Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A poor show...

 After 16 years of Blogging this has been my worst January showing of all. One post. Well, two now.

Why is that? I'm not wholly sure, but this winter weather is a big factor. The constant winds, wet weather and named storms have made for a grim landscape with little to encourage optimism. 

Still, despite the doom and gloom the year moves on gradually. I've heard Skylarks, Great Tit and Redwing in full song, Woodpeckers drumming and today, my first Song Thrush chuntering away from a sheltered thicket. Only Chaffinch to go for the early birds singing. Tawny Owls are particularly vocal around the village on calm nights, when we get one that is. 

One of our neighbour's conifers blew over during storm, er, Isha. They all roll into one these days. The tree lay precariously on our greenhouse but the weight was taken by the stone garden wall so only soft branches lay on the roof causing no damage. It seems to be a lucky greenhouse having survived Arwen and now Isha unblemished. Lets hope the lucky spell continues.

On Saturday we did the RSPB Big Garden Bird watch, seeing 15 species, with highlights being 18 Tree Sparrows, a Great spotted Woodpecker, 6 Long tailed Tits and the Goldcrest that has been at the feeders most days since Christmas feeding on tiny bits dropped from the fat balls on to ivy leaves below.

Long tailed Tit, Robin and a pandemonium of Tree Sparrows during the Big Garden Birdwatch.

My first lifer of the year arrived last week when a Common Flower Bug Anthocoris nemorum crawled over my phone in the living room.

On Sunday a few hours inland was less than productive, but a moorland Great black backed Gull, adult, hunting for a carcass to feed on was quite unusual.  

New Year Waxwings remain absent but the Snow Buntings did a lap of the Bathing House field again on Saturday morning, the flock now up to 30+.

Snowdrops, Winter Aconites and Winter Heliotrope are now all in flower, so given a window in the weather, I am looking forward to getting out into the field properly!

Common Flower Bug

A pair of Robins displaying ina roadside wood made a change from them trying to kill each other... 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Happy New Year

 What is going on here? Its been weeks since my last post.

So, what has been happening around about?

Some decisions have been taken with regard to my wildlife agenda this year. Nothing too earth shattering, but its a start. 

To begin with, I'm not doing much of a patch list this time. The beauty of living within a patch is that there will be the usual time spent seeing stuff on a day to day basis but I'm not going all out for it. 

I am hesitant in saying this, as it might not come off, but this year I might go to see a few of the better birds that occur along our coast during migration etc. For example, I used to regularly visit Holy Island for the autumn birding but not so much in recent years. It does get a bit busy with other birders now, but it would still be nice to enjoy those migrant /rarity filled days that occur from time to time, rather than being a patch martyr. After all, time waits for no man so best enjoy our hobby while we can.

My sketching is getting more regular now, so there will be continued self development in this field, I hope, possibly linked to inspiration after more of our county birds are seen, as indicated above. I'd like to get more into a format or style, as I tend to be all over the place drawing in different books, papers etc at the minute. That's my nature though, a bit messy.

As well as the drawing, my notebooks might get a makeover too, by trying to write a little more to describe the scene rather than counts and lists as much. This might be more difficult as I've always had this habit. Its a thought.

Id like to get more blogging done too instead of wasting bloody time on social media!

Part of our village Snow Bunting flock, that I have yet to see this year though they are still around. 

We have been away last week. Having visited all corners of Scotland we thought we would give Fife a go. Its not too far from us for winter driving, and its all new so that's what we did. 

Jane booked a small house in Lower Largo right on the coast road. Some readers might have been or know the place from last years sea duck extravaganza when a Stejnegers Scoter and 4 White winged Scoters were with 1500 other scoter in Largo Bay? I can confirm however that they werent there last week, or if they were they remained too far out to identify.

We enjoyed great weather with clear cold sunny days all week, amazing considering the wet dark days we have been used to recently. The days were mostly filled by walks around small harbour villages, eating chips and generally relaxing.

On the birding front as I've said, not too much was seen. Immediately opposite our cottage scanning the high tide has double figures of Velvet and Common Scoter, up to 11 Slavonian Grebes, plenty of Red breasted Mergansers and Long tailed Ducks, with a few Goldeneye, Red throated and Great Northern Divers.

There was one visit inland to Cameron Reservoir for a wintering drake Smew, as its years since I've seen a male ( that's patch watching for you) but we couldnt find it on the day. There were 70+ Goldeneye (see, Im still counting stuff) a dozen Goosander and a female Scaup. Along the shore woods were good numbers of Crossbills and Siskins with a flack of singing Redwings too.

We came home on Saturday with time to prep for Storm Isha's arrival last night. Not that we did much preparation. The news tells us that Northumberland was up there in the wind tables with 99 mph recorded at Brizlee just west of Alnwick, one of our inland patches about 10 miles from home. Damage around our village seems minimal with a couple of trees down, one conifer lying on our greenhouse without doing any damage,  but all in all it was no storm Arwen thats for sure.

Pittenweem with the Isle of May in the distance.

Gate sculptures by artist Alan Faulds were all over the village. carved for oak and given multiple coats of paint they really brightened the area.

Lower Largo

We stayed in the brown cottage on the left. The viaduct is disused...

Lower Largo



Lower Largo opposite our house.