Badger Watch

We arrived for our rescheduled badger watch with NHSN on Sunday night prepared for all weathers. After meeting the guide we head off into the woods as the guide points out the various signs of badgers living in the area. We then reach our viewpoint, settle down and wait. The weather was mostly in our favour, however the wind was a little strong for badgers so we kept our fingers crossed.
We waited and waited, but the only things of note for the most of the night were a calling Green Woodpecker and a Great Tit taking advantage of the nuts put down for the badgers.
As the night turned dark a Tawny Owl glided past our vantage point and through the trees without making a sound. This was followed by two close up sightings of Red Fox cubs as they went about their normal business. Just as we were about to give up hope in the dark, I saw a black and white movement near a far tree which turned out to be a badger scratching itself. The view lasted about 30 seconds as the badger headed back down into the hole.

A Shrike for sore eyes

A early call from Noddle and we were on our way for a quick visit to High Hauxley. We pulled up to the car park and there were eight to ten birders with their scopes fixed on the hawthorn bushes in the distance. Once we set up the scope, I got great views of a male Red-backed Shrike, first sitting low in the bush before moving on to a fence post near by. After about the 10 minutes it flew off in the direction of the holiday cottages. This was my first glimpse of a full adult male as my only previous sighting was a juvenile while in Norfolk (Sept 2010).

A wonderful time in Speyside

Our annual pilgrimage to the wonderful Speyside was a little different this time as Noddle joined us this year after hearing our tales of previous adventures.

We travelled up to the area on Thursday, popping into Loch Leven and Loch of the Lowes on the way up catching sight of the usual waders on Loch Leven and the slightest glimpse of an osprey head at Loch of the Lowes as she sat on eggs. But the trip started properly on  Friday leaving our accommodation at 4.15am for our trip out with Steve from Highland Wildlife & Birdwatch Safaris.

Local specialities were on our list. We had great sightings on the day including Capercaillie, Black Grouse Lekking, Red Grouse, Dipper, Slavonian Grebe, Black-Throated Diver, Osprey, Red Squirrel, Red Deer and Mountain Goat  although we dipped on Crested Tit, Crossbill and Golden Eagle.

Capercaillie via IPhone
Saturday we spent most of the day in local forests and walked round Loch an Eilen in search of Crested Tits and Crossbills but with no luck. The evening was spent in the Speyside Wildlife  mammal hide which gave us marvellous views of five badgers and a Tawny Owl although the pine martin didn't show before our time was up.

Sunday was spent trying to catch up with things we had missed earlier in the trip. We headed up to Loch Ruthven where were managed to get fantastic views of seven Slavonian grebe and three Red-throated divers nearly all in their full summer plumage. A couple of cuckoos were heard calling but we never managed to get our scopes on them. 

RSPB Loch Ruthven via IPhone
We then took the road from Farr over the heather moorland down into Findhorn Valley to catch up with the raptors. We spent a good two hours there but for 90 minutes saw nothing except for a Common Gull wanting some of our lunch. We then got great views of a Peregrine sitting on a craggy mountain side before it took flight. Then we got a 30 second view of a Golden Eagle (juv) as it move right to left across the mountain side.  A great end to a wonderful break.