July – September 2018

I did not photograph many birds in the garden during these months although there were still young around. A Treecreeper appeared in the garden and there was a spectacular Giant Horsefly at the garden pond. There was also a Willow Warbler which appeared in the garden briefly. Some of the flowers in the garden attracted large moths.

At the beginning of August I went on a boat trip from Macduff to Troup Head. We only saw one Puffin in the water as we were probably too late for them but there were the usual displays of Gannets, Razorbills, Guillemots and Fulmar on the cliffs. It is quite a spectacle to see the cliffs covered completely with different birds. On the way back we had an unexpected stop beside this massive tanker to pick up four workers who were heading home. It was quite an experience watching them make their way down the gangway and ladders to reach our tiny boat. Let’s say rather them than me!

There was the usual wildlife to see up on the Dava during these months. I was fortunate to see Red-Legged Partridges with chicks on a few occasions. This is the time of year also when you can see deer close to the roads. At Loch Belivat I saw two unusual Hybrid Mallards which stood out among the other ducks in the water.

Although I nearly always see Stonechats up the Dava I saw quite a few at the coast during these months. At Burghead along with the usual Seals, I saw many Turnstones and Rock Pipits. At Cummingston, there were Whitethroats and Wheatears. On a visit to Kingston I was lucky to see a WaterRail which is a rare visitor to there.

There were many Butterflies around this year and some which I had not seen for a few years such as a Small Copper and a Ringlet.

Finally, I had been abroad for two weeks at the beginning of September. While we were there I heard that a Hoopoe had been seen at Cromarty. I was delighted to find that it was still there when I returned. I spent over an hour there watching this bird as it fed on the ground completely ignoring the small group of birdwatchers close by. No apologies for the excess photos of it as it a rare visitor to this country and I felt privilged to have seen it.

May -June 2018

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.