Thursday, August 13, 2009

12th August, 2009.

Not that pleasant a morning , finally improving by mid-afternoon with sunshine and open skies!

Seawatching might best be described as "routine" despite a light westerly! To a visitor the array of seabirds parading past the south west point of the island would have seemed somewhat of a bonanza, but sadly it contained no surprises .Our terns seem largely to have gone and so any future sightings will be of passage birds. Whilst most of the seabirds seem to still be on feeding movements doubtless this will alter very shortly with birds being on the move. This is when the pattern changes and all movement is predominantly south, as opposed to an equitable mixture as was today.

A good selection of waders with some real mixtures of plumage apparent, particularly in Dunlin. Other migrants seemed in short supply, but a few Northern Wheatears were apparent and the odd Willow Warbler. "Alba" wagtails seemed to everywhere, mainly along road margins, but also in beach areas . A loose party of 12+ Rock Pipits in one local area was a nice surprise, a species much ignored in many respects. Another species which receives occasional mention , but little else, is Rock Dove ( the genuine sort, that is! ). Soon they'll be forming roving flocks with numbers usually showing that they appear to do quite well. After being relatively "quiet" during the breeding season birds suddenly can be found zooming around the sky in ones and twos, to what end I'm not at all sure!!

Loch Indaal carried very little other than Eider and a couple of collections of Red-breasted Merganser in moutlting parties. My main interest was in pinning down Grey-lag Geese, many of which are still in distinct groups at various locations. One gathering of nearly 300 had a further 100+ join them over the succeeding hour, dispersed over six groups and all coming in from the east or south.

It would be inappropriate to pass by the "Glorious Twelfth" without some comment. For foreign readers this is the date when the shooting season for grouse begins in the uplands. Over recent days the blatant destruction of a late Hen Harrier nest containing young in the Forest of Bowland , Lancashire is yet another example of the complete disregard for the law those involved in the management of such areas can display. Given this occurred on a tenanted shoot on land owned by the water company, United Utilities, one imagines they will be pursuing something so much at odds with their declared "green credentials". It's a matter of national shame in my opinion that an appreciable number of our most magnificent raptors ( Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle, Red Kites and others ) are now being lost to the depradations of those involved in managing uplands in order to artificially "crop" populations of Red Grouse that are then significantly reduced by shooting every year. To those who are about to enjoy the "spoils" at dinners around the country, I would ask for a few moments of reflection on what the accompanying costs are to our natural heritage. A little selfless compromise wouldn't go amiss within a system so replete with selfish indulgence!

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