Venturing outdoors…

Before I get to the main bit of this post, here is a random selection of photos I’ve taken from my window πŸ™‚

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So, today I had my maths prelim. First paper was fine, not too many problems there; the second paper is probably not worth mentioning…
To reward myself for enduring such a horrible ordeal I went outside (I know, it’s been so long) with my scope and adapter and camera ,of course, to see what I could see. I decided not to go very far and just to see what I could find across the field (about 400-500m away). And boy did I get results! I left the house through the gate into the field behind the house and said goodbye to the Robins who are still bickering. I made it about halfway across the field before I realised there was a large flock of finches in one of the tall trees not far away. Unfortunately I hadn’t got my scope all set up and by the time my camera was on, they all flew off. Typical. I think they were either Goldfinches or the Linnets that frequent the field. Further along I had a nice Sparrowhawk fly over me. Once I got out of the field and on to the road that leads to my local patch (Hermitage of Braid) I thought I’d look for Dippers and try to digiscope one in the Braid Burn. No luck. But I did catch something large landing nearby out the corner if my eye, and upon further inspection, it had just been a Herring Gull flying over. How disappointing. Oh well, I did manage to find a Greenfinch which has become scarce around me in the last few months. I wandered further down the road towards the Hermitage hoping that another raptor would fly by. Suddenly a Grey Heron flew up from the burn beside me, that must’ve been what I’d seen earlier.
I continued on my walk and sure enough a Buzzard flew over me with it’s dedicated followers; assorted Corvids. I tried to keep an eye on where it went but it disappeared, only to be re-found in a tree where I usually see it. Whilst making my way there I noticed there were a lot of Thrushes going over my head, mainly Mistle, a couple of Redwings too. Finches also started to appear from the clouds. I think they were mostly Goldfinches but I couldn’t be sure. Not close enough to follow with binoculars.

My plan regarding the Buzzard was to take a few photos then try to move closer and take a few more, and repeat this until it flew away. Here are the results, not great but satisfactory by my standards.

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As I said, not great. They won’t win anything but I’m happy with them. It’s my first time using the adapter outdoors too so, yeah. Excuses, excuses!
Whilst creeping up on the Buzzard I noticed the Jackdaws and Crows had all come down from their usual roost above the Council Depot and were milling about on the roof of one of the buildings. Possibly somebody throws spare food out for them. I don’t know. But here are the pictures…

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I also kept an eye out for the Thrushes I’d been seeing and got a few shots of them. The first three were Mistle Thrushes. Big ones with the rattling call. Or like when you pull one of those wind up toy cars back too far… But the most numerous thrush that I saw was in fact Fieldfare, which I was not expecting as I haven’t seen any around the Hermitage before. A few Redwings, loads of Blackbirds, some song Thrushes, lots of Mistle Thrushes, but never Fieldfare. Anyway, a nice patch tick for me, but I’ve already seen them this year in the field behind my dad’s house. Here’s some snaps I took…

2015/01/img_4660.jpg First Fieldfare on my patch!

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Mistle Thrush
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Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush
2015/01/img_4663.jpg Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush. This Fieldfare looked particularly speckless on it’s chest which threw me off, but the blue-grey head kept me on track.

The area I was in today is basically a tree line with a path up the middle. The trees are old and deciduous with a golf course on one side and a horse field on the other. The Buzzard was in a tree on the horse field side, as were all the thrushes. After the Buzzard flew off and I’d finished gawking at the sky, I made my way up the path between the trees. Plenty Blackbirds and inescapable Woodpigeons, a couple of squirrels too. Actually, funniest thing I saw today was a Grey Squirrel genuinely fall from a branch. It didn’t fall far, only a couple of feet, but it was enough to make a thud as it hit the deck and I think it winded itself. I decided to end it’s humiliation by walking away. I know I shouldn’t find it funny but I’ve just been told Greys are smarter than Reds by Winterwatch and I’m starting to question them. We’ll have to wait and see if any Red Squirrels fall out of trees when I’m next up north!

So continuing my walk up the tree line, I was treated to a male Sparrowhawk darting, very close to the ground, only about 3 yards to my left, up between the trees I was going between. He went round a corner and vanished. Poof. Gone. No idea where he went…

Until a bit later when I’d emerged from the trees and I was walking by the tree line on the golf course side. All of a sudden there’s a terrible racket, lots of squeaky chirping, flapping, small twigs snapping. And I see a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying down the tree line, away from me. Damn. Would’ve loved to digiscope a Woodpecker. Somebody must have heard me, because a second one appeared in the branches of the tree ( I should know what sort of tree it is, but I don’t) in front of me. This is great, it means there are Great Spotted Woodpeckers possibly going to nest just a short walk away from my house! I’ll update you in summer πŸ™‚

Anyway, this Woodpecker was being very noisy. I’m pretty sure it was the Sparrowhawk that had made the other one fly away. But this one, a male, was making the usual GSW chirp every time he moved his head, almost every second for about 5 minutes. Gave me plenty of photo opportunities and I took them. Here’s the results, quite happy with these. Possibly need a bit of editing done but they’ll do for now.

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After that find, I was happy if I didn’t see anything else, so I took a picture of a pair of Magpies who appeared to be waiting in line.

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I’d seen three types of thrush (including a patch tick), plenty finches, a squirrel make a fool of itself, and two of the three raptors it was likely to find. That two was about to become three.
I was continuing to walk up the path (you must think I was climbing Everest by now) to reach the road at the top, Braid Hills Road. From there you get great views over a lot of Edinburgh. Some of it blocked by Blackford Hill which isn’t so bad, but some of it blocked by the horrible cinder blocks that are the Kings Buildings, part of Edinburgh university. Who thought it was a good looking building or thought that it’s look nice where it is, I have no idea. But I digress.
From Braid Hills Road you can also see the whole of the Hermitage golf course; one of the favoured places of the local Kestrels. Sure enough, Mr. Kestrel was on top of a Hawthorn bush. I didn’t get very good photos of him but here’s the best one.

2015/01/img_4669.jpg I did more filming of him which is in the video I’ll upload to YouTube tomorrow.

The place I was viewing him from wasn’t great so I thought I’d get a bit closer. I look away for a minute, and he’s gone. What is it with these disappearing raptors?

By this time it was getting dark and the Crows were settling down to roost so I took that as a cue to head back home. I walked along Braid Hills Road a bit and then entered the field which I walked all the way down, finding some more Fieldfare behind the stables/farm. I also stumbled upon a white Rabbit at the top of the field which is funny as last time I saw it it was at the very bottom. Anyway, the Fieldfare I filmed because the pictures were too dark. And after seeing the Kestrel out for a final hunt on the other side of the field, I finally got home and started cropping and uploading pictures AFTER doing some biology revision πŸ™‚

Hopefully this weekend I’ll be allowed out the house as opposed to studying all the time. Allowed out by both parents and the weather. Although the weather isn’t such a big problem for me. I’ll happily sit out in a snow storm. But I’m expecting no snow and maybe a trip to Gladhouse Reservoir to digiscope some ducks, perhaps get into the Moorfoots to add some upland species to my year list. Stonechat and whatnot.

Thanks for reading, I have just realised how long that post was!

P.S. I’m currently listening to Tawny Owls which is very frustrating as I haven’t seen any this year!

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Venturing outdoors…

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