Skywatching

So… I’ve been quite busy revising and getting folios finished and organising things for the end of my school career. I know, how sad. I’m not really feeling very sad though. I mean, I’ll probably miss the school I’ve been at for 13 years, but I’m really looking forward to what’s to come in the coming years!
Update on how exams went:

Biology: pretty well I think, think I’ve got a B for that. 

Maths: hard, but easier than expected. Plus a lot of people have said it was far too hard for the SQA not to lower the A grade… Which I wouldn’t mind at all!

Photography: I don’t have an exam for that but I’m very confident that my folio will do well. I put a lot of effort into it and my pictures turned out really well.

Spanish: this coming Friday I’ve got spanish and it should go well 🙂
So, hopefully, I’m going to be heading up to the Scottish Rural College to study Countryside Management. I really cannot wait.
But there’s more to come before that…
I’ve been in touch with Brian from Scottish Honey, and he’ll hopefully give me some beekeeping experience. Another good thing to add to my knowledge, and who knows, it might come in handy!
I’ve even getting more into trees (I’ll do another post on that), and also plants in general. Bugs have also had a look in and I’ve done some manmal-y stuff too. I set out my GoPro as a makeshift camera trap whilst I was out birding and came back after 50mins. See this link to see what I saw: http://youtu.be/wiI5vl8JV2E
Another little experience I had came when I added Tawny Owl to my yearlist (finally!). I was walking out by dad’s house through some of the farmland there. Nice views of Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, Skylark, Lapwing, and Oystercatcher. Then I heard an unfamiliar sound coming from the woods on my right. At first I thought Mistle Thrush as it was a sort of rattly screech. But I soon dismissed that as I saw a nest in a Spruce about 20ft up. But then I realised there were screeches coming from lower than that and I noticed a small, white bag on the forest floor. Then I realised that I wasn’t looking at a bag.
I raised my bins just to confirm what I thought. A young Tawny Owl, with feathers only just developing. So immediately I called dad to ask him to check what I should do as I didn’t have any internet connection. Whilst in this call, an adult Tawny swooped down at something which I first thought was just a Rabbit. Then it stood up on it’s hind legs and revealed it’s identity as a Stoat! It was soon seen off by the protective parent.
So after some info from dad and a brief call to the Wild Owl Emergency number, I left the little Tawny Owl at the bottom of the tree where he/she would be as sheltered as he/she could be.

  
Anyway, if I told you everything I’ve gotten up to you’d get bored!
So, today I did my first sort of skywatching session, inspired by morgithology who had a Cuckoo over his garden yesterday. I walked up through the field, saw both of the Tree Sparrows who are breeding up at Liberton Tower in a nestbox; possibly the rarest breeding bird on my patch, other than Mute Swan but only one pair of them can fit on my patch.
I sat myself on a wee bench that overlooks Edinburgh which I’d found about a week ago while out walking. 
Throughout my 2 hour sitting, I had quite a few birds calling behind me, Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Blue Tits and a lot of Starlings on the golf course. They’ve just appeared in huge numbers, presumably the nests have all emptied within the past couple days.
The most counted bird in my skywatch was Feral Pigeon with a high count of 37. And then the next most seen were the Jackdaws, with 29 of them flying past. And coming not far behind them was the Starlings, flying from the field in front of me to the golf course behind me. 27 of them. 
The only real high-fliers were the gulls, mainly Herring and Lesser Black-backed with 15 and 14 respectively. Also two Black-headed Gulls were seen heading north, very high above my head.
More corvids, only 1 Carrion Crow went over. But 3 Rooks went past. I haven’t seen many Rooks in the fields since the slightly warmer weather set in, more of them up at Mortonhall.
Woodpigeons passed every now and then; 6 in total. Goldfinches tinkled overhead quite often and I got 8 of them. The only other finches were 1 Chaffinch and 7 Linnets. 3 Skylarks flying over the field and 1 Swallow looking for flies, of which there were loads. I think they are St. Mark’s Flies, thousands of them about at the moment.
1 Great Tit flew past and my best spot was 2 Stock Doves flying west heading towards the Hermitage. Quite chuffed that I actually realised they weren’t Feral Pigeons without bringing my bins up to my face. It was the flight pattern that gave them away, wasn’t exactly the same as a Feral, couldn’t describe how though!
So that was my first skywatching session. Not particularly fruitful so I think I’ll only report on my skywatching if I get something good, like a Cuckoo!
Speaking of something good, yesterday while walking back home after a bit of evening birding, I decided not to walk my usual route and went from Blackford Hill on to the 8th hole on Craigmiller Park Golf Course. How glad am I that I decided to do that!
I had just gone past a patch of Hawthorn and Elder when I heard a call that I had been listening out for since the end of April. A Lesser Whitethroat! To cut a long story short, I did venture into the shrubs and the bird did call again, plus another possible one calling from further away. But never managed to see one. Also have to admit to trying pishing for the first time, but it didn’t work at all. All I got was a Goldcrest and a Blackbird who I suspect were there no matter whether I’d been pishing or not! 
So that’s my first heard only record on any of my lists. A good tick nonetheless!
Aaaaanyway, I best go and have dinner. Hopefully my  blogging will pick up again as my exams end!

   The Bass Rock in the distance 
 Isle of May in the haze

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Skywatching

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