Monday, 26 November 2012

Three-toed sloths

Just back from a short business trip to Suriname where I had to present some seabird data to a collection of NGO's, oil company executives and Surinamese officials. With the job done I had a spare morning and was invited to the green heritage fund Suriname where a lovely lady called Monique and a group of volunteers take in and care for wild animals that are 'homeless' following the ongoing rainforest destruction around Paramaribo. This is largely due to small-scale slash and burn activities to clear the forest for cattle grazing and to create plots to build homes. Many of the animals are very slow moving three-toed sloths- especially orphaned babies that are taken to the centre after being found in felled areas of forest and that have lost their mothers during the panic associated with fleeing areas of burning trees. Other animals taken in include lesser and giant ant eaters. The animals are usually very traumatised upon arrival but quickly respond to gentle handling and being fed goats milk from a pipette. Many animals are re-released into secure areas of forest following varying degrees of rehab. It was a real privilege to assist Monique and her volunteers and get some 'hands on' experience of these endearing animals. A very special experience for me and also a big reality check concerning yet another low-budget volunteer set-up that is trying to protect endangered fauna. What a lesser world it would be without such dedicated people! If you win the lottery you can always donate online to this lesser-known organisation that also does great work looking out for the local river dolphins and bird life.

what a smile!

me- holding the baby!!

just lovely!

baby 'Lola'

once weaned the youngsters start on leaves
lesser ant eater

photo credits- Marijke Deboer.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Wonderful waxwings

The influx continues with a conservative count of 600 birds in a single flock of waxwings today. I suppose most birders have caught up with them already this autumn unless in the very south of the British isles. Although not particular scarce during influx years I find them incredibly captivating so make no apology for posting further photos. of todays birds.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

King eider

Have not seen the sun on the north west coast for 5 or 6 days and the rain has been rather persistent so I felt the need to travel to the east coast to catch up with some sun and a few good birds. Dropped in to pick up Marcus Conway (ebirder) enroute, then headed on to Burghead where the semi- resident king eider has been seen on and off in recent times. I last saw what was presumably the same bird in December 2010 just off the point. On arrival we made a quick check of the inner harbour but the bird was not there on this occasion. Shortly after checking a few flocks of eider from near the point Marcus was quickly on the bird amongst the main flock some 500 metres east of us and just north of the 'maltings'. We quickly relocated and enjoyed some nice views of the bird- although still showing some evidence of his 'eclipse' plumage he is still a cracking bird. Fortunately as the tide was high the bird was within a couple of hundred metres for most of our encounter. (and the sun came out!).

the 'King'

The Moray firth always seems to hold good numbers of birds and we also enjoyed seeing a little auk, common and velvet scoter, long-tailed duck, red-throated divers as well as a few knot, redshank and turnstone.
long-tailed duck
common scoter

Sunday, 4 November 2012


There appear to be signs that it could be an 'influx year' for these charming visitors. Having watched the growing number of reports on 'Rare Bird Alert' concerning these beautiful birds over the full length of the British isles,  I finally found 18 birds on the local golf course yesterday and was treated to at least 75 birds around the village this morning- guaranteed to brighten up anyones autumnal birding day! Let's hope an invasion of nutcrackers and two-barred crossbills follow!