Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Oops !!!

The forecast for today was to be sunshine and showers, lets say that I saw more of the showers than the sunshine ! I went up to Skaw first as usual, had a quick walk around and all I found was one male Blackcap in the spearmint. On to Lamba Ness, nothing at all apart from a couple of Meadow Pipits. Driving back up the road, a small flock of birds flew up from the grass and started calling as they flew away from the roadside, they were Lapland Buntings. These were my first of the autumn and I'd been wondering if any would show up here after the large numbers that have turned up on the Western Isles and the west mainland side of Scotland. I drove on up the road and had another flock of them (the others had flown in the other direction) in this flock there were around 20 making the total over 30 birds. Below is a picture of one from last year......

Lapland Bunting

Onwards to Valyie. Walking up to the small wood behind the bungalow, two small brown birds shot in to the Horse Chestnut tree and that was all I saw of them. A bird called form in the bushes which turned out to be a Brambling and a small flock of 10 or 12 Chaffinches flew over but didn't stop. I then saw some movement in the undergrowth near to me and up popped an LBJ (little brown job) which was probably a Reed Warbler. I looked at it an tried to check its details in case it could be either a Marsh Warbler, or even scarcer and more difficult to ID, a Blythes Reed Warbler. (Take a look in a book and you'll see what I mean) In the space of around 30 seconds of visibility, my head was spinning trying to remember the various identification points. In the end I came away thinking that it was probably 'just' a Reed Warbler. Now had I bothered to carry the camera and tripod up the hill with me, I could of ID'd it for certain given the time it was in view that would have allowed me to get some pictures.

Returning back home for a while, I then got a call from Rory to say that the diver was showing again at Lund. I thought I'd take another look and try and get some better shots 'for the record'. When I arrived, the bird was way over the other side of the bay again and, at times, was quite difficult to see. One of the best give aways was a small group of Tirricks (Arctic Terns) that seemed to follow it around. After half an hour, it looked like there was going to be a spell between the showers, so, putting on the waterproofs (also on the camera gear) I headed off around the bay. Walking through a large area of nettles and thistles, I flushed several Willow Warblers and as I saw again later, a Whitethroat. 

Reaching the small headland at the end of the bay, the bird was nowhere to be seen. I sat for almost half an hour in the wind and rain but still no diver. Time to go back. Retracing my steps in the now driving rain, I saw again the Whitethroat, but also a pair of Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler and 4 or 5 Willow Warblers. Almost reaching the car, I then saw the diver close to cliffs below where my car was parked. Taking the opportunity to move when it dived, I managed to get a bit nearer the beach, still not close enough, but much better then yesterday.

Black-throated Diver

The time was fast approaching for the school run so I had to leave.

Dropping the kids off for some after school activities, I headed home again. Later, just along the road from our house, I stopped to look at some Golden Plovers to check if there could be an America Golden Plover amongst them (one had been seen on the island at the weekend) I then noticed a small wader feeding amongst the Goldies, Lapwings, Turnstones and Redshanks. It was quite small (compared to the other birds around it) a sandy brown 'base colour' etc etc. Checking the book and then adding '2 +2 and making 5' , I thought it must be a Buff Breasted Sandpiper. I checked the measurements in the book for various size comparisons ie size compared to the Lapwings, Turnstones etc and also the size compared to Ruff and this bird was clearly smaller than these. Oops, I got it WRONG ! 

When I worked for a building firm years ago, one old carpenter used to say to me, 'the bloke that's never made a mistake, has never made anything'. How right he was. What I hadn't put into the equation, was that a female Ruff (called a Reeve) is often smaller than the male, which is why I thought that this bird couldn't have been a Ruff - despite other identification differences. I'm not going to live this down for a long time. Hey ho.




Amila Kanchana said...

The first photo is really great!

Dougie Preston said...

Any chance ofletting me know if the Black-throated Diver turns up again? I see what you mean about all those gates!