Thursday, 4 March 2010

Make hay while the sun shines

Well..........get out while the sun shines.After lunch headed up to Big Waters in beautiful full sun. On arrival  thought that i would see if the Green Woodpecker was still around but unfortunately not. I understand this particular specimen stays for a few months over the winter and having not seen him for 3 weeks i reckon he is away. It was quiet in the wooded area by the boardwalk. I had taken my fold down chair and plonked down behind the screen at the feeding station. I've done this before and like the fact that you get a nice low level view, totally different from the hide perspective which must be 2/3 metres above the ground. Another reason is that you sit opposite the Tree Sparrows favourite spot in the bushes.Loads of Tree Sparrows as ever, Chaffinches in abundance competing on the ice covered ground with numbers of Dunnocks and a couple of Robins. After a while these birds were joined by 3 female Pheasants, a couple of Moorhen appeared and from the undergrowth another female, this time a Reed Bunting. Turning my attention to the feeders themselves, Blue Tits, Great Tits, a solitary Coal Tit and a male and female Siskin were on the nyger seed. Just before i left for Prestwick Carr for the last hour of daylight a Great Spotted Woodpecker landed in the trees which i watched for 10mins.
At Prestwick i was hoping to see an owl or two. Getting out of the car straight away i came upon a Grey Heron "fishing" in the still waterlogged fields. A couple of Robins and a Blue Tit could be heard singing in the trees that line the "wonky" road as i walked along and passed the goats. A couple of bearded heads peered out from the doorway. I took up my place leaning on the metal gate that i normally frequent when i'm here and a few hundred metres further along the road i noticed 4 people. looking through my binoculars i recognised them as regulars from the hide at Big Waters and they were all focused in front of them at the hedge line. Sure enough perched in a small tree what looked like a Short-eared Owl but it was a distant view for me. I watched it for some time, but it was happy where it was. The light was fading fast and the birders along the road dispersed. Time to leave i thought but as i was turning to leave something caught my eye. The Short-eared Owl had lifted and was hunting on the Carr. Not much light now but the brief sighting of it in the air was worth it. Heading back to the car thoughts of a Barn Owl crossed my mind but it was not to be. Bill "the bike"  made his usual appearance saying he had seen 3 Short-eared all sitting in a row on fence posts earlier this afternoon.

On and around feeders at Big Waters


  Great Tit


  1. Love the Siskin shots, I saw some at Bolam but photo's didn't come out as clear. Nice

  2. Hello Michelle
    Thank you for your kind comments. I'm not too keen on taking images from feeders but some species you may only get close to from a hide. It is always more challenging in the field and you get so much more satisfaction from those shots. I was enjoying so much watching these pretty birds at close quarters that i had to capture them.
    Thanks again

  3. Really like the siskin pics. We usually get a few in the garden but haven't seen any this winter - bramblings seem to have taken their place. Amazing how aggressive siskins can be - I've watched them see off greenfinches, which are 50% bigger.

  4. Lovely post and photographs John. Owls are fantastic, aren't they. I've only ever seen two. One was when I was walking the dogs in the evening and it glided over us. It was a magical experience to see it gliding silently by. The other was a sleepy little owl nestled in a hedge one afternoon. As I stared at it, it just looked back slowly blinking its eyes.

    Hubby had a lovely experience going to work a few months ago. Two baby owls tumbled out of an ivy-clad tree and fluttered back up before reaching the ground. I wish I could have seen that. It's now nicknamed 'The Owl Tree'. :)

  5. Love the Siskin pictures; we used to have them and Greens/Goldies, (arriving in October (the 16th/17th, Each year.)

  6. Apologies again for not relying earlier but computer has been out of commission for a couple of days.
    Phil,pleased you enjoyed the pics. Shame you haven't had any Siskins this winter but you couldn't have had a finer sub. in the Brambling. The subjects i was watching were actually being harassed by, of all things, Blue Tits. They seemed rather nervous of everything to be fair.
    Yoke, thanks for the praise. I find it very interesting in the species you actually get where you live.
    Lesley,brilliant comment (as ever) Lovely descriptions of your experiences of Owls. All birds are marvelous, and no one species should be put above another. But they all have there special characteristics. The silent flight and i lioved the description of the Little Owl looking at you and slowly blinking....priceless. I wish i had an Owl tree. I do have a spuggy bush mind you!