Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Loch Ryan drive by, 31/1

 More odd jobs round the house and a steady stream of visitors to the feeders - Yesterday's tally joined by the Great Tits and Coal Tits, but no sign at all of the goldcrest :-(. 
The day was grey and dull, and most of all COLD.  The pond had frozen and showed no sign of thawing.

We had to go into Stranraer in the afternoon, so we made a point of leaving along the shore road, so we could see what was about. 

Swirling gulls (mostly blackheaded)
The extremely dull weather meant that photography was a challenge - either a very under exposed black image or slightly blurry aperture shots as the birds never stopped hunting for food.
The tide was pretty full- had just started to fall, leaving a narrow feeding strip for the birds.  The Bishop Burn area, where fresh water flows into the loch was crowded with gulls of several species.  I'm not very good at gull identification, but there were blackheaded gulls, common gulls, and herring gulls.

Never slow to spot an opportunity, they quickly noticed the toddlers feeding the mute swans, and swarmed around looking for their share.
Bishop Burn and shell banks
This human windfall however is not the reason the birds gather here.  The shallow loch is covered in weed and large expanses of it can be seen at low tide, while the sand and silt supports a large number of shell fish, as the banks of shells along the shore and round the Burn testify.

Redshanks in plenty were trotting along the shore, and the distictive behaviour of the turnstone drew attention to it, accompanied by a common companion, the ringed plover.

Turnstone and Ringed plover
Out on the water there were huge rafts of ducks. Most were too far off for the lens, but among others I spotted pintail, eider and the more unusual (to this southerner) scaup.
Finaally, in flocks, groups and singly, the whole shore echoed to the calls of the Oystercatchers.


Male Scaup

Female Scaup

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