Sunday, 18 January 2015

Winter Activities in Strathclyde Park, Motherwell

The cold weather has replaced the gale-force winds we experienced last week and there was quite a bit of snow and ice about. However, we had lovely winter sunshine and the park was very busy - some children even brought their sledges to play on.

The loch had some ice around the sides which had been broken up by the park rangers to prevent people trying to walk on it. 

Outside the Watersports Centre
There were quite a number of birds on the loch but no rare ones - just the usual Mute Swans, Mallard ducks, Black-headed Gulls and Greylag Geese. We took some photographs of the birds as we walked along.

It was great to get out into the wonderful sunshine as we have not had much of it for a few weeks.  It was a bit slippy underfoot but we had taken our ice grippers with us - the ones which attach onto the soles of shoes. These were very good and stopped us slipping. 

Outside the Watersports Centre
The 'Beach'

Further round at the 'beach' there were some more birds. Many birds congregate here because there is a car parking and children's play area so it is a usually a busy place.  

The 'Beach'
Mute Swan
The Mute swan above was very tame. It had a feather on it's beak!

Mute Swan
Ice on Strathclyde loch
The ice around the edge of the loch can be seen in the photograph above.

Ice on Strathclyde loch
Making Bird Nesting Boxes

After our walk we went to the boathouse to build a nesting box for the birds. The park rangers were organising this and all the equipment was provided for us. We made a Blue-tit and a Robin nesting boxes. 

Ready to start making the nesting box
Nails are inserted
The boxes are made by putting in some nails to the sides then adding the roof and the bottom.

The bottom of the nesting box
Blue-tit box
The Blue-tit box can be lifted off for cleaning after the nesting season is complete. In the photograph above a small wire is used to secure the roof to stop it blowing off in the wind.

Robin Nesting Box

Making the Robin nesting box
The end results.
It was a good day out and we also got a good walk in the park and also made the nesting boxes.

Further Information

Strathclyde Country Park

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Winter Birds at Baron's Haugh, Motherwell

It has been quite mild here, if a little wet. However, today, the sun was shining and it looked a perfect day for a spot of bird-watching. 

I walked to Baron's Haugh and caught up with a few of my birding friends who were in the Marsh hide. There was not much to see from this hide, so we decided to go to the next one - the Causeway hide. 

This was much better as there were a lot more birds to see, including a large number of Teals. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind some dark clouds and the light became quite poor.

A couple from Linlithgow were visiting for the first time today and were impressed with the numbers of birds in the area. They had been at Loch Leven the day before and were wrapping up the long Christmas break with a visit to Motherwell.

Below are some photographs I took through my scope, although the poor light has not been strong enough to bring out the nice colours of the birds. Click on them to enlarge. 

Teals are small dabbling ducks. The Males have chestnut coloured heads with broad green eye-patches, while the females are mottled brown. In winter they congregate in wetlands and many have come from the Baltic and Siberia. 
Male Goldeneye
Goldeneye are winter visitors. The males have a dark green head with a distinctive white circle under the eyes. The females have a brown head. The bird above was by itself and there were no other Goldeneye with him. 
Juvenile mute Swan
In Springtime we watched the adult swans building their nest and the bird above has successfully reached its first winter. It still has some of the dull juvenile feathers remaining, but they will soon be replaced by white ones. The beak is still a grey colour and it will soon become a bright orange one.
Adult Male Swan
In the picture above, the mute swan has a pair of Gadwall in front of him and just above his head with the brown and white wings is a Shoveller. 

By about 2.00pm the light was fading fast so it was time to call it a day and go home.