extremely quiet, the last few days in Aberdeen have proven to be anything but!

Dee and I travelled up on Thursday; the main reason for our trip was to visit Dee’s Grandmother, who’s been recuperating in hospital for the past few months. Dee had booked an excellent little B&B right on the harbour at Stonehaven that had a nice balcony that looked out across the harbour. Here with the use of my scope we had constant views of many Oystercatcher, Common Eider and passing Gannet, Fulmar and Kittiwake.

Very Content Looking Razorbill
On Friday we managed to grab some time away from hospital visits and paid a morning trip to RSPB Fowlsheugh, which lies just off the A92, around 3 miles south of Stonehaven.

Fowlsheugh is a spectacular seabird city with 130,000 birds nesting on the cliffs, including Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, and smaller numbers of Fulmars, Herring Gulls, Shags and Puffins. Skylarks, Meadow and Rock Pipits, and Linnets also breed on the reserve. I’m delighted to say that we managed to connect with all the above species, plus a bonus in the shape of a lone Bonxie (Shetland name for Great Skua), which was hanging around the colony for a short while!

Grey and Common Seals, and Bottlenose and Common Dolphins can also be seen offshore. Harbour Porpoises, White-beaked Dolphins and Minke Whales are seen occasionally but sadly not during our visit! Thrift and red campion grow in abundance, it’s simply a wonderful all round location.

Although I’m not a twitcher, and hate it when someone refers to me as such, I do have a definite knack of being in the right place at the right time. A few years back I stumbled into Hollands biggest ever twitch on Texel Island, purely by chance, when a Caspian Plover and American Golden Plover were both on the Island during my visit. So when news reached me of two mega vagrants for the UK, North American White-winged Scoter and ♂King Eider only a few miles up the coast from my current location, well, what can I tell you!!

My Attemp @ Fulmar in Flight!
I must say that the weather was appalling on Saturday but thanks to local help (Cheers Gordon and Tay), and to be fair in the case of the White-winged Scoter, recognition in the gloom, I managed both. The Scoter was seen offshore at Blackdog, a short drive up the A90 north of Aberdeen. Also seen in the rain and gloom were good numbers of Common Scoter, a few Velvet, but unfortunately during my brief stay I failed on the reported ♂ Surf Scoters.

Desperatley running out of time but slightly further up the coast I arrived at Ythan Estuary and I can tell you that the weather had in fact deteriorated even further, but thanks to persistence and determination the King Eider was duly seen in all it's glory. I managed a quick look at the Ternary with Arctic, Little, Common and Sandwich Tern all in residence before darting back to Aberdeen to pick up Dee, two UK lifers in the bag!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Break

Hi guys, Thank you very much for the emails. No I haven't abandoned the blog, just having a summer break from blogging and tweeting for a short while. I'll be back in another week or so's time, in the mean time happy birding!!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Balmy Evenings

Daubenton's Bat
I absolutely love this type of weather, particularly with the warm balmy evenings, when I can lay in bed with the windows and hatches fully open just listening to the wildlife.

Last night for example Dee and I lay listening to a Tawny Owl calling, a distant Curlew and at one stage the high pitch screech of Barn Owl was heard passing overhead.

Unfortunately, due to other commitments I’ve been unable to enjoy the current warm spell during the day, missing out on an adult Osprey at Brandon Marsh this morning, but I have managed a couple of evening walks around the marina grounds.

About an hour after sunset yesterday evening the Pipistrelle Bats were once again doing their level best to convince me that they were about to collide with me head on. However, I was delighted to come across another member in the order of Chiroptera, in the form of two Daubenton’s Bats. Daubenton’s bat is a medium-sized species. It has a steady flight, often within a few centimeters off the waters surface and is reminiscent of a small hovercraft.

Daubenton’s usually feed within about 6km of the roost, but have been recorded following canals for up to 10km (at speeds of up to 25kph). They usually take insects from close to the water and have even been seen taking prey directly from the waters surface, using their large feet as a gaff or the tail membrane as a scoop. I actually witnessed this first hand last night, definitely a sight to behold!

The Frogs were once again on the move with several seen moving across the paths and our resident Sedge Warblers were still singing from deep within the reeds. My first Hedgehog of the year was also making its way along one of the paths. The shock of the night though was when one of the moorers black cats suddenly pounced, frightening the life out of me!

This evening no signs of the Daubenton’s Bats but I did enjoy the song of a late evening Yellowhammer. Also seen earlier when I arrived back at the marina at around 6pm was a family group of six Pied Wagtails, plus two juvenile Tree Sparrows, which were being fed by an attentive mother.