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Friday, 14 July 2017

Speyside Holiday, Pt.2 - 13th to 18th June, 2017

Continuing from Pt.1 of my account of our Speyside Holiday, which you can find here -  Speyside Holiday, Pt.1 - this is Pt.2 which covers the remaining days of the holiday.

Tuesday, 13th June

I was booked to lead a group to find dragonflies and damselflies in the morning, but this was subject to weather, and the forecast was grim. It did mean, however, that I had to hang around in the hotel lobby until just after 09h00 in case anyone turned up - they didn't, so Lindsay and I headed off to one of our favourite locations, which is General Wade's Military Road which heads south-west from Laggan, towards Fort Augustus.

It's a fair way to Laggan, and the road is not very interesting as far as there. On arrival at Laggan we were disappointed to find that the delightful Canadian couple who were running Laggan Stores and Coffee Shop had been deported due to (as I understand it) 'irregularities in their application for residency'. I'd been hoping that they'd overcome the difficulties but it seems that, in spite of much local support and in spite of Canada being a long-term friend to Britain, Canadians providing a much needed service in the community are less important than people coming to UK from EU countries, some of whom seem to exist just to take what they can. I wish this Canadian couple every success for the future, and hope they find a new home where their hard work and dedication are recognised by the powers that be. - Rant over.

The road beyond Laggan is usually very rewarding. This time, however, it seems that the recent dreadful weather had moved many birds out of the region, and the mix was somewhat different, and even a little disappointing.

Soon after joining the road, we were greeted by a Pied Wagtail

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) (male) - Military Road from Laggan
Almost as soon as we came alongside the River Spey, we found Dipper. 

Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) - Military Road from Laggan
It's usual to see Common Sandpiper from this road. The first image was from on the way out and the second on the way back.

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) - Military Road from Laggan
Meadow Pipits are usually everywhere, but we didn't see as many as usual on this run. 

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - Military Road from Laggan
I've never before seen Snipe from this road, but I spotted one on a distant rock and then, just a few hundred metres further on, one right beside the road.

Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) - Military Road from Laggan
Several Thrushes were seen (Mistle and Song).

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - Military Road from Laggan
Oystercatchers were very much in evidence.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) - Military Road from Laggan
It rained for much of the time we were on this road (about three and a half hours) and was raining particularly hard when we stopped at the far end to have our picnic in the car, so we couldn't see out of the windows.

Just before leaving the road, I was prepared for this sight, having seen it the previous year.

bird-scarer! - Military Road from Laggan
On the way back north from Laggan it started brightening up a bit, so we called in at the Northern Damselfly pond near Boat of Garten. I only manage a couple of shots before it started raining again, so we departed.

Northern Damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum) (male) - near Boat of Garten
It was not quite time to return to the Grant Arms for dinner, so we had a little run-around in the car, with no significant results.

After another excellent dinner it had stopped raining, so we set off to Lochindorb. 

The Common Gulls were in their usual nesting area, making plenty of noise.

Common Gull (Larus canus) - Lochindorb
Although it had started raining again, Meadow Pipits were out. 

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - Lochindorb
At one point, we found a chick beside the road. Its identity eluded me until sometime later, when I saw an adult of the species and added a much-lengthened bill in my mind! This has to be one of the cutest chicks imaginable!

 Curlew (Numenius arquata) (chick) - Lochindorb
There are signs around Lochindorb noting the protection status of the Black-throated Divers. This includes a statement to the fact that only fly-fishing is allowed on the loch. I was, therefore, annoyed to see a couple of people with 6 fixed rods deployed, and three BTDs swimming towards them. As these people looked a bit rough, I was not about to intervene. I did, however, mention it to a person from the estate a few minutes later, who thanked me but said words to the effect that there are not enough hours in the day to stop this. 

Here's a couple of images of the divers from that evening. These were quite close, but the light was awful.

Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica) - Lochindorb
- and here's the Curlew that made me realise what those chicks were!

 Curlew (Numenius arquata) - Lochindorb
On the way back to The Grant Arms, I saw the only Cuckoo for the holiday - a disappointing situation based on past experiences in the region. I only managed a record shot though the car windscreen.

Disappointment of the day:       the weather
Highlight of the day:                  it might seem strange, but the Snipe

Wednesday 13th June

Another gentle day was in order, as I was giving another talk that evening. This was to be a day we did what Lindsay wanted to do, so we set off for Cawdor Castle. The weather was looking considerably better than the previous day

We'd only been on the road for about 15 minutes, and were on a single-track road with passing places, when I spotted a bird in the grass at the edge of the road. I braked and stopped with my front wheel only about a metre from a Woodcock! It immediately disappeared down the bank, so I found a nearby place to pull in and then went back to try and find it - no luck!

Above Drynachan I stopped to photograph yet another Pipit!

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - above Drynachan
By Highland Boath a scan of the wet area didn't produce anything much, but I thought this Lapwing looked splendid among the meadow flowers.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) - near Highland Boath
As we arrived in the car park at Cawdor Castle, a large dragonfly flew across the meadow in front of the car. This was almost certainly a male Common Hawker - a species that I have yet to photograph successfully! While Lindsay went on a visit to the castle (I'd no wish for a second visit myself) I went to look for dragonflies. There was only intermittent sun, and it was quite windy, and I didn't find any by the small lake at the corner of the golf course. A wander further afield only resulted in photos of a Robin and a Chimney Sweeper moth (of which there were a large number).

Robin (Erithacus rubicula) - Cawdor Castle
Chimney Sweeper moth (Odezia atrata) - Cawdor Castle
Lindsay's next requested stop was at Burghead, for a picnic lunch. We parked on the eastern side of the head where one can sit in the car overlooking the rocky shoreline.

There were, initially, Cormorants out on the rocks, but the tide was coming in.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) - Burghead
Closer inshore, a Rock Pipit was being hassled by a hungry youngster, whilst another was taking a bath.

Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus) - Burghead
Further out, a Grey Seal kept bobbing up to have a look around.

Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) - Burghead
After lunch we stopped just outside the town so I could have a quick look round the bottom of the road that leads up to Clarkly Hill where little was seen except a couple of Northern Marsh Orchid which were too far out into the marsh to get a decent image. We then set off for Hopeman, where we visited the gallery, and bought a couple of items. 

We find it impossible to visit Hopeman without a visit to Stew 'n' Drew's ice cream shop. We were, however, a little disappointed on this occasion to find that their huge range now largely concentrated on the visually spectacular or oddball flavours (such as 'bubblegum') which appeared to be solely aimed at youngsters. There were comparatively few relatively sane flavours which appealed to us. We enjoyed what we did choose, however.

A quick diversion to Lochindorb on the way back only resulted in an image of a rather fluffy Oystercatcher juvenile.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) (juvenile) - Lochindorb
That night, after dinner, I gave my talk 'The Little Owls of Leicestershire' to a small, but appreciative, audience.

Highlight of the day:               the Woodcock
Disappointment of the day:    missing getting a shot of the Woodcock!

Thursday, 15th June

In the morning I was booked to look after visitors to the BWWC private hide at Avielochan. Lindsay wanted the morning to have a good look around Grantown, and to do some shopping. No one had put their name down for the session at Avielochan but it was agreed that I'd go out there after breakfast, but if no one turned up by 10h00 I was free to go off and do my own thing.

No one did show up, which is no bad thing as the Slavonian Grebes didn't show whilst I was there. Here are a few images of other birds that I took from the hide.

Avielochan, from the hide
Siskin (Spinus spinus) (female) - Avielochan

Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) (female) - Avielochan
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Avielochan
As I departed, I had a brief sighting of a Slavonian Grebe in a place not visible from the hide.

The local forecast had been for 'sunny spells' so I decided to chance it and re-visit the two dragonfly/damselfly locations near Boat of Garten. 

I had a short spell at the location for Northern Damselfly, but it was dull and breezy and there was little about that I'd not already photographed, and little action too.

Alder Fly (Sialis lutaria) - near Boat of Garten

Northern Damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum) (male) - near Boat of Garten
As it seemed to be getting brighter, I set off for the White-faced Darter location. On arrival, I found this beetle in the road, and took its portrait before rescuing it to a safe place.

beetle species - near Loch Garten
As luck would have it, it remained dull for a long while, but I waited patiently. At one point I was distracted by this spider that was trying to make itself inconspicuous. This was taken from a distance of about 4 metres - I'd have had to wade in the water to get closer.

spider species - near Loch Garten
Not too bothered by the lack of sunshine was this damselfly.

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (male) - near Loch Garten
Eventually my patience was rewarded, the sun came out and a male White-faced Darter appeared and landed on the boardwalk. The sun disappeared again almost immediately, but the WFD stayed there obligingly for a short while. In a way, the lack of sunshine helped as there were no confusing shadows of the wings, but it would have been good to have had the body better illuminated.

White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia dubia) (male) - near Loch Garten
Whilst waiting for more sun, a female Raft Spider, with a large egg sack underneath, was struggling to make its way across the pond. 

Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus) (female) - near Loch Garten
My main objective here had been to try and get some images of female WFDs as I'm a bit short in that department. As the weather was not helping me, and it was getting near to the time I said I'd be back to collect Lindsay, I decided to head back to Grantown.

For whatever reason, I stopped back by the Northern Damselfly location to have one last look. This gave me an opportunities to photograph a pair of Northern Damselfly in tandem.

Northern Damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum) (male + female) - near Boat of Garten
I had the sudden realisation that I was going to be rather late meeting up with Lindsay so gave here a quick apologetic call. Sadly, as I was leaving, the sun had come out, looking as if it was there to stay, and several chaser and hawker dragonflies had appeared. In consideration of Lindsay, I dared not delay departing any further so set off back to Grantown. 

After a quick sandwich lunch, and it still being sunny, Lindsay asked if I would like to go back to the damselflies for a while - she's wonderful like that! - and so we set off.

Unfortunately, although it remained bright, the sun had gone again, and with it the dragonflies, I did get some more images of Northern Damselfly in tandem and also some of solitary males.

Northern Damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum) (male + female) - near Boat of Garten

Northern Damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum) (male) - near Boat of Garten
Not wanting to use up too many brownie points, we didn't stay very long before heading off to Lochindorb, as Lindsay fancied a return visit. 

We approached via the north end, and the Common Gull colony.

Common Gull (Larus canus) - Lochindorb
We saw little on the southward run, other than a pair of Red Grouse.

Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus) (female) - Lochindorb
I also stopped to photograph a particularly eye-catching plant which can be seen beside the road.

Fox and Cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca)  - Lochindorb
The return journey proved more productive, with a Redshank posing nicely between the road and the water. These were taken from my seat, through the open window on Lindsay's side of the car.

Redshank (Tringa totanus) - Lochindorb
A short way further along, another Redshank was preening.

Redshank (Tringa totanus) - Lochindorb
Before we left the area, we came upon a delightful male Stonechat.

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) (male) - Lochindorb
After dinner that evening, I took a trip out for a last-ditch attempt to photograph Short-eared Owl.

A couple of miles from the favoured location, I spotted a lone Roe Deer.

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) (female) - from Tomintoul Road
Suddenly a fabulous rainbow appeared, I could see it from end to end, and it was deeply coloured over its whole length. Sadly, it was too close to capture the whole thing with my lens at 50mm.

Rainbow from Tomintoul Road
I had good sightings of the Short-eared Owls that evening, but they were all very distant.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - near Nethybridge
Highlight of the day:    it's a toss-up between the Northern Damselflies and the Short-eared Owls

Friday, 16th June

The weather forecast for the whole area was 'wet, cool, and windy'. Foolishly, I decided to ignore this and we set off on a journey that would be a round trip of around 200 miles (320 km). The main target location was Coire Loch in Glen Affric. The reason for the visit was that this is probably the most famous site in Scotland for dragonflies - just the place to go when it's wet, cold and windy -not!!

The weather was not too bad as we departed, and it had picked up even more by the time we were passing through Inverness. However, it went downhill from then on.

We arrived in Glen Affric to find the single-track road was busy with construction traffic which had destroyed the beauty of the route by making a total mess of the verges, and by depositing all sorts of plant and materials beside the road. The almost constant rain compounded our disappointment. 

We did find a break in the rain when we could sit out and eat our picnic, accompanied by a very confiding (hungry?) juvenile Robin.

Robin (Erithacus rubicula) (juvenile) - Glen Affric
After lunch, we continued to the end of the road, and I took a photo which I hope conveys just how dull and grey it was, but at the same time gives an indication of the potential of this place. 

Glen Affric
The walk up to Coire Loch (not gentle in any weather) was out of the question, and we saw little point in hanging around. Having come his far, we decided to return by a totally different route which, in essence, would mean that we circumnavigated Loch Ness. This took us down the west side of the loch to Fort Augustus. Here we turned northward again and, shortly after leaving the environs of Loch Ness, we found ourselves on a summit with the most amazing views. I regret that, because of the rain, I didn't stop to try and capture the views with the camera.

My plan was to travel north as far as Farr, and then cut off eastward to Garbole in the Findhorn Valley. This plan nearly went awry when I missed the turn. Happily I soon realised my mistake and turned back.

What is usually referred to at The Grant Arms as 'the road to Farr', is a very pleasant one across high moorland. We've never found it to be very productive bird-wise in the past, but I did take a few shots on this occasion. The second image is, I believe, of a juvenile Wheatear - a species that we saw far fewer of than we would usually at this time of year

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - the road to Farr
Wheatear? (Oenanthe oenanthe) (juvenile) - the road to Farr
Just before we joined the Findhorn Valley at Garbole, I felt the need to answer a call of nature (go to the toilet, for those whose native language is not English!). I found a convenient place to stop and went into the forest. Immediately, I heard alarm calls which I did not recognise at first. Then I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker that was clearly not agitated by my presence but by something that I could only detect as a large dark lump high up in a tree. I was immediately interested, and made a circular trip round the tree, and still struggled to see what it was. The problem was I was in a dark forest looking up into the light - I was seeing everything as a black silhouette. Even with the following image, which has had a D-lighting filter applied, to reduce the blackness, you can see my problem, although you are now probably detecting what it is.

- the road to Farr
In the end, I moved further away, so that I was looking across, rather than up. I suddenly realised that I was looking at an owl. Furthermore, it was almost certainly a newly-fledged Long-eared Owl. With trees rather than sky now in the background, I was able to manoeuvre myself into a better position for photography, although I couldn't fully eliminate obstructions.

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) (juvenile) - the Road to Farr
After grabbing a few shots, I quickly backed off. I don't know whether the bird's parents or siblings were around, and I wasn't about to check as I didn't want to cause any further disturbance.

A  run up the Findhorn Valley produced some very welcome Wheatear images.

Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) (male) - Strathdearn
We returned via Lochindorb in order to say our farewells to one of our favourite places.

Disappointment of the day:     the weather - particularly in Glen Affric
Highlight of the day:               no contest! - going into a forest for a pee and coming out with photos of Long-eared Owl

Saturday, 17th June

We set off homeward from The Grant Arms shortly after breakfast, taking our usual route via Tomintoul, Braemar, and Perth to Berwick upon Tweed.

The weather was a bit mixed and a few stops along the way didn't yield anything worth pointing a camera at, except a strange cloud formation that looked like a flying saucer.

We stopped for another excellent lunch at the Dalmore Inn, just south of Blairgowrie, and arrived in Berwick upon Tweed at around 16h00.

We tried to book dinner that night at the Collingwood Arms again. but they were fully booked by the time we phoned at mid-day, so we ended up at The Meadow House on the A1 to the north of the town. Without wanting to sound snobbish, the ambiance was very down-market, but the food exceeded our expectations by a long way, and the service was very efficient, even if a little over-familiar.

After dinner we drove out to Cocklawburn Beach. The weather had changed and it was a fine evening. Lindsay wanted a stroll on the beach and a paddle, whilst I went to look for birds. I didn't have much success in this respect, but I enjoyed the time here.

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - Cocklawburn
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) (male) - Cocklawburn
After this we turned in for the night at the wonderful Tweed View House.

Disappointment of the day:     the Collingwood Arms being fully booked for dinner
Highlight of the day:                again food-related - lunch at The Dalmore Inn

Sunday, 18th June

After a good breakfast at Tweed View House we headed for home, only stopping for comfort breaks en-route. We had an uneventful journey and were home by early afternoon. We returned to find that the area had been suffering a heat wave - if only we'd had some of it while we were away.

In spite of the cool, windy, and often wet, weather, and the relatively low showing of birds when compared to normal for the area, we'd had a great time.

Our thanks to all the staff at The Grant Arms who made our stay there an extremely pleasant one - as always!

Our thanks also to Liz and Graham at Tweed View House who always look after us so well when we stay. We look forward to returning.

Disappointment of the holiday:    the weather, which is usually so much better than this at this time of year.
Highlight of the holiday:               without a shadow of doubt - finding the fledgling Long-eared Owl!

This has been a bit of a mammoth blog post. I promise you that the next one will be significantly shorter!

Thank you for dropping by.


  1. Good morning Richard: The weather was certainly unkind! Reminds me of our visit to the area, when I remember that one day the high temperature struggled to hit 6 degrees. For me, the clear the highlight of the whole trip would have been locating the juvenile Long-eared Owl. I have only ever seen about a dozen of this species, and all adults. How serendipitous that you chose that area for your bio break. Even twenty metres farther along the road and you would never have seen the bird. Sometimes you get lucky!

    1. Hi David. I don't remember it as cold as that! It seems that you have seen far more Long-eared Owls than I have. The LEO was, without question, the highlight for me.

      My love to you both - - - Richard

  2. Oh wow, it took me sometime to download this post with our slow connection but it was more than worth waiting for. Each and every photo is amazing and I really loved the dipper, not a bird I have ever seen. I could pass a great comment on every photo you have taken, they are brilliant, but I will just say I am in awe with all you saw. It rhymes perfectly :-)
    By the way we have had a family of hoopoes on out lawn for the last few days if you are interested.
    Take care and have a great weekend, Diane

    1. My goodness, Diane! Hoopoe in my garden would bring every twitcher in England to my house!

      At the moment I'm sitting in my car waiting for the rain to stop so I can go and look for some birds!

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Take good care and have a great week - - - Richard

  3. Hi Richard! Sigh! How wonderful place you have been! Just incredible bird and bugle observations!! Greetings

    1. Hi Anne. Sorry that I have not replied before now. I have been away for 8 days in a place where it was extremely difficult to get an internet connection. I managed for a short while when I found a car park 30km from where I was staying and where I could get a connection! However, I gave up after that.

      Thank you for your kind words. My wife and I enjoyed Scotland, and hope to return soon.

      My best wishes - - - Richard

  4. WOW a fabuouos post filled with every kind=d of creature with wonderful photography. yes finding that owl must has made your day and it looks gorgeous peering through the tree at you. Thankns for taking the time to make this post and sharing it with us. Have a lovely weekend

    1. Hello, Margaret. Sorry not to have replied before now. I've been away, and suffered from lack of internet connection.

      Thank you so much for your very kind words.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  5. hoi Richard
    erg mooie foto's van al die vogels.
    groetjes Herman Versteeg.

    1. Hoi Herman.

      Sorry voor het late antwoord. Ik ben weg geweest.

      Dank u voor uw bezoek en uw vriendelijke woorden. Ze worden zeer gewaardeerd.

      Beste wensen - - - Richard

  6. HI ADRIAN!!! Sorry, but butterfingers here managed to delete your comment. I'd be grateful if you could resend as I'd like to know what that spider was,and can't remember what you said!

    Best wishes - - - Richard

  7. Richard, the spider is a Grass Spider. The only one I know is Tibellus oblongus. The ones I've seen just have horizontal stripes.
    I was shocked when I heard that the Canadians had been sent packing whilst we seem happy to accept illiterate terrorists. They should have blacked or browned up, dressed in a bin bag and identified as an MGBGTXYZ the last letters to add a little more compassion.

    1. Hi Adrian. Thanks for that. I didn't like to say so at the time, but I was away for the week where the internet connection was a nightmare, and I could only get it through 4G on my phone. I tried to 'publish' your comment whilst sitting in a car park with a signal, but the combination of clumsy finger and small characters meant I hit the 'delete' rather than 'publish' line!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  8. Hi Richard and what a post, similar to you I had to go for a pee half way through the read but I was not so lucky as you, no Juvenile Long-eared Owl to be seen any where. Great post such a shame regarding the weather but that's Scotland for you. Love the images of the White-faced Darter. All the best for a superb post. John, Going out with the Barnies after this read

    1. Hi John. I'm home now and have internet!

      Thank you for your kind, and amusing(!), words.

      I see that you had great results with the Barnies.

      See you soon - - - Richard

  9. I've had to do a bit of catching up with your blog, glad you and Lindsay had a great time, I would have prefered the cool weather you had on your holiday than the heat we had here in the South:) I love the pictures of the Curlew chick. Funny how you seem to manage to find owls without trying;) What a lovely surprise the Long-eared owl fledgling!

    1. Hi Linda. Thank you for your visit. I'm sorry I took so long to reply to your comment - I've just returned from a week in the next county to you (Hampshire).

      That young Long-eared Owl was the absolute highlight of the holiday.

      Take good care. With my very best wishes - - Richard

  10. Hi Richard!
    Well you've been busy while I was away!!
    First of all, many thanks for your sweet comments on my Malagasy posts!!
    I don't know where to begin with your great pics!
    Dragonflies, birds galore! but my favourite must be the grouse... That is one species I'd love to photograph!
    Congratulations for all these sightings especially that you don't sit in a hide waiting! I don't know how you manage that, no ways would I have a chance at bringing back that many species here in France just walking or driving around.
    The Short-eared owl in flight is exceptional, you got it perfectly in focus despite the distance.
    Warm hugs to share with Lindsay!

    1. Hi, Noushka. Sorry for the late reply (I've been away again) and thank you for your very kind words. The beauty of that area of Scotland is that there are many places where you can crawl along the road in your car in 1st gear without any other traffic on the road to worry about - often just letting the engine take you along at tick-over speed! The car makes a great hide, but only if you're happy to photograph hand-held or use a bean bag (although I always carry a bean bag in the car, I guess I use it only for about 1% of my photos!).

      In Scotland I would normally have no difficulty in finding you Grouse, probably at any time of year!

      I hope that all is well with you. Take good care. With my very best wishes - - - Richard

    2. Many thanks for your interesting reply, Richard, I am late too answering but I had mt head down into my Madagascar trip pics and those I did in Spain shortly after!
      Yes, indeed the car is wonderful hide, usually animals and birds don't have a fear of engines.
      I also have a bean bag and I used it only once!
      I will remember about the grouse, if I can come to see you and go to Scotland! No idea when though!....
      Keep well, my very best :)

  11. For the photography of dragonflies and juffers, we often also depend on weather. You saw a lot of birds and they are always beautiful to photograph. The chick of the lul is fantastic. Never seen. The pearl diver is also very beautiful. Fantastic is this. I did not know yet a chimney sweeper night butterfly. Great as you could photograph that seal of the seal.
    The field owl is great and the tacks are great to see.
    A lovely long and full blog with many beautiful animals.

    Best regards, Helma

    1. Hi Helma. Thank you for your kind words, which are much appreciated.

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

  12. Fantastic image Richard, and the work you put in, is excellent.

    1. Thank you, Bob. You are very kind.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  13. Hi. Your photos is so awesome. Happy weekend.

    1. Thank you, Matti. I hope that you are having a good weekend too, and your weather is better than ours is!

      Take good care - - - Richard

  14. The juvenile Long Eared Owl is weird looking bird. But so is the juvenile Curlew. Again I'm torn between Stonechat and Common Sandpiper being my favourite

    1. I was thrown by that juvenile Curlew for quite a time, Doug, because of the lack of long bill - I confess to thinking it might be a Lapwing chick for a while (size should have told me it was otherwise)!

      Best wishes - - Richard


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