David Adam Gallery
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So, Mike Groves and I have been out adventuring for two days now in the Angus glens checking on Merlin fledglings and Golden Eagles (under licence) in a post lock-down squeeze to monitor breeding success ..... yet I am constantly thinking of snakes in the grass and creepy-crawly blood suckers as a divergence from raptor study ...... emm, raptor study, snakes in the grass and blood suckers all seem to group together to ring bells from the nefarious, slander soiled past offered up by some local raptor study group members
Anyway, Mike has worked relentlessly to obtain his licence to monitor Merlin, Hen Harrier and Golden Eagle through conscientious hard work and the drive to walk miles in exploration to find new breeding sites for raptors in Angus. I am proud to say that one new site has now been added to the breeding list for Merlin after I came across a male Merlin defending territory against a Golden Eagle earlier this year.
Merlin fledglings are now flying well at most Angus sites with their dispersal into the big, bad world close at hand but parent birds are still catering for the increasingly adventurous juveniles. The young falcons tend to group together for the first days after leaving the nest, then slowly their ability to maneuver air around feathers increases until independent departure of the natal area is tempted. Fate is tempted, for only a small number will survive their first winter.
Below a shady Rowan tree we find the plucked and stripped carcass of a young crow that has probably been taken by one of three Golden Eagles seen today. Eagles will eat anything that crawls, flies or indeed swims this amazing Earth of ours; Badger, Red Fox, Water Vole, Rabbit, Salmon, Roe or Red Deer, Mountain Hare and, of course, the Red Grouse forms the staple diet when eagles are feeding their chicks. I mind investigating one eyrie (out of breeding season) many years ago to find a neat stash of grouse wings stuffed around the back of the eyrie.
The crow had been plucked by a raptor and gauging by the amount of grey feathers mixed in with black I am guessing that this crow may have been a hybrid between the all black Carrion and the half grey Hooded, as I have seen the odd Carrion with grey patches of plumage in this area. Some of the feathers are at the pin stage of development which means that they are still in the quill growth sheath indicating a juvenile or a moulting bird.
The Tick population in this glen area must be enormous this year as I have never seen so many cling to my trouser bottoms as I trudged through heather or grass. Time was consumed in picking off hundreds of nymphs every fifty paces, or so, along a deer track and I can only surmise that most deer, hare and grouse on this moor are covered in the wee blood suckers that can vector Lyme disease in humans and Louping Ill in hare and grouse. As I have experienced, fenced grouse moor shooting estates with no deer have substantially fewer Ticks and, consequently, many more grouse.
On day one of our Merlin counting the weather was untypical of July with foul sleet showers ending in frozen hands, wind beaten eyes and a bashed moral but day two gave us reasonable weather while lowland areas, from hence we came, were drenched in stormy cloud bursts that washed thundery grey over the land ..... Scotland always lives up to its reputation for grandstand weather.
Full blog at davidadamsketchbook