Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Birding at Bass rock

After a 45 minute train ride from Edinburgh to North Berwick in scotland, we walked to the Scottish Seabird Center. At the center, we had to get in line fast to get tickets or we would have to wait for the next boat trip to Bass Rock. We did get tickets but after that we had to get good seats on the boat or we would have to stand up to take pictures and not stay in our seats.  Once we got to our first stop, not Bass Rock but a small little island with a lot of puffins. Most of them were in the water but some of them were inside there burrows with the chicks. Puffins do make nests but not on top of the ground.  The puffins were amazing. They dig burrows underground and lay there eggs there instead of above ground. We circled the island once and then we headed to Bass Rock.

Atlantic Puffin just taking off.

On our way to Bass rock,we knew when we were getting close because thousands of Gannets started to fly over our heads.  When we first saw Bass Rock from far away, it looked white because there were so many Gannets close together. When we got closer, Bass rock looked white but now we could see the Gannets up close. We got super close. Now instead of just a few Gannets flying over our heads,  there were thousands. There were so many, the sky was white! Most of the Gannets were on Bass Rock. The Gannets were so loud, it sounded like I was behind a fighter jet about to take off. I was super excited. Sadly, the chicks have only a few days to learn how to swim and dive or they will starve because soon after they hatch, the parents will stop catching fish for the chick. There were some Gannets mating with each other. I did not stop clicking the shutter on my camera until we were
speeding off back to the seabird center. My fingers were so tired, I thought they would fall off!

 Close up of a Northern Gannet's six-foot wing span.
I loved the trip because the Gannets are so big and it seemed as if you could almost touch them. They were so close.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Birding at Ribble Reserve

We just completed our first trip of the summer of 2019.

It turned out it was going to be way more different then we first planned it to be.

We went to the UK and did some great birding. 
Our first reserve was Hesketh Outmarsh at Ribbles Reserve in England and our destination was Bass Rock in Scotland.

 Ribbles Reserve was wet and green with fresh air and birds everywhere, and I immediately knew we were somewhere much more lush than barren Saudi Arabia. On our right side was farmland.  The farmlands were basically fields of soil with rows and rows of green plants and vegetables. On our left side was mud and there were pools of water scattered about. The air was cold, damp and moist. Eurasian Skylarks would fly up out of the grass and hover up to about 60 feet up in the air and stay there for about 4 minutes and then hover down tweeting incessantly.  It was like being in the Amazon Rain Forest because it was moist, misty, and damp. My mom and I walked down to one of the marshes and saw a few birds such as: 4 common Shelducks, 2 Pied Avocets, and 2 Eurasian Oystercatchers. 

Pied Avocet wading and looking for aquatic insects.

After our observations at Hesketh Outmarsh, we took a short drive to the mud flats by the sea and the ecosystem had changed significantly. 

Once again there were skylarks, but this time they sounded like they were coming from every direction. It sounded like a symphony of tweeting occasionally imitating a Barn Swallow or a Green Plover and we estimated there were about 55 Sky Larks. My mom was super excited. She kept saying how many and how loud they were. The scenery had changed a lot. Now it was muddy flats with nothing but mud until the shore. There the mud was almost like quick sand. In Manchester my sister and I got wellies, and I was waiting for an opportunity to wear them. When I was out exploring on the shoreline, it was a good thing I had them because I got stuck in mud and could not get out. My dad did not have any wellies, but he yelled instructions at me like he always does to get out. Finally I did and I carefully walked back to safe ground. On our walk back we saw more Skylarks and my mom was still just as excited as she was at the beginning of the walk!

Eurasian Skylark hovering overhead.

My boots were so caked with mud that I had to stomp like a soldier back to our car.

Please stay tuned for my next post about our visit to Bass Rock in Scotland!