The Last Day of Summer

No - it's true, it really is...the autumn equinox is tomorrow!  So it's appropriate I make this blog entry today as I look back on the mixed fortunes of our birds that I've written about in recent months.  

Our lonely male Swallow roosted in our workshop the night of 15 September before heading off the next day, so we wish him well and hope he returns with a new female next Spring.  Our resident Great Spotted Woodpeckers have successfully raised two young, so it will be interesting to see how long they stay on territory for.  The only way we know there are two youngsters is thanks to feathering differences, as shown in the photos below:

Great Spotted Woodpecker chick 2016-1

Great Spotted Woodpecker chick 2016-2

Elsewhere around the patch, Red Kites have continued to be apparent so fingers crossed it won't be too long before we see their numbers grow even more.  Our nearest Kestrels failed to breed this year (possibly related to the vole population, which is in one of its 'crash' years that has also led to a distinct lack of Short-eared Owls on nearby moorland), however not far away at least one Goshawk chick has fledged and even graced us with a flypast a couple of weeks ago:

Juvie Goshawk sails past the garden

Ospreys, including our two nearest nests, have done 'okay' this year and there are still small numbers of birds hanging around Findhorn Bay.  Over a few days last week, one of the chicks from a nearby nest favoured a perch away from the nest itself, probably due to nearby timber operations.  She was soon joined by a ringed adult male who himself had been kicked out of the same nest back in the Spring by the chick's eventual father.  Anyway, this was the pleasing sight from the car on more than one occasion:

Ospreys perching - adult male lower left, probable female chick upper right

So, what else?  Only yesterday a male Chiffchaff was singing away in the woods...most likely a 2016 chick still practicing for next year's breeding season.  Waders are massing along the coasts, and the first Pink-footed Geese arrived back on Findhorn Bay in recent days too.  Wheatears continue their passage from their breeding grounds towards Africa, including this little chap on the beach at Findhorn:

Wheatear - cock of the rock!

But it's autumn tomorrow - officially.  Myself and my good friend Bruce are embracing the change of the season by embarking on a pelagic trip across the Minch to Stornoway and back, hoping to see a variety of sea birds as they migrate...fingers crossed that the 20 to 30 knots forecast won't be too much for them, and the marag dubh (Gaelic for black pudding) remains firmly anchored in one's stomach!

And talking of food, the Rowan berries this year are providing a wonderful scarlet spectacle...more so than in recent years.  By the time of my next blog, maybe the first Redwings and Fieldfares will be alongside the Mistle Thrushes already in situ (though others will move in from the north and east) and start to feast upon them...though let's hope there will be enough to entice any Waxwings our way this winter!

Rowan berries - COME AND GET IT!

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, including fine canvas prints of some of our images which make ideal gifts.  Also, 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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