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
Teals

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.

Butterflies

During the summer months there is not much activity in the bird world but there are other things to observe in nature. 

Butterflies are quite numerous at this time of year so I went out with a friend in search of some unusual varieties of these colourful fluttering insects. We were in search of Comma butterflies, which are common in England, but have become more widespread in Scotland due to the warmer weather in recent years.

Comma Butterfly

 After walking about in a meadow in Baron’s Haugh in Motherwell we were rewarded with out first sight of the Comma butterfly. The Comma is called after the small white marking on the underside of the wing which resembles a comma. In the photograph above the white mark can be seen on the right wing.

Comma Butterfly

While there we also saw one of the most common butterflies in the UK – the Green-veined White. This butterfly can be found from spring through to autumn in parks, gardens, meadows and woodland. 

The so-called green veins on the underside of the adults are, in fact, an
illusion created by a subtle combination of yellow and black scales.

Green-veined White

My friend provided me with an insight into butterflies and ignited my interest in these colourful fluttering summer insects. I will spend some time learning more about them.

It had a very interesting few hours.

Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell

View Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell in a larger map

The weather forecast for the weekend was sunny on Saturday and wet on Sunday so the birdwatching trip to the RSPB reserve at Baron’s Haugh in Motherwell was arranged for Saturday. 

‘Flooded Meadow’

Baron’s Haugh (the word ‘haugh’ means flooded meadow) is my local nature reserve and is home to a wide variety of birds including ducks, waders, swans, geese and other water birds. It was a bit frosty and the Haugh was iced over in some places. 

Digiscoping

With me I had my Zeiss Victory spotting scope which I use with a bean bag to save me having to carry a tripod. I have to walk to the Haugh and back, which is a round trip of 8 miles so I try to carry as little as possible. 

I was going to use my scope and the camera on my mobile phone camera to take some photographs of the birds, as they are generally quite far away from the hides. The phone I used was a Sony Xperia S which worked quite well. I will be getting an attachment to enable me to use my SLR camera in the near future, so I can take better photographs of the birds.

Baron’s Haugh

Redwing, Mistle Thrushes and Fieldfare

As it was cold, I wore plenty of clothes as it is always quite chilly at the Haugh. On the way to the first hide we were fortunate to see one Redwing, two Mistle thrushes and one Fieldfare in a field. They were quite close to the walkway and we got excellent views of them through our binoculars. 

Further along we managed to observe three Nuthatch in the trees. 

On the Haugh

Mallards, Common Gulls and Widgeon

Out on the Haugh the usual birds were in attendance including Mallard ducks, Tufted ducks, Heron, Whooper swans, Canada geese, Moorhen, Gadwall, Greylag geese and various Gulls.

Canada geese (Black and white heads), Greylag geese, Widgeon and Common Gulls

There was a large flock of Canada geese which are winter visitors to Scotland. They will return in March to Scandinavia for breeding in the long summer months.


Whooper swans

Two Whooper swans were near the water’s edge and were obscured by the reeds. The photograph above shows the swans seen through the reeds.


Fungi

On the way home some fungi was seen on a dead tree. The area around Baron’s Haugh is excellent for observing fungi.

A list of the birds seen today are:

  • Mistle Thrush
  • Redwing
  • Canada geese
  • Mallard ducks
  • Tufted ducks
  • Common gulls
  • Black-headed gulls
  • Heron
  • Nuthatch
  • Moorhen
  • Teal
  • Widgeon
  • Whooper Swans
  • Mute swans
  • Gadwall

The day out was very enjoyable and the photographs taken through my scope with the camera phone turned out quite well. It enabled me to get record shots of the birds which were too far away to take with a normal camera.

Further Information

http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/b/baronshaugh/about.aspx