Saturday 30 May 2015

Osprey at Lochan Lodge

Finally a dive closer to the camera - not the best of light but I was happy with the results. Will just have to go back to improve on them.

Pandion haliaetus (OK - an Osprey)

With apologies to any readers - it's the Osprey again.

In the second week I managed to get a routine going, if watching an Osprey can ever be routine. Keeping the hovering bird in the viewfinder and waiting for it to disappear downwards, then finding the bird in the water and capturing the emergence. I hasten to add that this was not always successful, my photography that is, the bird seemed to be an expert at catching the premium protein of the lochan.

Only on this occasion it all seemed to go wrong. I found the bird in the water but it was struggling to get airborne, in fact at times it sank out of sight. Then it became apparent that it had bitten off more than it could chew, in its talons a monster trout and it was obvious who was in control of this battle  - the trout! Finally the bird managed to almost get clear of the water only to collapse with the effort and it realised that the only course of action was to let the fish go.

That's one large trout!

Friday 29 May 2015

Osprey (again!)


After several days it became apparent that this bird was going to be a regular visitor, normally in the mornings and I could set up the gear accordingly. Fishing sessions became more prolonged as the resident Oystercatcher flock had become somewhat organised in Air Defence. One day I counted 38 on the grass adjacent to the lochan, alarms from more distant birds put them into alert and they made concerted efforts to deter the Osprey. On one foray I counted twenty two oystercatchers in close formation and they successfully drove the Osprey away. Oddly, the close proximity of Buzzards, which are plentiful here, and Herons raised not one peep from the waders.

This composite (my photoshop skills are limited) is intended to show how difficult it is to track an Osprey in a dive. Unfortunately as the bird descends the autofocus is grabbed by the higher contrast background resulting in this:-

So I abandoned any idea of capturing those dramatic plunges and concentrated on trying to capture lift offs.

Over the weekend Osvaldo, well we were now so familiar it had to be first names, was joined briefly by a Red Kite, a species of  bird I haven't seen in the area before but around Tollie on the Black Isle they are now numerous. This one, tagged V2 Red Right and Left Blue appears to be have been tagged on the Black Isle during the summer of 2014 so it's a juvenile really. Anyway he hung around for five minutes before departing to quarter the fields just in front of the gamekeeper's cottage. I did glimpse it again for a short time later in the holiday - great if they become established.


By now the Osprey was showing signs that human presence whilst he was fishing was not a problem and indeed as he repositioned after being disturbed by the waders he frequently gave me a close flyby.

Fulmars of Fowlsheugh

Although I was tempted to hang around for another Osprey session, a visit to RSPB Fowlsheugh was planned, so we set off for the coast at Stonehaven. The drive via Tomintoul, Ballater and Banchory  is very pleasant, taking in a trip over the Lecht. With the snow gone the roads were almost deserted and birds were also few and far between, just a few Red Grouse monitoring our progress.

Martin and I had visited Fowlsheugh back in March and were amazed how many birds had already arrived so I was keen to revisit later in the season. Bird numbers had multiplied and the noise from thousands of Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and Gulls was phenomenal.

Our target was close up views of Puffins, sadly not to be as Liz managed to find only one, and that was a long way off and eventually did a Houdini.. So we settled down on the cliff top, out of the wind and I attempted flight shots of what ever was passing by. We had failed miserably to capture Fulmars in flight back in March but today's conditions were much more helpful. So were the birds, circling the cliffs and coming within almost touching distance.  

As I said - they do come close!


Thousands of Kittiwakes are present

Compared with Kittiwakes and Fulmars, Herring Gulls have an "evil" look

 I guess because this is not an over visited reserve the birds are more approachable.

Living in close proximity creates problems

Photography of flying Auks is virtually impossible.

I could sit and observe Razorbills for hours, I can empathise with their apparent grumpiness.