Goodbye November

Well, that’s the month of November just about over, and we bid it farewell without much regret – too many grey skies and cold, damp days. I much prefer a crisp frosty winter’s day to this unremitting damp. But we did get a nice sunrise early in the week – the bare trees look lovely silhouetted against the pink sky.

The trees make lovely silhouette against the pink clouds

The trees make lovely silhouette against the pink clouds

A pink sunrise over Loch Davan

A pink sunrise over Loch Davan

The wildlife has been fairly quiet this week – not many birds on the lochs – but I suspect they’re all off in flooded fields around the reserve. Although the massive puddle in the car park has drained a fair bit, there is still plenty of standing water around.

Still waters at edge of Parkin's Moss

Still waters at edge of Parkin’s Moss

Mind you, the bird counts were also fairly low as half the birds seemed to be bailing out just as I was arriving to count. I had  these mute swans and a flock of 50 tufted duck zoom past overhead.

Mute swans in flight

Mute swans in flight

Tufties in flight

Tufties in flight

Some residents of the reserve not being quiet on Tuesday night were the geese. So far, this year, goose counts have not produced very many geese at all, with a maximum of 60 being counted two weeks ago. Not so on Tuesday – a minimum of 400 greylags came streaming onto the loch just before dusk. They were very difficult to count though – some circled a few times and it was difficult to work out if you’d counted them already. But even just 400 geese can make an almighty racket and you’d have sworn there were a lot more there by the noise!

Roost o' clock...

Roost o’ clock…

....on final approach.....

….on final approach…..

.....touchdown!

…..touchdown!

Also spotted a mystery goose in the with the greylags. Just caught a brief view of it overhead in very poor light and it didn’t call. Possibly not a barnacle goose as there was no visible contrast in the plumage (they’re black-and-white so you can usually pick that up), and looks a bit long-necked and long-billed for a pink-foot. It’s tempting to think it could be a Greenland white-front….but if anyone has a guess, answers on a postcard…..

Mystery goose - any ideas?

Mystery goose – the small middle one – any ideas?

The cormorants are still roosting on Castle Island. Although not the prettiest of birds, I find them to have a certain prehistoric charm….they always remind me of pterodactyls when they “wing dry”. People often assume they can’t be seeing cormorants because they’re not black all over – but youngsters from last year have white bellies.

The white belly on this cormorant show it was a last year's youngster.

The white belly on this cormorant shows it was a last year’s youngster.

We also helped out with the Forvie wader and wildfowl counts this week. This involves counting various species of bird from the mouth of the Ythan Estuary all the way to Logie Buchan bridge – that’s a lot of area and a lot of birds!  We weren’t lucky with the weather, though, and had  to ask ourselves questions like “can I tell a knot from a dunlin in rubbish light and pouring rain, from half a mile away?” (as the water trickles down your neck, it’s hard not to ask yourself “do I care?”). The diving ducks can also seem to delight in being awkward to count- bottoms up!

Count that! Diving goldeneye.

Count that! Diving goldeneye.

 

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