Friday 29 March 2013

More White-wingers and a Pit Fall

I had a quick look at Shawell on Wednesday and had a full day there yesterday. The highlights were two Glaucous Gulls and the faded 1st-winter Iceland Gull from a couple of weeks back. 

I learnt a lot from a leucistic bird, which initially trapped me into thinking it might be a Kumlien's Gull. Beware of zooming up your camera to check plumage details, as you lose size perspective, as I did. At home when I reviewed the photos I quickly realised that the bird was too big for a Kumlien's, but the plumage isn't that far out at a glance. It may well be a small GBB Gull, so my initial thoughts were a long way out. It is good to face these challenges as hopefully you learn from it. Though the camera tricked me, it once again demonstrates the value of being able to review images later on in case a mistake has been made.
Glaucous Gull

Wednesday 20 March 2013


If I had to choose a favourite UK bird species, Ptarmigan would definitely be on the short list. Not because they have a wonderful character, but because of their ability to alter their plumage to camouflage themselves in different seasons and of course because they are tough!

I have enjoyed many a day sneaking around the Cairngorms looking for friendly Ptarmigan. Most times they fly off but occasionally they rely on their camouflage and sit tight.

I have looked through my collection of Ptarmigan photos and chosen my favourites to add to my blog - enjoy:

Male Ptarmigan

Saturday 16 March 2013

'White-wingers' and Bloody Welsh Wingers!

1st-winter Glaucous Gull
Before I start, I must congratulate the Welsh on their emphatic victory over England today in the six-nations rugby tournament. It hurts, but I've been around long enough to know that our day will come again. 

The day started off with heavy rain, so I set off later than normal to Shawell. There wasn't that many gulls on show at the landfill site, so I made my way to the A5 Lagoons, but there wasn't many there either. I could see a huge flock in the distance resting on an old section of the tip, so it was a case of waiting for them to come to me.

Saturday 9 March 2013

Glaucous and Iceland Gulls

It was back to gulling today after the wonderful adventures in Scotland - I bet the hits on my blog go down now. At least these gulls come from the same region as the Snowy Owl.

Nevertheless it was a good day with the highlights being one of each Glaucous and Iceland Gull.

2nd-winter Glaucous Gull

Sunday 3 March 2013

Some Favourite Images From My Trip to the Cairngorms

As there is a lot of interest in my blog at the moment because of the Snowy Owl, I have put together a collection of some of my favourite images from the trip:

Cairngorms From Loch Morlich

Friday 1 March 2013

Snowy Owl

Thanks to a tip off from Adey Baker, I managed to locate the wintering Snowy Owl on the north side of Ben Macdui close to Carn Etchachan on Friday March 1st 2013. After a prolonged search, I stumbled across the bird roosting on some rocks. I was lower down, so it hadn't seen me until I appeared at the same level. The owl was very wary and flew as soon as it spotted me. It did a nice flyby though, as it flew from one side of the valley and then back over again.

It appears to me to be a 1st-winter male.

Snowy Owl

I found it at grid ref: NH9981400311 (NH998003). Link to map