Tag Archives: Dipper

Otter Than Hell

Embarked on an ill-fated trip to Aberdeen and Northumberland this week with Colin and Steve. We should have known it was doomed when the M6 was closed causing us to divert up the A1 and A66.

Otter, Seaton Park, Aberdeen

Otter, Seaton Park, Aberdeen

Arriving at Aberdeen there was no sign of the Harlequin Duck despite a number of visiting and local birders scouring the area. Dipper is always nice to see but I don’t normally travel 450 miles to year tick one. This Otter though did provide some entertainment and did allow me to film it on the iPhone.

Goosander

Goosander

After finally admitting defeat we tried to salvage something from the trip by going for the Black Scoter at Cheswick in Northumberland. Again despite much searching we were again bitterly disappointed.

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A Grand Day Out

No trip to the moon I’m afraid but I was taken out by The Biggest Twitch team to the ends of the Earth.

One of the birds I’ve always wanted to photograph well has been Black Grouse and, a short while ago, I had a message from the Biggest Twitch team about trips to see this bird lekking. I’ve seen lekking birds before but they’ve always been miles away or I had no camera. A drive to Llandudno after work on Tuesday night and I’d be ready for an early start after my chosen prey. The weather on Tuesday had been stunning and I was hoping that the predicted mist and rain would arrive later in the day. Well the rain held off but the mist didn’t.

We had driven up to our spot in the pitch dark and passed a cyclist on the Moors before 06.00… where was he going and did he make it? We certainly passed no accident sites so I suppose he did. He must be mad… the again so must we!

Black Grouse

Black Grouse

As we pulled up the birds were already down to business. It’s strange and beautiful listening to the bubbling and hissing calls in the pitch dark. As the dawn broke we kept getting breaks in the mist but once I used the telephoto lens it just emphasized how misty it was.

Black Grouse

Black Grouse

I was shooting at 1600ISO to try and get anything and while the photos are pretty rubbish the morning certainly wasn’t. I probably spent more time actually watching the lek (and listening). Never a bad thing.

By 07.00 the show was over as the birds whizzed off over the moors to do their thing. We had a brew and started to drop down off the tops. A cracking Dipper was singing from a ford in the road and we managed a few half-decent shots. The light was still low and 1600ISO was still the name of the game.

Dipper

Dipper

After a stop in Llangollen, more Dipper and a small group of Goosander we headed west for a cooked breakfast. No17 came highly recommended and was soon demolished.

On to our next stop, a Hawfinch site. After a good hour and an a half we were rewarded with some excellent views but distant, digiscoped photos of these stunning finches.

Hawfinch

Hawfinch

At the same site we witnessed behaviour I don’t think any of us had expected… a Buzzard coming to bread. We expect it of duck but a raptor? Here is proof that Buzzard really are omnivorous.

Buzzard

Buzzard

Our final stop didn’t yield a Firecrest but no matter. I’d had an excellent day.

My thanks go to Alan and Ruth at The Biggest Twitch for organizing my day out. If you want a cracking day’s birding in North Wales or further afield contact Alan and Ruth via their website The Biggest Twitch or click on any of the underlined links on this post.