February 2019

The Fieldfare hung around the garden for six days. It spent each day entirely in the garden eating the apples and chasing all the Blackbirds and the other Fieldfare away. Sometimes it tired itself out completely and had to spend about an hour just sitting in the tree. Up to eight Bramblings came in at the one time into the garden this month. Some of them stopped feeding on the ground and were feeding on the feeders. If it happens to be a particularly cold winter I sometimes get a pheasant visiting the garden and this month one appeared. February was an unusually warm month so I was surprised to see it. It continued to appear on odd days throughout the month. I do wonder where it comes from as I live in the town and am a wee bit away from any farmland. The Long-tailed Tits are still coming in. I saw seven of them together at one time. There may have been more but they flit around so quickly that it is sometimes difficult to count them. I also now have two male Yellowhammers and a female Yellowhammer coming into the garden on a regular basis. One of my favourite birds in the garden is the Collared Dove. I have two pairs coming in. There is sometimes a dispute between the pairs over territory and I think one pair is starting to nest in the trees at the bottom of the garden. They are such gentle looking birds and a few years ago I witnessed a Sparrowhawk in the garden tearing one to shreds so I would hate that to happen again. The Wren still makes an appearance and there are two Lesser Redpolls still coming in. The big surprise of the month was two male Bullfinches which came in fleetingly into the garden. It is quite a few years since I have seen a Bullfinch in the garden.

It is in winter when you see most birds of prey sitting on fence posts or poles close to the roads. I was lucky enough to see two Kestrels this month, one in Moyness and the other at Kinloss, and a Buzzard at Darnaway. Quite often, particularly with Buzzards, they will still be in the same area when you go back. There had been a Great Grey Shrike seen up the Dava and I went up a few times to look for it. It was very popular with bird watchers at these times. Finally, on my third attempt, I managed to see it but it was very distant. I must admit I was quite smug as I had seen one two years ago at Loch Kirkaldy and had got a lovely photograph of it then. In the same area, there was also a Peregrine and a Red Kite flying around. Deer also are quite close to roads at this time and I have seen quite a few when I have been out and about. One of the days I was at Loch Spynie and saw one of the Water Rails there and a Red Squirrel at the water’s edge also. I went to Nairn to see the Brent Geese which winter there every year but I am not sure the numbers were as high as previous years. Finally, another trip along the coast, and I managed to see lots of Dunlin and Redshanks at Portgordon and Purple Sandpipers at Burghead.

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.