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.

April – June 2020

Lockdown has continued throughout the next three months. However, the weather has been surprisely good and I was able to spend a lot of time in the garden. One advantage of this was the fact that I was seeing things that I might have missed otherwise.

Every year for the last three years we have had a pair of Tree Sparrows which roost in one of our nest boxes over winter and nest in it during the Spring with three broods of young over Spring and Summer. As I was sitting out in the garden I watched a Blue Tit systematically pick out all the nesting material in the box for about twenty minutes. I thought it was perhaps planning using the box for its own nest. I had never seen this happen before. However, a few days later, the Tree Sparrows started to build up the nest again in the box and successfully had their first brood.

I have now two neighbouring young cats which persistently come into the garden despite my best efforts to dissuade them. They sit behind the bushes close to the feeders and have on lots of occasions caught some young birds. I was aware that the numbers of young birds in the garden was greatly reduced from previous years but this may have only been one reason. Another reason was a Sparrowhawk which frequently sat on the fence. There were quite a few young Starlings about they did not hang around for long.

Three early Butterflies came into the garden. I do not recall seeing them in the garden before : a Speckled Wood, a Meadow Brown and a Ringlet.

The highlight for me at this time was a first visit ever in the garden of a Jay. Had I not been in Lockdown I would possibly have missed it. It came in and fed on the ground below the feeders. We watched it out of the porch window but the slightest movement and it was away. Although it came in regularly for a few days I only got one distant shot. However, I was delighted that it had come into the garden if only for a short time.

Another good thing about lockdown is that it gave Frank and I the opportunity to take up a new hobby that we had been considering for a while.  Frank had been speaking for a long time now about getting a moth trap.  Less enthusiastically I agreed.  We don’t see many moths on our windows here during the winter. Our first venture in moth trapping meant getting up at five thirty in the morning to see what was in the trap before they flew.  There were about twelve moths on that occasion. The two most interesting and lovely ones that day were a Peppered Moth and a Poplar Hawk Moth.  A few days later we had a beautiful White Ermine.  As the days went on our repertoire of moths increased and there was a feeling of anticipation each morning as if we were opening a Christmas present each day.  We could not have imagined there were so many different moths.They had all to be photographed as we would never have found out what they were.  The joy of moth trapping is the expectation each time of what we are going to find. It was so easy to become hooked. On one occasion we had fifty moths in the trap.  The hard bit is naming them all! There are about 2500 moths species in the UK, but of those 1600 are micro moths.  We were spending many hours trying to identify them all.  Thanks to the help of friends who were moth experts our confidence is growing but it can still take us both quite a while to identity them.  With the darker mornings we don’t need to get out so early to the trap and there are no longer so many moths.  I started out as a sceptic to moth trapping but am now looking forward to continuing this hobby. We are beginning to get more and more moths each time.  

October – December 2018

The Sparrowhawk has started coming into the garden frequently these last few months. I have not been aware of it catching anything and there have been no telltale signs of feathers in the garden. There are still plenty of Tree Sparrows. The numbers are unusually high and they seem to be driving away the House Sparrows of which we had a lot. The Jackdaws fly in a few families at a time and their numbers can be quite high also but they do not linger for long. I have had few visits from a Great Spotted Woodpecker but it is not easy to photograph as it flies off at the slightest movement. We have started stockpiling our apples from the tree for the winter and already there are signs of winter visitors. Redwings have started to appear and were eating the apples and a male Blackcap came in and was eating the suet balls. There was also a Fieldfare in the play area next to our garden. At the end of the day, at dusk, Long-tailed Tits have been coming in small groups. Usually, I have just one or two Bramblings in the garden but on one occasion there were three. Every year about December a Pheasant appears in the garden and this year was no exception. It did not hang aroudn for long.

On our trips along the coast, we have seen lots of Bar-tailed Godwits, Redshanks and Ringed Plovers in the harbour at Port Gordon. Occasionally I have seen Gosanders in that area. The Seals are always basking on the beach near Port Gordon also. I was delighted to see my first King Eider at Burghead in October. Also on that same day I saw a Viking Gull. I thought it was a Glaucous Gull but a reliable source told me it was a Viking Gull. Waxwings arrived in this area about the beginning of November. I had not seen any in Forres and they did not seem to be in large numbers. However, there were about fifty seen in Cullen and as we sometimes started our birdwatching along the coast at Cullen we went through to see them. Fortunately, it was a bright sunny day while we were there. On a trip to Inverness we stopped at Alturlie to see what was on the water but there just the usual Teal and Wigeon.

There have not been so many geese in the fields around Moyness as in previous years. I think they were more in the hundreds than in the thousands which had been there before. On my way there one day I spotted a Jay on a tree. Although not he best of photographs it was the closest I have got to photographing one.