Welcome to my blog. I'm an outdoor writer and photographer with a passion for wilderness and mountains. Use the links above to find out more about me and my books and walks. Click on a blog heading to see any comments or to add your own. -Chris Townsend

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Rare Visitor to the Bird Feeders

Jays are scarce in Northern Scotland so I was both surprised and delighted when my partner told me she'd seen one on a seed tray. Later the bird returned and I was able to take some photographs. It stayed for fifteen minutes or so. Jays are beautiful birds, though they have a very harsh call, and I'd be very pleased to see them more often. They are slowly becoming more common in the Highlands.

The Scottish Bird Report online for Highland 2007 says jays are a "scarce but increasing breeder" and notes for autumn/winter sightings "birds were reported from 10 sites in Badenoch & Strathspey". Roy Dennis's The Birds of Badenoch and Strathspey, published in 1995, says there were just four sightings in the district after 1985 so jays are clearly spreading in this area but still quite unusual.


  1. When I was young my Nan instilled in me a love for wild birds. I can remember her having an early edition Collins 'A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe'. Ensconced within were several bird feathers in the appropriate pages. On the page with the jay was a boldly patterned bright blue feather from a jay's wing. I never saw one myself when I lived in the south of England and always marveled at how rare and magical the Jay must be.

    Now living in Norway I see jays on a weekly basis, when out riding or walking through the forests at the weekends. The flash of blue as they fly through the trees always transports me instantly to my childhood and the feel and smell of that old Collins field guide and my Nan's gentle voice.

  2. They're a nice looking bird but they are very competitive for food and might further add to the pressure on the red squirrel population if their numbers spiral. We see them now in quite large numbers; a few years back they were a relative rarity. I've seen a pair of jays quite aggressively confront a drifting buzzard.

  3. We were at a holiday cottage in Strath Fillan last week and they were a constant visitor in the garden. Here in Leicestershire where there are lots of oaks and acorns, I often see them, most characteristically hearing their call and seeing a flash of blue as they fly away.

  4. I've seen the odd jay around Inverness in the last two years. There were none in the five years before that. Perhaps they are extending their range north in response to climate change?

  5. This might explain your jays:


  6. I was interested to see a jay mobbing a buzzard in Daviot wood just outside Inverness last night. I have often heard them on Ord Hill but this is the time I've seen one so far north.