February

26th: at least 3 Fieldfares by cattle troughs at Ensay hair pin bends & about 10 Skylarks near Treshnish turnoff.

This was Leena’s first photo with my camera.

 25th: Found a pair of Ravens building a nest at Kilninian.


The nest was quite low down.

2 Slavonian Grebes at Locn na Keal off Rubh’ an Dòbhrain (didn’t have time to look nearer Killiechronan).
1 adult Golden Eagle on hills beside Loch na Keal.
1 Otter at Killiemor.
24th: 1 ring-tailed Hen Harrier over Treshnish wood, 13 Skylarks near Treshnish farm turn off.


The adult Iceland Gull still at Tostary and presumably same behind lobster boat OB64 Iona Eve.
2 Fieldfares below Tostary.
Ringed Plover

1 Otter below Burg.
 23rd: 6 + 3 Skylarks near Treshnish farm turn off.

I have only seen the occasional single throughout the winter but Carolyne saw a flock of what could have been this species near Treshnish House on the 17th.
1 male and 1 ring-tailed Hen Harrier between the Reudle and Treshnish Schoolhouses.
On the 19th I heard a pecking sound near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. First thought was woodpecker, but couldn’t see one on the electric pole. Maybe a tit opening a hazel nut but seemed too loud. Then I noticed a Hooded Crow bowing and saw in between the bowing it was hammering on the cable. The pecking had a rhythm di di da pause di di da repeated.
The photo shows it is also puffing out its neck feathers and fanning its tail. Birds of the Western Palearctic seems to indicate it is an aggressive display (there were 2 crows nearby on the wires).

21st: I missed a photo opportunity of a male Hen Harrier at Ensay Burn cattle-grid by just half a minute. It was a hundred yards away by the time I got there.
The yellow-eyed Buzzard near Calgary boathouse.

A different Buzzard.

Very tame Robin at Calgary toilets. Our Robins never come this close. I had to zoom out!

1 Sparrowhawk above Lainne Sgeir, Calgary.
20th: At least 1 Purple Sandpiper at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary, 7 Lapwings at Crossapol.
19th: The adult Iceland Gull is still in Tostary-Kilninian area. This is a scarce bird in the winter and it is rare to get one so close to the shore (except at Knock outfalls) so I am taking every photographic opportunity. I only had one pass by chance today.


1 hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow below Kilninian church.
Wren

Song Thrush

Buzzard

Found a plant fossil at Kilninian

and also a couple of days ago a stone with shell like fossil (I will photograph it tomorrow)
18th: The adult Iceland Gull is still in Tostary-Kilninian area. When the tide is out it seems to favour the beach at Tràigh na Cille.


3 Fieldfares in Treshnish wood and Mistle Thrush at Burg.

Buzzard

Last night there was a mild aurora from about 7-9pm. It was  a clear sky but all that was visible was a green arc over the northern horizon. The previous day was apparently stronger but we had cloud cover although there were hints of green patches through the cloud.
17th: 4 Golden Eagles & 1 immature White-tailed Eagle (not same bird as on 11th) at Burg-Tostary.
2 of the Golden Eagles were the regular pair displaying at Tostary but I didn’t get a good look at the other 2 higher up. It is hard to keep track of 4 birds at one time.
I got into a position high up on a hill where I was confident I would get close up shots of the pair because I have seen them many times pass this way and I knew they would come back this way. I didn’t have to wait long but they passed by much higher than previously and they were flying in a very direct route. I wondered why they flew so high (they gained height well before they would have seen me so it wasn’t me scaring them). I thought maybe they had been feeding on a carcass (which would explain the 4 Golden Eagles) and so didn’t need to fly low in hunting mode. When I got home and I saw that the male had really gorged himself it seemed to confirm it but then I checked my first photos of the male and he had a full crop when I first arrived and he had been flying low down and back and forth all afternoon so that wasn’t the reason.


Then I looked at the photos of the female and saw why. I didn’t see this when I was taking the photos but she has a branch of heather in her bill and obviously she is taking it back to repair the nest.

This is the first time I have seen them carrying nesting material. I am surprised she uses her bill. I thought she would use her claws but I suppose this way she can attack or defend without dropping the branch .
15th: The adult Iceland Gull still at Kilninian-Tostary. Last seen flying to Burg and then towards Gometra.

1 White-tailed Eagle flying from Tostary to Burg, 2 juvenile Golden Eagles on hills behind Burg

and 1 (possibly same – but couldn’t see it was a juvenile) skydiving at Reudle road summit, male and female Hen Harriers opposite Reudle turn-off.
1 hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow below Tostary.
14th: The adult Iceland Gull still at Kilninian-Tostary.


1 adult White-tailed Eagle low over Treshnish wood which was presumably one of the 2 flying from the Treshnish coast across Calgary bay (looked like one was chasing the other). Didn’t have time to check for wing-tags.
11th: The adult Iceland Gull was still at Kilninian-Tostary.



and with Ben More behind

An eagle day today: an adult and immature White-tailed Eagle at Kilninian (probably attracted by the dead sheep on the shore) and 3 adult White-tailed Eagles at Mishnish lochs.

The immature White-tailed Eagle at Kilninian looks very much like the one I saw low over our house in late September (second photo down on the far right column) although I am not sure the tips of the flight feathers could have worn so much in such a short time. It was so close I had to zoom out for some shots.

And to top it off the male Golden Eagle at Kilninian (the futhest to the east, I’ve seen this bird).
For some reason the automatic ISO jumped from 500

to 3200! So the best shots were over exposed.

At least 3 Fieldfares and 1 Redwing by Ensay road stone bridge.
9th: 1 adult Iceland Gull at Tostary





and presumably the same earlier with at least 1 behind lobster boats (OB237 Jessica Louise & OB64) in Loch Tuath.
1 probable Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Kilninian.



I have been told they can only be certainly identified in the spring plumage but the buff patch on the breast is probably this plumage coming through plus the prominent pale supercilium (eyebrow) and the mantle which is showing the beginnings of grey. Apart from the two I saw last year there is only one accepted Argyll record for this subspecies and that was at Langamull. Hopefully this bird will stay around to be sure.
1 Short-eared Owl on Beinn Reudle (my first since the autumn).
8th: The yellow-eyed Buzzard was still at Sands Cottage, Calgary (as an after thought if the RSPB etc. used lower case this could be a Yellow-eyed Buzzard an oriental species – don’t get excited it isn’t), 1 Golden Eagle briefly over Treshnish wood and 4 Purple Sandpipers at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary.
I was wrong in thinking the Buzzard with a dark brown iris was an adult. I don’t have a good photo of the tail of the brown-eyed bird but from what I can see both birds are juveniles (no broad terminal tail bar). I have changed the text below accordingly.
I was looking at the European bird bible ‘Birds of Western Palearctic’ (BWP) and I could see illustrations of all the behaviour I saw yesterday. I was going to post copies of them here but I can’t for copyright reasons. But the headings are:
1. Dispute when they face head on with wings raised;

2. Submission where one lies on its back (interestingly it was the yellow-eyed attacking bird that showed the submissive posture- see B from yesterday);
3. a) Neck-hump walk (see C, D & E from yesterday) and b) wing drag walk – here is a shot by shot sequence of the yellow-eyed bird completing a whole circuit of the brown-eyed one;











4. Postures a) elongated-upright


& b) upright wedge-head (not sure about this – it just looks like a normal posture?).
5. Pre-flight postures a) Defensive (horizontal with head looking backwards) & b) Aggressive (see D from yesterday).
Obviously BWP used this as a reference but the illustraions are not as good.
Following on from yesterdays note, I can see that when I said there were breaks in the fighting, really that is not accurate, there were breaks in physical contact but all these ritualised displays were ways to avoid actual claws on fighting but with the same result. A winner and a loser.
7th: Went again to look for the Chough but for the first time approaching from the north. No luck but I could see where it had been feeding (a few weeks ago, from far off, I had seen it feeding here). If this is just the result of one bird for a couple of months then a whole flock must make quite an impact on this kind of habitat.

I saw a Golden Eagle on the hill above and right above the nest sticks which must have part of nest repairing work as there are no trees above the cliff.
I was taking photos of a yellow-eyed Buzzard at Calgary.

I heard some unusual calls from somewhere close, it flew off and I thought that was it. But almost immediately a brown-eyed bird landed on a fence post right by the car.

I took some shots and again thought that was it, then to my amazement the yellow-eyed bird flew at the adult on the post.

(Not expecting action shocks I had the shutter speed much slower than I would preferred so some shots are out of focus). For a few minutes they scrapped (with breaks so it wasn’t a full on fight). In fact I wasn’t sure they weren’t mating. A car drove right by them when they were in the middle of a struggle and I was amazed they didn’t get hit but they didn’t even seem to notice it. They certainly didn’t notice me snapping away. Whilst they were fighting at least one of them was making a quiet high-pitched squeal (not what I would have expected from a Buzzard).
A

B

C
This puffing up of the feathers must be part of the aggressive display.

D

E

One of them flew off and landed only 40m away but the other followed and attacked it again. I presume it was the juvenile again being the aggressor but they were just out of view so I couldn’t be sure although the yellow-eyed bird flew off first and the other just sat still by the shoreline. I think the brown-eyed bird may have been sick, it was unusually lethargic. I know Buzzards go to great lengths to avoid confrontations like this as they can do each other a lot of damage. They avoid physical confrontation with various wing flapping signals.
At least 1 Iceland Gull behind a lobster boat off Lòn Reudle and a possible Carrion Crow hybrid or Rook at Reudle Schoolhouse, 5 Redwings at Reudle farmhouse and c20 Meadow Pipits by the hairpin bends up the road (I also saw a flock of similar size a couple of weeks ago).
Great Tit calling in our garden.

6th: More north wind and the Golden Eagle pair were around the Treshnish north coastal strip off and on all day, occasionally calling and displaying. I think the blog should be called Eagle Diaries. This must be the most photographed pair of eagles ever.


This one shows the eye of the female.

There was also one or two trespassing Golden Eagles. The first one was probably a juvenile and it was escorted all the way to Port Ensay by the female, the second was definitely a juvenile and they responded by calling and displaying. Today the male took the more active role in their co-ordinated hunting. He was lower down and ahead and used more wing beats when gliding. He seems to be the one actively searching and responding (hence the wing beats) whereas she cruised effortlessly above and behind, following his lead. I have yet to see them make a kill as a pair but I imagine that he might be the one who more often flushes the prey and probably also males the first strike and she being higher should be better positioned and faster for a second strike if he misses. I will watch and see if they change roles.
Also 4 Bullfinches feeding on the heather

and 1 Sparrowhawk around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
  
5th: The north wind brought the Golden Eagle pair near Treshnish wood but although they were seen several times they didn’t stay long. One had a full crop so musty have just eaten.
2nd: First view out of our window today was of the male Golden Eagle.


Also another pair of Golden Eagles on summit of Beinn Bhuidhe and 6 Bullfinches behind Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
1st: 15 Redwings at Gruline, at least 3 Slavonian Grebes, 1 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 prob Black-tailed Godwit, 1 drake Goosander at Killiechronan, 2 Turnstones at Lagganulva, 1 hybrid Carrion x Hooded crow at Kilninian,

1 Woodcock at Burg and 1 at Langamull forest.
Heron

2 Otters at Salen bay.

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