Monday, 26 May 2014

Northumbrian adventures

For the Easter Holidays I went down to Alnmouth in Northumberland for a week with my Dad and my stepmam, Mairi.

For once I'm just going to skip the travel information/photos (just remember it's a long journey from Shetland to the north-east of England).

On the way south we stopped at the North Berwick to meet up with Mairi's sister, we stopped and had a look in the North Berwick gardens.

There was this bird cage with Cockatiel and some parrots

This Woodpigeon sat for ages and I got some pretty good shots

And what I would class as this excellent close-up

After we'd check out the gardens we headed to the Scottish Seabird Centre (a few hundred metres away), we met up with Inge and her children and we headed inside.
The place was pretty amazing at a glance and there was tv screens downstairs showing a live feed from a nearby Island!

(Speaks for itself)

One of a few sculptures

A twitcher seawatching

We left after a while and we started to head south to Alnmouth.

At 4.5.6 we crossed the border!! and I got out to get a few pics.

The English side

The Scottish side

The three of us finally arrived in Alnmouth at around 4:30 and we found our cottage "Little Woodlands", the cottage was great and we left our stuff to go and have a look around Alnmouth.
We went along the main street of the village and then around the north side where we found a pond.
I spotted a strange Canada Goose as we went by and we stopped, I jumped out so I could get some pictures on this funny bird.
I got one "good" picture of the goose and I headed back to the cottage to identify it; I got my book and I decided that it was a Canada Goose hybrid of some sort (In the end I decided it was a Canada x Greylag Goose hybrid).

The hybrid Canada x Greylag Goose

A smart looking summer plumage Little Grebe

Never seen this one before

That night we had a look around the main street for a place to eat and there was a good selection of places in the village.

Sunday the 30th of March 2014 (Day three)

Today was the day that Phil and I were to go out birding and it wasn't exactly the best one as there was mist. mist and more mist.
At 8:45 Phil showed up and I hopped into his car and he showed me, our first stop was a place called Beacon Hill which was a few miles south-west of Alnmouth.
Ten odd minutes later we arrived to a mist capertered stretch of road a few hundred metres away from Beacon Hill, we got out and we were instantly greeted by birds.
I got my "bins" on a few of the birds and I couldn't see them right because of the mist but Phil as able to identify a few Long-tailed Tits and two female Bullfinches.
We went a bit further down the road and we could hear the call of a Chiffchaff and a "drumming" Woodpecker in the distance!
Our next destination was Morpeth and we headed to a woodland that was in the town.
We weren't in the wood thirty seconds when Phil burst out "Nuthatch!" and pointed to one in a tree! my first in the U.K! and while I was trying to photograph it I found another!
I managed to get a blurry shot of the first Nuthatch and that was my best shot before we headed off to find a few more birds in the wood.

Here it is! my record shot of my first British Nuthatch!

We searched around a bit before we came to a burn, after a few seconds I spotted something small fly off a tree on the other bank and I got my bins on it.
The bird was a Marsh Tit! my first! I told Phil and he confirmed it and we watched it hop around the base of a tree, it flew about from branch to branch and then another popped up! I got pictures of both and it was great to watch them go about and feeding.

Marsh Tit playing hide & seek

The happy pair

We moved on a bit and Phil spotted two Jays (my first in Britain!) and they eluded any chance of a photo.
Also along the burn we found a Dipper and then we left for "Cresswell Pond" north-east of us.


We arrived there to be greeted by some Reed Buntings and a Meadow Pipit before we'd even got out the car, we walked to the hide at the south end of the lake.

A smaller pond on the south end of Cresswell

From the hide we could see tons of ducks in the shape of Mallards, Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck and two Shoveler!

Phil on the look out

We sat in the hide for about twenty minutes and we managed to see lots of ducks and fifteen Dunlin (year tick), I went and had a look at the Sightings Board to see what had already been seen and I noticed "L W F Goose", the only thing I could possibly think of was Lesser White-fronted Goose.
I asked Phil and he said that would be a "Mega" around here and that it would probably be in massive writing, just to make sure Phil checked the local birding hotline to make sure but there was no news.

A Gorse bush flower
The bush itself

After we left the hide we headed to the northend of Cresswell Pond to see if we could see the birds any better, we got there and I saw two white things on a pool.
I got my "bins" and there was two Avocets feeding on the pond!! my first Avocets! I told Phil and we watched them for a bit before they took off.

We then headed north to the next set of pools for some birds.
We were walking along when I spotted a bird sitting in the top of a tree, I got my "bins" on it and behold it was a Linnet! my first one and yes I have managed to miss them in Shetland!
I told Phil and we watched three of them fly off! before moving off into a nearby hide to scour the pond/lake for birds.

The view from the first hide, it may look deserted but there was plenty of birds.

There was a second hide about thirty metres north of the one we were sitting in so we headed to that one for a look.
We sat down in the hide and instantly I spotted two strange ducks swimming about, I got my "bins" on them and they were two Common Scoters.
I pointed them out to Phil and these were only the second ones he'd seen on freshwater (and my first).

The two Common Scoters, we also saw a Red-breasted Merganser and a Marsh Harrier


We continued our way north to East Chevington to look at any birds.
We got to the hide and we had a look at the things on the lake, it was misty and it was hard to ID alot of the birds.

A male Marsh Harrier

We walked around a nearby reedbed to look for Bearded Tits but after a while we didn't find any so we trudged back to the car.

The Reedbeds

We decided to head west to Rothbury to search for Kingfishers.
It took us about half an hour and we arrived there and we headed to a place called "Thrum mill", I even managed to get a look at a really close deer!
We started walking up the river and we spotted a Song Thrush, two Nuthatches, a few Blue Tits and a Coal Tit on a nearby bird feeder.

A Chaffinch

The River must get pretty high

After a piece of walking we saw two Dippers, two Mallards and two Goosanders in the river before we decided to turn around and head back to the car.
On the way back we heard singing from the tops of the trees and we looked up to see ten Siskins!
Our next stop was Low Newton (a place north of Alnmouth) so we headed off there, on the way I watched this strange branch in a tree which looked like a bird of prey, the thing actually turned out to be a male Kestrel!!!
We arrived and we headed to a wader scrape that was at the south end of Low Newton, I managed to spot a Grey Heron, a Stonechat, Black-headed Gulls, Teal, Wigeon and a few Goldfinches.

The Stonechat!

Phil and I continued to walk down past the wader scrape and towards a few bushes and trees.
We stopped when we heard a call and I thought it was a Marsh Tit but Phil said it was a Willow!! we tried to spot the thing in the trees but it wouldn't come out.
After a few minutes we spotted it fly out into the open and onto a tree! I got my bins on it but it kept moving! it finally stopped and I saw it's head, Lifer!!
It didn't stop for a photo so we headed off to Alnmouth again!
On the way south to Alnmouth I was looking out the car window and I saw a Muscovy Duck! a farm duck no less (meant to be a South American bird!).
In about twenty minutes we arrived back in Alnmouth and that was the end of our awesome day of birding! I got no less than four lifers! I can't thank Phil more for the day and I look forward to another one like it!

Monday the 31st of March 2014 (Day four)

This morning we got up to do a bit of birding around Alnmouth, at 8:30 we headed out and we walked along the north side of the River Aln.

We saw tons of birds, we watched a Grey Heron carrying nest material and honking loudly also around was four Red-breasted Merganser, two Comorants, two Blue Tits, nine Canada Geese, a domesticated Greylag Goose, thirty-five Stirlings, ten Black-headed Gulls and the odd Shelduck and Common Gull.

A part of the Alnmouth estaurie


Somebody has lost their head

We then headed to the small pond on the north side of Alnmouth and we saw two Long-tailed Tits, one Song Thrush, four Moorhen (one of which was dead), a few Tufted Ducks and there was no sign of the "hybird" goose.
Two hours later (11:30) we arrived in Amble (a bit down the coast), we had a look around the pier there and we could see tons! there was eight Comorants, two-hundred and fifty plus Black-headed Gulls! four Mute Swans, fifty-four Eiders and my first Turnstone of the trip!

A Comorant

Black-headed Gulls

Black-headed Gulls swarming around chips

Female Dunter (Eider)

Dunters! (Eiders)

The Old Pier (?) at Amble

A beautiful female Dunter (Eider)

A Common Gull

We spent an hour looking around Amble before we headed south to Cresswell Pond.
We arrived and we got into the hide, another birder was sitting in the hide so we tried our best not to scare anything.
I managed to get my eyes on a flock of geese nearby which were mostly Pink-feet with the odd Greylag (hard to tell with the mist), I also spotted a very nice male Pintail (my first male actually!) swimming among the Mallards and other ducks.
Also we saw seventy Wigeon, ten Dunlin and later on we saw one of the Avocets!

The flock of Pink-feet, there was about fifteen in total

Redshanks and what I thought were Dunlin but I'm not so sure

The Avocet! happily swimming and feeding

A comparison with two Shelduck

Just before we left the hide I asked the birder about the "L W F Goose" on the board, he said that it might of been some from a piece further south, I asked him and he gave me directions to two sites, one to the south (Woodhorn) and one to the north (Hauxley), I thanked the man and I went to catch up with Dad and Mairi.
We stopped a nearby cafe and then we headed south to Woodhorn,
It took us a while to find a place to stop (I'm not the best map reader) but we finally did and we got out to look for the Lesser White-front.
We managed to find a flock of one-hundred Greylags but we were to far away to see all of them so we managed to find another closer path.
We got within one-hundred metres of the Greylags and we scanned through them about three times! just to make sure, well we did find a Pink-footed Goose!

The Pink-foot with a Greylag

We headed off north to Hauxley and we found it easier than Woodhorn, we got into Hauxley and we spoke to one of the staff there, I asked him if there was a Lesser White-fronted Goose in the area.

A donations box, smart idea

I was expecting him to say no but he said yes!! he said that it was hanging out with a Swan Goose (a complete escape) at the south end of the reserve, my doubts started to rise but I still wanted to see it.
We headed along the east side of the reserve and we checked all the hides along the way.
We spotted about fifty-five Canada Geese! and then we spotted a flock of two-hundred Greylags with the Swan Goose and a Peregrine!!

Spot the birdy!

A beautiful male Pheasant playing hard to photograph

A Wren in the reeds

The Peregrine, taken from three hundred metres away so quite distant

The proud Swan Goose, we had one in Shetland that stayed for about a year and it was even seen nest building

Some type of mushroom?

I got a few pics of the Peregrine before it flew off and we headed off to scan through all of the Greylags.
Well we looked through every single Greylag and not one was the White-front!! we headed back to the nearest hide and we sat down, opened the flaps and there was the Lesser White-front swimming about on the lake!! I got my camera out and I started getting some pics.
(Later on I found out that it was actually a European White-fronted Goose but it was worth a try)

The Euro White-fronted Goose

It was kinda cute looking in the flesh

A Greylag that was also swimming around

A close-up on the head

After I'd got my shots, we headed off and I checked a hide along the way and I could see tons of birds on feeders!
I went in and I could see Pheasants, Rats!, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, a Reed Bunting, a Robin and a Blackbird.

I got my camera out and I tried to photograph the Rats (which were un-cooperative) but a few other of the birds decided to sit and pose for a photo.

It started to get a bit cold so we headed back to Alnmouth after being on a "wild goose chase" even though the goose wasn't actually wild and we didn't even see it!

Tuesday the 1st of April 2014

Today we started a bit late but we managed to head north to Holy Island in search for Brent Geese (a lifer).
It was raining when we were heading north so we stopped at Bamburgh Castle, it was massive and of course way bigger than any other the Shetland ones!!
It was an amazing place to explore! it had old World War machines and many things from many other centuries!!

The barrel of an anti-aircaft gun

I liked this one because it had such a small cannon

A model of Bamburgh Castle

Anybody want to figure this out?

A portrait of King Henry the eight

The Armstrong family tree (the owners of the castle)

The more recent family tree

I got some pictures of the inside and at the end of the exploration we spoke to a man with some weapons- a long bow and arrows, a war hammer, a sword, two helmets and different arrow heads!!
It was really amazing and I even tried on a few of the things.

The arrows, helmets, sword, war hammer and arrowheads

Buffalo Head!

Looking East with the Farne Islands just visible

The building with all the pictures, antiques and etc 

From the castle we headed north to Holy Island at around ten to two, when we got to the causeway we noticed that it would be dangerous to cross so we stayed on the Mainland, I got out and spoke to a birder, he said that there was about 70 Brent Geese on Holy Island, he said that the mist had just rolled in and he couldn't see them through his scope! so close!!
Instead we decided to head north to Berwick-upon-Tweed for a look.
For some reason I've always wanted to go there but I have no idea why.
The place was pretty nice when we saw it and we had a walk around the coast of the place, I saw a few birds in the shape of 120 Redshanks! all huddled on a part of one of the three bridges of Berwick-upon-Tweed, fifteen Eiders, two female Goosanders and my first Fulmar of the trip!

The Redshank flock, I still don't know why they were all sat there 

The River Tweed

If you can, you might be able to make out the three bridges

We walked around Berwick-upon-Tweed for a while and on our way we had a look at the Bastions.

A bit of info on the gun defenses in Berwick-upon-Tweed

The old hidden gun bunkers

A higher up view

A bit of a drop to the shop

Berwick-upon-Tweed has been part of England and Scotland on and off for hundreds of years.

We finished in Berwick-upon-Tweed and we headed back south to Alnwick, on the way we went back to the Holy Island causeway to see if we could see any geese.
When we arrived the water was right up to the road!! I got a few shots and here they are!

Where's the Causeway!!!

The car and the submerged causeway (With Steve and Mairi)

We checked a place called Fenham-le-moor before heading south to Alnmouth.

On the way south to Alnmouth I spotted this deer in a field!!

That night we watched the latest episode in "Shetland" the murder series based/filmed in our home isles!!

Wednesday the 2nd of April 2014

I was out pretty early this morning to do a bit of birding round Alnmouth, my first bird of the day was a Greenfinch.
Throughout my search on the Alnmouth Estuary I found 5 Mutes Swans, 2 Comorants, 3 Linnets!! 2 Blue Tits, 1 Pied Wagtail, a singing Dunnock, 39 Mute Swans on the south side of the Alnmouth Estuary!! (Five are Whooper Swans but I saw them a few days later) 30 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Shelduck, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Shalders (Oystercatchers), 2 more Dunnock, 1 Chaffinch, and 4 Canada Geese.

After seeing my first Linnets a few days ago, its typical that I see some more later!

The Dunnock, in song

Five Mute Swans flying over the estuary

I was walking along a grassy bit and I came across this Jackdaw, I managed to get my camera out for some pics and it didn't fly!

My favorite thing about them is their call and their pale eyes

This Teal was also along the side of the estuary, I love the colours on their head its just so vibrant

A male Chaffinch (who was in song) and a cracker of a bird

An unidentified bird of prey which flew over!

For our adventure today we headed into Alnwick to visit the Alnwick Castle (home of Harry Potter movie 1 & 2) and the Alnwick Gardens.
The Castle was big and spacious, it was great to explore the rooms and especially the living quarters!

I think this coach was used in the (recent) Queen's coronation

Alnwick Castle! anybody recongise it from Harry Potter 1 & 2?

An old pistol and its bullet holder

Our next stop was the Alnwick Gardens, it looks better in the summer when there is actually leaves on the trees! I got some great pictures of the well designed landscape! there was even a hedge maze which was big!
We went into the "Poison Gardens" with a guide and he taught us about all the different poisonous plants that had been planted.

I can't remember the name of this tree but I like its shape

Some design went into this! so symmetrical!

Male and female Mallards

The lions is made of of metal wire! it must of taken ages to make!!

One of the many water features around the gardens

The maze within the Alnwick Gardens was so cool!

The Poison Gardens where everything can kill you!

We had a quick look round Alnwick after the Gardens and then we headed back to Alnmouth.
I had a look at the pond on the north side of Alnmouth when we got back and I found the hybrid Greylag x Canada Goose with five Goldfinches, two Tufted Ducks, one Goldeneye, a Robin, a male Pheasant, four Moorhen, two Teal and a cracking summer plumage Little Grebe.

Thursday the 3rd of April 2014

This morning I had a look around Alnmouth before we headed out to Keilder Forest.
I had thirty Woodpigeon fly over the river and three Canada Geese, I walked further along the river and I found three Bar-tailed Godwits along with forty Redshanks!!

The Godwits! happily hunting for grub

The Grey Heron (Haegrie) was standing motionless in the estuary

I headed back to the house after I'd seen the birds and then we headed out west to Keilder.

On the way out west we stopped at a place called Otterburn and in the shop I found this "live" Small Tortiseshell Butterfly! and also a dead one

It took us a while but we arrived at the Keilder Water & Forest Centre/park at roughly  pm.
(On the way I saw my first fox.. smashed by a car on the side of the road, drivers!)

Poor guy, so sad and how amazing it would of been to see it alive

We walked along a path until we came to Red Squirrel Hide, when we got in I was amazed by the amount of Chaffinches!! I'm sure there was at least one-hundred and fifty of them!

The view from the hide

A handsome male Chaffinch

But there wasn't just that there was tons of other birds! seven Coal Tits. two Great Tits, four Siskins, two Carrion Crows.

A cute little Siskin

We sat for a while and we got some amazing views of two Red Squirrels!! this is the first time I've seen one in ages so I was excited!

Climb little squirrel climb!

They just love their nuts

I just love these guys!!

We also saw a Great-spotted Woodpecker on a nearby nut-feeder! we stayed for over half an hour just looking at the birds and Squirrels and it was absolutely great! I mean I've never seen so Chaffinches in my life!

First "Pecker" of the trip! good to see one! 

Finally we left the hide after the wonderful experience and we headed north to the village.

I heard tons of these guys in the trees!

When you take a walk in the woods today, just remember that its fully grown

Woodpecker been at this tree?

The darkness of the forest seems so eerie

Keilder Water

There was another hide at the north of the village so we headed up there to see what was in the hide.

Well when we entered I couldn't see much, the feeders were empty all bar one which was right in front of the hide windows.
There was a Nuthatch! on the bird feeder with a Blue Tit! I tried to get a shot with my camera but they took off long before I had a chance.
We stayed in the hide for about five minutes and we saw a Red Squirrel! it was sitting in a tree.

Red Squirrel in a tree!

He was pretty curious about me so he sat long enough for a few photos

The windows were a bit dirty for pictures so I went outside for some, the Squirrel noticed me and he seemed quite curious, it scampered about it's tree while I took photos but it soon left and us too.
We headed to the castle nearby (which had a Cafe), on the way we all heard this strange call over head and I had no idea what it was.
Then I spotted the bird and it landed on the very top of a Pine Tree, it was a Nuthatch!! it kept calling on the top of the tree and I got a few photos but what an amazing sound!

Not exactly the place I'd expect a Nuthatch to be singing!

We got into the Cafe and we got some food, there was a Tv in the place showing footage of two monitored Osprey nests.
To our surprise there wasn't an Osprey in sight but after twenty minutes of waiting two popped up! a male and a female, the female wasn't part of the original so people were wondering if they'd breed.
After we'd finished at the Cafe we carried on around the place, we had a look at a maze made of stones which was really amazing!!
After that we left for a hide at the Bakethin reserve.
It was a bit of a walk out but we made it and the lake was a bit empty but birds started to show up.
We managed to count two Canada Geese, two Mallards, three Tufted Ducks, three Goldeneye, one male Pochard on the lake, one Wren, two Shalders (Oystercatchers), one Chiffchaff , one Teal and ten Comorants!! in the trees, nesting!

I was thinking that this Comorant was the mainland European race "sisensis"

We then left the Bakethin Hide and we left Kielder all together, we started to head back to Alnmouth and on the way we saw our first Raven of the trip!

I think this might speak for itself, all along the road these signs were up

Greylags!! and tons of them! there was at least three hundred!

Over an hour later we arrived back in Alnmouth and we headed out that night for something to eat.

Friday the 4th of April 2014

This morning we decided that we would head out to a place called Branton to look for Kingfishers, but first Dad and I headed to a pool south of Alnmouth to try and find my first Garganey which had been there for the past few days.

An old chapel (?) at the south end of the Alnwick eastuary

Male Reed Bunting

A Rook (not the lookers of the bird world)

It took us a while but we found the pool and within a few seconds of reaching the pool I spotted a stunning male Garganey (lifer in the bag!!).
I managed to get close(ish) and I snapped a few photos but the mist didn't help, the Garganey eventually retreated into some reeds and that was it so we left.

Here he is! my first ever Garganey

He was such a stunner! took me a while to see him but so glad I did!

I saw the large Swan flock and I scanned through them for five Whooper Swans which had been seen by some of the local birders.

On the way to the Branton Pools I got this shot of this wall in a small village

A male Gadwall! first of the trip and we saw it from a hide a bit east of Branton

We got back to Alnmouth and we got ready to set off, we arrived at the Branton Pools at and we got out to look at a hide (well a big strip of wood).

The Branton Pools! 

We could see tons of Black-headed Gulls, some Shelduck, and two Great-crested Grebes but no sign of the Kingfishers yet!

There was an island in the first pool that had a colony of Black-headed Gulls

We walked further along the lake and we saw the two Great-crested Grebes start to swim towards and they lowered they heads, I got my camera out and we watched as they started to do a courtship dance!! it was amazing! and I even managed to get some photos.

Charge! the start of their courtship

Getting Closer!

The Grebes making a sideways head movement! they did this both ways

After a few minutes they stopped and seemed to just awkwardly swim there

After they'd finished we moved further along the lake, and into more tree cover where there was Great and Blue Tits.
We found a spot where we could see the lake again, a nice summer plumage Little Grebe and two Wigeon were the only things swimming about.

An owl box?

We started off towards the second lake and in the trees, I spotted a Marsh or Willow Tit! it flew away and I couldn't relocate it!
We finally arrived at the second lake and we saw Black-headed Gulls and some Wigeon before we walked between the two lakes and towards a hide at the south end of the second lake.

I can't remember the name of this horse! any help?

Canada Goose

They may be introduced but they are cracking birds when you get their good side!

I thought this one was awful small compared to others I seen

We got into the hide and I could see two Canada Geese, two Moorhen and a Little Grebe but nothing else in view, so we left after fifteen minutes.

G-crested Grebe doing a bit of courtship display?

Hunting Hounds I think

Here it is!! my first Red-legged Partridge and its pair is just outside the picture!

After we'd left Branton we headed to Alnwick and then Dad and I headed south to Warkworth in search of a Spotted Redshank which had been reported.

Another male Reed Bunting

Surprisingly we found this dead Muscovy duck! A South American Duck and usually a farm bird

So we were walking along a path east of Warkworth along an estary and Dad and me were scanning through the Redshanks when he spotted this funny looking plover!
I got my eyes on his bird and I wasn't really sure what to think! It was either a strange Golden Plover or a Grey Plover!
I got my Collins Guide out and I quickly went to Grey and Golden Plover, I had a look at them and Dads bird was a Grey Plover!! my first one! lifer!!
I got my camera out for some photos and while photographing this one we found two more!!

 Here it is! not a half bad find! 

With the Grey Plovers there was a few Turnstones as well

Also Dad spotted my first Wheatear of the year! I managed to miss one in Berwick-upon-Tweed though!

Dad watching the Wheatears

Saturday the 5th of April 2014

Well it is our final day and we had to get everything ready before we left at ten, everything was soon ready and we left Alnmouth via the western exit of the place and when we got out there it was some sight.

We could see the river Aln meandering along in the sunshine! it was the first time since we'd arrived that we could actually see more than a few hundred metres and it was a great sight.

The River Aln, the one day we can actually see it we have to go!

Gulls at Craster on  the way north

Fighter Jet at RAF Boulmer

We started our way north to Holy Island in search of Brent Geese (again).

The Castle on Holy Island (Lindisfarne)

This Blue Tit was looking in the cars side mirror while we were at the Fenham-le-moor Hide! but once it saw us it went

We got to the causeway and we crossed over to the Island, we headed to the nearest car park and we went for a walk around the Island.
The first thing we saw was a falconry with a American Kestrel, an Eagle Owl, a Barn Owl, another Owl specie and a tiny Little Owl!
I got some great shots of the Kestrel and the Little Owl before we explored some more of the island.

A very handsome owl and it would be great to see one in the wild!

Can't mind the name of this one

Now this Little Owl was a cracker! with its big eyes and its white and brown plumage!

American Kestrel, it would be good to find one of these in Shetland!

They made some great close-ups!

Now this one! It's eyes are so big!!

The pattern on this bird's face is great

Small, cute and dangerous

It was tiny but its like the coolest bird I've seen!

Barn Owl

Our next stop was the observation tower and we scanned the flats for Brent Geese, we scanned for ten minutes and no geese! we saw Godwits and Seals but no geese and they'd been there only a few days before!

The black line of the beach, that's all seals!

Old ruins of the church (I'm guessing) 

A few minutes later I spotted a flock of about three-hundred geese fly north over the island, we all got our eyes on them but we couldn't identify them at such a distance.

Caught these two Woodpigeons in the act!

The view out of the centre window on the south of the isle

We walked by the castle and then north to the hide, we got in and I got my scope set up to have a look at the birds.
There was virtually no birds but there was a Mute Swan with a red or yellow colour ring, I didn't have time to get a good look at it but it would be nice to know it origin.
We continued round the Isle and eventually we got to the car park again and we headed off.

Now, this is one fat duck!!

Swan Goose

A panoramic view of the dunes at the north of the island

To Scotland!!

We started to head north to Edinburgh and we arrived there after a few hours , we spoke in a while and then I went off birding with Inge's son Ewen.
We headed to a stream with a few trees but we actually did come up with nothing! (well besides a large thrush sp)

I'm not exactly sure what this is but I like the tiny flowers

Sunday the 6th of April 2014

So today would be my last day in Mainland Scotland before we finally got home tomorrow, we got ready to go at 10:30 and we headed to Citchton Castle just outside Pathead.
We had a walk near the castle and we could hear a male Pheasant calling and a bunch of smaller birds (which wouldn't show themsleves!).
We spent over half an hour there before we left and started the journey north, it took about five hours but we finally made it to the Northlink Ferry terminal and we got on.
I spent my night ready a book and later on I headed to watch "The Book Thief" in the cinema and after that it was bed time!

Monday the 7th of April

This morning we arrived in Shetland at seven and we finally set foot there half and hour later!
When we arrived back at Dad's, I headed out to the Clickimin Loch (my patch) for a bit of birding.
Well I have to say it was probably one of the worst trips to the Loch I ever had, there was no gulls, geese, waders, swans, nothing! I tried to find something in Helendale and I managed to spot two Woodpigeons and the local Blackbirds and a trip to Westerloch (to hunt for two Coal Tits) came up with nothing so I wandered  home.
I spent the next few hours doing bits and bobs before Dad and I headed out to Asta loch in search for a drake Ring-necked Duck which had been found a few days ago by Russ Haywood (There's been a drake coming to the loch for the past few years so I'm thinking it might be the same one).
So we checked the Tingwall Loch first (just incase), I scanned through the Tufted Ducks but to no avail so we moved on to Asta.
We got to Asta and I immediately started looking through the Tufted Ducks and bingo! there it was! happily swimming among the "Tufties"!
Dad parked up and we got the bins on it before I sneaked to the side of the loch to get some photos.
I found a nice spot next to a rowboat and I started snapping away but the camera kept focusing on the water! so here's my best attempt.

Mr. Ring-necked Duck

So after successfully "twitching" the Ring-neck (a lifer), I headed up the road to the Yell ferry and home to Yell, thus ending my day!

Well that was my holiday and I've had a great time and I can't write this blog without thanking Phil for taking me birding (thanks for the lifers!) and keeping me posted on any birds in the area.
To Mairi and Dad for taking me down to Northumberland which was a great trip! the man in the Cresswell hide who gave me the directions to the Lesser White-fronted Goose and to Tom Cadwallender for giving me birding news and for telling me some birding spots!

And as usually I've got a list of all my new birds and my total list of birds.

Total new birds 7= Marsh Tit, Avocet, Linnet, Willow Tit, Garganey, Red-legged Partridge, Grey Plover

Species List= 86

Mute Swan
Herring Gull
Carrion Crow
Common Gull
Rock Dove/feral Pigeon
Greylag Goose
House Sparrow
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Blue Tit
Pied Wagtail
Great Tit
Tufted Duck
Little Grebe
Collard Dove
Long-tailed Tit
Marsh Tit
Reed Bunt
Meadow Pipit
Tree Sparrow
Bar-tailed Godwit
Grey Heron
Canada Goose
Common Scoter
Marsh Harrier
Red-breasted Merganser
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Song Thrush
Coal Tit
Willow Tit
Pink-footed Goose
European White-fronted Goose
Great-spotted Woodpecker
Whooper Swan
Great-crested Grebe
Sand Martin
Red-legged Partridge
Grey Plover