Enter The Fall
Despite having lost the odd ‘u’ from certain words and developed various other grammatical mutations during the trip across the Atlantic on the Mayflower and other vessels, our North American cousins did choose a somewhat poetic term for what we call Autumn - namely ‘The Fall’. I quite like it, and of course it does what it says on the tin especially as I write this looking out at our deciduous trees standing against a breeze.
In birding terms, ‘The Fall’ could be equally applied to the number of birds falling from our skies at the moment as various species continue their migrations ahead of Winter. Literally thousands (and we’re talking 20,000 plus) Pink-footed Geese are on and around the Findhorn Bay just now having steadily grown in number over the past ten days or so. Considering how many have already continued south, with many skeins passing over home throughout the day, the number that actually visit us at this time of year are probably nearly double that number. Karen and I had a special moment on the bay last week - we timed our visit with a spectacular sunset, and at a low tide when the Pink-feet plus some Greylag Geese were descending onto the exposed mud in their hundreds. The noise of the massing geese coupled with the stunning sky, which itself was reflected in the mirror-like quality of the inch or so of tidal water left was something to savour and remember.
Pink-footed Goose wallpaper, anybody?!
Bye bye Ospreys…finally
My last sighting of an Osprey was 22 September (on Findhorn Bay, as it happened), and the latest one to be seen in Moray appears to be the 24th; of course many birds are still making their way through Englandshire just now, indeed a very small number may still be north of the border but this late in the season and with the Atlantic storms heading our way, they best get a move on. Roll on late March/early April for the return of my favourite birds…and roll on May when it’ll be time to get up at silly o’clock and take fishing photos of them again!
Now that breeding season has firmly passed (though our second brood of Swallows only left on 15 September), we’ll be heading into various locations in Moray and Strathspey for new and improved spots for viewing various species, working out and where necessary agreeing access and - most importantly - cover to safely watch birds from. We’ve already zeroed in on a new Black Grouse site (adding to the three we vary our visits around), which itself has excellent cover in the form of a solid treeline and stonewall system to watch from without disturbing the birds, especially whilst lekking. We’re also going to develop a Short-eared Owl location for better photography opportunities, with Mountain Hares also being within easy reach. So these next few weeks remain busy, split between the last of our 2015 customers, 2016 planning (with already a few bookings in the diary) and widening our photo print sales - remember that time of year is approaching when gifts for yourself as well as others should be bought!
Short-eared Owls - more of these in 2016!
We’re also continuing with our talks to local groups too, providing a free hour of photos, opinions and anecdotes galore whilst raising money through donations by attendees for Roy Dennis’ Highland Foundation for Wildlife. If you’re interested in any of these, get in touch!
A9Birds is a birdwatching and wildlife photography 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, and why not keep up to date with our sightings and photos on our Facebook page. All photos on this page are copyright Mike Crutch/A9Birds.