What a night!

 

What a night indeed but before the night came the day so let me tell you about that first. It was our last day in the area and we were aware that apart from going to eat we hadn’t been into the town at all so we thought we would stay locally and see what Blaigowrie had to offer. First we went for a walk by the river and once again both Grey wagtails and Dippers showed well. The Wagtails were feeding their young which is always a spectacle.

 

These two Dippers, I assume a young with a parent, also put on a good show!

Press on into town and to have a look around setting off first to find the town hall where the local Art group had an exhibition. As you may imagine it was a mixed affair and I doubt anyone could have liked all the work even if you could see the talent that lay behind it! As we went in we were given a slip of paper and asked to vote for our favourite piece before leaving. I particularly enjoyed the work of one wildlife artist and voted for her picture, ‘The elusive pine marten’

We met Delia for a farewell lunch and, as planned returned for a last walk down by the river. We did try the other  side of the bridge but didn’t take to it so returned to what was by now familiar territory! In just those few hours we had been away a change had taken place in the wagtail world! They seemed to no longer be feeding them but I assume trying to encourage them to fend for themselves. They were still close by but kept coming close then instead of passing them food, would fly up again presumably hoping they would learn how to do it. One kept trying the second, which we hadn’t seen earlier, just sat!IMG_2385

A young lady came and asked about my camera lens as she was thinking of getting one and we got in conversation. It transpired that she was a wildlife artist and on chatting further she was the artist I had just voted for, Paula Jane Anderson, small world!

Okay lets move on to our evening and what a cracker it was! We had heard that there were beavers not too far from us but had no idea where. We were linked with a man who did know, Bob a fantastic ‘Nature Nut’ and he agreed to take us at to look for them but that wasn’t all. If we left a bit early he would try for a couple of other treats too!

First stop was where the Black grouse often lek, unfortunately not last night but never mind, we moved on after a lovely sight of a Hen Harrier. We were to try to see something which was going to be the highlight of the night, Pine marten! On the way we saw this lovely hare.

Also a group of fallow deer including the lovely ‘white’ one.IMG_2498

Moving on though and we were soon settled waiting for the Pine marten, as we sat the sun moved round and of course just when it was directly opposite us that Marten arrived, making pictures impossible! Never mind we had seen it and Bob was sure it would be back, of course he was right!IMG_2489 pine martin

We were so thrilled I can’t tell you! Pine marten is not an animal I expected to be on our 2016 list! It was bigger than I had imagined and has a really big tail, look at the teeth too!

The light was fading fast but Bob said we could still have a quick try for the beavers, we agreed but I wasn’t feeling too hopeful. having said that the evening to that point had been brilliant so with or without beavers we were happy! We drove, parked, walked and arrived at a river where within minutes we saw beaver!!! It was almost dark by that time so pictures were near impossible. I will post one bad shot plus one screen shot form a little video which did come out slightly better.

What a night, Pine marten and beavers, two animals which before arriving in Blairgowrie we hadn’t even considered as possible! Bob is a top man and if you find yourself in the area I strongly recommend getting in touch with Bob, Nature Nut!

10.45 and we were back at our B & B a cuppa and a snack before settling down for our last night before moving on to Nethy Bridgs, I wonder what we will see there!

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A river dip!

I told you about our first walk by the river Ericht and the treat we found there but I didn’t tell you what it was! Well yesterday morning before our day out we went for an early walk in bright weather by the river and again we saw a Dipper, well to be honest we saw two! There were also Grey wagtails but they were so flighty that so far I don’t have many pictures. IMG_1951 Dipper

What lovely, entertaining birds they are, flying up and down the river, sitting bobbing and looking so smart. So I am just going to share some photos and later I will write about our day out. Having fun is very time consuming you know so I will have to wait till we get back later today before writing again so maybe I will combine two days out with our fried Delia.

 

This Dipper was frustratingly close but at the same time very tricky to photograph as I am fussy about not falling into rivers! So with tripod balanced I stayed on a firm footing!

We were fortunate enough to see a Dipper during our time in Devon but there superb views have been a real bonus. I must say the River Ericht did look as though it would be home to Dippers and Wagtails as soon as we set eyes on it. Having sat on this rock for some while she had a good stretch and look around before disappearing up river again, don’t you think her wings look too small for her? Do you think this is a young one? We wondered as it as a rather speckly breast.

We had to leave our river walk as Delia was coming to collect us for our smashing day out. Here are just a few Grey wagtail shots till I can do better, opportunity willing!

 

What a cracker!

Still in Gloucestershire and another day out with Ian and my brother Alan, we decided to head into the forest of Dean. Lots of happy memories of days spent their with my parents and children when they were little, I wonder if they remember that my Mum always had ’emergency rations’ with her!

Our first stop was at Cannop Ponds where we saw a lovely Little grebe, he caught a little fish and spent some while shaking it and trying to position it suitably ready to swallow whole. I am pleased to report he did succeed, I got a nice video clip of the fish finally losing the fight, I am looking forward to learning how to sort the clips out one day but not yet!

We also saw our first Grey wagtail of the year, ( later we saw two more) it was very flighty and distant but very good to get. First tick of our time away. The weather was getting better as the day went on, not just dry but by now sunny too.

I connect this area with Mandarin ducks and I was not let down, we saw one but it quickly decided to swim away. After thinking if I could get a shot of it or if it had gone to far I decided to go in pursuit of it. By the time I fought my way through the mud and got to the other end of the pond it had joined a group of Mandarins, I saw five male and two females.

 

What beautiful ducks they are, the males so striking and the females more subtle but I think none the less attractive.

We had a couple of choices of where to head to next, what were we most keen to try to see? Well we have visited Lynford Arboretum many times this year hoping to see Hawfinches but each visit has been fruitless. I had heard that they often show well at Parkend in the Forrest of Dean so we went in search of them there, would Gloucestershire provide what we had failed to find in Norfolk? YES! We waited for some time and one of our party said that “we only need one to come for a minute” that is exactly what we got, this cracker came down to feed.IMG_9298 Hawfinch_edited-1

He did only stay for a very short time when something made him and the other birds feeding fly up. We did see another two fly into the back of a tree but saw no more of them. Not only were we all pleased to get Hawfinch on our 2016 year list but it is by far the best sight any of us had ever had of one, excellent it made my day! It will be good to be able to walk at the arboretum not feeling frustrated by the lack of hawfinches, mind you we will probably see them regularly now but not as well as this!

 

Next we visited the church at Parkend looking for Crossbills. No luck but we did have a nice Treecreeper on the building itself. Where we live in Norfolk this notice would not be needed but I have been amazed at the amount of damage done by wild boar I have seen all around here. I gather they are now widespread although sadly we didn’t see any, just the results of where they had been.

 

Next stop a well deserved lunch at the Dean heritage centre and time to think where to go next. Amazing who you meet on the way to lunch!IMG_9319 Gruffalo_edited-1

I was still really keen to try to get a picture of a Penduline tit so we headed back for them but sadly they had not been seen.

We have had not just a lovely day but an excellent visit to Gloucestershire, thanks to Alan and Judy, come and see us in Norfolk soon and see what birds we can find there.

Our year continues so well and although I have talked mainly about birds it has been about far more. Spending time together, getting out walking, seeing family and anticipation of what is yet to come! Thank you for sharing in our I hope you will keep going with us.