Wednesday, February 25, 2009

24th February, 2009.

Headed over to Jura on a rather cold ,damp and grey day but, thankfully, the weather held.
We,(Stuart Graham and myself), had resolved to try and get a couple more tetrads completed for the BTO Atlas survey prior to the winter survey season running out on the 28th!! This we did, and whilst the sun didn't shine on the righteous, the range of species seen was excellent. Best of all, I suppose, was the sight of two Golden Eagles and a White-tailed Eagle sailing high over the western hills allowing size, shape, wing "posture" and so on to be compared. Tremendous! Peregrine, Hen Harrier, Buzzard and Kestrel completed a nice array of raptors. A Black-throated Diver was offshore and, further north , we encountered two Great Northern Divers, all seen on a placid sea and affording good views. Overall we had a good assemblage of species, although some sections of forestry carried very little except numerous Robins ( thank goodness they're in song!). Some of the deciduous woodland on the eastern slope of the island, down on the coast north of Ardlussa, was almost devoid of birds and it will be interesting to see what is there during the breeding season.

Of course Red Deer are everywhere on Jura and are to be counted by the island's keepers next week. The total, based on past results, will probably be between 5,500-6,000 as the overall population is kept in check and monitored. Excellent views can be had of them, mostly studiously ignoring you until you cross an invisible boundary that invades their comfort zone!! Equally of interest was an Otter offshore at Lagg that put on a quite precocious performnace for quite a time!

Time too to have a chat with friends. The lady who now has my sheepdog ( Peat), to whom I shall be eternally grateful for the provision of a home. I didn't see him, which saved his confusion and my composure! Similarly, a revealing discussion with one of the keepers about the number of Mink on Jura and many of the smaller islands to the north. Bad news for much other wildlife given their rapacious outlook!

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