Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Olly! Olly! Olly! Oi! Oi! Oi!

So the severe bird withdrawal had set in. And temptation loomed near. So we went and saw a grand grey nugget of glorious Olivaceous tendencies! For the confused among you I am, of course, talking about the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in Fife, a relatively short drive away.

So we headed out in standard Farnes style: Zod then car. Beers and banter, upto Kilminning where upon being shown the birds favourate bushes by a helpful local, it showed brilliantly allowing me to get some hurried record shots inbetween prolonged bins grip sessions.

What a bird to see on a cold November afternoon!
From there we just couldn't handle any more passeriformes action due to chronic monster fatigue syndrome so went and saw some birds almos as big as an Olivaceous Warbler:

Some Whoopers produced a quality emergency stop while leaving the Olly site.
Loching good...haha..oh dear. Loch Leven and some geese.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Duck and Cover

Corr blimey. Chuffing ruddy duck cold up here! My stinit on Brownsman has ended and Im back on 'the patch' Inner Farne. It was so good out there! Living with Seals for me is one of the highlights of my year. Being a lifelong birder I've experienced many a close, awe-inspiring and giblet rotting encounter with ball busting rares as well as canny common but none of those have the capacity to bit your giblets off! In testament to this here's some more big fat Farnes mammal action...just be thankful you cant smell 'em!

Back to birds. Yeah. Those fluffy feathered things that can fly! Speaking of flying, I saw one fly in the sea the other day. I heard it first, sounding like a Dunnock on helium. And picked it up zooming between Seals and Great-black Backs. Finally it perched, looking grey, still emtting that darned drugged up Dunnock call. Its a Chiff! Well possibly a Sibe Chiff I thought, then shouted! But alas once pinned the bird started calling a weird hybird Collybita x Tristis call that just didnt match any of the Bullfinch type calls I've previously heard. The plumage also, tho grey, was more dusky, especially on the underparts while paleness in the bill and feet had me sold on Abietinus or some other freaky continental. And I'm still waiting for it to make a decent coffee the rude sod.

Anyway if you have an opinion let me know. It acted so rare, and was simply joyous to watch a new/different bird for once! Damn SW winds. You've had your fun now please do the proverbial.

Other recent latest stop press sightings include Long-tailed Duck and Kestrel. I'll let RBA know, yeah?

Bonny Seaduck being rare!

Male Kestrel being greater.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012



Well firstly I should say sorry for the lack of updates post fall. To be honest I needed some time to re-attach various appendages after they were blown off by our rampant run of rabid rares. Snapping and chewing our optic nerves into crippled soup! (much like the above if given half a chance).

Purple Sand are an ever-present source of entertainment as passage begins to fizzle out.

Lately its been getting wintery. No surprise. I know. BUT. With winter comes changes, and with change come migration! And what do we love more than anything on the Farnes? MIGRATION! Witnessing that shiz first hand is forehead rubbingly good. Unfortunately our old friend westerly has raised his voilent choppy hairstyled head restricted any migration on sea or land and also put a big finger in the arsehole of the autumns main event - Grey Seal monitoring.

So we spray these cute buggers every four days with alternate colours to track site-specific birth rates and mortality rates as well as handily ending up with a precise pup count. This is unique to the Farnes as most other sites use sea counts (from boats..obviously) and aerial counts (from planes...obviously). Anyway I digress. The sprays we use are extremely sensitive to wind, to use an erotic analogy, spraying with any wind above 'breeze' level is like pissing into the wind as they say.

But this is all far to serious isnt it? I am selling out my blog content with all this soft-porn science? Nope, because these little guys are flipping cute. And even the big, smelly, weird sounding and often aggressive adults are very nice too. Especially up close.

Grey Seals taking over! They're not a bird, they're not rare, but man they are amazing. And such a privilege to be so close.

As you can tell I have been living with the Seals, on Brownsman to be exact, no Curlew Sands or Sabine's Gulls this time though (see http://dub-birder.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/white-wedged-wonders.html for a dose of pelagic). However despite an island covered in Seals gradually wearing vegetation away, killing gulls and so on there has been some surprising highlights...

Snow Bunting - Bull Grey Seal combo.

Flyovers include a few Waxwing, the odd Mistle Thrush etc while grounded birds are gradually waining with Blackcap and Fieldfare the only 'new birds' I've seen in days. While the resident Blackbirds are slowly declining due in most part to the plethora of predators bounding about (Peregrine, Kestrel, Merlin, Sparrowhawk). Birds with nuts bigger than any given Snickers bar, that decided sitting amongst the Seals was a good idea include Bonxie (killed by cow seal), Pomarine Skua (soon to be killed by cow seal), Woodcock, Snipe and perhaps most endearingly some lovely Snow Bunting.

Snow Buntings with Seals.....may have got carried away!
In other news those pesky Leps keep showing themselves with November Silver Y notable while a Herald found hibernating above water tanks on Brownsman. A massive crippler.
So maybe the weather is changing next to something different from westerly, maybe, possibly. PINE GROSBEAK C'MON!