Sunday, 28 June 2015

Assynt and the melodious warbler

Playing catch-up again on the blog, partly due to a week away in Sutherland, partly due to a sudden rush of other commitments, including finishing-off my breeding bird surveys for the year, and (yawn) DIY.

Sutherland, or more specifically Assynt, was wild, majestic, awesome...also quite cold and predominantly drizzly.  Never mind, some good weather enabled a trip to Point of Stoer and great prolonged views of Risso's dolphin - about eight adults and two youngsters.  Our visit coincided with David Haines conducting a WDCS shorewatch survey and it was interesting to learn that a small group of these dolphins inhabit the northern part of The Minch, sightings of the youngsters are not too frequent though, so a good record for the survey.  He also recorded common dolphin, harbour porpoise and basking shark that day!
Risso's dolphin leaping
Risso's dolphin
Point of Stoer Lighthouse
The mountains of Assynt are really impressive, Suilven in particular stands out rather majestically.  It is a very long walk to the summit and back but well worth it.  A few ring ouzels were about the mountains but we didn't connect with any eagles. 
Stac Polliadh from the direction of Suilven
View towards Cul Mor
It was quite nice to return to warmer climes, and by Thursday I was able to catch up with the RSPB wading bird survey in the Cherwell Valley, which again produced curlews, and a brief view of a barn owl with prey.
barn owl with prey
By Saturday I even had time to catch up with the melodious warbler currently in residence near Marsh Lane Nature Reserve in Warwickshire.  A great songster, showing well defending his willow bush territory from all-comers (especially other warblers).  The melodious warbler does not breed in the UK, but it's range extends to northern France, so is a potential colonist as climate change progresses.
male melodious warbler, as the ad says, doing what it says on the tin (singing beautifully!)

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