Well, first opportunity to use my scope outdoors today. Lovely morning, clear, not too cloudy, maybe even a bit of sun! Had lunch and headed out to Gladhouse with my scope. Of course, luck decided not to be on my side. Snow, and plenty of it. We’re quite high up at Gladhouse, sea-level-wise, so it can be colder there than it is in Edinburgh.
So as I set up the scope on the shore of the reservoir I first looked out at where the ducks usually are and as expected, there they were. Last time I’d seen them with binoculars I was pretty sure there were loads of Wigeon and Tufties so that’s what I was expecting. As well as the small numbers of Mallard, Teal and Goldeneye. Sure enough the Goldeneye were there, although closer to me than the other ducks were.
After a few shaky shots of the Goldeneye the snow really did start to tumble from the sky so I needed to get closer to the ducks. I headed for the conifer forest that lines the shore that the ducks were closest to but unfortunately I’d forgotten my gloves so my hands got very cold (this is my excuse for the lack of decent photos).
Once through the forest and by the shore I could start to count the ducks. Roughly 30 Goldeneye, 50 Wigeon and 40ish Tufties. Not many Mallards about, a couple groups of 8 or so. There were also some Mute Swans who were remarkably undeterred by my presence and actually came towards me. Possibly used to human presence from living somewhere else. The ducks on the other hand were not so tame and definitely weren’t keen on me being so near. That being said they never moved too far away.
Those last two shots are of a Coot (right) and a Grebe which I’m not sure is a Little Grebe. I think it looks too big and isn’t the right shape so I’m going to have to go and check out my ID Insights book to make my mind up. I’ll probably end up asking on BirdForum for other peoples opinions too, just to be sure. Anyway, after my count (which also included 7 Coot, 2 Little Grebe and a few Buzzards) I started to head back to the south shore where I started. As I was walking back through a field I noticed a duck-sized white bird in one corner of the reservoir but it looked too big to be a duck. So, out came the scope and the stiff finger for turning the focus knob. One look and I was certain it was a male Goosander, my first male Goosander. Lovely ducks, looks so clean. Reeled off a few shots on my iPhone before I ran out of space. Turns out they were all pretty bad but I tweaked this one so it’s not as bad.
After being picked up by dad, we went all the way around the reservoir and after on corner there was a Buzzard sitting on the fence. Naturally, I got my binoculars out and noticed it had a very, very pale front. Couldn’t see it’s belly to confirm Rough-legged Buzzard so waited until it flew away. When it did fly away I could confirm it had very pale underparts but still couldn’t see the belly as it had flown directly away from us. We actually followed it all the way along the road on the west side of the reservoir before it landed in a tree and I could see it clearly. Afraid it wasn’t a Rough-leg but just had to be sure. The Kestrel was out hovering over it’s usual patch of moorland (it’s there literally every time I’m there) and there were a couple of finches on the wall by the side of the road as we drove home.
Now sitting in my room I can hear two Tawny Owls hooting at each other right outside my window. I do love the countryside.