October – December 2022

The birds that visit here in the summer are mostly all gone and the winter ones are arriving. We did not have any birds nesting in the nest boxes this year and actually we had very few House Sparrows and Tree Sparrows around at all.

There was a Guillemot at Burghead harbour on one occasion. It looked healthy enough but so many birds have been found dead along the coast. Avian Flu has reached these parts and many geese have been found dead. There was a large group of Sanderling at Hopeman along with Ringed Plovers.

However, the snowy weather which arrived in December brought in many birds looking for food. The apples from our apple tree attracted a few Blackcaps and some Fieldfare. A few Yellowhammers which normally I don’t see in the garden during the winter appeared and my first Brambling of the year.

There were twelve swans on the frozen water of Blairs Loch and seven of them were Whooper Swans which only visit these parts in Winter.

It has been rather a quiet year for the birds in the garden this year and similar out and about. I am hoping 2023 will be a more successful year with bird numbers increasing and a few rarities.

July – September 2022

These are the months when we see the most butterflies. Most of them were seen in my garden. We had a new plant in the garden this year called Sea Holly and my goodness it attracted many butterflies, bees and insects. As well as the usual ones, Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell , we had a Speckled Wood and a rare visit from a beautiful Comma Butterfly The Scotch Argus and the Ringlet butterflies were seen when I was out and about.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker has been visiting the garden regularly and feeding on the suet balls. Most of the young birds have fledged but my neighbour had a pair of nesting gulls on the roof. They were there for a while and I managed to get a glimpse of two of their young. We only get rare visits of Song Thrushes in the garden but we often hear them singing in the neighbourhood. I remember one year in the winter months, we had a resident Fieldfare for a few months and it really went for a Song Thrush that tried to come and eat the apples. Despite the many cats that come into the garden we had a little mouse that seemed to stay well hidden when they were around yet it boldly would feed under the bird feeders.

On a trip to Blairs Loch there were quite a few Little Grebes and usually they duck under the water just as you take a photograph but this one was intent on eating the fish it had caught. I also saw an Osprey fishing in the loch and for as often as we go there I have never seen one there before. The loch has been tidied up at few years ago with a new boathouse and Education Centre built and three different bird hides around the loch. It is now much more accessible for all.

April – June 2022

Signs of Spring are arriving with the first butterflies and bees arriving. Orange Tip Butterflies are often the first seen but they do not light and pass swiftly through the garden.

Usually I see a Brambling or two during the winter months but the first one I saw this year was in April. They are usually not around in the summer months. The Blackcaps and Fieldfares have moved on. A male Bullfinch had come to the feeders in January but I had not seen it since. However, a pair of Bullfinches have arrived and usually they hang around for quite while until nesting time.

The summer visitors are beginning to arrive. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs can be difficult to distinguish until you hear their call. In May the Swallows and House Martins arrive and many of the garden birds have fledged. Stonechats can be seen at any time of the year either at the coast or on the moorland. If you are lucky you might see a Whitethroat singing beautifully – another summer visitor.

The Great Crested Grebe was taken on Lake Zug in Zug, Switzerland while I was there on holiday in the summer.

We have a variety of moths which come into our moth trap. Too many to display but here are three from June – a Silver Ground Carpet, a Sandy Carpet and a Common Marbled Carpet.

January – March 2022

The year has started with many of my regular winter visitors returning. Lesser Redpolls, Blackcaps, Long-tailed Tits and even a Bullfinch have appeared in the garden. The Bullfinches usually arrive later on in the year so I was pleased to see this one. In previous years I have had a few Fieldfare come in to feast on the apples and stay around but I have had very few apples on the tree in Autumn so only one Fieldfare appeared and did not stay long. I occasionally have a Treecreeper come into garden during the year and one appeared for the first time at the end of January. it was lovely to get a visit from a Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding on the peanuts during these winter months.

The Eider ducks come into the harbour at Burghead during the winter months usually in large numbers. There was still not a great deal of snow around and I saw on one sunny day nine Grey-legged Partridges in a field near the coast. They are so well camouflaged in the surroundings of the field that it was only when some moved that i noticed them. They are quite attractive birds when you see them up close. At Hopeman there were a group of Sanderling and Ringed Plovers together on the beach.

One surprise was seeing a Grey Heron sitting on top of a neighbour’s roof. It rested there for a while and I can only surmise that there was a pond in one of the gardens which had attracted it to the area.

At Loch of Blairs there were the usual Mute Swans and Little Grebes. As winter comes to an end and spring was arriving, for the first time, I saw a pair of Mandarin ducks on the loch. I have been back there since and have not seen them again so they must have been passing through.

The first bird I saw which heralded the beginning of Spring was a Wheatear at the coast. It is also the start of my moth trapping year and the first one of interest was this Yellow Horned.

December 2021

There has been no real sign of winter weather yet. So far very few Bramblings have been seen. I went out for a walk one day to a spot where we had seen Bramblings one winter before. We did not see any, but lo and behold when we got back one appeared at the feeders in my garden. It stayed around most of the afternoon but has not been seen since. We sometimes get Collared Doves in the garden and they are very attractive birds. However, they are easy prey for any passing Sparrowhawk. A Lesser Redpoll came in on a few occasions and a few Long-tailed Tits.

I have mentioned Burghead lots of times here before and I realise how lucky we are to live so close to it. The Slavonian Grebe and Guillemot are still there. The Eiders are coming in to the harbour and can usually be found there at different times over the winter months. I have noticed a reduction of Shags and Cormorants there over the last few years. I am not sure if this is unusual or just a general trend round the coast. The Herring Gulls usually hang around the fishing boats when they arrive in the harbour but on one occasion when I was there someone emptied their left over bread into the harbour and it was quite spectacular when seized upon by the gulls.

The highlight of the month and indeed a good end to the year was a Little Auk in the harbour. This was the first time I had actually seen one but it did not hang around for long.

November 2021

The first winter visitors have arrived this month. Flocks of Fieldfare were up at the Enterprise Park along with a small number of Redwings. None have appeared in my garden yet. For the past few years I have had a couple of Fieldfare which stayed for a few months in the garden eating the apples from the apple tree. The apple tree had a poor year with very few apples on it. So if these birds do appear in the garden I will have to stock up with apples.

A Slavonian Grebe has appeared again in Burghead harbour. There had been one in the harbour earlier in the year, This is the first year I have seen one there and probably the first time I have seen one close up. There was still a little Guillemot coming in also. The first Snow Buntings I ever saw were at Lossiemouth in a group through my binoculars, so I was delighted to see one close up at Burghead on the grassy bank. It was completely unperturbed by human presence and had been there for a few days. There are nearly always Grey Herons on the rocks there too. Many bird watching groups go to Burghead at different times in the year as there is always plenty to be seen.

On our way back from the Dava there were three Red Kites flying overhead for a few minutes. It was difficult to get a good photograph at the right angle but I was pleased that the outline of the birds could be seen.

October 2021

Once again I have seen very little of note this month. Just the usual garden birds and a little Wren that has been coming in frequently and singing loudly.

The only interesting bird out and about was a Common Snipe which was sitting on a fence post on the way to Burghead. They are not easy to find and they are usually well hidden in the undergrowth. I was lucky to find this one sitting out in the open. The only other time I have seen one was up on the Dava when there was one drinking from a puddle of water one snowy day. At Burghead there were lots of Turnstones and Herring Gulls feeding on the fish when the boats come in and a Guillemot in the harbour. The small group of Mute Swans were at Blairs Loch.

September 2021

I have seen very little this month, both out and about and in the garden. The pair of Bullfinches continue to visit and are more relaxed about being seen from the window. For some reason we do not see many young Chaffinches in the garden, just adults, but this one appeared for a drink. It is lovely to watch the Robin singing around the garden. It is a sure faithful companion when sitting outside at any time.

The Razorbills and Guillemots are still in large numbers along the coast and were often found in the harbour at Burghead. There was a Little Grebe at Sanquhar Pond for a while and usually Moorhens are to be found at the pond near The Loft.

August 2021

Again there have not been many birds in the garden this month. The weather has been good so perhaps they are finding plenty food elsewhere. There are still some young birds coming in. I don’t often get a Song Thrush in the garden but a young one came in for a while. I have many Wood Pigeons and not surprisingly we often get young ones. Although they are the same size as the adult birds they stand out from them as they do not have the fluorescent green and purple at the neck.

We have the usual butterflies in the garden, Red Admirals, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells. Last year I had a Comma Butterfly in the garden which was rare, but unfortunately I did not see one this year. However, I saw quite a few butterflies when out walking on Burgie Hill which is a good place to spot lots of varieties. Another good spot for seeing lots of moths and butterflies is walking along a stretch of the Dava Way. It was here that I saw the Vapourer caterpillar but I have yet to see a Vapourer moth. We again had lots of moths this month in the moth trap but I have only put up a Canary Shoulder Thorn which was rather attractive.

Although we were not at the coast very often this month I have put up a picture of a Guillemot. There had been reports of thousands of Guillemmots and Razorbills along large stretches of coastline and many of them were found dead. One day when we were at Kingston this month, the tide was in and there were hundreds of Guillemots and Razorbills swimming close to the shore. So far no explanation has been given for this phenomenon but it was rather upsetting to see as many would not survive,

July 2021

For most of this month it was just the male Bullfinch which kept coming into the garden. I am concerned that something has happened to the female. The Magpie has also continued to come in. We get the occasional Feral Pigeon coming in and this one stood out because of the markings on the front of it. On the whole there has been very few birds in the garden this month but there was one highlight. A Jay dropped into the garden one afternoon and landed on the grass. They are really almost impossible to photograph as they fly at the slightest movement. I just managed to get a shot through the blinds on the window and then it was off.

There have not been so many Swallows around this year. This was my first photo of one. At the Enterprise Park there are many Common Gulls with young. This seems to be a favourite place for breeding Common Gulls. At Brodie Pond there were quite a few Moorhens with chicks.

This was another good month for moths. Here are a few examples of some of the more interesting ones. For anyone who has not done any moth trapping it becomes quite addictive when you see so many different species, some of which are quite attractive. The challenge is being able to name them all and this can be very time consuming and even then mistakes are made. Fortunately, we have a local moth recorder who is very helpful in identifying ones that we just cannot name and correcting mistakes we have made. I doubt we would be able to identify any unless I get a picture of them. Indeed many escape from the trap before they are photographed.