Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Fed up with snow!

I've been having a couple of conversations with my cousin, Rachel, over the past month, concerning the joys of snow. I remember when I used to love it. It was Chrsitmas-y, fun to play out in (until you got numb and damp and had to find somewhere to warm up), and there was a chance of cancelled classes.

What do you do when the weather is grey and cold?
Now? Now I see slippy pavements, traffic chaos, salt stains on ruining my boots, and a future consisting of brown slush. So after a week of persistent white stuff I've been needing a break, a touch of summer. Lacking the funds and free time for a getaway, I opted for an hour in Glasgow botanic gardens; I feel much better now!

I have always loved ferns since I studied them as an undergraduate, I think they are possibly one of the most under-rated plants. Plus they are usually kept wonderfully humid, so I was a great place to kill some time before my afternoon meeting in snowy East Kilbride.

The sori (groups of spores) are especially visible against the light of the glass house roof.

The dense foliage and often awkward light gave me a great opportunity to brush up on quickly adjusting my settings too (I'm often far too happy to rely on auto).

I'm not a huge orchid fan (too showy) but a shot of acid yellow in the white and grey day was nice

Can anyone tell me what this is?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A day with a dog.

For the last 24 fours I've been lucky enough to be looking after a four legged friend. It's been a great excuse to get out walking, and this morning I put dog, whistle, bins and scope in the car and headed round to Fintry Bay for a walk and a gander.

Well, he must be my lucky dog! 3 patch ticks and 6 birds for the year list (bringing me up to just75...)! We started off with the usual eider, shags, redshank etc, but soon picked up 28 common scoter and a juv GN diver. He even obliged by flushing a pair of snipe from the undergrowth. Next up a hooded crow was lurking near Little Skate Bay, and just as the sun came out we were treated to a quarter of merganser.

Common Scoter made a welcome patch tick, and I got my best ever views before deciding it was time to go home for lunch

There were plenty of geese overhead, moving toward Portachur, and as we rounded the corner for home I saw that they'd picked up a solitary confused looking pink foot. 

Incoming Greylags
Possibly the same bird spotted by Phil in the AM
Who doesn't love a saw-bill?
I've left the poor dog guarding the house (and trying to work out what to do with the zebra finches), but, I'm already planning on taking him on an owl hunt this evening, could add tawny's to the year total by tomorrow...

After a wrestle with the hairdryer, he's allowed back on the owl chair

Friday, 11 January 2013

Save Our Marine Station - Update

I said I'd keep you up to date with the goings on at the marine station; here's the latest. A long time friend of the marine station, Mark Blaxter (University of Edinburgh), has set up a petition to the Scottish parliament. This document calls them "to work with others in education, industry and statutory bodies to ensure the Millport Marine Station remains open".

So help us get the ball rolling - SIGN THIS PETITION! 

Sign up today and make us this happy!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Battle of the Blogs - Naturalist Blonde vs Naturebites

What do you do when a school friend (and birder) moves to Wales, sets up blog (see here) and a kick-ass nature tours company? Personally, I get competitive. So its a birding blog off, battle of the year lists. Nat vs Kat. Winner gets... to brag, I suppose. I'll sort out a running list somewhere...

Day 1 - Clumber Park with Kathy

I went for hawfinch, what I got was people... lots of people.

For those who haven't been, its a nice mix of deciduous and coniferous woodland and a large lake with an area wetlands. The amount of people and level of gossiping between myself and Kathy resulted in only 33 species, but included nice views of around 12 nuthatch, a very friendly jay and some cracking mandarin ducks.

The female was super aggressive, taking on absolutely everything that moved.

Day 2 - Back Garden

A blackcap joined the usual mix of garden birds in the garden, the first one I've seen there. 

End of day total, 35

Day 3 - Farr Ings

A good start with a flock of 30 waxwings on the road to the reserve and a marsh harrier quartering over the marsh as we pulled in. A reed bunting and willow tit haunted the feeders along with the finches and tits. LLT's, gold crest and a few more willow tits flitted around the entrance to the Pursuit hide and the lakes provided a nice mix of ducks and geese.

I'd have loved to get a nice picture of the willow tits, but the scenery was having none of it.

Current total - 53

Camera shy
Annoyingly so.