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.
The cold wintry weather at the end of February and the beginning of March certainly brought lots of birds into the garden. On the last day of February alone, I had twenty-six different species of birds in the garden . There were really high numbers of the usual birds but then four Fieldfares came in and started eating the apples on the ground. Unfortunately these were the last of our store of apples from the tree so Frank was sent off to buy some more. One of the Fieldfares did hang around most of the day. Then a male and female Yellowhammer came in, the first I had seen in the garden this year, but they are regular summer visitors. I got a fleeting glimpse of a male Blackcap but they are quite shy birds and I expect there was too much activity in the garden that day . However it did return on some of the following days. Then later a Redwing appeared to eat on the apple, followed later by a Song Thrush. The Redwings and Fieldfares will soon be leaving for other climates but it was lovely to see them close up as usually they are in large groups in the fields with Thrushes and they fly away quite quickly. Finally that day a Long-tailed Tit and a Pied Wagtail came in the the garden. Although Pied Wagtails are quite common in green open areas I do not recall ever having one in the garden before.
Since that day I have also had a Great Spotted Woodpecker come in for a short time and the Blackcap, the Redwing, the Song Thrush and the Pied Wagtail have made return visits although now that the snow has gone they have not returned. However, at the end of the week a Brambling appeared in amongst a large group of Chaffinches. It was always feeding on the ground. I would have liked to get a picture of it on the tree as it blended in too well with the ground. i got a glimpse of it the following day but it has not been seen since.
Although the bad weather has stopped me getting out and about it has certainly allowed me to enjoy the various birds in my garden . The Kingfisher is still around at the Mosset Pond but I have not been back again since my first photos. I saw this Dipper up at Sanquhar Pond and the Grey Heron just outside Forres on the way to Rafford.
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.