I really can’t believe this is my last blog of 2018, the year has just flown in and it has been a very exciting year and like my last December blog I thought I would do another highlights blog.
I think everyone doesn’t really like the start of the year, after Christmas you always feel a bit low as the weather can be very gloomy so this year for the first time ever my parents and I decided to escape it all and go on holiday. We decided to go to Lanzarote and we had a great time there. It did feel a bit strange wearing shorts and sandals in January but Lanzarote made it feel like it was June time because it was really hot there. The wildlife there was amazing we went on a Yellow Submarine and watched Sea Urchins, also saw Lizards and of course birds, they were mainly pigeons but they were not your usual pigeons in fact they weren’t pigeons they were doves African Doves to be exact I last saw them few years ago in Fuerteventura. The highlight of the trip they had Ring Necked Parakeets there but they were known as Rose Parakeets. I loved hearing the calls and watch them in Palm Trees and flying around and one morning I opened my curtains and saw two Parakeets on a Palm Tree, they were very close so I managed to get a great photo and a video and here is that very photo.
The month of February is always special for me, it is my anniversary month I have been Birding and this year I was celebrating my 16th anniversary. On the anniversary which is the 16th February I always go to the place I first went Birding and it became my first local patch and that place was The Royal Botanic Gardens. I always look forward going back it brings back a lot of memories and I always head to the Chinese garden area because they have a pond there and a special hut there which I always called it my hut because it was my place to sit and watch birds. Sadly the pond remains empty which is a real shame because when I first went there as a birder the place was full of birds, on arriving I was shocked to notice the hut had been demolished I was hoping to sit and remanence so instead I walked and looked at the pond. However I wasn’t alone a Robin flew up and kept me company.
Most of my Birding trips I had planned for this month had been cancelled and rescheduled for another time because this month the UK was covered in snow as it was caused by a name we were hearing on the news ‘The Beast From The East’. I do not like snow and ice so during that period I stayed indoors and did some Garden Birding, because the snow was so deep I decided to give ground feeding birds a helping hand as well as filling the feeders I scattered seeds on top of the snow and it was a beautiful scene watching so many little birds in the garden feeding I had to take a photo and a video it made it look like a scene from a Christmas card.
It was also during that time a Fieldfare visited the garden and that had been a bird I had not seen for years and when I did see it I had to take a photo of it. Now this was a bird that darted about so fast it made it difficult to get a snap shot because it was very territorial about its food because it tried to chase of other birds but I did eventually get a photo. It did turn up again a few times in the garden before the snow eventually melted.
This month news got around that a Ring Necked Duck had been spotted at Blackford Pond. It caused quite a stir for Twitchers because it’s from North America and Blackford Pond is quite famous for passing birds like The Mandarin Duck, it was spotted there in 2016 and I did eventually see it. Back to The Ring Necked Duck I thought I would go and twitch for it as well, as soon as I arrived I saw it straight away I wasn’t expecting to see it that fast it was very similar to a Tufted Duck but it has different bill so I watched it awhile another twitcher came up and asked me is it around and I pointed it out for her.
Also this month we had the return visit of The Great Tit back at the Camera Nest box I was very excited watching the process as usual and when the eggs did appear the parents were very good at covering the eggs. The trouble was April was experiencing a massive heat wave that the parents were away along time they were struggling to find food because everywhere was dry even the grass in the garden was brown. Sadly because of the lack of food out there I’m afraid to say all The Great Tit chicks did not make it but hopefully next year will be more successful.
This month on a beautiful sunny day I visited a park I never visited before and it was a beautiful sight there were Canada Geese with chicks, Mallards with ducklings which made people walking by smile and take photos. I was watching the Canada Geese family when I noticed a Heron nearby and I thought this could turn ugly if it tried to go for one of the chicks but luckily it didn’t seem that interested but managed to get a few pictures and because of the nice sunny day the pictures looked fantastic.
I was really looking forward to June because it was the month I was going on holiday. We went to Isle Of Mull and the highlight of course we were going to see The Puffins on Staffa. The boat trip was amazing on the way we saw dolphins very near the boat but the stars were still The Puffins. I’m used to seeing Puffins on live cameras at The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick but this was way much better with Puffins flying around you and walking beneath your feet. This was especially special for my Mum because she loves Puffins but has never seen a Puffin, it was fantastic to get great snapshots at close range.
Many people stayed with The Puffins but many including ourselves wanted to explore more of the island we followed the path until we came to a cliff edge and looked over the edge and below were thousands of seabirds. There were Gulliemots, Razerbills, Cormarants, Shags & Fulmers the people who chose to stay with The Puffins were missing something quite spectacular the sound and sights was mind blowing.
Birding took a back seat for most of this month because lots were going on mainly my brother getting married and it was a beautiful day. But I must tell this tale we had lots of BBQ’s during June & July and on this July day whilst having tea I noticed thousands of Gulls flying all over the place they were everywhere they pretty much covered the whole sky. I had never seen anything quite like it, it was almost like a scene from ‘The Birds’ but the reason they were doing this was feeding on flying insects up there.
During July I was approached by Suzy Buttress host of The Casual Birder Podcast asking to be a guest on the show. I was thrilled to be asked and looked forward doing it the interview took place on 19th September and would be available to hear in October. At the beginning of September I went back to The Outer Hebrides I really love going there but unfortunately the weather wasn’t great so couldn’t go Birding as much as I would of liked but didn’t stop me for going on walks. The highlight of the trip was seeing my first Merlin and Hen Harrier. I saw The Merlin on Loch Druidibeg in South Uist and The Hen Harrier in Benbecula. I didn’t manage to get a photo of The Hen Harrier but captured a shot of The Merlin.
My episode on The Casual Birder Podcast came out at the beginning of the month, I posted it on my Facebook, Twitter & Instagram sites and showed it to friends and family. I was overwhelmed with all the lovely messages I received people kept repeating the word ‘you’re a natural ‘ and I’m pleased to say it has managed to get lots of views on YouTube.
I heard on Twitter that The Water Rail had been spotted in Inverleith Pond and folk have managed to see it. I thought I will go down and have a look but sadly I was unsuccessful to see it but enjoyed looking at the other birds including close up of Pigeons. I will return to the Pond and have another look.
Well that has been my highlights of 2018 and I’m going Birding in December before Christmas and I will tell you about that in the new year so I will end my blog of 2018 wishing you a Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year and thanks for your support.