Category Archives: Bird Watching

Birdwatching Blogs

Feathered Winter Visitors

Since my last post I have been attending my archery classes and taking photographs for various people which has taken up a lot of my time. However, today was lovely and sunny and just perfect for a spot of digiscoping at the local bird pond. 

The winter visitors are here and we managed to get some nice photographs of many the birds. Even although the scope can stretch quite a distance, some of the birds were just a bit too far away to photograph them to a good standard.

Below are some of the photographs we took.

The Canada geese always photograph well because they are large birds and also seem to come closer to the water’s edge than the other birds. In the summer I posted some photographs of the young birds which were on the golf course. They have all grown up now.

Canada Geese
Canada Geese
Canada Geese and Widgeon
Canada Geese and Widgeon
Whooper Swans
Canada Geese and Widgeon
Canada Geese and Widgeon
Whooper Swans

The Whooper swans above include two juveniles – their white beaks dull brown feathers identify them as immature.

Other birds on the pond were Great crested grebes, Tufted ducks, Gadwall, Black-headed gulls, and a Heron. It is a busy pond with plenty of birds to see.

There will not be too many sunny days this winter so it was very enjoyable today.

The Canada geese always photograph well because they are large birds and also seem to come closer to the water’s edge than the other birds. In the summer I posted some photographs of the young birds which were on the golf course. They have all grown up now and are difficult to spot.

The Whooper swans above include two juveniles – their white beaks dull brown feathers identify them as immature.Other birds on the pond were Great crested grebes, Tufted ducks, Gadwall, Black-headed gulls, and a Heron. It is a busy pond with plenty of birds to see. There will not be too many sunny days this winter so it was very enjoyable today.

We did pack up a bit early as there was a man lurking about in the trees watching us and we were a bit afraid he was intending to steal our equipment or attack us.

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Filed under Bird Watching, General, Lanarkshire, Scotland, strathclyde, Wildlife

Baby Geese

This morning when I was out playing a round of golf with the ‘girls’, we spotted a family of Canada geese on one of the fairways.Fortunately, they were quite near the tee, so were not in too much danger of being hit by a ball.

After my golf round, I went home and came back with my scope and camera to take some photographs of this lovely family. The  weather forecast had been for rain, but it turned out to be a lovely sunny day.   

Here are some photographs of the birds.  

Canada Geese on the fairway looking towards the tee
Under the watchful eye of mum
Dad looking out for any danger
Dad having a snack

 After being on the fairway, the family made their way to the pond for a relaxing swim, but stopped off in the undergrowth for another snack. This gave me a chance to get some good close-up images of the young ones.

Baby Canada Goose
Another baby
Another baby
Swimming in the pond
Safely between mum and dad for safety

Looking over the pond, I also saw some Greylag Geese with their young. They were a bit far away, but the photograph came out okay.

Greylag Geese

A Moorhen was in the distance with her young but was too far away to photograph well.

All the photographs were taken by digiscope and they turned out well. What a great way to spend an afternoon!

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Filed under Bird Watching, Lanarkshire, Scotland, Short Walks, strathclyde, Wildlife

Digiscoping Images – Birds

For the last few weeks I have been out golfing but the sunny Easter weather took me to the local bird pond to photograph the birds. With digiscoping, bright weather is required, otherwise the images will not come out well. 

Below are some images I took.

Male Tufted Duck
Female Tufted Duck
Coot
Coot obscured behind some reeds.
Teal
Grey Heron
Nesting Whooper Swan
Great Crested Grebe

The Whooper Swan is unusual because Whoopers usually fly to Iceland to breed over the summer. This swan seems unable to fly the journey to Iceland so has remained behind. There were no other Whooper swans in the pond, but there was a Mute Swan so it may be that he is the father!

The digiscoped images have come out quite well. I find that the camers slightly over-exposes the images so it is best to take images in RAW format and under-expose the shots.

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Filed under Bird Watching, Lanarkshire, Scotland, strathclyde, Wildlife

Digiscoping Birds at the Local Pond

The weather was lovely and sunny today in contrast to the pouring rain which has been present since the beginning of December.

I was up and out early with my sunglasses on to catch some photographs of the birds in my local pond. Approaching the pond, the birds were all swimming about near the water’s edge, but as soon as they heard me approach they moved to the centre of the pond.

Bird pond

The photo above gives an indication of how lovely a day it was.

Setting up my tripod and scope I realised I had forgotten the attachment for my SLR camera so I had to use the camera on my mobile phone, which is very good.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

The Canada geese above were all sitting together on the banking but soon moved off into the pond when they heard me approaching.  

On the small island on the pond a few Canada geese were also resting. There was a slight commotion and I noticed there were two Cormorant in the area acting in an aggressive manner to what looked like an injured Canada goose lying in the grass on the island.

Aggressive Cormorant

Cormorant

The two of them soon calmed down!

The Cormorant on the right is a juvenile bird as can be see by the large white breast and brown colour. This turns darker with age.

Cormorant

Gadwall and Whooper Swans

In the pond were Gadwall – there are beautiful birds but always hard to photograph as they stay in the middle of the pond. I will try and get a photograph of them next time.

Whooper Swans

On the opposite bank were a group of Whooper swans. These are winter visitors and will soon be leaving to go back to Iceland for breeding. They can be identified by their yellow beaks.

Diving Ducks

There are a number of diving ducks in the pond including Tufted ducks, Goldeneye and Widgeon. Goldeneye male birds have black heads, while female and juvenile birds have brown heads. All have a white spot in front of the eye. 

Goldeneye
Tufted Ducks

It was a lovely way to spend the morning before a game of golf in the afternoon. On my way back home to change and get my golf clubs, I saw a Bumble Bee flying about. Very unusual to see one so early in the year.

Coming home from the golf it was just getting dark at 17.30. The dark days of winter are leaving us and the light summer days are almost here.

Can’t wait for summer.

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After the Rain – Signs of Spring

After the heavy rain and floods in December, the weather has been much drier and very mild for this time of the year.

I took a reading with my digital thermometer at 15.35 and the temperature was 46.4F or 8C. This is very mild and it was so warm that I could get away with wearing a thin jacket with 40grams Primaloft insulation. Normally I would not wear this until late March to late September. I did not need to wear gloves or a hat. 

Temperature at 46.4F

I only understand Fahrenheit temperatures and not Centigrade ones, except that freezing point is 32F. If I have to convert temperatures from Centigrade to Fahrenheit and vice versa in my head, I use the methods below: 

Fahrenheit to Celsius – subtract thirty, then halve

Celsius to Fahrenheit – double, then add thirty 

This gives a fairly accurate result. 

Water Levels 

Around the Christmas period the water on the ponds in South Lanarkshire had flowed over onto adjacent land. Normally this land is not covered by water unless there has been a sustained period of heavy rain.  

Wet ground after flood water has receded

In the photograph above, the floodwater had covered most of the ground up to the tree in the right foreground. It had receded and was ground was back to its usual state.

Flood water has receded

Signs of Spring 

Hazel tree catkins

A Hazel tree caught our eye as we were walking from the bird pond above. The male catkins were well developed and had the creamy/yellow colour which they have in the Spring. The mild weather probably caused them to be so advanced for late January.   

Hazel tree

 Fungi 

Most fungi is seen in the Autumn, but there are still some types of fungi visible throughout the year.
 
Trametes ochracea

 

Trametes ochracea

Trametes ochracea fungi grows on standing and fallen dead wood of deciduous trees, in particular beeches and oaks. They look nice and colourful.

Spring is almost here

If the weather continues to be so mild, the Snowdrops will soon be visible and then the Daffodils and Tulips will follow.

It is also getting lighter at night and in the mornings and my daily commute to Glasgow and back will soon be in daylight, rather than in darkness.

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Filed under Bird Watching, General, General, Lanarkshire, Scotland, strathclyde, Wildlife

Flood Damage at Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell

The RSPB nature reserve at Baron’s Haugh in Motherwell rarely escapes any flood damage due to its proximity to the River Clyde. Today we went on a walk through the reserve to assess the extent of the damage.

Causeway Hide

The Causeway hide was flooded with waist-deep water.

Causeway Hide

Phoenix Hide

Being higher up, the Phoenix hide usually escapes being flooded but the adjacent River Clyde had burst its banks and damaged the steps to the hide.

Phoenix Hide

The damage does not seem too bad until the steps are climbed and the damage to the top step is revealed.

Damage to top step of the Phoenix Hide

Footpath Damage

Centenery Hide

This showed the remains of debris left when it had been flooded, but the water had receded. The steps to the hide had been badly damaged a few years ago and were repaired to such a high standard that they were relatively undamaged.

Steps to the Centenery hide
Dirt left by floodwater in the Centenary hide
Centenery Hide

Carbarns
On the way to Carbarns, the field was flooded. 

Field at Carbarns flooded
Carbarns flooding

Carbarns usually has a large flooded area which remains in the summer which can be seen in the top of the photograph above. Theflooding in the foreground only occurs during the winter.
Other Damage

Damaged noticeboard

The path at the Chestnut Walk was blocked by trees which had fallen in the severe gales. The extent of the flooding can be seen by the debris left on one of the trees.

There is much work to be done at the reserve to clear up the damage.

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Filed under Baron's Haugh, Bird Watching, General, Lanarkshire, Scotland, strathclyde, Wildlife

Flooding on Rivers Clyde and Avon, Lanarkshire

With the weather being so bad we decided to stay in the local area rather than risk getting caught up in any travel chaos and went for a walk along the Rivers Avon and Clyde. 

Normally this is a fairly pleasant walk or cycle, but today involved jumping over large puddles, climbing over high fences and running across a main dual carriageway. The reason for this was the flooding in the area. 

This was quite extensive with the water level reaching three feet in some places and required fishing waders to walk through. As neither of us possess fishing waders, it was easier to find an alternative route. 

Flooding on cycle path at Smithycroft

Flooding is quite common during the winter and usually you can wade through it wearing normal walking boots, but not at the moment!

Where Rivers Clyde and Avon meet

At one point in the walk, where the Rivers Clyde and Avon meet  – the water level was very high and the path under the Clyde Bridge, joining the main towns of Motherwell and Hamilton, was flooded.

Flooding on path under the Clyde Bridge

Taking a short detour to the main Motherwell Road and crossing the dual carriageway seemed the best option, so we had to run across to the central reservation, climb over the barrier and run to the other side. Fortunately, no police cars were in the area!

Fashionable Dog!

Fashionable dog!

In Strathclyde Park we saw a small Long-haired Chihuahua wearing an Adidas hoodie! According to his owners, these are very fashionable and are known by the brand name, Adidog! I managed to get a photo of the wee fella modelling his red hoodie as shown above. What a wee cutie!

Flooding on motorway underpass between Motherwell and Hamilton

Flooded Underpass Again!

The underpass between Motherwell and Hamilton is always flooded when there is a period of prolonged rain. From the photo above, it can be seen that the path is not level and this is the cause of water gathering on one side, as well as there being no drainage. The water was waist high, so a dingy would have come in handy!

Commonwealth Games

With the Commonwealth games only a few months away, one wonders if the local council is going to fix this, as the path will be used by a large number of people. I suppose we will have to wait and see. The triathlon will be held in Strathclyde Park so we will go down to watch the action as it unfolds.

Goosander on the River Clyde

On the River Clyde, adjacent to the footbridge between Motherwell and Hamilton, we saw a pair of Goosander. Goosander are usually shy birds and keep well away from areas where many people pass through. As the underpass above was flooded and the footbridge  was the only access to it, the area was quiet and so the Goosander probably thought it was safe to swim in the area.

Male Goosander
Male and female Goosander

Goosander are the largest of the sawbills. I took some photographs with my video camera as I can zoom in close, although the resulting photographs are never the best quality. The top photograph above shows a close-up of the male and the hooked end to his bill. This is used for catching fish as the bill has sharp serrations.

The bottom photograph shows the male and female. The female has brown markings as opposed to the black of the male.

It had been another eventful day.

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Filed under Bird Watching, Lanarkshire, Scotland, Short Walks, strathclyde, Wildlife