Monday, 21 March 2016

What a hoot!

It's been a busy week preparing to begin a new season with the RSPB on the Mull of Galloway. In between packing and saying my goodbyes, I've managed to squeeze in a few wildlife adventures along the way!

Visiting the east coast I had magnificent views of waders such as Turnstone, Redshank and my personal favourite- Oystercatchers. As they fed along the tideline, I went beachcombing however found very little of interest. Returning to the car I caught a quick glimpse of a Short Eared Owl before it dipped behind a hill in the terrain. Continuing along the trail I suddenly came across the same owl- this time perched high in a small tree. I could barely contain my excitement as I sat admiring this magnificent bird only metres away- what an encounter! The following day I continued to birdwatch along the coast, seeing my first Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins of the season. Again the highlight of the day came from more sightings of Short Eared Owls- what an amazing species!

Short Eared Owl perching on a tree at Elie, Fife (photo Laura Shearer)
Short Eared Owl seeking shelter from the mist and sea fret (photo Laura Shearer)
Birding closer to home uncovered the 'usual' passerines however with a hint of spring in the air the local forests are buzzing with activity. I even managed to squeeze in some bird ringing this week including Robins, Wrens, Chaffinches and Blue Tits- a great way to spend your Saturday morning!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Linlithgow Loch

It's been several years since I last visited Linlithgow and despite regular rain showers, I had a thrilling afternoon. Sitting pride of place, overseeing the loch and tranquil peel (park) is Linthgow Palace- birthplace of James V and Mary Queen of Scots (Historic Scotland link). 

As usual my interest was veered by the local wildlife as I took a leisurely stroll around the loch. Within minutes I was treated to displaying Great Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus)- one of my favourite species! They perform elaborate courtship displays (RSPB video link) before nesting in the reed beds surrounding small sections of the loch. 

Linlithgow Palace (photo Laura Shearer)
Great Crested Grebes at Linlithgow Loch (photo Laura Shearer)
Great Crested Grebes perform elaborate courtship displays (photos by Laura Shearer)
The area is a haven for wildlife such as ducks, swans, geese, grebes and cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo). The surrounding trees were bustling with small songbirds feeding along the ground and singing their sweet melodies. 

Moorhen at Linlithgow (Gallinula chloropus) photo Laura Shearer
It is impossible not to mention the Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) - bold and boisterous they eagerly await a free meal from passersby. Many are colour ringed with unique codes to provide more information on their movements. It is a thoroughly enjoyable task reading these codes to report back to the ringers. If you see a coloured ringed bird in Europe please report it here.

SLY swans at Linlithgow Loch (photo Laura Shearer)

Reading swan colour rings is great fun! (photos Laura Shearer)
Even some of the coots were colour ringed (photo Laura Shearer)