Wednesday 30 September 2015

Dippers on the Aros Estuary

Dippers have always been a bogey bird for me, so to see one on the river as we arrived at our holiday cottage was a good omen that I may lay this shortcoming to rest once and for all. The front garden of Riverside Cottage is on the banks of the River Aros, just below the old and "new" road bridges and is real Dipper habitat. Two birds were in residence, I couldn't call them a pair as they were constantly driving one another off the patch. However, during the second week of our stay, a third bird turned up and the attitudes of the original birds changed dramatically, now they tolerated each other's company and even at times displayed to each other with beaks pointing upward and high speed wing fluttering. The third bird was given short shrift and made to keep his distance.

River Aros below the road bridges
Right fork - adjacent to the Salen -Tobermory road
The left fork - real Dipper territory


Love or War - not sure!

A mixed diet of caddis, flounder and trout.



A replete bird!

Upstream, the River Aros remains good for Dippers




Tuesday 29 September 2015

White-tailed Eagles (II)

My second day out was much different, the birds were the same just the weather changed. Cloud, rain and sun and in any combination of all three made photography much more difficult, add to that a mild chop on the water and things didn't quite go to plan.

If your White-tailed Eagle shots are normally taken at this sort of distance....

......then you need a day out on this vessel....

........with these two experts.

Enough of the adverts - just take a look at Mull Charters here.

Just a few more shots - not as good as the previous trip but still better than the ones I had before going to Mull!

I missed it!

White-tailed Eagles (I)

At long last I managed to get a couple of days out on Mull Charter's Lady Jayne to get up close and personal with some White-tailed Eagles. I met up with Martin and Alex at Ulva ferry, along with 10 other souls who were making the three hour trip. There was hardly a cloud in a perfect blue sky and hardly a breath of wind,  conditions were just perfect, would we see an eagle?

Well just ten minutes out into Loch Tuath we were set upon by our first bird, total excitement as it circled the boat, eyeing up the fish that had been thrown as an offering. Now, before any birder says that this isn't real birding and to the photographers that, like me, thought that it was a doddle to capture these birds - think again sunshine. These birds are not performing to order, sure they recognise the boat and they get a free offering, albeit a small one, but they can totally ignore you as they did on my second trip. Martin has a very responsible attitude, after all it is in his interest, the birds get a feed once a day and that's it - they definitely have no dependency on the boat. The bird made two strikes - presumably a fish for itself and one for the youngster and it was all over.

We made our way up to the top of Loch na Keal, where a couple of days previous I and lots of other eagle watchers had found four birds perched in the trees. Two adults and two juveniles had been active but today - not a sign. In fact the only excitement during the journey up and down the loch was provided by a flyby Gannet.   It looked as though we had had our only visit but as we turned for Ulva we were "bounced" by two birds, an adult and what appeared to be a juvenile. It doesn't matter how prepared you and your camera are, the birds will always confuse the issue - choosing to dive out of the sun or whatever condition that will have you cursing your luck. I never managed to capture a fish pick-up in focus - I can assure you -  it ain't easy!

Anyway here are my offerings, most of them taken with a lot of luck and a bit of judgement.

Oops!  Just a little too close.

On the way in we were treated to a swim by of a small Otter, the perfect end to a perfect trip.