Saturday, 26 November 2011

Lammermuirs: Red Grouse and Snow Buntings

Decided to head for the Lammermuir hills in East Lothian this morning on the off chance of bumping into a Rough-legged Buzzard or Great Grey Shrike. Managed neither of course although there were good numbers of Red Grouse in evidence along the roadsides. The above bird looked like a straightforward female and the bird below, which was with it made me wonder whether 1st winter birds are separable at this time of year. Anyone know?

The Lammermuir Hills are highly managed for Red Grouse.
This shot, taken today and which you may not wish to look at too closely, shows a Brown Rat caught in a fenn trap placed on a pole crossing the burn at Johnscleugh. I am not a big fan of this sort of trapping with a low degree of discrimination.

Highlights of the trip for me were more encounters with Snow Buntings. These three shown below were seen feeding along the roadside on the way to and from Faseny Bridge. The shot below illustrates how dark the back, rump and uppertail coverts can be in 1st winter individuals of this species. There is certainly no way these birds would be considered to be nivalis. Instead they are the commoner subspecies insulae. I also saw another larger flock along the road to Garvald. I certainly feel in credit with Snow Buntings this year as I have chanced upon several. Hope that keeps happening...

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