Update on Stuff

Never thought I’d be blogging so little! Anyway, I’ve got a few things to update you on, and as I did last time, let’s start with the campus list…

Of the birds I said were omissions in my last post, I’ve now added Common Gull, Starling, and Redpoll, plus Crossbill and Grey Heron! Up to 51 species for the campus, 30 less than the Hermitage, although I’ve had some species here (such as Snipe and Barnacle Goose) which I haven’t got back down on my Edinburgh patch. The only really big thing I’m missing here is a large body of water. There used to be 2 small ponds on campus but the construction work for the peripheral bypass has pretty much destroyed those so it’s unlikely I’ll get any Mute Swans, Coots or Tufted Ducks there. I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes in the sky…

I contacted Raymond Duncan about getting started with my ringing certificate, which would be a really good thing to have in the line of work that I’d like to go into. He put me through to Ally who is one of the guys who does ringing on my campus! How good is that?

So I had a wee session of just getting used to having the bird in the hand, reading rings, measuring wing length, ageing/sexing different species, and tried to get a Coal Tit out the net, which proved too much of a challenge at my level of ability! Nevertheless, awesome experience and I’m even more driven to get my ringing licence, no matter how long it takes!

I did also handle a Blue Tit but it was latched on to my finger so much that I was distracted from taking a picture! On that day they actually trapped the same Jay twice, but both times I was in a lecture on Environmental Awareness. Actually I should probably do the wee assignment that they set… hm…

On Wednesday I was out at Muir of Dinnet NNR with the Rural Skills Club, which was a nice wee experience. We were mainly there just to see the reserve, what they have to do to manage it, and also to do a bit of photography with the ranger there, Paul, who posts some nice pics on the Muir of Dinnet blog (go check it out!) https://muirofdinnetnnr.wordpress.com/ )

I also ended up getting into ferns, as Muir of Dinnet has 11 species of fern to be found around the reserve. Here’s a few that I’ve snapped on campus…

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Bracken – Pteridium aquilinum
Broad buckler-fern - Dryopteris dilatata
Broad buckler-fern – Dryopteris dilatata
Hard fern - Blechnum spicant
Hard fern – Blechnum spicant

It helps that Paul showed me how to work the macro setting on my wee camera!

And for all you birders who found that very boring, I had a wee cycle out to Loch of Skene, where I was hoping to see anything nice really. I took my OS Map which dad sent me, and it has come in handy already!

The first bird I really noticed was one which was perched on top of a pylon, not quite big enough for a Buzzard, but too heavy-built for a Kestrel. Peregrine, very nice! An adult too, judging by the pictures. Not sure on gender though, probably male.

PRGRN

After spotting the raptor, 5 Snipe flew up from the field on my left, possibly what the Peregrine was eyeing up! But it flew off in the opposite direction and disappeared over the fields.

After passing a crashed car, and cycling about 10 miles, I was at the Loch. A very nice place, and quite accessible given I don’t have a car yet. I think it’s the same distance as Girdle Ness so it’s nice to have the option of inland or coastal birding! Anyway, I cycled a bit around the loch and had nice close views of titscrestsChaffinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and some more distant view of a pair of Jays making their way through the canopy.

I then headed back to the main carpark to have my lunch and admire the view. There were a few wildfowl on the loch either for the winter or as a wee rest before heading further south. Wigeons were the constant soundtrack, and the occasional Mallard would pipe up. I had only taken my bins so was restricted but I’m pretty confident there were no Whooper Swans amongst the many Mute Swans.

A small group of Greylag Geese, some Coots, a few Tufties about, Buzzards being noisy over the farmland and 7 male Pheasants nearby. A nice day. And to top it all off, I got an extremely distant Red Kite before I started to head home!

As I left the carpark, c100 Pink-footed Geese passed over heading south, just to top off a nice day of birding at a new site. Decent.

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I have plans to find some remote woods somewhere which I’ll scout out and see what’s about, and once I find a good spot, I’ll maybe make a wee log hide and see what turns up! But first, I should really do that work…

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Update on Stuff

2 thoughts on “Update on Stuff

  1. lothianrecorder says:

    Nice update Gus – I also got to Skene on my bike when I was your age, though I was coming from the other direction in Banchory! But 30 years ago now, no kites in those days 😦 Grappled with the gull roost there a few times, though never found anything very interesting. You’ll probably have seen the pratincole write-up in the latest Scottish Birds, a bit more exciting that day!

    Like

    1. Yup, remember seeing that Pratincole appear at Skene for a day on Twitter and realising it could’ve flown over Lothian! Ah well. Kites quite successful around that area now I’ve heard, been told the best place to see them, and there’s a pub nearby! That’s one Saturday morning sorted 🙂

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