Archive - February 2021

Week ending: 28th February.  Baron's Haugh, Dalzell Estate

This week I managed three sun-filled visits to RSPB Barons Haugh.


This was a relatively brief affair. I headed for Marsh Hide, but my first capture was of a diligent Mistle Thrush  working in the field nearest there. I was disappointed at the high water level on the Haugh, but not surprised due to the heavy rain in the preceding days. No problem for the Moorhen though, the only other bird I saw. While leaving the Hide area I spotted a pair of Roe Deer  100m away, below the power line. Minutes later as I passed the field where I’d seen the Thrush, it had gone but a pair of Jays had replaced it, as well as a pair of Jackdaws who obviously also wanted in on the action. The Mistle Thrush had retreated into the surrounding trees but I managed a nice shot of it on its perch.

Mistle Thrush Moorhen
Roe Deer Jay
Jackdaw Mistle Thrush

A perky wee Robin watched the field for any leftovers.

I moved to the Phoenix Hide where I watched a flock of Lapwings  search in vain for a landing spot on the flooded Haugh. I did, though see a smart-looking drake Goldeneye and a diving Little Grebe . Next a flock of passing Long-tailed Tits drew me from the hide to the bank of the River Clyde where I noticed they had found something nice to eat, probably invertebrates. On the far side of the swollen river a pair of Little Grebes were watching me carefully. On my way back to the car I snapped a Carrion Crow standing boldly on a tall stave surveying the field before it.

Lapwing Goldeneye Drake
Little Grebe
Long-tailed Tit Carrion Crow


I started in Dalzell Estate on what turned out to be the best day of the week. Near the stables I found a lovely patch of Snowdrops.  Behind me I was watched by one of the many Woodpigeons to be found in Dalzell woods. As I walked towards Easter Braes and down to the Clyde I got pictures of a Great Tit and a Robin.

Snowdrops Wood Pigeon
Great Tit Robin

On the far side of the river there were a few resting Goosanders.

From the riverside path I found a shy Goldfinch lurking in the undergrowth, and soon afterwards a flock of Curlews  passed overhead heading for the Haugh. Moments later they returned, probably having come to the same conclusion as the Lapwings I’d seen earlier in the week. I had a quick look at the Haugh from the Centenary Hide and got a long shot of some Wigeon.

Goldfinch Curlew
Canada Goose Wigeon

Just before I left the hide my view was adorned by a beautiful rainbow.

 On my way to the Pheonix Hide I got a great shot from the path of a Robin singing in the bushes, and further along the path I came across an exhausted Common Frog. It ran the risk of being flattened by a passing cyclist so I encouraged it onto the grass. I then found a sure sign of Spring - a blooming Lesser Celandine . These yellow flowers usually signal the start of the wild flower season.

Common Frog
Robin Lesser Celandine

I was impressed by yet more riverside Snowdrops (well, it’s been a hard winter). Before I turned away from the river I photographed a pair of cousins, a Blue Tit hanging on alder fruit, and a Great Tit that was following a possible mate. Next I was excited to catch a few shots of a Buzzard passing over the field that overlooks the river. It was carrying prey in its blood-stained talons, probably a Field Vole.

Snowdrops Blue Tit
Great Tit Buzzard

At the edge of the next field I got yet another shot of a Robin, possible the best shot. With the sun behind me and shining into the bird’s eyes it it was very accommodating. In the neighbouring field there was a Grey Wagtail foraging in muddy pools close to the path. It too had the sun in its eyes and I was equally fortunate to get some fine shots. My final captures of the day were of another Buzzard being mobbed be Carrion Crows over the same field.

Robin Grey Wagtail


My final visit of the week to Barons Haugh typified the nature-watcher’s plight. Following the same path as the day before, at the same time of day, with the same weather conditions I managed only a few sightings. These were a pretty wee Coal Tit in Dalzell Woods, a female Goosander in the River Clyde, a distant Grey Heron and a female Goosander flying up the river. And that was it.

Coal Tit Grey Heron
Female Goosander

Week ending: 21st February 2021: Strathclyde Park

I decided this week to explore various places within Strathclyde Country Park. On Tuesday I started at the north end of the Loch. The weather was rather dull but I still managed a few nice shots - a hovering Black-headed Gull, a flapping drake Mallard, a dribbling Canada Goose  and a soaring Common Gull.

Black-headed Gull Drake Mallard
Canada Goose Common Gull

The sun came out just as I was training my camera on a drake Goosander . followed by a Black-headed Gull passing overhead.

Drake Goosander Black-headed Gull

On Thursday I started in the woods behind M&D’s Theme Park where I came across a couple of fungi. The first was a bracket fungus, called Artist’s Fungus , that was growing in some numbers on fallen, mossy-covered logs. Further along the path I discovered a small, pretty and delightfully-named Scarlet Elf Cup. On the verges of the wood Snowdrops were coming to bloom - sure signs that Spring is on its way. Back at the North end of the Loch I snapped a circling Herring Gull. A couple of Coot were feeding in the moat not far from a Grey Heron standing motionless in the shade of overhanging branches.

Artist's Fungus ( Bracket ) Scarlet Elf Cup
Snowdrops Herring Gull
Coot Grey Heron

I crossed the park road to search the fields. Straight away I heard a Goldfinch twittering atop a young tree. There was a small flock of Fieldfares foraging in the equestrian field. I also managed a pleasing shot of a low passing Carrion Crow. In the wood behind the field I spotted a wee Coal Tit  foraging on a high branch of a large Oak tree.

Goldfinch Fieldfare
Carrion Crow Coal Tit

On my way back to the car I got a lovely shot of a singing Robin that was belting out its warbling tones as it sat on a branch of the hedge lining M&D’s car park. Next I drove round to car park 4 for a quick look at what I could find at the south end of the Loch. I was drawn to a handsome Lesser Black-backed Gull circling the car park. There was a pair of Campbell Ducks patrolling the lochside in the hope of “free” food. There were also quite a few Greylags.

Robin Lesser Black-backed Gull
Campbell Duck Greylag Goose

There was a mad rush of birds each time some kind person threw slices of bread into the water. Maddest of all were the Goosanders, who paddled furiously in the melee.

No such rush for the big Canada Geese whose tactic seemed to be to wait on the shore with the Swans, to crowd the feeders and gobble up the bread at source. There were a few Pied Wagtails searching the grassy areas for invertebrates, well away from the madness going on in the water. The Jackdaws too had a definite strategy. They stayed on the periphery and moved in once things had calmed down a bit, then they would swoop in to search for scraps.

Canada Goose Pied Wagtail

I’ve noticed that, following the big freeze, some of the Tufted Ducks seem not to have returned to their favoured area of the Loch, i.e. near the mouth of the South Calder. They don’t prefer bread so maybe they just like the company. I came across an odd couple at the Watersports Centre. A big Muscovy-Mallard hybrid stood on the jetty with another, smaller, hybrid duck (unidentified).

Drake Tufted Duck Female Tufted Duck
Muscovy X Mallard

My final visit of the week was on Sunday when I walked along a quiet route, an old (now unused) road that leads from the Caravan site access road through the woods to just south of the Bothwellhaugh Cemetery. I got some nice views of a pair of Magpies that were feeding at the edge of a huge field north of the road. As I passed along the old decaying road I came across a pleasing number of passerines, including a Chaffinch, Blackbird Great Tit and Blue Tit.

Chaffinch Blackbird
Great Tit Blue Tit

I returned via the back road to M&D’s car park. A solitary Song Thrush was searching a field, looking up every so often to check that it was safe to carry on. Perhaps it was watching for raptors such as the Buzzard I noticed in the sky above. My final observations of the week were of a pair of early flowers, Snowdrops and Crocus, brightening up the verges of the road near the entrance to the Caravan Park.

Song Thrush Buzzard
Snowdrop Crocus

Week ending: 14th February 2021. Baron's Haugh, Dalzell Estate 

This week I visited RSPB Barons Haugh on three sightings-rich occasions. I think the icy conditions actually helped viewing as lots of birds were forced out their usual haunts to search for food. My first visit was on Monday and my first capture was of a Nuthatch  on a high tree branch, taken as I passed through Dalzell Estate and down into Barons Haugh. I next caught sight of a Blue Tit working on the branches of a large tree adjacent to the stables. I bypassed Chestnut Way (to avoid other walkers) by descending Easter Braes. There were about a half dozen Goldeneye  on the Clyde, including one juvenile drake.

Nuthatch Blue Tit
Goldeneye Juvenile Male Goldeneye

Further along the river I could see a hovering Kestrel  silhouetted against the sky. On the far bank a Cormorant  was standing drying its feathers, while a pair of Mute Swans were swimming along the near bank. I also saw a female Goosander diving midstream alongside a drake Goldeneye.

Kestrel Cormorant
Mute Swan Female Goosander

From the Phoenix Hide I could see a Mallard flock standing preening on the still vast sheet of ice that covered the Haugh.

I spotted a single foraging Mistle Thrush  in the field just before the Marsh Hide. From the Hide I was pleased to see a drake Shoveler  with Teal and Wigeon (before I could photograph the Wigeon, they were spooked on the appearance of a brightly-clad lady by the hide ). There was also a pair of Goldfinches feeding on Teasel seed heads that are just in front of the Hide.

Mistle Thrush Shoveler
Goldfinch Teal

I made my next visit on Thursday, a much brighter, but much colder day. I retraced Monday’s route, again making my way first through Dalzell Estate. I started my haul of shots on Easter Brae with some pictures of a flock of noisy Jackdaws that were flying high above my head. Just before the metal gate, a wee Blue Tit that was resting on a sapling allowed me to snap it as I passed. Near the mouth of the Dalzell Burn I noticed the familiar bright blue and orange plumage of a Kingfisher . It was sitting on a small branch overhanging the burn. Further along the footpath I got a nice shot of a singing Wren that was perched on Hawthorns.

Jackdaw Blue Tit
Kingfisher Wren

I was drawn towards the river by the sound of swans’ wings. Sure enough four Whooper Swans  flew majestically past heading south along the river. 

As I picked my way back to the path I partially disturbed some Bullfinches I hadn’t noticed feeding in the bushes. I was able to photograph the male before he retreated to the other side of the bush. My next sighting was of a Treecreeper slowly working its way up a Hawthorn trunk. This lead me to one of my favourite birds, a Goldcrest . It was moving along the sunlit bank of Hawthorns, flitting between the base of each bush. My wee session with the Goldcrest was interrupted by a flypast of three low-flying Canada Geese. They joined a flock a flock of geese that were already on Low Merryton fields on the other side of the Clyde.

Goldfinch Treecreeper
Goldcrest Canada Goose

Further sightings along that stretch included Great Tit, another Wren and a Long-tailed Tit. And from the Centenary Hide I saw a flock of Lapwings moving indecisively between the hides taking an age to land. Later, as I neared the river bend, unusually, I came upon a Grey Squirrel nibbling something in the thorns. Also, across the river from the Phoenix Hide, four Buzzards were interacting, albeit some 200m away, although one bird circled a bit nearer.

Great Tit Wren
Long-tailed Tit Lapwing
Squirrel Buzzard

The view from the Phoenix Hide shows a large Canada Goose flock on the receding ice sheet. These seem to commute between the Haugh and Low Merryton Fields.

Just before I turned off the Clyde Walkway path as I headed for the Marsh Hide, I watched a welllit Little Grebe diving in the Clyde. Near it was a lovely Mallard. I progressed towards the Marsh Hide and caught the attention of a pair of Blackbirds that were foraging in the leaf litter near its entrance.

Little Grebe Mallard
Female Blackbird Male Blackbird

During my brief visit to the Marsh Hide I finally got a picture of the drake Wigeon I missed on Monday. There were also birds on some newly-appeared feeders - Great Tit and a Blue Tit. On my way back to the car park I was glad to see a pair of Fieldfares eating the last berries off the Hawthorns in the middle of the coo’s field.

Wigeon Blue Tit
Great Tit Fieldfare

Friday was my last visit of the week to the Haugh. The highlight was a fine view of a Redwing that was rummaging in the leaves below trees just off the Clyde Walkway path. I also liked the shot of a drake Mallard that was swimming in the Clyde near the Phoenix Hide.

Redwing Mallard

Below is a wide view of the Haugh that shows the Marsh Hide. From the picture you can see that most of the Haugh was still covered in ice.

I also spotted a Teal and Goldeneye on the Clyde, close and well-lit - just as I like them. I passed a female Kestrel that was perched on a tree close to the river, and soon afterwards, a skein of Pink-footed Geese passing low overhead. They were on-course for the Low Merryton fields favoured by the Canada Geese I’d see earlier in the week.

Teal Goldeneye
Female Kestrel Pink-footed Goose

I had a thrilling week at Barons Haugh and I saw many beautiful birds, but throughout the visits my joy was tempered by my appreciation of the desperate struggles that they were experiencing as they strived for food and warmth. But I suppose that is life

Week ending: 7th February 2021: Baron's Haugh
Strathclyde Country Park Jim's Garden

Tuesday am: RSPB Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell

The skies were grey, the breeze was icy but, unlike the preceding days, it was dry. I spotted some Goldeneye  in the River Clyde as I moved off the Chestnut walk onto the Clyde Walkway. They would usually be on the Haugh but the ice there has probably caused them to opt for the deeper but ice-free river. I also found a pretty cluster of Velvet Shank  fungi on a tree overlooking the river.

Female Goldeneye
Goldeneye Drake Velvet Shank

There were Long-tailed Tits  in the path-side hedgerows. These acrobatic little fliers flit unpredictably between the branches and twigs and present a stiff test for any photographer. I managed a distant shot of a Little Egret that was flying over the river towards the Haugh, and during that shot, a Song Thrush swooped into the undergrowth. I did though manage a sneaky picture as it hid there.

Long-tailed Tit
Little Egret Song Thrush

At the Centenary Hide I watched a large flock of Wigeon  circle the Haugh, no doubt searching for an appropriate landing area of water within the expanses of ice. It couldn’t have been a simple choice as they took an age to settle.

One particular fly-past was close enough to get a fairly detailed photo of the leading birds. Just after the Wigeon had settled on the far side of the Haugh, a Sparrowhawk  flew up from between the reeds. It could have been disposing of a kill. Away from the hide, on the Clyde, a pair of Goosanders were diving in the river that was swelled by a week of rain.

Wigeon Sparrowhawk
Female Goosander Drake Goosander
 From the Phoenix Hide I could see many of the Wigeon that had landed earlier. Around them were Mallards, a few Canada Geese and a couple of Mute Swans.

On the basis of what I saw, I decided that I’d give the Causeway and Marsh Hides a miss. My final view of the river as I made for the path toward the car park was rewarded with a pair of Little Grebe and a close view of a drake Goldeneye. On my ascent of the slope I discovered a Jay  feeding around a mid-field Hawthorn bush. Nearer the car park I had my weekly meeting with the female Kestrel that seems to like perching on the path-side trees.

Little Grebe Goldeneye
Jay Kestrel

Wednesday: Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell

The next day I popped into Strathclyde Park, car par 4, for a wee walk. In the short time I was there I snapped a view of Black-headed Gulls assembled on the ice-covered Loch.

 A Cormorant passed overhead and landed on the Loch. Alas it didn’t catch a fish during the time I viewed it. A Black-headed Gull that was standing on a boulder looked at me no doubt longing for me to throw it bread.

Cormorant Black-headed Gull

Jim’s Garden - progress report:

My quest to attract birds to my garden is showing early signs of success. The Robin that I was lucky to see just one a week, if that, now visits several times daily. The shots below of the Robin were taken as it stood at the other side of my patio door. The odd Starling now visits, bullying the resident House Sparrows away to allow it to gorge the fat-balls in peace. There is a flock of Feral Pigeons in the estate but recently I’ve seen only a few individuals in my garden. This is probably because I have a tray below the seed feeder to collect spillage. Still, there are no Tits or Finches, but I live in hope.

House Sparrow Feral Pigeon

Highlights - FEBRUARY 2021

We present last month’s gallery of my favourite pictures I’ve taken during February 2021. They are not listed in the order they have been taken, but according to a series of themes. I’ve kept commentary to a minimum, preferring to let each picture talk for itself.


Black-headed Gull
Canada Goose Common Gull
Female Goosander Grey Wagtail


Black-headed Gull Black-headed Gull
Black-headed Gull Buzzard
Buzzard Buzzard
Common Gull Female Goosander
Jackdaw Lesser Black-backed Gull
Drake Mallard Sparrowhawk


Canada Goose Drake Goosander
Mute Swan Tufted Duck


Male Blackbird Dunnock
Lesser Black-backed Gull Robin
Robin Robin

Artist's Fungus Scarlet Elf Cup
Velvet Shank Velvet Shank


Male Blackbird Blue Tit
Bullfinch Goldcrest
Goldfinch Great Tit
Kestrel Kingfisher
Nuthatch Wren


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