Wester Ross and a new camera

Title says it all really. I was surveying in Wester Ross last weekend and I got a new camera as my old one broke. Its dying moments really typified the life that my camera led. The last photo it took was of Water Vole droppings. Enough said.

My new camera (Sony DSC-H300) is a bridge camera and I’m finding it so exciting to use as I can now photograph birds! The 30x mag means I don’t have to get lucky with a close encounter to get nice shots, or just reasonably identifiable shots from a distance, as these shots from surveying last weeekend will show…

On top of those birds (my first Golden Eagle by the way!!!), we also had some very nice rare breeders including displaying Wood Sandpiper at the first stop, Whooper Swan, Greenshank, Black-throated Divers, Ptarmigan and Dotterel (I didn’t see the Dotterel unfortunately).

My camera also manages pretty well with landscape shots…


And it is still capable of close-up shots of plants and bugs and whatnot…

Right, enough pictures. Since my last blog post on our Mar Lodge trip I’ve received my new camera and been up north surveying, as already mentioned, but I’ve also helped construct a new stile, lead 2 groups of scouts as part of our Leadership of Countryside Activities module (of course, my activity was looking at the wonder of feathers and how they work, the scouts seemed to enjoy themselves!).

Yesterday (Thursday) I had a trip to RSPB Fowlsheugh (translates as “bird cliffs”) where I saw the most auks I’ve ever seen. This was for our Classfication and Identification of Organisms module to help with part of the assessment. The part of the assessment it helped with was in producing a logbook containing 20 species that I’ve identified, giving a few ID points, details on habitat, and a little bit on conservation and threats to the species. Here’s my Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos sketch…

Unfortunately, due to a series of irritating events very early in the morning, I ended up sleeping in and only had 5 minutes to get ready and run to get on the minibus, and therefore was very disorganised and forgot my SD card for my camera. I’m sure there’ll be plenty opportunities for photographing auks on the Isle of May though..!

The Sunday after I got back from up north, I decided to do my urban breeding Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus survey in Kirkhill Industrial Estate that I’d been asked to do for another birder. It was actually a very enjoyable day, admiring the adaptability of the Oycs that have taken to nesting on flat roofs.

If you didn’t know already, this creates a slightly odd situation as when Oyc chicks hatch, as with all other wader species, they are precocial; able to fend for/feed themselves very soon after leaving the egg. However, if they’re stuck on a roof, how are they going to manage to do that? The parents end up feeding them until they eventually fall (purposefully or otherwise) off the roof and can poke their wee beaks into the grassy verges on the roadsides where the buildings are.

I ended up finding 7 nests in the industrial estate, which is 2 more than there were last year. I also noticed that the Oycs seemed to have a reasonably good relationship with the Common Gulls Larus canus but not the other species of gull.


And that’s that. The coming week brings nothing but possibly some Hen Harrier surveying, and finishing off bits of work. I might try and do some lizard photographing tomorrow, provided the weather is nice!


Wester Ross and a new camera

4 thoughts on “Wester Ross and a new camera

  1. Hey Gus, good stuff again and some nice shots. Do you have breeding Common Gulls there too? Here in Lothian just a single record on a roof so far.

    As for breeding Wood Sand, you are way ahead of me – after much round Scotland for several decades now I’m yet to see even a migrant, some frustrating near misses with calls over the house though…


    1. Think there were a couple pairs in Kirkhill Industrial Estate, but we have a pair nesting on the roof of our halls! Pretty birds.
      We ended up finding about 5 pairs in the area! Need to get yourself up there, although obviously I can’t say where it was though… You not seen any at Musselburgh? I got one there last year.


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