A Start of the Year Update

I haven’t posted anything for ages (December, how embarrassing), so I thought I’d just give a wee update of what I’ve been up to.

January: An interesting way to start the year, the perks included beating on my friends shoot and coming home with a brace of pheasants and a brace of ducks, having a sparrow hawk and a bullfinch in the garden and a couple of godwit just outside the office. The downside was definitely being involved in a car crash. Here’s a pic of the godwit.

Bar-tailed Godwit (I think?!)
Bar-tailed Godwit (I think?!)

February: February was a very slooow month. A lack of transport meant lots and lots of beach and forest walks with the pack, and many night time wanderings in the woods.

Nice Nights Up Here
Nice Nights Up Here

March: The big event in March was the gathering organised by the Scottish Crofting Federation, YC20:20 – I’ll do a separate post on this, as I have lots of pictures and quite a bit to write from the three days! In short it was a gathering at Glencanisp Lodge (near Lochinver in Assynt, Sutherland) of over 90 people, kids from local and island schools, crofters from all over the Highlands and islands, aspiring crofters, and folks from groups such as Nourish. It was a brilliant opportunity to meet many like-minded people.

Highland Cow at Clachtoll, Sutherland
Highland Cow at Clachtoll, Sutherland

April: April took a wee while to get going, but things soon got underway. We had some days of absolutely cracking weather, which brought out all the bird life, and even resulted in me catching the sun a bit! The geese and swans were still mooching about, we had a family of some 60+ whooper swans on the estuary at the bottom of the garden.

Family of Whooper Swans
Family of Whooper Swans

We also had some lovely displays from our resident pairs of buzzard, kestrel, and merlin, right over the house.

One of my Buzzards
One of my Buzzards

I managed to get up to the clay range a lot in April, there’s no finer way to spend a few hours! I’m lucky to get out with a good wee group of chaps most weekends.

Good Way to Spend the Day
Good Way to Spend the Day

I got out to Ruthven Barracks to go and survey farmland waders. We had a great show from the snipe and lapwing, and I got allocated my sites to survey this season; one in Strathspey and one in Caithness.

Ruthven Barracks
Ruthven Barracks

Come the end of April I got out on several woodland grouse surveys – both capercaillie and black grouse. Some early, early mornings. I’ll do a separate post for those as I have some cracking pictures, though they honestly don’t do the experience justice! Mixed into this we had a freak snow fall…which was interesting.

Freak snowfall, taken at the clay range. We aren't fair weather shooters anyway!
Freak snowfall, taken at the clay range. We aren’t fair weather shooters anyway!

The month rounded off with a weekend trip down country to Midlothian to visit a colleague, to attend the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, and to visit the Falls of Clyde to see the peregrines. I surveyed for peregrines last year, but never saw any, so it was nice to see the birds so up close.

The Fire Festival Opens - Roll On Summer!
The Fire Festival Opens – Roll On Summer!
Falls of Clyde Peregrine Snoozing
Falls of Clyde Peregrine Snoozing

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