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Post Info TOPIC: Scotland trip


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RE: Scotland trip


Originally posted today by Dave Ousey:

03/07/16

The arrival of post breeding birds back into the country is always an exciting time for us birders, so when an American White Winged Scoter was seen in Aberdeenshire it was time to gather the troops. With my friends from over the border in Yorkshire being "up for it" and no real response from the regular A Teamers a trip was arranged for Saturday night. We met in York and with Darren W, Nigel S and organiser in chief Mark K set off north. With the A1 being subject to-night closures a trip up the A19 was planned then across country to Edinburgh. We passed over the Forth Bridge and marvelled at the new bridge being built along side the old one. We pressed on through Aberdeen and soon found our way to the Blackdog area, then apart from a couple of wrong turnings (yes I know blame me) we headed down to the golf clubhouse at Murcar. It was just 4-30am as we all donned our waterproof`s, gloves and wooly hats (well it is July) and headed out to the dunes overlooking the sea. The four of us found what has been the regular watching area, which is raised with a good view over the sea. The weather and conditions were perfect, flat calm sea, next to no wind and overcast skies. We all began to search through the 500 or so scoter flock and all noticed a bird with very large white patches on both wings, this must be our American White Winged Scoter? The bird was given a good-looking at and we saw:that its bill was pinkish towards the last third, it had brown flanks, it had white facial patches around and behind its eyes, the white wings showed at rest and were much more obvious as the bird dived or preened. It tended to always be in the company of Velvet Scoters against which it appeared slightly larger. We enjoyed the bird for over an hour and also saw:- Eider, Red Throated Divers (are you sure Mark) and lots of passing terns. We had all got a new British species, it was well worth the effort.

We went up to the Ythan Estuary (Newburgh) to see the breeding plumaged King Eider, but guess what? it could not be found. The seals made up for it though and lots of terns, 200+ what a cracking estuary this is, so undisturbed. We tried to locate the American Wigeon also, but without any joy. At Blackdog another search through the massive Eider flock was fruitless.

Setting off south to Loch of Lowes, near Dunkeld at around 9am, we called in for petrol in Aberdeen. What fun that was, we could not find a petrol station, until one finally gave itself up! The drive over the A & B roads was a little unusual to say the least but, we made it. We made our way to the main hide/center and found out it was 4-00 each to get in, what happened next?? (answers on a postcard) We sought out another viewing opportunity and after all agreeing that a stain on a distant tree was an Osprey, Nigel S got his scope and found the real Osprey, well we were tired.

A call into Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, along the sea wall did not reveal the hoped for Surf Scoter, but an unusual amount off moulting Red Breasted Merganser`s were watched with still more Eiders in various stages of moult.

Of we went again down the A1 on a beautiful day enjoying this picturesque road on a fairly quiet day for traffic. We were heading for the River Wansbeck (of Red Necked Stint fame) to try to catch up with a Bonaparte`s Gull. We got to Ashington and had to pass through a caravan site and walk down to the beach and estuary.We had a good look for the bird but could not find it. We decided to head for home after a very long day`s birding. We had all seen a new bird for Britain but had been unlucky with the supporting cast. We headed for home, which I reached at 8-00pm. What a brilliant day out with great company.
Dave O.




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27-01-2015 ABERDEEN

Riggers collected me from Werneth at 12.30 a.m. and we arrived at Seaton Park in Aberdeen about 6 hours later. At first light we went looking for the 1st winter drake Harlequin at the regular site near the toilet block. A scan of the weir there and the stretch immediately upstream was fruitless, so we headed downstream towards the point a local contact had told us he was sometimes seen. En route we flushed an Otter, which amused us by swimming backwards nonchalantly finishing off its' fishy breakfast. Shortly after Riggers spotted our target on rocks close in to the bank, about 500 yards from the weir. We then spent the next two hours watching him fish, preen and pose, with the bird passing within about 5 yards of us as it worked the eastern side of the river over a length of about 50 yards, accompanied from time to time by a singing Dipper perched within a couple of yards of us. Eventually another birder arrived and we headed back to the car. Apparently the bird flew off upstream shortly afterwards and doesn't appear to have been reported for the rest of the day. The only time the bird seemed to show any concern was when we had a further sighting of an Otter on the far bank. As it trotted and swam past the Harlequin moved from the middle of the river to perch on the nearside rocks, where it watched the Otter out of sight. We reckoned on about 6 Dippers in total, together with 7 Goldeneye, 2 Goosander (min), 2 Grey Herons, 2 Grey Wagtails and the usual assortment of parkland birds, including singles of Lapwing, Redshank and Oystercatcherbiggrin

Spent the rest of the day touring Aberdeen and the surrounding countryside, before heading home early afternoon. The American Wigeon at Loch Miekle eluded us, despite a thorough scanning of the large flock of its' Eurasian cousins, but we had a good "run up the coast" as my local birder friend calls it.

-- Edited by Mike Chorley on Wednesday 28th of January 2015 12:01:51 AM

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It's taking a while to get this trip written up in full, but here's a late report from our final day (Saturday 7th April) in Speyside and Aberdeenshire.

After finally tracking down a Crested Tit (see Cairngorms thread) at Grantown-on-Spey, we headed up to the coast at Portsoy (via a distillery or two). Unfortunately our target bird, a White-Billed Diver wasn't on show - a local birder told us that several of birds have been seen along this stretch of coastline throughout the winter.
However, the supporting cast wasn't bad:
20-25 Long-Tailed Duck
Full summer plumage Red-Throated Divers
3 Shag
Lots of Eider
Redshank
Turnstone
Rock Pipit

We then headed along the coast to RSPB Loch of Strathbeg for the Greater Yellowlegs. Once again, the star bird wasn't on show, but we did have -
A very silvery Peregrine hunting over the marsh
Merlin being mobbed by crows
Black-Tailed Godwit
Wigeon
Gadwall
Teal
Reed Bunting
Linnet
As we were leaving the reserve a Short-Eared Owl ghosted across the road in front of the car

Finally, we stopped of at the mouth of the Ythan at Newburgh:
Several hundred Eider (we weren't able to pick out the King Eider that was apparently there - the driving rain made for very poor visibility).
10-15 Red Breasted Mergansers
Curlew
Redshank
Ringed Plover
Sanderling
Common Gull
Skylark

A great few days spent in Scotland, with a total trip list of 87 species and 3 lifers for me.

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Returned last night from a wonderful weekend trip to the Scottish Highlands with my friend, our first trip there since 2008.

We based ourselves at The Boathouse B&B in Boat of Garten (highly recommended) and headed for Loch Garten first thing on Saturday morning.

A Tawny Owl was heard calling from the car park and a quick check of the feeders produced a few Coal Tits and a Red Squirrel.

We decided to have a walk down to Loch Mallachie to search for Crested Tit and within a few minutes we heard one calling. After a bit of searching, we managed to get onto the bird and got great views as it fed in a small conifer alongside the Loch. A great start to the day!!! biggrin.gif

On the Loch were Pink Feet, Goldeneye and Greylag and back at Loch Garten were Great Spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper amongst others.

As the weather was looking really good (Sunny, clear skies and no wind) we decided that a walk up Cairngorm to look for Ptarmigan was in order.

A fifteen minute drive and we were soon at the lower car park and onto the courtesy bus to the upper car park with bins, scopes, walking boots and rucksacks all in order.

After over an hour's hike up to the top (it seemed much longer!!), we started scanning the boulders above the snow line.

No signs at first but then all of a sudden, we heard a Ptarmigan calling away. Another scan of the boulders and my friend pointed out a Male and then a female sat amongst the boulders feeding away.

We watched them for over an hour and managed to find 3 males and 2 females in total all in their pure white winter plumage. Brilliant!! biggrin.gif

On Sunday after a fantastic Scottish Breakfast, we decided to have a walk round the woods behind the B&B in Boat of Garten.

The woods were quiet unfortunately due to the lovely morning sunshine bringing the local dog-walkers out in force.

I decided therefore that we had a quick check of the Community Centre feeders just down the road in Boat of Garten and almost immediately a Crested Tit was seen.

We positoned ourselves quietly in front of the feeders and waited and the Crestie appeared on numerous occasions giving spectacular views down to 10 feet away and some great photos were taken. biggrin.gif

Nice to also meet Allan Bantick who was passing by. We had a really interesting chat about Crested Tits which he covered a few years back on BBC Springwatch.

We then headed for Burghead Bay where we saw Long-Tailed Duck, Guillemot, Razerbill, Red Breasted Merganser, Goldneye, Eider, Common Scoter, Red Throated Diver and 2 Hooded Crows (en-route in a Corvid flock)

On our way back for the last hour of the day we stopped off at Findhorn Valley and saw Peregrine, 2 Ravens, Buzzard and a Leucistic Oystercatcher amongst a flock feeding on the river. Also seen there were Mountain Hare and Red Deer.

A great weekend and looking forward to returning!!! biggrin.gif







-- Edited by Phil Owen on Monday 7th of March 2011 08:45:42 AM

-- Edited by Phil Owen on Monday 7th of March 2011 09:07:13 AM

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Stayed just out side Fort William at glen loy brill place to stay pine martins feeding every night in the front garden along with siskins and crossbills.
A walk down glen loy produced golden eagle,winchat,stonechat,dipper and buzzard plus the more common birds pipits,willow warblers,linnets etc.
We got the snow buntings on the top of Ben Nevis which was definately the hardest bird to get on the holiday,nice in full summer plumage and still some snow on top of the Ben even in august and what a viewbiggrin.gif.
Ospreys on loch lochy and a cracking summer plumage black throated diver.
The road to Mallaig was superb passing through Glenfinnan famed for Bonny Prince Charlie and Harry Potter and scotch argus butterflies everywhere.
We took the ferry across corran and then lochaline to finnish onto the isle of Mull.
The birds were brilliant and the scenery was spectcular.
We didnt get bit by the midges avons skin so soft oil works a treatbiggrin.gif




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Dean Macdonald wrote:


Hang on Ian, 7 day holiday, first and last days travelling and 5 days birding!
Sounds like a full blown birding holiday to mewink.gifbiggrin.gif

Cheers Dean.






Sssshhhh.........whisper.gif I know that, and you know that, but don`t tell Ellie-birder wink.gif

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Hang on Ian, 7 day holiday, first and last days travelling and 5 days birding!
Sounds like a full blown birding holiday to mewink.gifbiggrin.gif

Cheers Dean.

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6th - 13th June `09

Spent a week in the Scottish Borders, and although not a full-blown Birding Holiday, SHE-who-must-be-obeyed allowed me five days mooching, (I paid for it shopping-wise on the other days mind you no.gif !).
By far the best days were a walk along St Abb`s Head where all the cliff-nesters were to be seen at close quarters - Fulmar, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot, Shag, plus nesting Ravens and a pair of Rock Pipits, and Gannets off-shore. Redstart in the farm near to the parking area.
Also took a boat trip from North Berwick around Bass Rock & Craigleith to see the Gannet colony - this is no exaggeration to say that it was one of the best birding experiences I have ever had ! Upon nearing Bass Rock the Gannets are literally swarming overhead, diving in the water perhaps 30ft from the boat - coupled with this, the ever present Fulmars, Auks & Kittiwakes are buzzing around the boat and it is truly mesmerizing. Closer to the rock the noise is deafening, with all available ledges crammed with different species vying for space. Two Peregrines were perched on the lighthouse but these were literally dwarfed by the Gannets. Craigleith island was more quieter and this was where the Puffins nested.
If anyone ever finds themselves in the area (and it`s not that far from north Northumberland) you have got to do this boat trip !

Spent one morning at Hirsel Country Estate near Coldstream, and had Spotted Flycatchers and Redstarts, plus the ubiquitous Buzzards.
Also noted how common Yellowhammers are up here.....

On the way home(ish) we called in at Bellymack Hill Farm near Laurieston (Dumf & Gall) to the Red Kite feeding station. We were last here 5 years ago and the numbers have definitely increased - 30 odd Kites were in the air at once this time ! The most bizzare sight though was a handful of Kites swooping down into the farm`s garden to take chicken heads off the bird tray..........beltin !

(Forgot to mention - Barn Owl IN the garden of the cottage we stayed in, near Duns.)

So, not an area of Scotland well known for birding, the Borders region was nevertheless well worth a holiday........

-- Edited by Ian Woosey on Sunday 14th of June 2009 12:21:38 PM

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Great report Steve and your pictures are very good especialy the red Kites .biggrin.gif

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Just back from my Scotland trip, with a sun tan !!!

Started of at Loch of the Lowes to see the Ospreys, few little & Greater crested grebes about.

then up to Aviemore area, Loch Insh proved good spot to watch Ospreys fishing.
Peregrine up at loch Einich. Two families of golden eye also on Loch Insh.
Day trip up the Findhorn Valley, drove the 10 miles up to the carpark, Cuckoo about lower down. Then got the mountain bike out and rode 9.6 miles up the Valley until I couldnt go any further, no signs of any goldies on the way up, but one very high view on the way back down about 5 miles from the car park.
Last day in Aviemore spent at the fish farm waiting for Osprey to fish and catch it on camera, 3 Ospreys over head for hours, 4 hour wait and 10 mins before farm shut one came in 50 yards in front of me and caught a fish, caught on camera but auto focus went abit, worth the wait. No clouds spotted! Crest tit spotted near Loch gemhna. After four and half days in Aviemore area its was over to Mull.

Straight down to Grasspoint to see WTE's one over. had 5 days on Mull, Goldies still down near Loch Na Keal, Hen Harrier near Loch Buie also Merlin. Had a WTE over my tent one evening at Craignure campsite. Got lucky on last day, tip off, RSPB were tagging WTE chicks at undissclosed site, stood on tarmac road and watched the adults over head very low while their young where tagged. Great views. Black throated diver at Loch spelve. Sadly no owls. great week biking and birding with 10 days of sunshine and good temps, even went swimming in Loch Morlich one day to cool off.

Had one day down a Aberfoyle on the way home, goods sightings on Peregrines, good shot of 1st year adult next to village.

Sadly never made it down to Galoway area but will be visiting thier over next couple of weeks.

****** HELP, if you were the person who emailed me about the Galoway area last week please get in touch, I have lost your email, sorry.


New pics on website


-- Edited by Steve Johnson on Monday 8th of June 2009 08:36:55 PM

-- Edited by Steve Johnson on Monday 8th of June 2009 08:38:28 PM

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Steve,

I've been going up to Loch Ken for the last 15 years its a fantastic area for wildlife of all kinds. Check these places out: -

Red Kite feeding station at Laurieston - excellent up close views of the birds feeding.
RSPB reserve at Ken Dee marshes
Raiders Road - A 10 mile track through Galloway forest - stunning scenery.
Clatteringshaws Loch - Just up the road from Loch Ken - visitors centre and notice board of recent sightings.

Enjoy your trip.biggrin.gif

Nick

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RE: Scotland trip May / June 09


Hello,
I am off to Scotland next week, looking for any tips for good hotspots that I might not know about and would be worth a visit. 9th year on the trot.

Starting at Loch of the Lowes day 1 (Ospreys)

Then up to Aviemore day 2 - 6 (Ospreys etc) will be visiting Loch Insh, Loch Garton (4am and daytime), AM visits to the Aviemore fish farm, doing a walk up the Findhorn valley, walking up Caringorm Mtn, mountain bike to up Loch Einich back down around Morlich.

Then to Mull, via Fort William day 7 - 11 (6th time visited)
Know most of the best places to visit, Loch Don, Frisa, Ba. Walking NW coast of Loch Buie. Riding down to Loch na Keal. (if sunny). Never really spent much time on the Ross of Mull or Glen More forest.

Finally travelling to Galloway Day 11 - 14. Never visited this area, staying at Loch Ken.
any inside tips most welcome.

Would love to get some shots of Goshawks and Harriers. Dipped out at the Forest of Dean last year, (rained and rained).

Any tips welcome, please reply or send to sjwildlife@ntlworld.com

Many thanks
Steve

Hope to post a good list of sightings upon my return.



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RE: Scotland trip


i was waiting for that, andybiggrin.gif i'll try belching for them next time! dont know what the problem is with the crossbills but im suprised there arn't more scottish birders at binn green. my avatar was taken before breakfast on the banks of loch morlich. what a place.smile.gif

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I notice you say crossbills were thin on the ground. I was up there last spring and was told they were 'as rare as hen's teeth this year', and that they had moved further north (there is not a lot of north beyond Loch Garten). Is there a problem with them I wonder? Also, sorry but I canit resist this joke. You've tried trumpen for corncrakes?! I never knew they responded to that kind of noise. Groan!!!

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That's where we went as well, good habitat but none calling - not surprising really. Need to go back late in the evening!

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we tried trumpen for the corncrakes but couldnt hear any there. the area around uig is said to be productive but we ran out of timecry.gif

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Yes there are corncrake on Skye, went last week in the forlorn hope of heaqring one during the day to no avail. PM me if you need to know where they are.
I had a week in Speyside last week, met Phil Owen up there - he told me about this forum.
Had much the same species, in total over 110. Also missed out on cresties but did hear them. Struggled for eagles, none seen on Syke. Other raptors excellent though. A wonderful week, great weather. Bird of the week was a Ring Ouzel in amazing light conditions at Layby 151.


Phil

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Hi Mark. It might be best to just inform the county recorder on that one.
Sounds like you had a really good trip. Do they get any Corncrake on Skye?
Thanks. Henry.

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Scotland


loch of lowes- nesting ospreys.
loch insh- nesting ospreys and reeling grasshopper warb.
loch garten and surrounding area- capercaillie, crested tit (just the onebiggrin.gif), roding woodcock, tawny owls, sand martins, bull finches, goosanders, lekking black grouse, wood ants, common lizard, wigeon.
cairngorm- 2 ptarmigan (most of snow gone), singing ring-ouzels, red grouse, 9 lekking black grouse.
loch vaa- slavonian grebe.
findhorn valley- pair of peregrines and ravens mobbing a golden eagle, red deer herd, common tern.
everywhere- wheatears, redstarts, cuckoos, greylags, common gulls, tree pipits, common sandpipers, goldeneye, mergansers, siskins, willow warbs, buzzards, red squirrels (almost wrapped the car round a scots pine swerving to miss one crossing the roadashamed.gif), roe deer, hares.
skye- hooded crows, 5 summer-plumaged great northern divers, black-throated diver, singing whinchat, 3 sea eagles and nest, guillimots, black guillimots, razor bills, puffins, eiders and a stoat.
the highlight of my trip was taking a walk in the abernethy area and coming across a wryneck in suitable habitat, singing constantly around his territory! not sure what to do (if anything) with this infomation, as i gather they are believed to be extinct as a british breeder. i know that surpression is the biggest swear-word in birding, but it is already a sensitive area and harmful disturbance seems highly likely.
am i over-reacting; are they more common up there?confused.gif i'd be really interested if any-one knows

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Tuesday 10th of April 2012 01:55:17 PM

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Scotland trip


Just returned from Carrbridge where we based ourselves for the weekend.

Capercaillie at the Caper watch at Loch Garten.
Red Throated Diver at Loch Ruthven
Slavonian Grebe at Loch Ruthen
Black Grouse at Tulloch Moor
Osprey - Loch of the Lowes/ Loch Garten amongst others

No Black Throated Diver on Lochindorb despite two attempts.

Crossbills of any sort are very thin on the ground up there at the moment (only managed to speak to one birder who had seen them!!)

Ptarmigan - impossible due to snow/ weather conditions on Cairngorms. Even the skiers were still there!!!

Unfortunately last but not least, dipped Crested Tit THREE times by less than a minute on the feeders. May have got a very fleeting glimpse of one but not counting it.

Hung around the feeders for over 3 hours per day and each time I moved away for a couple of minutes, they were there!!

In the woods themselves around Loch Garten/Loch Mallachie they were very elusive as they were breeding.

Never mind, gives me a good excuse to go back.

A wonderful place to visit!!

Phil




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