Setting & rising with the birds

Flanders Moss & Loch Lomond NNRs

The Hen Harriers are back!

It’s that time of year – the 1st survey of the season in October had us spotting 2 hen harriers – a ringtail (female or juvenile) and a striking white male who perched splendidly on a fence post for a good 5-10 minutes before setting down in the heather to roost. My first ever Flanders hen harriers!

We had our 2nd hen harrier count on Monday. This survey came up with a grand total of 0 – not all that unusual really, the birds seem to like to vary their commutes! But it was a pleasant evening nonetheless, as had a flurry of about 60 Fieldfares swishing right past us in the birch trees and below us in front of the tower. Amazing! Not only that, we were treated to a fantastic panoramic sunset.

Looking one way…
and the other way!

As well as to continue the valuable monitoring of the species (explained here, here and here), the survey gives us a chance to see the reserve at a different point of the day. It was lovely to see that, even though it was getting dark and chilly, other visitors were still out and about enjoying the walk and coming up to the tower to enjoy the sunset and peace.

It’s hard to drag ourselves away from such a nice spot, especially when you start to think “I bet a harrier comes in just as we turn our backs”. But, alas, our homes and dinners beckoned. Plus, we needed to get a good night’s sleep before getting up at 4:30am, because…

The geese are back!

A back-to-back bird survey, eek! We were thankful for the beautiful weather, which made stumbling down to the Crom Mhin at Loch Lomond at 6am much easier. The moonlight certainly helped too, we barely needed our torches! Once settled, we stood and enjoyed the sound of the wildlife waking – Snipe chuckled in front of us and Wigeon and Teal whistled gently. Finally we started to hear Pink-footed Geese muttering away from quite a distance, but an unmistakable sound.

Not quite as dramatic as the sunset, but a very calming sunrise.
Our guide for the morning, lighting our way.

After a while, we heard what we were hoping for – the flutey hooting of the Greenland White-fronted geese. Again, from quite a distance. They seemed to be in amongst the Pinkies, so when they all finally started to lift and indecisively swoop above the loch and the flats and eventually fly towards their feeding grounds, they were gone.

Pinkies flying towards the fields for the day’s foraging.

Or not… about 30 mins later we heard that fluting again. It came from waaay above and eventually we spotted a flock of 12 white-fronts heading in the opposite direction from before. Did I mention geese were indecisive?

In addition to the wildfowl, a Kestrel started hovering over the marsh and Stonechats chatted to each other from the tops of the shrubs, as if discussing our presence. On that note, it was time to leave. The geese were all away and my fingers were getting rather cold. Time for breakfast, and a nap…

The kestrel keeping an eye out for their breakfast.

About Ellie Lawson, NNR Placement

Practical Placement on Stirling's NNRs. Enthusiastic about birds, butterflies, bogs, brochs... and the rest!
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2 Responses to Setting & rising with the birds

  1. Anne says:

    Beautiful photographs perfectly illustrating dedication to the cause!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. David McCulloch says:

    Absolutely adore that photo of the pinkies at sunrise!

    Liked by 1 person

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