Monday, December 29, 2008

Kilmarnock Waxwings

I went back with the camera this morning to see the Waxwings on the disused railway line at Bonnyton in Kilmarnock. The birds were feeding low down in the cutting where the sun does not reach at this time of year so interesting photos were difficult. Here are a couple of perched birds higher up.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bonnyton Waxwings

A flock of 17 Waxwings were feeding in hawthorns at the start of the disused railway line at Bonnyton, Kilmarnock around 1430h before flying into trees at the entrance to the tip/recycling centre on Western Road. Warwickdale near Springside held at least one Jack Snipe and 10 Common Snipe.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wild Swans

At last, a cold, frosty day free from the thick cloud prevalent during the last week so I made a trip up to Hogganfield Loch in the Clyde region today to take advantage of the good light. There were few Goosander and Goldeneye around but the Whooper Swans provided good photographic subjects.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Waxwings

A walk from Kilmarnock to Irvine produced 27 Waxwings in Western Rd, Kilmarnock, and 40 Waxwings in East Road, Irvine.

Along the disused railway line near Knockentiber, a deer carcass attracted two Ravens, two Buzzards and up to a dozen Magpies. Some counts along the line between Bonnyton and Springside included Bullfinch (10), Blackbird (62), Yellowhammer (40), Lesser Redpoll (3), Long-tailed Tit (15), Chaffinch (65), Redwing (41), and Fieldfare (16) as well as Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Skylark among the commoner species. The flock of Tree Sparrows was still present near Springside, split in two groups in hedgerow on opposite sides of a large stubble field.

At Capringstone totals included: Wigeon (300+), Teal (110), Mallard (40+), Little Grebe (2), Curlew (106), Lapwing (35), The River Irvine between Holmsford Bridge and Shewalton produced Goosander (4), Red-breasted Merganser (m) and a Little Grebe.

We finished up at Irvine harbour with the usual suspects including Eider, Shelduck, Shag, Turnstone and Great Black-backed Gull

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tree Sparrows on Springside stubble

A couple of days cycling around the Kilmarmock area looking for Tree Sparrows paid off today along the disused railway line between Knockentiber and Springside with a site record count of 62 birds in a single flock. They were feeding in barley stubble with c20 Yellowhammers and c60 Chaffinches and resting in hawthorn scrub and beech trees. This surpasses the last high count of 55 here on 7 October 1995 and is probably the biggest Ayrshire flock since 1990. Good to know they are still clinging on in the area. Also 48 Greylags here yesterday and 30 Fieldfare, 50+ Skylark, 7 Bullfinches and 540 Rooks today. A Redwing was heard uttering a lovely bubbling subsong too.

Elsewhere: 7 Red-breasted Mergansers in freshwater on the River Irvine between Holmsford and the GSK factory; Goosander on the River Irvine at Gatehead; 320 Wigeon at Capringstone; Peregrine over Onthank PS and 31 Long-tailed Tits at Kilmarnock Academy this morning. Male Tufted Duck still on Kay Park pond.

Friday, December 19, 2008

...and now for something completely different

Fun with manual zoom combined with slow shutter on a compact around London.


A few shots from lunchtime yesterday... The herons are getting very territorial now. The beaks of the mature adult birds are also darkening to a deep orange-pink colour on some birds. When I get back to London in the New Year I'll make another attempt at getting more breeding activity shots.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Kilmarnock's council problem is easing say gulls

Some councilors in East Ayrshire Council have being trying to get to grips with the gull problem. See here : The local paper refers to them as 'seagulls' but of course Kilmarnock is not actually by the sea. One local leader says "Problems such as aggressive gulls attacking elderly householders and corteges at funerals in Kilmarnock cemetery have been addressed during this season". The first comment can probably be attributed to a vivid imagination but I wonder if he has addressed the problem of EAC vandalising numerous headstones in the cemetery by intentionally knocking them over in the name of H&S? His knowledge of Kilmarnock gulls continues with "Our approach will continue through the winter months as a deterrent to large flocks of seagulls coming into Kilmarnock to roost over winter". Gulls don't actually roost in Kilmarnock, they roost on the coast! Pre-roost stopovers did occur on Northcraig Reservoir but of course that was drained. Perhaps if the town was kept a little cleaner and the local chavs dropped less fast food around King Street then there would be less potential food source to support 'seagulls' breeding inland.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


The German-ringed Mediterranean Gull AAZS has arrived back for a second winter at the Round Pond in central London. The low winter sun allowed me to try for some different photographs today. More info on this bird can be found on Des McKenzie's Cloaca (blog that is).
A pair of Shoveler were creating 'shoveling vortices' while both Black-headed Gull and Canada Gull helped themselves to the distrubed debris/food. Not quite kleptoparaitism, but certainly not doing any of the work.

Previous Round Pond Med shots here:

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Demoiselle Cranes

Being a bit of a crane fan I had to go and see the three juvenile Demoiselle Cranes recently introduced at the World Wetlands exhibit at the WWT London Wetland Centre. They're here for three years after which they'll be taken back to Martin Mere WWT for breeding. The viewing area at the Asia rice paddy exhibit unfortunately faces into the winter sun all day, or is in the shade due to the low sun, so its difficult to get nice images. Full story from WWT here.
In the wild these cranes breed from the Black Sea across Central Asia to the far East and winter in India/Pakistan and north-east Africa. Remnant populations occur in eastern Turkey and possibly still in Morocco. Next year I hoping to go back to Hornborgasjön to photograph Eurasian Crane and New Mexico for Sandhill Cranes.
More on Demoiselles:

... and now a few wild birds from today