Tuesday, December 21, 2010

20th December,2010. Do we really want a white Christmas?

Well, I finally got out and even made it over to Jura! The day was silent, bright and very cold, but with seven layers on, fairly tolerable. Whilst the quietness of a snow filled landscape is therapeutic in some ways, driving on largely untreated roads sets aside any benefit!

As I went northwards alongside Loch Indaal in the fresh light of dawn a few groups of geese could be seen out on the water and were probably all Greenland White-fronted Geese. In all other circumstances this would have been a perfect day for counting the loch as it was so calm! An odd Slavonian Grebe, some Wigeon and a forlorn looking group of Light-bellied Brent Geese lent quality and variety but birds seemed to be in much reduced numbers based on brief impression. On Jura things were also very quiet, the only evidence of passage being 3 Mute Swans winging their way southwards. Various Herons were in evidence along the Sound of Islay shoreline, with a total slightly in excess of normal, suggesting that inland haunts were frozen up and forcing them elsewhere. Odd Great Northern Diver appeared along with the ever present Shags but, all in all, the day was exceedingly dull despite the magnificent clear skies and sunlight ( no warmth, just sunlight!! ).

Returning at dusk occasional Snipe and Woodcock lifted from roadside ditches suggesting that they too were feeling the pinch. Remarkable by their absence were any parties, large or small, of Barnacle Geese and a call later from Malcolm Ogilvie explored the same theme. If they have packed together there must be some very large flocks around, but where? Time will tell!

On the question of white Christmases I'm already erring towards that wonderful line uttered by the Sheriff of Nottingham in the film Robin Hood, " And Christmas is cancelled", well at least the snowy bit! All this brought on by E-mailed Christmas wishes and a scene from a friend on Aldabra......some islands have all the luck!

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