The winter birds have started to arrive. The first Waxwings that I saw this year were not in my garden, unfortunately, but quite close by in town. There were nine of them initially, but their numbers increased quite quickly elsewhere in town. I quickly put out apples but I still hoping some will come into the garden. During the month, a Treecreeper, a Wren, a Goldcrest. a Redwing and some Long-tailed Tits came in. I also had a multi-coloured Feral Pigeon that came in regularly. The numbers of Tree Sparrows are beginning to increase again.
Bird watching has been very quiet this month with just some Stonechats, Meadow Pipits and Pheasants seen when I was out and about. I have also seen very little at the coast but I can always depend on seeing a seal at Burghead harbour.
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.
Early on this month the Great Spotted Woodpecker came into the garden and lingered long enough for me to get a photograph through the window. There was no red on the back of its head or on the top so it must be a female. The Long-Tailed Tits are still coming in and I have had a Feral Pigeon coming to visit. There are Feral Pigeons all over the town but it is unusual for me to have one in the garden.
On a recent trip to Inverness I stopped off at Alturlie and there were many Wigeons and Mallards but a lone Goldeneye was swimming along away from all of these.
I went down to the Mosset Burn last week to look for the Kingfisher but again was unlucky. However I saw this lovely Goosander there and then this Tufted Duck at Sanquhar Pond.
All my expectations were exceeded on Friday and Saturday when I at last saw the Kingfisher. I make no apologies for showing a few pictures of it as its colours appeared differently on both days depending on the sunlight and the time of day. Never did I imagine that I would be able to photograph one sitting in front of me and for such a long period of time. It was completely unperturbed by people walking past with their dogs and focused solely on its catch. It would be lovely if it remained there for a while. Certainly a photographer’s dream.
Finally that Saturday finished off nicely when I went to Hopeman to see two Waxwings which had been seen there. After the hundreds of Waxwings that that were around last winter there has been very few this winter. I saw four at the top of a tree along the road from the house one afternoon last month but that was only through my binoculars and i never saw them again. So I was lucky to see the two at Hopeman and although it was not very bright I managed to get some shots.
I have abandoned the idea of writing this blog at the end of each month and decided to write it only on days when I have seen things of interest.
Today was a beautiful sunny day but extremely frosty. One of those crispy winter days that most of us like. Up till now January has been pretty uneventful both in the garden and out and about for bird watching. However, today was much more interesting. Firstly a lovely Fieldfare flew into the apple tree this morning. Unfortunately it did not hang around even though I had apples on the ground. Hopefully it will come back.
We decided to head along the coast from Burghead to Hopeman. Waxwings had been seen in a garden in Burghead during the last week and I had hoped to see them. Unfortunately they were not to be seen. On some rocks at Burghead a small group of Redshanks were sheltering as the tide was in. Their red legs and beaks stood out brightly against the grey rocks.
On the harbour wall there was a small group of Turnstones scurrying along the wall. At first I did not notice them, but looking at them more closely I saw two Purple Sandpipers in the middle of them. At the mouth of the harbour there appeared a group of over eighty Eider Ducks and a Cormorant. Only one Eider and the Cormorant actually came into the harbour where I saw the usual Seal.
At Burghead Point there were four Goldeneye in the water and lots of Eider flying past. A lone Herring Gull was standing at the point thinking about its next meal.
On the way back I spotted another Fieldfare near Roseisle and I saw a Grey Heron on the back road to Kinloss.
In the afternoon three Long-tailed Tits came into the garden to the feeders. They are such cute balls of fluff. Later, when I was upstairs saw a small flock of birds land on the top of some trees in a garden in the distance down the road. I did wonder if they might be Waxwings so I got out my binoculars. Sure enough, in among Chaffinches and Goldfinches were four Waxwings – the first I had seen this year. Disappointingly they were far too far away to get a photograph.
I will keep putting apples on the ground in the hope that the Fieldfare or the Waxwings come into the garden long enough for me to get a picture. Although that might be a bit of a forlorn hope as I saw a Sparrowhawk fly through the garden at the end of the day.