Saturday 24th June – Saturday 1st July 2017 Isle of Mull

A weeks holiday to the Isle of Mull and the trip on the ferry in squally rain showers only produced a single Black Guillemot on leaving Oban. The car journey on Mull to the holiday cottage was fruitful with a ♀ Hen Harrier hunting along the shoreline of the local Loch.

Sunday started really well with all the local Herring Gulls going crazy outside and in amongst them an Adult White Tailed Eagle. However this would be the only sighting of these birds, so it was to be a disappointment overall. We could have done the touristy Eagle Trips but prefer to find things au Natural.

We walked to the local Bay which had stunning white beaches and removing the very common Oycs then Ringed Plover were the only bird of note. Another ♀ Hen Harrier did a flypast over the area and Common Buzzard and Stonechats were plentiful.

Monday we visited Iona and the small Island can only be reached by the local ferry. At least 4 calling Corncrake were on the Island but very little else.

Wednesday we hiked up Ben More and again bird species were very limited up there. A single Golden Eagle flew over the Summit and Ravens were doing their acrobatics. Back at sea level and on the Loch na Keal an Adult Great Northern Diver in full summer plumage was seen. The drive back, scanning the loch shore produced 2 Otters and lots of Otter spotters. I’m sure there are more people looking for Otters than anything else on Mull.

The rest of the week was spent hiking and trying to see the same birds we had already found but it was the Hen Harriers that became the easiest to see. One evening whilst out driving we stopped to scan a rough area of Grassland which looked promising for Owls. However it wasn’t Owls but Hen Harriers that were using it as a hunting area. Both the ♀  and the♂ made regular visits to this site and every evening we drove no more than a mile from our cottage to see both birds hunting until at least 10pm.

Overall the target birds were seen, but sadly only in single sightings, The Otters are there and with a bit of luck you will see them. Red Deer appear later in the evening and there are many of them on the Island.

The bonus for the week was Low Pressure over England meant we had virtually no rain, there was no sun either, but at least we kept dry.

On the way home a long staying Sabine’s Gull at Nosterfield Flaske Lake was far to good an opportunity to miss, and thankfully showed really well ending a lovely week.

♂ Hen Harrier – Record shot very distant

Sabine’s Gull Flask Lake Nosterfield




Thursday 11th May 2017

Local Scarborough news of a Hoopoe at Cloughton today meant the chance of catching up with a bird I’ve not seen in the UK for a few years. Thankfully the bird still remained there till this evening so it was a very brief view of the bird, as the field in which it was located was full of horses and the owners with dogs came to feed them, hence the bird was never seen again.
Also in the same field were good numbers of Wheatears and a single Whinchat.
On the way home yet another Yellow Wagtail, which thankfully I’ve seen lots of this species so far this year.

Hoopoe (10)

Hoopoe, Whinchat and Pied Wagtail

Thursday 4th May 2017

A quick stop off at Nosterfield early evening and 2 Arctic Terns were on the Main Reserve.
4 Avocets, 3 Ringed Plovers and 2 Dunlin were also present.
Earlier this morning I witnessed a ♀ Merlin attack a Starling and she was unable to carry the bird off, so the Starling had a very lucky escape.

Monday 1st May 2017

A pleasant afternoon and a walk around Star Carr towards the River Hertford.
Rather strangely the first bird seen was a Barnacle Goose in the mixture of Canada and Greylag Geese.
Lots of new Warbler arrivals with Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiff-Chaff and at least 5 Sedge Warbler.
Hearing Whimbrel calling as they were flying over is always a sign of Spring and at least 54 birds were seen with one individual displaying a Russet Brown chest (Probably a Black Tailed Godwit). The birds were resting up and feeding on the rough pasture before making their way north.

Sunday 30th April 2017

A very early start as I wanted to see two of the difficult Woodland Birds which are becoming harder each year to locate. Our local Woodlands no longer support Pied Flycatchers and so each year, in order to see these majestic birds you have to go West for any hope.
Fortunately a few Oak Woodlands still remain and thankfully within a few minutes of arriving at this site both ♂ Pied Flycatcher and Redstart were really vocal and very easy to see.
Moving on to the Coast and a visit to South Gare where unfortunately by now the wind had increased to Gale Force and it was impossible to hear any Migrant Bird species. At least a couple of Wheatears were on the Rocks and quite a few White Wagtails were on the beach.
Walking to the sea line as the tide was in, and a good number of Little Terns were feeding close in and some were resting on the sands. I’m assuming these birds are pretty common in this area as nobody else even bothered looking at them. For me, these delicate birds, which like many other species are becoming less and less, it was a pleasure to watch them. Also in the area were lots of Sandwich Terns and Comic Terns, far too distant to identify, but in good numbers.
Waders were plentiful with Sanderling, Bar Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Knot, some of which were now into their Summer Plumage.
After lunch news of a Black Tern passage on most inland waters meant stopping off at Scaling Dam, however there were none present and apart from a Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper it was pretty quiet as usual.

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♂ Pied Flycatcher in North Yorkshire Moors

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Little Tern at South Gare