Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Birds Around the Bay

A month ago, the local grey herons had gathered into a group of ten or more which was to be seen flying rather aimlessly around Kilchoan Bay. It may be that they were all from the same heronry, and that these manoeuvres precede mating and egg-laying. As March came in, the herons were to be found singly, like this one hunting for food along the edge of the sea by Lochan nan Al, the little lochan by the shop.

They join a scattering of other birds on or around the bay, including widgeon - seen in the foreground of this picture, of which there are often a small group on Lochan nan Al first thing in the morning - teal and....

....mallard, though the mallard are now usually to be found in pairs, both along the edge of the bay and on the inland lochans.

As with the herons, the curlews were in groups a few weeks ago, probing the croft fields for worms. Now they're back along the water's edge, as on this day when frost was thick on the ground. The numbers of curlew to be seen locally have declined: in previous winters the groups in the fields numbered up to a dozen. Our curlews are Eurasian Curlews, of which the UK hosts about a quarter of the world's population, but the RSPB reports that our numbers has declined by 48% since the mid 90s.

A pair of red-breasted merganser are often out on the water in the bay, the male now in his full breeding plumage, while other birds to be seen round its shores include oystercatchers, plovers, and various gull species.

To return to the herons. This shot was taken from the end of the little promentory below our house, the heron having obviously not spotted me. It gives a frog's eye view of the business end of this magnificent bird.

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