Sunday, 1 April 2012

Birding around Aberdeen - 31st March 2012

Spent the day out with Chris - a bit of gulling, a visit to Stratheg and the Ythan. Some nice birds seen...

First stop Peterhead, were there were still plenty of white-winged gulls around. We tallied 2 Glaucs and ten Iceland Gulls.  This first-winter was very obliging. We think this bird has been around all winter.
This second-winter Glauc has been around all winter too, now looking very white as it moults into second-summer plumage.

Popped into Strathbeg, were the Greater Yellowlegs was visible from Starnafin.  This is probably the best views we have had since finding it several weeks ago.  Thease are my first attempts as 'digi-scoping' - holding my camera to the scope eyepiece and taking a picture, hand held. Will be good enough for the rarities committee!

Finished off the day on the Ythan, were the newly arrived King Eider was showing off his finery at the mouth of the estuary.  Even the seal couldn't resist admiring him.

Glen Tanar - 24th March 2012

Some images from an early morning visit to Glen Tanar, just as dawn was breaking. The caledonian forests are amazing at first light

 'large-billed' Crossbill - I think probably Scottish...lots of these around

 this roe deer had a white nose

Close up of lichen

Monday, 12 March 2012

Peterhead, 10th March 2012 - some gulls for a change

Arran joined us for the day at Peterhead - 'Mothers Pride?'
It's behind you....
Learning some tips from Chris...
First-winter Iceland Gull (below)
Second-winter Iceland Gull (below two) - still a few around, but not as many
Second-winter Glaucous Gull (below 3) - this beast has spent all winter here
A very dark first-winter Glaucous Gull (below) - again, a 'known' bird that has wintered at Peterhead
Chris getting a a gull master class from Arran...

At Loch of Strathbeg (below) - scoring the Greater Yellowlegs that Chris and I saw in flight last weekend (sorry, no pics)
below - Arran with Chris, Hywel and Olivia - never too young to start...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

....and sledging

The Snow Buntings could only hold Arran's attention for so long... then it was time for some quality father & son time. The wee man ventured a little higher up the slope this time......

Snow Buntings in Glenshee

Spent sometime watching Snow Buntings in the carpark at Glenshee on Sunday afternoon.

In North East Scotland, Snow Bunting is classed as a common passage migrant and winter visitor, breeding in low numbers on the highest mountains. There are two subspecies of Snow Bunting on the Scottish List. Nominate nivalis breeds in arctic North America, Greenland, the Faeroe Islands, Svalbard and Fennoscandia, with some populations wintering in the UK. Insulae (Icelandic Snow Bunting) is partly resident in Iceland, although small numbers winter in the UK. Both insulae and nivalis occur in North East Scotland, with insulae appearing to be the commoner of the two subspecies, both in terms of breeding and wintering numbers.

In North East Scotland, ringing has shown much interchange between Icelandic insulae, with nine foreign ringed birds recovered in the region, and 16 birds ringed in Aberdeenshire recovered in Iceland. A study of birds breeding in the Cairngorms showed that about 90% of males were insulae (Smith 1996).

Smith (1996) also showed that the proportion of nivalis wintering in the uplands of North East Scotland varied, with between 0-10% of wintering females but up to 40% being males. Individuals showing features of nivalis during the breeding season comprise of less than 10% of Cairngorm breeders.

However, sledging soon beckoned...... :-)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Another day 'gulling'

Had the day out on Saturday 12th February with Chris and Hywel around Peterhead and Fraserburgh. Gull numbers down on recent weeks, but still a least 10 Iceland's around Peterhead and the long-staying Kumlien's at Fraserburgh. A few Glaucs thrown in too. We considered some of the white-wingers seen today to be some new individuals we hadn't seen before.

Photographing Iceland Gulls at Peterhead (below)
Near adult Iceland Gull (below), Peterhead - one of at least 3 'near' adult birds today here.Second-winter Iceland Gull (below), Peterhead. This age group still dominates with at least four seen today

This first-winter Glaucous Gull (below 5 images) at Peterhead showed well for the camera

An afternoon in Glenshee

Had the afternoon up at Glenshee with Arran today - plenty of snow for sledging! Had great fun on a small slope near the carpark. The weather was glorious. A few birds around the carpark - a flock of c.50 Snow Buntings, two Ptarmigan (both on Arrans list) and Red Grouse and Raven seen.