Winter Birds at Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell

It has been quite mild here, if a little wet. However, today the sun was shining and it looked a perfect day for a spot of bird-watching. 

I walked to Baron’s Haugh and caught up with a few of my birding friends who were in the Marsh hide. There was not much to see from this hide, so we decided to go to the next one – the Causeway hide. 

This was much better as there were a lot more birds to see, including a large number of Teals. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind some dark clouds and the light became quite poor.

A couple from Linlithgow were visiting for the first time today and were impressed with the numbers of birds in the area. They had been at Loch Leven the day before and were wrapping up the long Christmas break with a visit to Motherwell.

Below are some photographs I took through my scope, although the poor light has not been strong enough to bring out the nice colours of the birds. Click on the photographs to enlarge. 


Teals are small dabbling ducks. The Males have chestnut coloured heads with broad green eye-patches, while the females are mottled brown. In winter they congregate in wetlands and many have come from the Baltic and Siberia. 

Male Goldeneye

Goldeneye are winter visitors. The males have a dark green head with a distinctive white circle under the eyes. The females have a brown head. The bird above was by itself and there were no other Goldeneye with him. 

Juvenile mute Swan

In Springtime we watched the adult swans building their nest and the bird above has successfully reached its first winter. It still has some of the dull juvenile feathers remaining, but they will soon be replaced by white ones. The beak is still a grey colour and it will soon become a bright orange one.

Adult Male Swan

In the picture above, the mute swan has a pair of Gadwall in front of him and just above his head, with the brown and white wings, is a Shoveller. 

By about 2.00pm the light was fading fast so it was time to call it a day and go home.

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

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.

Digiscoping Birds – Some Photographs

The weekend weather for the past few weeks has been cloudy and wet so there were not many opportunities for outdoor activities.

The rain on Saturday was very heavy but today it did become brighter around mid-day so I went to my local bird pond to catch up with the new feathered arrivals.

Many birds migrate from Scandinavia to the UK over the winter for the slightly longer days and milder weather.

I took my spotting scope and my SLR camera and tried to get some shots of the birds. Using a scope requires good light but I was hopeful the light was bright enough to get some decent photographs.

The first few photographs of the Robin were taken in my garden. Robins are great birds top photograph as they are not shy and are entertaining.

The other photographs were taken at my local bird pond. The water levels were quite high so there were no waders about as they prefer shallow waters. However, there were many Whooper Swans who had arrived for the winter from Scandinavia. Photographs of them can be seen below.

There were also a group of  Cormorants sitting on a platform on the water. One was stretching its wings so I took a few photographs of it. There were also some heron but they were quite far away. However, I did manage to get a photograph of one sitting high in a tree overlooking the River Clyde.

The photographs came out quite well. The main problem with digiscoping with an SLR camera is that the autofocus does not work on the camera so the focus has to be done manually. It is also useful to use a remote shutter control to minimize camera shake.

Hopefully, there will be sunnier days so that I can improve my digiscoping technique.