Sunday, 28 February 2010

Snow, Gulls and Eagles

Today, the weather was supposed to sunny and of course, they were wrong - pretty overcast with bits of white stuff floating about but still dry.  I couldnt get excited about the housework so suggested we went to Calgary Bay to blow off the cobwebs.  We decided to drive round the coast rather than through the glen road.  We hadnt gone far when we spotted one of the male sea eagles doing a fantastic fly past and then fly straight into his nest!  Not bad for starters.  Great Northern Diver, mergansers on the Loch and a kestrel sat in the top of tree as we drove past - quite close but the light was awful for taking a pic - he would probably have flown off as soon as I picked the camera up!  We called in at Ulva Ferry as there is usually an otter and seals in the area - a great black backed gull with a youngster were close into the pier - managed to get a shot of him as he came into land - I thought his wings and tail resembled one of our eagles from behind - they are such a huge gull.  As we turned inland heading for Calgary, I was amazed at just how much snow there was!  I took a picture of one of the drifts - Hannah was playing in the snow and it was up to her knees (and she's quite tall!).  As usual, at this time of the year, there was just us and one other couple on the beach.  As we pulled into the car park, the common gull who always seems to be there came over to greet us - there's something about common gulls not sure what but I have a bit of a soft spot for them.  A herring gull was hanging about waiting for crumbs and it was interesting to see the difference between the two gulls.  We did two lengths of the beach before the cold northerly wind got to us.  We drove home through the glen and was delighted to have a white tailed eagle flying parallel with us and then land in the river just yards away - stopped for a drink before he flew up to a nearby crag where he eventually was getting hassle from a buzzard - guess he was sat in his spot.  Finally had to return home and quick lick and a promise with the housework - sat down to read the paper only to spot the barn owl hunting outside - not seen him for sometime so hopefully he's now back - hopefully he's got a mate tucked away somewhere!

Friday, 26 February 2010

More Waxing Lyrical

Well the weather was a tad brighter and drier today and the waxwing is still in Dave's garden - I sneaked into the garden and there he was happily feeding on apples, plums and kiwi fruit - what a great diet.  He certainly wasnt bothered by my presence but kept a watchful eye out on the other birds - the chaffinches seemed to be giving him a hard time - whenever he flew up into a tree they would all join in and appear to "force him out".

There is also a short video of one minute taken on  my little Lumix camera - its on Youtube and Flickr

Still having strange weather here - no snow here in Salen - I was due to do a trip to the eagle hide this morning but had been advised by the Forestry Commission (one of the partners and whose land the hide sits on) that the track was treacherous and therefore we should cancel the trip.  I managed to contact everyone except one so had to drive to the meeting point to tell them the trip was cancelled.  As I drove up, I kept thinking "but the road is clear - where is the snow?" - I turned off the main road down the track, about 100 yards, turned a bend and there it was - deep, not so crisp but very soft - and very hard to drive - I crawled down to the meeting point where my phone beeped to indicate a message - from the guys I couldnt contact to say they were unable to make it either!  I managed to turn the van round and head back home - I thought I could sneak to the hide and check out our eagles but it really was awful and just not worth the risk - will have to hold off for a couple of days more.  Tomorrow there is a large meeting on Renewables on Mull as to where we go for the future - should be interesting - but the best bit is the Screen Machine showing Avatar tomorrow night - really looking forward to it!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Waxing Lyrical

Originally uploaded by Wild Freckle
Look what turned up in the garden of our RSPB Officer? A beautiful waxwing. He arrived yesterday and was still there at lunchtime. I was so excited as this is a first for me - stunning little bird - strange that all the chaffinches sat in a nearby tree just watching him - sadly all alone but enjoying the fruit that had been put out for him.

There haven't been many sightings of waxwings so far which either means they have plenty of food where they are or its just too cold down here for them.

After my boasting of suncream and sunshine, it all went downhill yesterday - hubby had to turn back from Carsaig as unable to get through due to the snow on the road although here in the middle of the Island its just wet with lots of sleet.

On Tuesday I did the scenic trip round the Island and saw heaps of stuff including both types of eagles, great northern diver, black throated diver, goosander, red breasted merganser, hen harrier, redshank, ring plovers to name but a few. Will post some scenic shots.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Still blue sky and sunshine!

We are really being spoilt here at the moment - yes its cold with snow and ice but daytime is clear blue sky and sunshine - so much so, that having spent most of yesterday outside at Loch Frisa I needed after sun cream - honest!  There was real warmth in the sun, even though the Loch was covered in snow - a first for me!  Both our adult sea eagles sat in one of their favourite trees for most of the day - they really should be getting their talons out and building a nest - these two seem to like a change of scenery each year whereas some pairs on the Island will use the same nest.  This seems to be the pattern that followed last year when they decided to build their nest quite late on - this resulted in not the best nest and may have been the cause for the loss of our male chick as he prepared to fledge and part of the nest collapsed.  It was a lovely group of visitors who came to the Hide, just enjoying the stunning surroundings and the weather.  My only worry is what will our spring and summer be like - we are being spoilt at the moment.

This afternoon, spur of the moment, having delivered a parcel to a neighbour I decided to walk down to Salen Bay and to Aros Bridge.  I had no binoculars or camera with me - typical.  It was just nice to stretch the legs and feel the warmth of the sunshine whilst walking along the verge in the snow!  There were plenty of seals in the bay basking in the sun looking like giant grey bananas, 4 gey heron, oystercatchers, curlew, wigeon, teal, great black backed gulls, herring gulls, ringed plovers - plus some I couldnt identify without my bins!    This is a picture of that little walk taken recently to give you an idea of the view.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Return of the Siskins

Great day at the eagle hide today - had a group of 17 - both the adults, Skye and Frisa were sat in a tree opposite to everyone had fantastic views of them.  After some time, Skye took off and flew across the Loch to join another 3 sea eagles on the far side - it was possible he went over to "see them off" as a threat to his territory or indeed his missus!  We had a covering of snow overnight so it made the whole scene at Loch Frisa very picturesque.  Noticeable today were the numbers of siskins that arrived on the feeders - they really stood out against the snow - lots of crossbills around too.  Another trip planned for tomorrow.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

A bit late for Big Garden Birdwatch!

Well, I've been away from the Island for most of the week attending a conference in Pitlochry - the weather was absolutely stunning with lovely crisp mornings and bright clear days. The only trouble was I was wondering what those eagles were up to - with weather like that its great for nest building - who knows where they will decide to make home this year - Loch Frisa is 8 miles long with many a tree - but this morning as I lay in bed, 2 huge birds flew past the window - with a "what the ************** was that?" I leapt out knowing full well it was our two eagles that obligingly sit on the rocks looking out to sea. Its so nice to go away but even better to come home and with a wake up like that I know where I would rather be.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Urban Birding On Mull

In early January, we were delighted to welcome David Lindo, aka The Urban Birder and Russell Spencer, brilliant photographer to Mull - a first for both of them.  Within half an hour of landing on Mull we had a juvenile sea eagle fly past - that set the tone for the week.  Lots of ticks including David's first real Scottish golden eagle, not one, but two doing a great display for us.  Whilst he was here David gave a talk to the Isle of Mull Bird Club about his own patch in London, The Scrubs - famous for the prison but for David his little bit of birding paradise.  It was so refreshing to hear his passion and love for this area of London that many people would not even give a second glance to  - but look deeper and you can find all sorts of treasures.  It certainly made me look deeper on my recent trip to London and spotted a grey heron flying over the North Circular!  It was a fantastic week and you couldnt meet two nicer guys - come back soon! 

Check out David's blog and website
and take a look at Russell's photos - just stunning

David Lindo with the RSPB's David Sexton watching goldies!

Russell F Spencer

(both photos Debby Thorne)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Spring is coming!

One of those jobs I keep promising to do and finally got round to doing it yesterday - washing all the bird feeders, tables, bird baths and general tidy up!  The weather was lovely with blue sky and sunshine and really didnt feel too cold.  As I was pottering in the garden, a real hint Spring is on the way:

I was also watched by this little fellow - a dunnock - they may not look particular exciting but boy can they sing!

The weather for this week is forecast to be cold again - back to scraping the ice off the windscreen

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Loch Frisa - North to South

Blue sky and sunshine today so thought I would take a wander up to Loch Frisa and see what those eagles have been up to! Its been a couple of weeks since I've been up there due to snow and ice and a trip to London so have been itching to get out. It never disappoints no matter what the weather - and today was just perfect - you could feel warmth in the sun and I sat and ate my lunch outside with no coat - wey hay! Both adults were bathing down at the lochside and having digested lunch took to the sky in a dazzling synchronised flying session - the dancers on Strictly could learn a lot about timing from these two. They are in the process of checking out potential nest trees but so far, havent decided which one yet!