26 March 2018

One of the things I am doing this year is a bird challenge along with some other bird watchers where we have to record as many different species of birds seen in our home patch.  We have to stick within a five mile radius of our house.  This has resulted in us visiting  places in our area where we have not actually been to bird watch and revisiting places close at  hand which we had forgotten about.

The year started well as I  had lots of winter visitors in the garden. I also saw some birds that I might not have seen easily.  The first of course was the Kingfisher but I also saw a Merlin down at Findhorn.  The Merlin was too far away for a picture but I managed to video it for identification.  So far I have reached seventy-five  in my bird count.

With this in mind I have been going regularly to Sanquhar Pond in town and to Brodie Castle Pond. As well as the usual Mallards and Moorhens at both places, the swans  have returned to Sanquhar and there have been swans at Brodie for a while.  At Sanquhar there has been a  pair of Tufted Ducks and recently there were three Goosanders, a male and two females. Then a few days later at Brodie I saw three Goosanders, again one male and two females although one of the females flew off. It was possible that these were the same ones seen at Sanquhar so we went up to Sanquhar to see and certainly the ones there were not around, but they have been seen in Sanquhar since then.  There was also a Cormorant sunning itself on a log at Sanquhar. There used to be one or two Cormorants a few years ago at Sanquhar but I don’t  think I saw any last year.

At Brodie Pond there were four Tufted Ducks and lots of Mallards. Although the male Mallard is the more striking of the two, in the right light the tawny-brown and black colours of the female can stand out also. Brodie Pond has a lot of Moorhens and some Coots. It also has at least four Little Grebes.  Little Grebes are very shy birds and although you can hear them they usually disappear under water as soon as they sense your presence.  However, I think they are getting more confiding as certainly the ones at Brodie seem to swim past ignoring people.  It would be lovely if they breed there so that we can have a chance to see their young.

10 February 2018

Early on this month the Great Spotted Woodpecker came into the garden and lingered long enough for me to get a photograph through the window. There was no red on the back of its head or on the top so it must be a female.  The Long-Tailed Tits are still coming in  and I have had a Feral Pigeon coming to visit.  There are Feral Pigeons all over the town but it is unusual for me to have one in the garden.

On a recent trip to Inverness I stopped off at Alturlie and there were many Wigeons and Mallards but a lone Goldeneye was swimming along  away from all of these.

I went  down to the Mosset Burn last week to look for the Kingfisher but again was unlucky.  However I saw this lovely Goosander there and then  this Tufted Duck at Sanquhar Pond.

All my expectations were exceeded on Friday and Saturday when I at last saw the Kingfisher.   I make no apologies for showing  a few pictures of it as its colours appeared differently on both days depending on the sunlight and the time of day.  Never did I imagine that I would be able to photograph one sitting in front of me and for such a long period of time.  It was completely  unperturbed by people walking past with their dogs and focused solely on its catch.  It would be lovely if it remained there for a while.  Certainly a photographer’s dream.

Finally that Saturday  finished off nicely when I went to Hopeman to see two Waxwings which had been seen there.  After the hundreds of Waxwings that that were around last winter there has been very few this winter. I saw four at the top of a tree along the road from the house  one afternoon last month but that was only through my binoculars and i never saw them again.   So I was lucky to see the two at Hopeman and although it was not very bright I managed to get some shots.



September 2017

In the Garden in Forres

We added  a small pond to our garden earlier in the year in the hope of encouraging  Dragonflies or Damselflies. We have not put any fish in it. The first Dragonfly I saw there was this Black Darter.  There are always birds drinking from it particularly the House Sparrows and the Tree Sparrows.

There has been a large amount of Red Admiral and Peacock Butterflies the whole of the summer in the garden and this month I think they have reached their peak.  Certainly the Buddleia flowers attract them and the Bumble Bees,  Carder Bees and Hoverflies.

As usual a Sparrowhawk came in and unsuccessfully tried to hide behind the bird feeder. However, the birds were all too quick for it.  I am not sure if it even actually saw me at the bottom of the garden.

A Rabbit is still coming in to the garden but towards the end of the month there were two.  The Chiffchaff was still appearing in the garden at the beginning of the month but it will not be long before it goes.  There were still young House Sparrows and Wood Pigeons on the go.   One day I had six Collared Doves in the garden.  Usually the most I have had is four.

Loch of Blairs

I have only visited Blairs Loch once this month and I saw that there were now some Wigeon there but only in a small number. There were lots of Mallards, two Moorhens, three Little Grebes and four Mute Swans.  However, for the first time I saw a Grey Wagtail there and a Goosander. 

Along The Coast

We have started going along the Coast to Cullen and working back through the small towns and villages  towards Elgin.  There is usually plenty to see.  At Cullen itself I saw Grey Wagtails where the river enters the sea and some Rock Pipits.  At the East beach there were lots of Turnstones and Redshanks.  In amongst them were three Ringed Plovers. At Findochty harbour there were four Redshanks and a Common Guillemot.  At Buckie harbour there were four Goosanders and a Black Guillemot.

There were lots of Seals basking on the rocks near Buckie.  There are always seals in the harbour at Burghead also.  One of the days I was at Hopeman I saw seven Stonechats and a Wheatear. I don’t often see Magpies at the coast except usually at Cummingston but when I was out walking at Findhorn I  saw four chasing each other on the sand dunes.

On The Dava

When I went up the Dava a couple of times this month I  saw very little.  However at Rumachroy Bridge  I saw this spider making a beautiful web in the sunshine and I saw a Dipper in the river.  Earlier in the year I  had seen Grey Wagtails and Dippers in the river but there was  a spell of really heavy rain when the rivers burst their banks and I did not see any again.

We often stop for coffee when we are up on the Dava at the Old Dava School House and this Red Squirrel was taken at the feeders in the grounds.


Finally we had been walking through Lower Bradshaw Woods to the reservoir there  a couple of times this month.  On some of the walks I had seen a Southern Hawker Dragonfly and a Scotch Argos Butterfly.  At the reservoir there were three Tufted Ducks and  two Moorhens with chicks.

On one of the occasions as we got back to the car there were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other near the car.  At one of the crossroads on the way there,  near Darnaway,  there is nearly always a Buzzard sitting on  fence post and sometimes it is obliging and stays just that minute longer so I can get a photograph albeit a distant one.