Monday, 27 December 2010

Getting out to see the birds.

Bad weather is often the best time to see the birds, as they get braver and come closer to humans in their search for food; but bad weather often means less opportunity to get out to see them!  So being able to get along the river path and down to the harbour over Christmas was a treat; and the birds on view made it extra special!  Centre place goes to the beautiful male Goosander resting in the middle of the river; its chest puffed up against the cold.  The colours were spectacular.  I usually see a small group of females and juveniles, and only rarely catch a glimpse of the male.  (Having said that, there was no sign of the others.)

The next day, we saw a female Tufted Duck going with the flow and rushing out to sea.  This encouraged us to scan further for males, and Kate spotted four of them at the harbour entrance.  Still on the duck front, five Goldeneye sat at the mouth of the river; apparently they have been around for a few days.  I noticed a couple of Moorhen on the river too (the second time I’ve seen them). This is quite rare (for me), the usual place I see them is at Loch Flemington.  So here’s hoping they like what they see and hang around.

Also on the river on Sunday we spotted the resident Dipper darting from bank to bank and taking the odd dive under the cold, fast flowing water.  A few Feildfare flew overhead and a Mistle Thrush sat quietly in the long grass on the raised land by the Seaman’s Hall.  Down at the west wall of the mouth of the river, a Meadow Pipit foraged among the rocks.

The one place that the weather doesn’t stop you getting the binoculars out is from the warmth and comfort of your own home.  The garden fills with the usual garden birds and these are supplemented by field birds which are forced into the garden looking for a free snack.  Our feeders have been full of Starlings, Sparrows and Chaffinches, with the Robin on the table and the Blackbirds running about the ground looking for scraps.  We are very low on Blue Tits and have seen none of the other tits.  We did have a Pied Wagtail regularly on our doorstep in the first few weeks of the snow; but it hasn’t reappeared for the past two weeks.

A couple of friends near us have revelled in views of Long Tailed Tits coming to their feeders, as well as Great and the odd Coal Tit.  They have been spoilt by Bramblings regularly visiting for a snack.  It shows that planting for wildlife can go a long way to attracting the birds into the garden – and backing on to a lovely wooded quarry helps too!   One point on Long Tailed Tits: they often announce their presence with a high pitched squeak; and when you see one, look around as they normally travel in flocks and can take over your trees!   Another friend’s garden has been inundated with Goldfinches; another bird we do not see very often in our garden, despite the specially prepared feeder for them (Niger Seed).  We will be planting Teasel for next year to see if this attracts them in.

I’m hoping to take a few pictures of the birds I see over the next few weeks with my Christmas present!  Hopefully I will be able to work out how to post any interesting pics on the blog.



  1. look forward to your photos when you get them on. i was up the river today for a walk but the path had a lot of ice on it so just went up to the bit were you go off to househill not much to be seen.

  2. geese still in same place pink foot was trying too get a photo of them today but they took off. so got swans instead at loch flemington folk are feeding them their.

  3. The last time I was at Loch Flemington there were plenty of Whooper Swans staying for the winter after breeding on The Artic Tundra.

    These are the swans with the long yellow bill, black at the last third of the tip, as opposed to the orange bill on the resident Mute Swan (which also has the black knob at the base of the bill). I think I might pop over there now!


  4. also saw moorhen not sure what they were until i looked them up in the book could not get close enough to them. but the swans i was very close to them due i am sure to the weather. as folk had been feeding them.

  5. Hi there, I'm just back from Loch Flemington. You're correct about the Moorhen. I have seen them there for a while; in-fact that was the only place I had seen them round here until they turned up on the River Nairn in town.

    The swans were all Mute Swans and were standing on the shore, very close to people. As you say, probably due to the weather.

    Great sunset tonight!

  6. By the way - I stopped for a quick look at the geese in the field near the airport. From what I could tell, they were all Greylag; about 1,000 of them.

  7. i am going start keeping a book in the car so i can look it up when i see anything. did you get any shots with the camera. i was lucky the swans were so close to me for taking a photo of them.