Highland Diary

April 2019

My photographic efforts over the past month have produced a rather eclectic set of images. I started off by heading up to Wester Ross to see an American duck, a Blue-winged Teal that had taken up residence on a small lochan. As with many species that have come from the other side of the Atlantic it was much more confiding than European birds of a similar ilk. I arrived early hoping to get some pictures before the inevitable arrival of hoards of birders that the news of such a rarity attracts these days. I had an hour and a half parked up on the side of the lochan using my vehicle as a hide. The duck was content to come within thirty metres of where I sat as it fed around the lochan. This all changed once the first of the birders were out of their vehicles. Disturbed by their antics the duck opted for the sedges a hundred and fifty metres away on the far side of the lochan where it stayed.

I had few days over in Angus where the photography was considerably less fraught. I managed some pleasing pictures of grebes and also Little Gulls, a species that I hadn’t had the opportunity to photograph before. Another first was parasitic Nomad Bee that I had inadvertently focused on whilst trying to photograph at a colony of Clark’s Mining bees on the edge of a footpath. After taking three indifferent frames it all ended when the nomad bee was trodden on by a passing dog. The resulting image was however good enough to confirm the species as Nomada leucophthalma, a new record for the Angus area.

Back on my home turf I am much more in control of my photography. Three badgers and up to five pine martens visit the garden each night lured by the promise of peanuts. The badgers have dug under the deer fence in several places to gain access to the garden. One path is up a steep bank, at this time of year a mass of bluebells in flower. A strategically placed camera trap enabled me to get pictures of the badgers moving through the sea of bluebells.

The water level of the loch below the house is as low as I’ve seen it in thirty years. A large expanse of gravel and sand has been exposed at the mouth of the burn attracting a variety of wading birds. A pair of Greenshanks, a bird that we don’t normally see down here in the bay, have become regulars hoovering up minnows and other fry in the shallows. Three Black-throated Divers are fairly regular visitors, sometimes as a pair or a single bird on its own. One afternoon the three were together engaging in some low key display.

At the end of the month we spent three days up on Speyside trying to get to grips with the Kentish Glory, a rare and spectacular moth which despite its name, in the UK it now only occurs in a few locations in the north of Scotland.