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.

Raemoir Great Grey Shrike - in the hand

Alistar and Walter from the ringing group sent me these images of the Raemoir Great Grey Shrike that they trapped whilst ringing at their feeding station at Loch of the Leys last weekend. It is only 1/2 mile or so away from the trout fishery, so clearly the shrike had moved to take advantage of the small birds around the feeders. It is now back at the trout farm, as I saw it this morning (with a shiny ring confirmed). Just look at the ringers fingers!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

North East Birders Social Evening - 4th February 2012

The annual social get together of North East Scotland birders took place last night at the Ythan Hotel, Newburgh. A great line up of talks ensured plenty of variety, covering foreign birding, conservation and identification so there was something for everyone (hopefully). The headcount was 52 which I think is probably the highest to attend this social evening, even more remarkable considering the hazardous driving conditions.

The six 'headline' acts were:

Jenny Lennon - Red Kites and White-tailed Eagles

Chris Gibbins - Azerbaijan

Hilary McBain - Birding Catalonia

Andrew Whitehouse - Birding Jordan

Phil Bloor - Birds and Offshore Windfarms
Rab 'skitts' Rae - Identifying Crossbills

Thank you to all the above speakers for making the evening so enjoyable