Friday, December 23, 2022

๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ ~ Merry Christmas 2022

Not many outings recently due to the weather and other commitments so a final post before Christmas as family naturally take precedence over the coming week or two. 

iPhone photo of circa 80 Waxwings from the car window

With Christmas in mind on a shopping trip to Aberdeen on December 11th, Dazza and I came across the amazing sight of a large flock of Waxwings near the city centre as we were making our way home, around 80 birds in the treetops at dusk. Unfortunately, an iPhone image was the best we could do.

Fieldfare ~ The keeper of the apples.

With the heavy snowfall recently the garden has provided some good entertainment, the best of which was a very active Fieldfare who was protecting the remains of the autumn windfall apples and those provided by me with great gusto. 

A Blackbird (likely a visiting Scandinavian bird) takes advantage

In fact, it probably expelled more energy by chasing the many Blackbirds currently visiting, but despite this they did occasionally get a look in. 

Chaffinch ~ Strangely not that common in the garden.

I do have a large colony of House Sparrows which are the main visitors to my feeders but they've recently been joined by double figure Chaffinch but no sign of any Brambling in the garden thus far, although I do see them in the treetops from the kitchen window as I look across to the river.


So I'll leave my reader with a few more images of late and it just remains for me to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.


A drive from Inverurie to Kemnay after yet another heavy snow shower.

Village Roads

Kemnay to Kintore

Christmas at home


Friday, December 09, 2022

๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ Dalmadilly Ponds ~ 09/12/2022

๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ Friday 9th December 2022 ❄️๐ŸŒจ️ 0C ~ Wind WNW @ 6MPH ~ My first visit on the home patch since arriving back from Spain. The snow came on Wednesday and has been on and off since, in fact, the final half hour of my visit today was completed in heavy snow.

The River Don from Kemnay Bridge ~ Normal level (left) and recent flood level (right)

I began at Dalmadilly Ponds and from here a look down onto the River Don below. While we were in Spain Kemnay was subject to some severe flooding and a neighbour was good enough to send me a few photos of the flood, taken from Kemnay Bridge. Although we are situated just a 5-minute walk from the river, thankfully we live at the top of a hill so escaped without issue.

This first-winter drake Goldeneye crashlands at Dalmadilly.

I checked out both ponds at Dalmadilly today and the highlight was (5) Goldeneye on the large pool, which was made up of two drakes, a first-winter drake and two females and (2) females on the small pool.

A Little Grebe dwarfed by a female Goldeneye 

With the islands currently underwater the only other species of note was a single Little Grebe and a dozen or so Mallards. Strangely for the ponds no sign of any Tufted Ducks which are usually into double figures here during the winter.

Redwing

It was difficult underfoot today with the hard snow crunching away as I walked and anything of interest was likely to be well flushed. That said a nice flock of (11) Long-tailed Tits with (3) Blue Tits and a Coal Tit mingled in. Circa (50) Pink-footed Geese flew southeast, plus a flock of around (30) Fieldfare. Redwings were mostly feeding on the surrounding fields and from my viewpoint down onto the River Don, (5) Goosander, single Little Grebe and (2) Mute Swans.

Birdtrack Subscribers 
Full details of today's sightings can be found HERE but you must be logged in.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Zapata/Rio Grande ~ Spain 30/11/2022

 ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ ZAPATA ~ Wednesday 30th November 2022 ๐ŸŒค 20C ~ Wind NNW @ 6MPH ~ My final outing of this particular tour was an early morning drive around Zapata and a look at the Rio Grande with friends Barbara and Derek Etherton, two British local birders who I met a few years ago.

Details for Zapata can be found HERE or by clicking on the SPAIN๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ link at the top of the blog.

Little-ringed Plover

We arrived at Zapata just prior to sunrise, which at this time of year is just after 8am. Derek drove today and our first stop was at the ford which crosses the Guadalhorce, always a great place to start. A Kingfisher and a couple of Grey Wagtails, plus a few waders this morning with Little-ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Egret and Greenshank but a surprise was the huge number of Cormorants, we counted (84). We also noted (17) Cattle Egrets departing their nearby roost, along with a Night Heron, which flew along the river. There is currently a wintering Little Bittern but unfortunately, there was no sign during our stay. 

Bluethroat calling along the motorway drainage ditch

Having missed out on Bluethroats during a brief stop-off last week I was keen to catch up with one of my favourite wintering birds at Zapata. The best place to find them is just across the ford where the drainage ditches are located for the nearby A7. It wasn't long before we located three birds, the first easily found by the call. A walk along the ditch produced two more birds before we headed back across the ford.

Serin at Zapata

After crossing back over we took a tour of the rest of this amazing little habitat, stopping at the reedbeds adjacent to Malaga airport where the usual flocks of Common Waxbill can be found. There was also a small flock of Serin as we made our way back to the roadside and a showy Hoopoe posed for a photo. 

Hoopoe at Zapata

Our full list of Zapata sightings can be found HERE

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ RIO GRANDE ~ Wednesday 30th November 2022 ๐ŸŒค 21C ~ Wind NW @ 4MPH ~ After Zapata and a stop for delicious molletes (bacon & egg sandwiches) at Restaurante El Tardรณn in Alhaurรญn de la Torre we made the short drive over to the Rรญo Grande. The Rรญo Grande forms close to the Sierra de las Nieves natural park and with the recent rain, there was plenty of water coming down. This is another area you can drive around off-road (luxury birding) and like Zapata, it does mean crossing a ford. 

Brambling along the Rรญo Grande ~ My first for Spain

We began at the Aerodrome, base Brica Infoca just off the A-357 and headed east along the dirt track to check out the huge eucalyptus trees and tamarisk. Short-toad Treecreeper and there were a few finch flocks ground feeding which contained Siskin, Serin, Chaffinch and a few Meadow Pipits but we were surprised to find at least (5) Bramblings amongst them, my first for Spain.

Water Pipit feeding midstream

To the west along the riverside, the first species of interest was a Water Pipit feeding midstream, shortly followed by some close views of a Black Stork

Black Stork along the Rรญo Grande

Waders along the drive included Black-winged Stilt, Little Egret, Great Egret, Little-ringed Plover, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank.

There were a few raptors around today Buzzard, Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk, the latter being bombed by a half dozen Crag Martins, which didn't like the invasion into their airspace. 

Our full list of Rรญo Grande sightings can be found HERE

A Few More Images of the Day...


Siskin ~ Rรญo Grande

Bluethroat ~ Zapata

Derek's record shot of some of the large number of Cormorants at Zapata

So that's it and another winter visit comes to an end and as I type this final diary entry from home in Aberdeenshire the snow has been falling. From the southernmost tip of Spain to the northeast of Scotland in what seems like the blink of an eye!!