Monday, 4 March 2013

Birdsong along the River

I had a lovely walk along the river to the Firhall Bridge and back down to the harbour with Kate and a friend this afternoon.  We spotted 34 species in a couple of hours, but who's counting!

You may have noticed that after a quiet winter the resident birds are in full swing with their songs, marking territory and attracting mates.  I wanted to listen to all the birdsong before the air is filled with the sound of the summer migrants - and when they are mainly hidden by the blossom and foliage.

The walk started with many Blue Tits singing their tse, tse, tse, tse call, and the Great Tit call 'teacher, teacher', resounding loudly in the distance.  Then the lovely resonant sound of the Song Thrush rang through the air.  We eventually found the singer way at the top of a tree some distance away.  The Song Thrush song carries in the air for a long, long way and can really frustrate if you're trying to identify it.  The easiest way to remember it is the repetitive phrases: repeating one sequence of notes four of five times, and then changes the tune to a new one and repeats that, and on it goes.

Robins and Chaffinches signalled their presence as we passed - the plaintive lament of the Robin and the cheerful, upward slanting shooting sound of the Chaffie.  A Buzzard called from high, but we couldn't see it and six Curlews flew silently by.   That's the second small flock of Curlew I've seen lately.  Was the time that I saw flocks of well over 200 - 300 Curlews in fields around Nairn.

Six Oyster Catchers seemed to be harassing a skein of geese as they flew among them, making a fantastic noise with their familiar calls.  The geese seemed completely at ease though.  It was a skein mixed with Greylag's guttural sounds and the 'wink-wink' of the Pinkfoot.  Our skies (and fields!) will be full of these birds very soon. 

A passer-by commented that he heard a Woodpecker earlier, and sure enough, I had seen a Great Spotted Woodpecker bound across the river (its flight pattern is a bounding, lazy flight).

Frequent visitors to the river path will probably have noticed the Tree Creepers and Dippers that are regulars in this area.  And at this time of year in this area you'll probably see the pair of Red Breasted Mergansers that feed and prepare for breeding. 

Here are a couple of photos on our walk today: the first of the pair of Dippers and the second is the male Merganser.  The light was very difficult and so the images are lacking sharpness, but they're OK.

I couldn't focus my camera on the Tree Creeper quickly enough today as it flits from branch to branch and walks on the other side of the trunk!  So here is a picture I took last year in the same spot - and I waited for ages hoping it would walk into the sunshine, and it didn't!.

A walk along the River Nairn, with my wife and a friend - what a great way to spend an afternoon (and to recover from the fun run!)

See you next time.


1 comment:

  1. yes good to hear the birds in good voice and to see them going about, while working at the sandown allotment we heard and saw a woodpecker, i must try and get a photo of it.