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.
The Bullfinches which appeared for the first time last month have continued to come back to the feeders. Unlike some of the birds which come to the feeders they are not easily disturbed. Otherwise there was not a great deal of activity in the garden. A juvenile Herring Gull was encouraged into our garden by the parent bird. A Wren occasionally came in and on this occasion it stopped long enough for me to get a clear picture. Although the Fieldfares have disappeared from the garden, the Song Thrush remained for a while. Including the Yellowhammers, these birds were the most regular visitors to the garden this month. On one day only a Willow Warbler appeared in the apple tree.
An unusual visitor for Burghead Harbour was a Great Crested Grebe. I had seen many of these while abroad on holiday but it was special to see one so close to home. There are always Tufted Ducks at Brodie Pond along with the Mallards, Little Grebes, Coot and Moorhens. I don’t often see Grey Partridges as they are expert at cowering down and remaining still in amongst the stubble. However, on this day, the grass was fairly short at the edge of a field, where you can usually find them, near Coltfield.
We are well into moth trapping by now and were finding quite a range of moths this month. Here are a few examples of some of the more interesting ones. At the same time I saw my first butterflies in the garden, an Orange Tip and a Peacock.
In May the young birds started to appear in the garden. The parent birds were busy all the time feeding their young. There were juvenile House Sparrows, Starlings, Dunnocks and Blue Tits. When I was out and about on the Dava, I saw Lapwing chicks, Mallard with ducklings and I even saw my first Cuckoo of the year in the same place as I had seen them in previous years. The Red-breasted Divers had also returned to the lochs on the Dava. The young Deer could also be easily seen in the fields. The Orange Tip Butterflies are seen quite early in Spring in the garden but it not always easy to get a photograph as they never settle, just pass through. In the woods there are plenty Speckled Wood Butterflies.
At the beginning of June we were in Ghent, in Belgium, for a few days. It was a lovely city with plenty to see. I always see Great Crested Grebes when I go abroad to various cities and Ghent was no exception to this. They were seen on every waterway. They are very photogenic birds as they glide gracefully past. I also noticed a Coot there, out of the water and did not realise they had such large feet!
Back home, there was plenty of activity along the coast. I was fortunate to see Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers with their Chicks and Eider Ducks with young in the sea. As the weather was so good there were always plenty Grey and Common Seals basking along the shores. On the Dava, I saw my first Red-legged Partridge chicks and Juvenile Stonechats being fed. There were plenty of Dragonflies to be seen near a small pond in the woods. A little mouse has been appearing at the bottom of my birdfeeders for a while now. I hope it survives as there are Herring Gulls and Jackdaws often in the garden.
Along with the usual birds in the garden there were a few visitors. There had been large groups of Goldfinches and Chaffinches in the garden. In amongst the Chaffinches one cold and wet morning there was Brambling feeding on the tree. I unfortunately did not get a photograph of it and it only came in the once. Towards the end of the month a little Goldcrest was flitting about the apple tree. Again the light was poor and I could not get a photograph. However, for quite a few days, small group of Long-tailed Tits came in.
I did see this lovely Silver Y Moth on a window ledge.
Along The Coast
As well as being on a holiday this month I had been unwell and did not get out and about as much as would have liked. I was only at the coast twice. As well as finding an increase in Turnstone, Ringed Plovers and Redshank numbers at Cullen, Cummingston and Burghead, I saw this Bar-tailed Godwit amongst the Plovers at Hopeman.
On the Dava
I was only up the Dava once this month and saw three Red-legged Partridges at Dulcie Farm and a Stonechat near LIttle Aitnoch.
On our way back from Cullen one day we stopped off at Loch Oire near Elgin. There i saw a Gadwall in amongst a group of Mallards. This was only the second occasion I had seen a Gadwall as I had seen one at St John’s Pool near Thurso earlier in the year.
The Redwings and Fieldfares have started to arrive but not in particularly large numbers as yet. This Redwing was near the reservoir in Lower Broadshaw wood. This Buzzard was watching a group of Fieldfares and Redwings from the top of a telegraph pole.
We went to Berlin for a week in October to see the Festival of Lights. I had heard that Goshawks were sometimes seen on the top of buildings there. Unfortunately i did not see any. However, on a trip to Potsdam I saw a large group of Coots together. Here we just see the occasional one or two in ponds or lochs but in Potsdam there were well over a hundred. In the same area I saw this lovely Hooded Crow, a solitary Cormorant and this beautiful Great Crested Grebe.