In my last blog, I mentioned that signs were already appearing of what's probably Mother Nature's greatest season.  Since I wrote those words, more and more birds have been joining the chorus.  At home, most noticeable were Mistle Thrushes - perched on the pines and spruces around us, their short calls stand out against the voices of tits and finches.

Mr Mistle Thrush calls in the ladies

Whilst oot'n'aboot, however, it's been the unmistakable call of the Yellowhammer that's been a pleasure to the ear.  Described by many (and it's hard not to think any other way) as if singing the phrase "A little bit of bread and no cheeeeeeese!", the males - resplendent in their saffron plumage - perch atop anything they can as they too beckon in prospective partners.  A great sight and sound.

"Warm foccacia and a slice of brie!"  Oh no, hang on, that's not right is it...?

Kite flying

One other bird I often see on my travels, but hardly ever hear call, is the Red Kite.  Yesterday, against an azure sky, six of these great raptors wheeled in the air as they were drawn into a feeding station - and their voices clearly heard as they entered into the pecking order to eat.  The volunteer there told us that up to 14 birds had been counted recently - great numbers considering that this particular site was hard-hit following the mass poisoning of their brethren, and some Common Buzzards, in 2014.

Red Kites perform their aerial ballet...or dogfight!

Much a political word has been written about the event, and no one has been prosecuted for the atrocity.  As we all know, evidence has to be robust in any criminal case and one can only presume that this remains the stumbling block before any one person, or group, can be labelled 'the accused'.

Holding someone to account is one thing, but for now let's just hope that the public outrage following the events of two years ago will be enough to deter a repeat event.

They're coming...

It's early March.  For me, that's means it's now only a few weeks before the Ospreys return to our part of the world.  Many of you know of my love for the species, and I wait for two things.  

Firstly the arrival of the pair we can see from our garden, the female of which (colour ring Green 5B) winters in Spain and has already showed signs of edging north thanks to Roy Dennis' satellite tracker that's fitted to her.  Secondly, it's the silly-early alarm clocks, drive down into Strathspey, darkness turning to light, Karen's breakfast flapjacks....and the SPLASSSHHHH!!! as Osprey fishing photography starts again.  

No matter how many times you witness the spectacle up close, it never gets boring...and it's an enormous pleasure to say that it's part of my job.  Fancy joining me?  Get in touch!

Happy birding


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.


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