They're back!

As to whom - take your pick!  Since our last blog, which concluded with the arrival of our first Ospreys, their steady arrival was complemented with the likes of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Sedge Warblers, Sand Martins, Swallows, Swifts, Tree Pipits, Wheatears and Cuckoos.  Everywhere we look and listen, Spring has truly arrived - even despite the usual 'blip' of snow that came in the last week of April.

As I've recommended before, it's a good time to revise bird calls for species that you're not so familiar with in order to pick them out.  This is especially the case for the rarer species, with Wood Warbler (the high speed spinning coin in the tree canopy) and Grasshopper Warbler (reeling away like a winding reel on a fishing rod) being good examples of knowing what to listen for in order to close in on the bird...and hopefully see it!

The latter (nicknamed 'Gropper' by some birders) is particularly skulky.  I was somewhat surprised to be greeted by one reeling as I got out of the car a couple of weeks ago, ready to walk the dogs on the edge of Findhorn Bay.  Despite the cacophony of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps singing loudly over my head in trees, the unmistakable sound was coming from some gorse a few yards away from me.  A slow wander along the scrub narrowed down the area, but having had experience of them in my previous birding life in Hampshire I know they can act just like a grasshopper and run through low undergrowth....GOTCHA!  There it was, doing just that in some flattened rushes next to a water channel.  Okay seen it, now for some luck to get a photo; within a couple of minutes it stopped for a two second breather in a gap in the gorse and click! went the camera shutter, as you can see below:

Grasshopper Warbler - elusively satisfying...

The county bird recorder for Moray believes this could be the first known photo of the species in the county, which is nice!  A second visit later in the day found the bird singing away on barbed wire along the edge of the Kinloss barracks, and similarly performed for other folk in the subsequent days.

...before deciding to pose later that day!

Osprey soap opera

It turned out that it was the cock bird that had returned to our nearest nest as my last blog was published, and a lack of companionship drew him to a newly-arrived lone female on the next nearest nest within a few days.  Mating occurred, though the new couple were split as the female's other half turned up.  As to whose eggs she's currently sat upon, who knows!  'Our' male, shunned from his place d'amour, was soon joined at his proper nest and now his hen is also incubating a clutch of eggs - order restored.

Some Ospreys have been late returning, despite what impressions are given by the very public nests at the likes of Loch Garten (which hatched its first chick this morning), with some nests still unoccupied in nearby areas.  As always, it's nature, and hopes need not be lost yet on more to return and breed.

One bird that is back is male Blue DF, born in Strathspey and returned there as a two year old and coming back ever since.  He graced my presence at low level on 5th May, the quick snap I took revealing the ring that was placed on him by Roy Dennis when Mrs A9Birds and I helped out that day in July 2010.  Always great to see him!

Osprey male Blue DF - one top bird for me

Fingers crossed

Those that follow my blog (they're all linked below) will be aware of the trials and tribulations of breeding Black-throated Divers on a loch near home in recent years.  With the last two years failing to successfully fledge young, more measures are being discussed and implemented to try and help 2017 turn the tide of fortune.  The key to the story is responsibility by people of all kinds that visit the loch, indeed anywhere where birds breed, and to not disturb adult birds and their dependent young as well as drop litter and suchlike.  For our part, wider deployment of signs to make casual and regular visitors aware is taking place and, although they'll never be directly attributable to any breeding success in this or subsequent years, they play their part.

Be aware - signs or not

Happy - and responsible - 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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