Friday, 14 July 2017

WWT Caerlaverock 13th July

My last morning at WWT Caerlaverock and I waited 30 minutes for a Hare to show up in front of the kitchen window. When they didn't oblige I took a wander up to the Whooper Pond to see the Canada Goose and his/her Whooper Swan companion......
 
 
A family of Mute Swans are also sharing the pond, with the male frequently gently shooing away the goose and the Whooper whilst the female teaches her cygnets how to look for food.....

 
A Cormorant was also on the pond this morning.......

 
I took my cup of morning coffee down to the feeder station along the Peter Scott trail and sat on the bench watching the birds through the open slats......

juvenile Tree Sparrow
 and was rewarded with the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker again coming down, but perching this time very nicely on the side of a tree.....
 

 
Sadly my cab turned up and my stay at the farmhouse was at an end. Again I wondered why I had only booked a three night stay, and already I'm planning on when I can next visit.
 
What an incredible experience staying on site is. I would 100% recommend it for any nature lover. The staff and volunteers are friendly and knowledgeable. The farmhouse is comfortable and clean. The reserve itself is full of hidden corners, great hides, and crammed full of wildlife.
 
Lastly I thought I would share my own entries in the Badger Diary that's kept in the conservatory.......

 
WWT Caerlaverock.......thank you for everything !

WWT Caerlaverock 12th July

Wednesday morning saw me sitting outside at 7.30am waiting for the Hares to appear. Did they ? Nope, but with the reserve empty except for me, the House Martins came down to pick at the grit and allow me to get some lovely close up photos with my longer auto focus lens....
 



 
The five young Swallows that were still in the nest above the entrance to the two man hide overlooking the Teal Pond had fledged, but there were still two coming in to the hide to rest up every now and then......
 

 
It was another glorious day with blue skies and very little wind.
There are a few species of butterfly at Caerlaverock at the moment - I saw Green-veined Whites, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, and lots of Red Admirals including the one below.....

 
and of course my eyes were drawn to every hoverfly I saw.......

ID not confirmed but this could be either Megasyrphus or a Syrphus sp.

Helophilus pendulas - female
 From the Camplbell hide I had distant views of a Common Buzzard, a pair of Ravens and this hovering Kestrel....
 
 
and perched right outside the same hide, almost hidden by the long grass, was this beautiful Chiffchaff....

 
Several times during my stay I saw Roe Deer but they were generally in the distant and not easily photographed. This one below was in the long grass in Tower Field and just viewable from the Avenue Tower. I managed to fire off a few shots before she disappeared from view but not before I realised she had a fawn with her. Unfortunately my only photo of the fawn was completely out of focus but it looked a good size and was bouncing around behind its mother. Fawns, or kids, are born late May to June so this one was only a couple of months old.....

 
I know House Sparrows are pretty boring to some, but they are not as common as they used to be and today, like yesterday, I didn't tire of watching them. The photo below reminds me of the saying 'Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil'.......

 
One of the Tree Sparrows along the Peter Scott trail gave me an outstanding photo opportunity.....
 
 
and then posed next to a rather tatty House Sparrow for a nice comparison shot.....

 
Some of the male Chaffinches are looking far from tatty. This beautifully coloured male was also along the Peter Scott trail.....

 
I had heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker yesterday but didn't see it, but today it came down to the feeders. This is a juvenile with the all red cap. And from studying GS Woodpeckers a few years ago, I can say for certain this is a female. The red cap is very forward on the head and she will lose all of the red feathers which will be replaced by black feathers. Young male's red caps are a little more set back and they retain the red feathers on their napes as adults.....

 
In the Corner Field I counted 131 Lapwings at 9am from the Silver & Gold Hide.
By 2pm there were just 34.....

 
This lovely male Blackcap was in the Wildlife Garden.....

 
From the Folly Pond Hide early evening I watched a family of Pied Wagtails on the nearest waters edge. Across the pond there was another adult with three juveniles....


 
My evening was completed with the regular Badgers visiting at 9.30pm. I will never tire of the memories of seeing these stunning mammals just feet away from me.......

iPhone photo through glass

iPhone photo through glass

iPhone photo through glass
Another wonderful wildlife day at Caerlaverock, and by now I'm wondering why I only booked a three night stay.........







 

WWT Caerlaverock 11th July - my birthday

Tuesday was my birthday and one that I will not forget in a hurry.
 
First thing in the morning I was watching a pair of Hares 'lolloping' around the courtyard from the kitchen window, and kicking myself for leaving my camera upstairs in the bedroom. I decided to chance my luck and try to take some video footage on my iPhone so quietly opened the front door. As I lent forward with my phone ready a sneaky little Weasel appeared from the left hand side, went over my foot and straight inside !! The Hares were forgotten as I watched the Weasel run straight behind the kitchen door, then make its way over to the fridge where it kept peeking out to see if I was still there. What to do ?? I quickly closed the inner hall door so the Weasel was confined just to the kitchen and outer hall way, took my cup of coffee and phone and went and sat outside leaving the front and outer hall door open in the hope the Weasel would find its way out. Half an hour later, despite not seeing the Weasel actually leave, there was no sign of it in the kitchen. Three times that day I popped back to check the kitchen, but no Weasel seen again. I only hope it did sneak back out the way it come in. My birthday certainly got off to a good start.
 
The sun was shining, there was very little wind and it promised to be a glorious day. Perfect.
 
Saltcot merse observatory
 There are 22 hides on site, some big and grand like the Saltcot merse above and others just one or two man hides. One of the two man hides overlooks the Teal Pond where Swallows had not only nested right above the entrance outside but had also nested inside....
 


 
It was quite an amazing experience sharing the hide, especially when one of them perched on the hide ledge and sang. I got some wonderful video footage on my iPhone but for some reason I cant upload it on to here.
 
More Swallows were hanging around the Peter Scott observatory and the air was thick with calling Swallows and House Martins again.

 
The warm weather meant there were more critters out and about....
 
Eupeodes luniger
 
Forest Bug

Blue-tailed damselfly

Marsh Orchid
There's a very healthy good sized colony of House Sparrows on site and the nice weather was perfect for a few of them to indulge in dust baths....
 
 
I popped in to say hello to the resident Whooper Swan.....


 
and had a go at taking photos at the reflection pond from another two man hide.....

 
There are lots of Chiffchaffs on site, some looking a little worse for wear after a season of raising chicks.....
 
 
and I've never seen so many Sedge Warblers as there are at Caerlaverock.....

 
The pair below are juvenile Chiffchaffs that posed very nicely for me....



 
As did this fresher looking adult.....

 
After this mornings sightings of Hares running around outside the kitchen window, but with out one photo to show for it, this Hare below was just out of focus for my camera.....
 
 
The feeder station along the Peter Scott trail is the best I have ever seen. It comprises of a fence with every other straight slat removed. You can sit on the benches on the path watching the birds through the open slats, and even walk past without disturbing them. You can even peek through and get some great views.
 
Along with the good sized House Sparrow colony onsite, there are also several Tree Sparrows, a bird I have only seen on a handful of occasions. They are breeding at Caerlaverock and their numbers are going up. Whilst I was watching not only were the parents still feeding the juveniles, they were also mating again for a second brood....

juvenile Tree Sparrow

record shot mating Tree Sparrows
A juvenile Blackcap passed through whilst I was watching and I managed a very poor quickly taken photo....
 
 
 As to be found at any good bird feeder there were the obligatory rats running around, but I only ever saw three at any one time...
 
 
After such a wonderful day it was nice to finish my birthday watching the Badgers again.....
 
iPhone photo through glass

iPhone photo through glass
 
An absolutely perfect solo birthday with just one thing missing. Alcohol. I forgot to pack any.