Thursday, 7 July 2016

Up North!

A lot of people would think that I live up north living in northwest Lancashire but during the past week Gail and I have been properly up north by spending a week in the Oban area. It was a more of week of Gail and I pursuing our shared passion of archaeology and history, as our holidays usually are, but being a birder and keen naturalist there is always some wildlife present!

 Part of Loch Awe and surrounding mountains

On the way up to Oban we stopped off at Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe and as at a lot of historic sites it is in a stunning location adjacent to some cracking habitat. It's always a pleasure visiting western Scotland for the Hooded Crows. Although they are just really a piebald version of our humble Carrion Crow there is 'something' about them!

 Hooded Crow

The atmospheric Kilchurn Castle

Adding to the atmosphere of the place were a family of four Ravens that were hanging about on the battlements of the castle as we approached and a Common Sandpiper and two Red-breasted Mergansers were good to see.

 Common Sandpiper

We called at various sites in our quest to look at the past including Dunstaffnage Castle, Loch Feochan and Easdale and bumped into more bird species including more Hooded Crows, displaying Siskins, more Common Sandpipers, more Ravens, Song Thrushes, Gannets, Rock Pipits and Linnets. Nothing out of the ordinary but all adding another texture to the historical palette!

 The bridge 'over the Atlantic'. The Clachan Bridge joining the mainland
with Seil Island.

Flooded slate quarries on Easdale.

A trip to the Isle of Mull was arranged and we were given the details of a good White-tailed Eagle location from my good friend Ann. From the boat across to Mull we had stonking views of Gannets, Guillemots, Manx Shearwaters, Black Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Arctic Terns and Common Terns.

 Pied Wagtail

We got to the Sea Eagle spot and the ubiquitous 'Hoodies' were present as were three Ravens that I thought might come in useful in alerting us if a White-tailed Eagle approached. Sure enough after about an hour I heard the Ravens alarm calling and looked up to see an adult Sea Eagle flying past carrying food and being mobbed by two of the Ravens! It was great to see the Ravens alongside the White-tailed Eagle as it illustrated just how big the Eagles are! The return boat trip was similar to the earlier one with the addition of seven Razorbills!

 Tobermory on Mull

It is one of my ambitions in life to eventually move to Scotland, I'm working on Gail, and if and when it happens it won't be up as far as Oban but more likely to be southwest Scotland which I also adore! The beauty of living in southwest Scotland is that we will just be about an hour and a half from family and friends down here, we will be living in a beautiful part of the UK (I love the Solway) and we'll only be about three hours plus from western Scotland!

Back home this week but still 'up north' I had a bird survey to complete in north Cumbria only a few miles from Carlisle. Again nothing particularly unusual in these young plantation woodlands but I did have a Yellowhammer, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, three Linnets, a Chiffchaff, two Willow Warblers, a Song Thrush, a Buzzard and two Stock Doves.

After my survey I had a look on part of the Solway (and across to Scotland!) at Drumburgh and just had an adult Med. Gull, 53 Lapwings, 22 Curlews and thirteen Shelducks.

 The Solway from Drumburgh

It's looking a bit unsettled at weekend but I'm sure I'll be get out and do something!

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