F(lam)ing June!

I think I’ll leave the title to sum up the weather since my last blog!

Chicks continued to appear in abundance through June, with both of the Osprey pairs that breed nearest to us now feeding young, as are a pair of Short-eared Owls that we regularly watch.  But perhaps the most pleasing sight was single youngster being raised by a pair of Black-throated Divers on a local loch.  Last year, the birds here were disturbed by canoeists and failed to breed so a change in fortune for 2015 is most welcome.

However such a sight can be seen by anyone – no problem with that – but how many serious and casual birdwatchers are aware that divers of any species are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981?  Standby for a rant…

Black-throated Diver pair with their chick - photo taken responsibly!

I was sat in my vehicle, watching the comings and goings around the loch, for over an hour.  The family of three Black-throated Divers  were some way off, but patience was rewarded as they slowly began to drift towards me – the chick staying close to mum whilst dad ranged across a wider area to hunt for food.  At the point where all three birds were within 20 feet of the shore, a man with tripod fully extended, topped by a camera with a bright white lens (to match his equally bright white shirt) stepped – not even crept – forward past my vehicle to the water’s edge to take photos.  I was incensed.  His blatant disregard of the wellbeing of a non-flying chick with parents, exacerbated by his lack of field skills, displayed the very worst of folk photographing birds.  It was only afterwards, in an online conversation with another bird guide, it was suggested that I should report him for a Schedule 1 breach; the offence of disturbing the dependent young would have applied here.  Anyway, my anger (that clearly remains for that individual) must be channeled into positive energy, so I choose ‘education’ and readers of this blog are encouraged to refresh themselves of the species covered by parts of the Act and also not be afraid of ensuring others are made aware too.  See here

Part of the area under threat from becoming the Ourack windfarm - or will the Tories save the day?

It was humans, however, that actually gave me some hope later in the month - what was even more surprising was that it was the Conservative government.  Their announcement to not only confirm their election manifesto pledge to end subsidies for windfarm development but also bring forward the implementation date to 1 April 2016 has to be good news, doesn’t it?  My scepticism of all things political will remain in place though until we see it enacted, especially with mutterings by the SNP government at Holyrood of them threatening to bring about a judicial review.  I and many others hope that the decision stands and is enacted without delay, as although windfarms feature too heavily in our part of Scotland already, one in particular will hopefully fall victim to the lack of subsidies.  The Ourack proposal, named after a small burn in the area (possibly to make it hard to find on a map), was planning to take in a large area of the northeastern Dava moor.  Aside from typical breeding moorland birds, the area is important for Short-eared Owl and Hen Harrier so to disrupt and destroy habitat critical for these birds, let alone ruin the ‘beautifully bleak’ Dava  moor forever, would have been heartbreaking.  Fingers crossed, eh?

Details are below for what A9Birds is all about, with the coming few weeks set to get even more exciting as youngsters continue to take to the wing.  None are more eagerly awaited by me than the young Ospreys, and during moth we'll be taking more clients to photograph these wonderful birds as adults both start fishing for their family, and encourage fledgers to see what fishing is all about.  Come and join us for one of these trips, or just for birdwatching in our beautiful part of the world.

Want to try and photograph this for yourself?  Contact us (details below)

Right must go - the sun is shining, the mercury is climbing, and 'mum' Kestrel is trying to get her chicks to fledge for the first time in full view of our back door.

Happy birding!


A9Birds is a birdwatching and wildlife company based in Moray, covering the local area including Strathspey, the Moray Firth and Inverness-shire.  Please see our website for details of what we can offer you, e-mail us plus keep up to date with our sightings on our Facebook page


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