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.

Digiscoping Birds – Part 2

Today was bright and sunny, but cold, with a frost on the ground. However, this was perfect weather for practicing my digiscoping. 

A local pond near where I live has a good variety of bird and we were hoping to see Canada Geese and Great Crested Grebe, but they were nowhere to be seen.

We did see some Gadwall, Whooper Swans, Goldeneye and a Grey Heron. The birds were quite a distance away and the only realistic way of capturing them was by attaching a camera to a spotting scope. This requires good light. 

Tufted Ducks
Gadwall
A Grey Heron
A Wigeon between two Mallards

Mute Swans and their families like to have ponds to themselves and can be aggressive to other Swans. The Whooper Swans below were resting on the edge of the pond before taking a swim. This attracted the attention of the adult Mute Swans who swam over to the Whoopers. 

The Whooper Swans did not react to the aggression of the Mute Swans causing the aggressors to withdraw. 

Whooper Swans getting ready for a swim
Whooper Swans
An aggressive Mute Swan approaches the Whoopers
The Whooper Swans ignore the aggressor
The aggressor retreats
The Whoopers continue on their way
A Whooper Swan

It was a good day out and it may be a few weeks before we get good weather like it again. Unfortunately, in this part of the world it is more likely to be raining!

Photographs of Migrating Birds at Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell

The weather this weekend has been warm and sunny and this provided excellent conditions for viewing the birds on the large pond at Baron’s Haugh. The word “haugh” is the Scottish word for flooded meadow.

With Autumn getting underway many birds migrate from Scandinavia to the South of France and North Africa. The migrating birds stop off at various places on their journey southwards and Baron’s Haugh is a great place to spot some of these migrating birds.

Ruff, Green Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit 

This weekend did not disappoint – a Ruff, a number of Green Sandpiper and a pair of Black-tailed Godwit were seen on the Haugh and I managed to get some photographs of these birds through my scope. 

There were also Snipe, Lapwing, Mute and Whooper swans on the Haugh, along with the usual Ducks. 

Below are some photographs of these birds. Clicking on the images below will enlarge them.

A Ruff  can be seen at the back of the photograph

Ruff are migrant birds, passing through on their journey South.The ruff is a medium-sized wading bird with a long neck, a small head and a short bill. It occasionally breeds in eastern England, but is mainly a migrant bird in the UK.

Ruff

The Ruff were a bit far away, so the above photographs are a bit blurry.

Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper are also migrant birds. It is also a wader with a dark back with pale underparts. 

Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit

The Black-tailed Godwit are large wading birds. In summer, they have bright orangey-brown chests and bellies, but in winter they’re more greyish-brown. They have long beaks and legs, and the black and white stripes on their wings.

Snipe

Resident Birds

Snipe are resident birds but this was the first time I had a good close-up view of them. Snipe are medium sized wading birds with short legs and long straight bills. Snipe breed in the UK and in winter the resident birds are joined by birds from northern Europe.

Fungi

In Autumn, Baron’s Haugh also has a good variety of fungi. I managed to see some as I walked around the reserve.

 
 
Velvet Shank

The Velvet Shank can be eaten and can be added to stews and casseroles.

It had been a good weekend at Baron’s Haugh.

Further Information:

Baron’s Haugh is an RSPB reserve in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. There are four hides for viewing the birds at different locations to observe the birds. The area is popular with birdwatchers because of the large variety of birds in the area.