Day Trip to Scotland and Some Local Birding

Hi all!

So the majority of this post isn’t technically about urban wildlife, well at least not as urban as the middle of London. But still a 20min train ride away from Glasgow central counts as pretty urban compared to the place I had a (volunteer) job interview for yesterday…..

This interview was held in Glasgow and was for a 5 month volunteer assistant ranger post on Handa Island. I have to admit before applying for this I had never heard of the place. It’s a 309 hectare island 1/2 mile off the north coast of Scotland that is managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust as a nature reserve. It supports internationally important numbers of breeding Guillemot, Razorbill and Great skua as well as Fulmar, Arctic skua, Puffin, Kittiwake, Arctic tern and lots more. It’s accessible by ferry and the only people resident on the island in the spring/summer are staff and volunteers living in the islands basic bothy. So, a million miles away from the urban streets and home ‘comforts’ of London then! It would be an amazing experience. There’s several videos people have made of the area on youtube if you want to have a look.

Anyway I figured I’d make a day of it,  got the boyfriend to get the day off work and decided the cheapest way to do this was to get an over night coach up the night before arriving at 7am for the interview at 9am, then the over night coach home late that evening (this didn’t factor in much comfortable sleep time, but we figured it was worth it). This gave us enough time to get the train down to RSPB Lochwinnoch after the interview, spend the morning/early afternoon there then head back and explore Glasgow a bit (when I say ‘explore’ I mean sit in numerous coffee shops/restaurants and recover from the battering winds/rain/lack of sleep. Oh and go and see the lego movie, which was surprisingly good!).

Lochwinnoch had a fantastic newly extended inside viewing area with floor to ceiling windows which gave you great views of the whole of the loch all from the comfort of a heated room with proper seats (with cushioning and everything!). So naturally we decided to venture out and battle our way round the mud and wind to the reserves only hide, spotting a Buzzard and a Treecreeper along the way. It was worth it just for the beauty of the area itself but as a bonus we ended up with great views of a female Goosander, several Goldeneye, several Whooper swan and a male Smew which was a bit too far even for a record photo.


Whooper swan




Female Goosander and Goldeneye


Great views of the female Goosander


IMG_0474Loved the Whooper swans, such characters! Back inside the viewing room we also saw several Curlew come in to land right in front of us. Even my non birder boyfriend was impressed with the place, but that was perhaps more to do with the scenery – and the company I hope 😉

I was also totally chuffed to get fantastic views of a Short-eared owl hunting on Staines Moor last Saturday – what a bird! And that was topped off by a Little owl in a tree on Stanwell Moor (thanks to the birder who tipped me off!) as I was walking back to my bike. Owls galore!

Tuesday I spent a lovely day exploring Moor Green Lakes in Berkshire with a friend. We saw Barnacle geese, two Grey wagtail, male and female Goosander, Little egret, Reed bunting, two Red kite, a Kestrel, had great views of a Kingfisher and as an added bonus an Oystercatcher flying overhead. Great place will definitely be going back!


Little egret, Moor Green Lakes

So, in short it’s been a pretty awesome week of lovely weather (mostly, 2/3 days isn’t bad!) stunning birds and great company 🙂

Haven’t managed to do any bird ringing at Bedfont Lakes lately due to the weather – fingers crossed for this Sunday!