Thursday, June 23, 2011

Scotland: Farmland / Grassland

Wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo. To say it right you have to pronounce the 'o' as in 'or', and then say it as fast as you can. Any idea? Smallish bird, up high, diving down 20 feet? I hadn't heard one for years (and even then it had been on Speyside too), but now found myself listening to 2, maybe 3, all over one small marshy area. And there's the clue. Drumming snipe. No photo's, but who cares?
The surprise of the trip for me was a visit back to a country lane Kay and once visited years ago (cleanse your minds!). Back then we sat in the car and watched a lapwing with chicks, and I reckoned the time might be right to find something similar. As it turned out there was more to see than I expected.
I thought the fences would be a problem for snaps, but using the car as a hide it was surprising how I could work around them, or blur the wire out.
As well as the snipe there were oystercatchers, redshank and curlew along the fence lines.

I saw this curlew a couple of days in the same spot. Obviously nesting, but I didn't push it.
Mostly the curlews were pretty wary, but one chose to walk in full view - definitely my best ever views.
Corvids too are usually wary, but the car helped with this jackdaw ....
and the oystercatchers.

Evening brought out the game birds - red legged partridge ....
and the inevitable pheasants.
It was great to see quite a few lapwing around .......
and when I saw this one trailing a wing (click on the snap for a larger view) I knew it probably wasn't because it had a problem.
Sure enough after a few minutes a fairly well developed chick appeared. Only saw the one, but from my experience with the grouse there may well have been more scuttling around.
For a change there were a few mammals around too. The usual rabbits of course ......

some hares - a real treat for me as they are rarely seen where I live,
and to cap it all a few roe deer, including the buck in velvet which gave me one of my favourite snaps of the whole trip.
There were also yellowhammer, linnet and no doubt others I missed. I never thought this would have been a spot I wished I had more time to explore. I guess this is what most UK farmland would have been at one time, but all the set-aside schemes won't get us back there.

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