Regular readers of this blog (Hi, Mum, Stephen and Joseph!) will realise that I am particularly keen on raptors, so the recent trip to the Outer Hebrides had me twitching with excitement at the prospect of lots of sightings of all things hooky-beaked.
As we headed off along the Edinburgh bypass I was already over-enthusiastically pointing out Common Buzzards to the family. "You know, I have seen quite a few Buzzards already", was G's response. Fair enough, since they do pass over the garden every day, and I do have a slight tendency to point them out every single time... even when they are pretty high up...
"Yeah, well I just thought it would be a good idea to give you all a quick Buzzard refresher course since we are going to see lots of Eagles in the Outer Hebrides", I added, lamely trying to think up some logical explanation for my involuntary birder outbursts.
A few minutes later, it was G who broke the silence. "Well that one looks pretty big!" I had also seen it and was driving in a more slack-jawed manner, staring disbelievingly upwards through the windscreen. "It's an Eagle! An immature White-tailed Eagle!" We were barely off the ring-road and heading up the M9, but here above the motorway was one of the birds that we were traveling hundreds of miles to see. I craned my neck and then fleetingly made use of the glass roof - one of the reasons I bought the car was the idea that nice big birds up above would be visible. "Have you seen it?", I asked the kids. "Yes", they chorused, somehow managing to look up and keep Mario on track on their Nintendos.
Wow! Of course, it will be an individual from the wave of recent releases for the East coast reintroduction scheme... (not sure it would have been possible to see any wing-tags under the circumstances). Actually I don't think that matters much because it was really cool!
Here are a few shots, not of the Lothian bird, which funnily enough I did not photograph, but of birds seen in the Outer Hebrides as intended. First some shots of an adult, accompanied by some very irritated Shelduck.
Here are some shots of an immature - it has more bulging secondary feathers and a longer darker tail than the adult. Hopefully these shots get across some of the colossal feeling of this species.