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Post Info TOPIC: Cairngorms


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RE: Cairngorms


Stayed local on last day of the holiday. Spent all our time in the ancient Caledonian forest. First we checked a site we were tipped off about for Crested Tits. After 3 hours and only a Spotted Flycatcher to show for it we decided to go back to our tried and trusted area. Here we had a wee Crestie within 2 minutes!! It showed really well & reckon we'll stick with our area in future. Also here was a Treecreeper feeding young, very nice to watch, a real privilege.

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Another day of our holiday. We started in the Findhorn Valley where within half an hour we saw an immature Golden Eagle. Nearby we had a Red Kite too. Also here were a Curlew and a family of Grey Wagtails. Later on at Loch Bran a Highlands rarity was seen, a Red-legged Partridge with a single chick. Down the road at Loch Ruthven we only had 2 Slavonian Grebes, not a good year at all.

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The first day up in the Scottish Highlands with our pals who have now joined us here. In Abernethy Forest at several sites we recorded Crested Tit, Common Crossbill, Treecreeper, Siskin and breeding Goldeneye. Later we revisited the local Slavonian Grebes, 2 chicks still surviving. Also we called in at the Loch Insh Ospreys and could see an adult with two chicks in the nest.

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A quieter day here up north in the middle of the day but good start and end! Started off checking a Loch in the area that is known for the species and soon saw an adult Slavonian Grebe with 2 young. Also present were a female Goldeneye with 2 ducklings. Lots of Siskins were about too. A quiet few hours were spent at Findhorn Valley next, with only Peregrine of note here. Finally a short stint in Abernethy Forest produced sightings of 2 Crested Tits and 2 juv 'Scottish' Crossbills (depends whether you count these as this species or Parrot!).

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First full day of our Scottish Highlands holiday and a trip to two areas. First up Station Road in Carrbridge where we saw our first Spotted Flycatchers of the year, a pair in the lichen covered trees by the road. Further up in fields by the river were breeding plumaged Golden Plovers, very nice. Then we headed to a Black-throated Diver breeding site and saw two adults and two young. Also here were Red Grouse, Common Sandpiper, Stonechat, Lapwing and the incredible sight of a single flock containing over 1500 Greylag Geese out on the Loch. The only downside was that despite being a breeding site for this protected species there were fishermen in the water, families with rubber boats, blokes camping and snorkelling and dogs being excercised in the water, all disturbance that cannot help the divers!

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Just back from another great trip to this fantastic part of the world. I'll do a trip report and send it to Ian in case he wants to publish it in the trip reports section. The highlights of two and a half days quite intense birding were: Capercaillie (single male showed really well crossing a footpath then sat in the vegetation for 5 mins or so before flying off), Crested Tits - several seen across two sites, Ptarmigan and Snow Buntings on Cairngorm, Red Kite, Golden Eagle, Osprey at Lochindorb (missed the Black-throated Divers that had been showing so well the day before), Wood Warbler and displaying Tree Pipit at Craigellachie NR in Aviemore plus loads of the usual expected species.

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Scotland Trip. 30th March to 2nd April 2018

One of our regulars, has always wanted to see a Ptarmigan, so we decided to visit Scotland over Easter to see some. Our friends in Yorkshire, who visit Scotland every couple of years, also had a trip planned so we joined forces and arranged to meet them. Now as often happens when you plan something, it doesnt work out, as our I still need to see Ptarmigan friend dropped out!

An American White Winged Scoter had been present on the sea near Musselburgh, Edinburgh for around a week. It seemed like a good place to meet as 3 of our party had not seen one before. We left Rochdale at 5am and made good progress along the M6, M74 reaching Musselburgh at around 8-15am. The tide was out and it was cold and a little damp, but undeterred we headed out along the seawall. Only a couple of other birders were present as we began to do a bit of sea watching, we saw: - Common, Surf & Velvet Scoter, Slavonian Grebe, Sandwich Tern, Long Tailed Duck and a few Red Breasted Merganser. As the tide began to come in, a few more birders had arrived and it wasnt long before the American White Winged Scoter was seen in the company of 3 Velvet Scoters. Our friends from Yorkshire had now arrived and we all enjoyed good views of this very rare sea duck. A Ring Necked Duck at Duddingston, Edinburgh was next on our places to call at. The bird was not seen on the lake / loch which was just below Holyrood.

It was time to head for the hills by now and the long, scenic road up to Glenshee just south of Braemar was covered in a couple of hours. Lots of snow means lots of people skiing on the slopes or pistes and there were lots. After we all had wobbled about in the snow for an hour or so we had not seen any Ptarmigan, there were lots of Red Grouse though. We met a skiing instructor who told us that there are quite a few Ptarmigan in the area but they retreat to the tops of the mountain when there are lots of skiers around. He also said, If you wait for the slopes to empty of people the birds will fly down to feed We thanked him and began to wait whilst searching the slopes, it wasn`t long before one of the lads found a couple of birds feeding on the snow covered ground. What cracking birds, its around 30 years since I have seen one and there were two. We all enjoyed our time at Glenshee, but it was getting very cold! We left the area and headed for Grantown on Spey for some well-deserved food then on to our bed and breakfast at Boat of Garten. A long and enjoyable day.

After an early morning stroll looking for Crested Tit, without success, we enjoyed a good breakfast and headed off to the coast. Around 7 White Billed Divers had been present from the quaint harbour walls of Portsoy during the week. We all had a good sea watch but we didn`t see any of our target birds. Gannet, Razorbill, Long Tailed Duck, Glaucous Gull, Kittiwake and Red Throated Divers are always nice to see though. At Burghead we managed to see Black Throated Diver, Eider and lots of gulls. A few of us had a walk to the place where we had seen a Grey Tailed Tattler in 1994, great fun eh? We headed through Elgin & Forres and were soon in Findhorn Valley and our search for Golden Eagle and various other birds of prey began. Upon arrival we saw Peregrine, Hen Harrier & Buzzard within the first 30 minutes, was our luck going to be in? We met a few birders who had seen Golden Eagle about an hour before our arrival. After a good walk and scan at the head of the valley we had no joy. A walk around a forest near Carrbridge didn`t revealed the hoped for Capercaillie. Another take away after a couple of beers rounded the day off very nicely.

A quick look in the forest near Carrbridge again drew a blank in our search for Capercaillie, another good breakfast followed upon our return. We headed up towards Cairngorm on a sunny, mild morning with the possibility of trying to see more Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting in breeding plumage. Unfortunately there were so many people up there that a new plan had to be made. Myself and Bob carried on and went up the mountain on the small funicular railway, the other lads went up the Findhorn Valley and had a good day there managing to see a Golden Eagle and a White Tailed Eagle also, well done lads. We enjoyed the trip up the mountain but it was bird less, back at the bottom of the railway a smart Snow Bunting male was seen. We headed off to watch the Osprey at Loch Garten and visit the feeders on the car park that, lucky for us had a Crested Tit feeding there, what a smart little bird. We watched the single Osprey as it searched the skies waiting for its mate to return, then one of the wardens said that there is a Crested Tit on the feeders by the visitors centre, we dashed out and enjoyed great views of the bird as it helped itself to the peanuts. We called into a couple of lochs and enjoyed the spectacular scenery of the area. Another trip to the fish bar followed by a couple of beers again ended the day off nicely.

With the prospect of the journey home being a snowy one, we got up to find the cars covered in snow, so after breakfast we went to Loch Garten to try to find Crested Tits for the lads. The snow was falling quite heavily by now and a decision to depart was taken. We left our mates from Yorkshire (must do it again soon lads) and headed south on the A9 and the snow stopped, making progress easy. A bit more traffic on the M6 slowed us a little, then as we saw the first mention of Manchester on the road signs the rain started and at times was almost like a monsoon. We reached Rochdale around 5pm having all enjoyed the Easter break.

Dave Ousey.




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Well, I have to say that the Cairngorms ranks as one of the best birding destinations in the UK for me now. Ok less so for migrants, but just for its sheer variety. I managed to get most Scottish specialities including Scottish Crossbill (just need to check the calls I recorded for verification), Ptarmigan, Crested Tit, Golden Eagle and Slavonian Grebe. Loads of Redstarts, Tree Pipits, Siskins, Dipper, breeding Goldeneye etc etc etc. Only downside was I didn't get the biggie - Capercaillie - despite cancelling my trip out to the west coast in favour of staying in the Cairngorms to try to get one. I'll just have to go back next year!! If you haven't ben, I cant recommend it enough. Pity theres a small army of idiots out there who put the reputation of the place at risk by killing off the raptors.

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Great first day. Ptarmigan and Ring Ouzel from the Ptarmigan Cafe on Cairngorm Mountain and Created Tit and Osprey at Abernethy/Loch Garten.

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Eugene Dillon-Hooper wrote:

can anyone reccomend where to go? I am staying in aviemore for the next 3 days and can't decide where to go! Too much choice... Target birds are : crested Tit, Capercaille (if im lucky), crossbill, osprey, Dotterel.

planning on taking the funicular Up the Cairngorm Mountain on tuesday. But would like to take a good pine forest walk and a loch visit!

Any advice appreciated.

Eugene





Eugene
Not sure what your travel arrangements are, whether you have a car or are using public transport, but if I only had 3 days in Aviemore one would be spent up Cairngorm Mountain, one would be spent doing the walk around Loch an Eilein (checking for Crested Tit near the visitor centre and in the trees lining the west side of the loch to the castle and Crossbill to the south of the loch) and the last would be spent at Uath Lochans (just southwest of Feshiebridge, a short bus journey from Aviemore). I would take the red marker path up to the viewpoint (Farleitter Crag). Scan the surrounding mountain tops for eagle. One of my favourite views on a clear day. You should get Crested Tit on this walk and poss Crossbill (which species is a different question!) from the wooden walkways around the lochans.
I dont think I've been at this time of year (my visits have always been within school holiday periods) so not sure of your chances with Osprey and Dotterel.
I also think you will have to be tremendously lucky to get Capercaille at this time of year and you could spend more than 3 days just looking for this species.
As you said there is alot of choice, there are many other places you could connect with your targets.
Good luck and I hope it is a successful trip.
Nick


-- Edited by Nick Hilton on Monday 12th of September 2016 09:46:27 PM

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Eugene Dillon-Hooper wrote:

can anyone reccomend where to go? I am staying in aviemore for the next 3 days and can't decide where to go! Too much choice... Target birds are : crested Tit, Capercaille (if im lucky), crossbill, osprey, Dotterel.

planning on taking the funicular Up the Cairngorm Mountain on tuesday. But would like to take a good pine forest walk and a loch visit!

Any advice appreciated.

Eugene





Eugene, just scroll back a few posts and you will see Doc Brewster's and Nick Hiltons sightings in areas around The Highlands, they had some quality sightings.
I stopped in a town called Grantown-on-Spey near Aviemore with my Dad in the late 80's and from what I remember you don't have to travel far at all to get to some good reserves (or non reserves as the case may be) to see some good quality birds and wildlife.
Loch Garten was the main one then, and the obvious species were seen within minutes of parking the car Osprey, Golden Eagle, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbills, incidentally more likely to be the Scottish one then rather than in recent years due to the increase in hybridising with Common Crossbill.
We used to go drives out and find our own stuff, early breakfast and out before anyone was about and then just before dusk. You will be surprised what you see just picking a Loch and having a quiet walk...Divers, Slavonian Grebes, etc
I'm not totally familiar of the exact ranges nowadays of some of those species but they're probably still around there.
Good luck with the Capercaillie, we saw them at Abernethy near Aviemore, probably heavily guarded now I should imagine.
Cheers
Rob

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can anyone reccomend where to go? I am staying in aviemore for the next 3 days and can't decide where to go! Too much choice... Target birds are : crested Tit, Capercaille (if im lucky), crossbill, osprey, Dotterel. planning on taking the funicular Up the Cairngorm Mountain on tuesday. But would like to take a good pine forest walk and a loch visit! Any advice appreciated. Eugene

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Our 'miss' was Dotterel, as the funicular was down for maintainance & we couldn't justify a whole day walking up to the top, always something you don't get on a trip but it makes it all the better when you do see it the next time smile You timed it perfectly for that Icterine Warbler too, what a great bird smile



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Hello Paul, yes I figured it was not genetically pure but as it was the only one of type we saw all week I wasn't sure what the status was in this area. I note you got Crossbill in a couple of places, for the first time in my half dozen or so visits I didn't get any at all (although this meant I didn't have to attempt to wrestle with the exact species!). Seemed to be a good year for Golden Eagle sightings although the brilliant weather, last week, may have aided the cause. Cheers Nick

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Hiya Nick, the photo shows a hybrid Carrion Crow x Hooded Crow, we saw lots in the Cairngorm overlap zone a couple of weeks ago, the black extending from under the tail up onto the lower breast is indicative of mixed parentage. True Hoodies are much paler and have a very demarcated pattern (see here http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/hooded-crow)



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Highlights from last weeks stay in a cottage in Kincraig;

Kincraig Garden = Willow Warbler, Treecreeper, Redstart, Bullfinch, Siskin (Red Squirrel, Hedgehog & Rabbit)
28/05 - journey up, Cuckoo and Red Kite (Dunblane) on the A9
28/05 - Speybank = Tree Pipit. Loch Morlich area = Osprey, Spotted Flycatcher, Dipper
29/05 - Loch Insh = Osprey, Goldeneye, Common Sandpiper, Reed Bunting, Goosander. Uath Lochan = Crested Tit, Goldcrest
30/05 - Insh RSPB = Tree Pipit, Coal Tit, Sedge Warbler, Buzzard, Common Gull, Lapwing (with young), Redshank (with young), Curlew (with young). Loch an Eilein = Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Sandpiper
31/05 - Highland Wildlife Park = Hooded Crow, Red Legged Partridge. Avielochan = Slavonian Grebe
01/06 - Cairngorm, car park area = Ring Ousel, summit = Ptarmigan, Dotterel, Snow Bunting, Wheatear, Raven, Common Gull. Lochindorb = Black Throated Diver, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Golden Plover (with young), Red Grouse (with young). Carrbridge (Station Road) = Golden Eagle and a single Fieldfare.
03/06 - Chanonry Point (on the Black Isle) = Guillemot, Common Tern, Cormorant, Yellowhammer, Linnet. No Dolphins (again !!). Cromarty = Eider (No Dolphins either !)
04/06 - Laggan = Icterine Warbler; non-stop singing, part of the song includes a decent impression of a ray gun!, very showy & a Sedge Warbler (not showy at all !)



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On the final full day up here we just stayed local in the Abernethy Forest and little new to report. Another Crested Tit, this one near the second Tulloch turning on the road from Nethy Bridge to Loch Garten RSPB. Otherwise it was 'other wildlife' for today!

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Decided to stay local on day 5 of our holiday. A day of Goldeneyes, with birds at Boat of Garten, Loch Vaa and Loch Insh, numbering 11+ in total for this Highlands breeder. In the Loch Garten RSPB car park a feeding area set up by photographers attracted a Crested Tit. The 2nd Osprey egg hatched here today, seems each time we call in an egg hatches! Later we watched 4 Ospreys at Loch Insh at the Kincraig end as well as a female Goosander. So all quite low key but fab wildlifing all the same

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Got to the Cairn Gorm car park in good time today to catch the 10am funicular up to the top. The funicular had been shut until today for maintenance but was open again. We had planned on getting the guided walk out at the top (as no skiing meant no access otherwise) but were told that the walks were cancelled until Monday. So instead of going up we walked partway up the track up. We soon heard a Ring Ouzel & picked up a male singing atop the winding gear! Then scanning up the mountain we had several Ptarmigan flying over the snow fields. Another Ring Ouzel, this time a female, was feeding right by the car park! Targets achieved & time to go elsewhere, brilliant

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Headed up the Findhorn Valley today & met the author of the Buckingham Press Highlands site guide, that is our bible, Gordon Hamlett. Immediately saw Golden Eagle soaring over the mountains, also Peregrine & Buzzard too. A Redstart was seen as we drove back. Then over the Farr Road where we saw Red Kite. Dropping in at Loch Ruthven RSPB two Slavonian Grebes showed close to the 'Beach' shore. An Osprey was over the woods opposite. Later we took our first trip up Station Road in Carrbridge, well worth the drive to the end if you haven't been there before, at least 20 Golden Plovers were in the fields, Red Grouse on the moors & Lesser Redpolls in the woods!

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First full day started at an undisclosed site, with Black-throated Diver & stunning male Hen Harrier seen as well as Osprey and Common Crossbill. Then onto the moorlands N.of Grantown where lots of Red Grouse were seen as well as Golden Plovers and a massive colony of Common Gulls. Several Common Sandpipers were on the loch shore. Near Dulsie Bridge we saw male Redstart, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a pair of Dippers and Red-breasted Mergansers on the River Findhorn. In a year when I keep seeing them, 3 more Cuckoos were seen!

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Tried to post in this thread & my post was bounced saying the thread was closed, hence why I started a new one!

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Originally posted today by Paul Brewster:


First half day of my Speyside holiday yesterday so popped into Loch Garten for starters. Good news the first Osprey egg had hatched that day! Saw mum through the scope well. Siskins showing well as usual as well as lots of Willow Warblers. A bit along the road a pair of crossbills landed low at point blank range giving fab views. Concentrating on the male he really did have a beak intermediate between Parrot & Common Crossbills - so hybrid or Scottish Crossbill? I know the jury's out at the mo but I still think of them as Scottish Crossbills ever since I saw my first 20 years ago! Sunshine & great meal of haggis starter, grilled trout & Wild Cat

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16.06.2015(PM)

Loch Muick area

Around the loch were 4 Common Sandpipers, 1f Goosander, 3 Oystercatchers plus a flock of 200 Greylag Geese.

5 pairs of Common Gulls were breeding on the small island, with 1 full grown young seen, although numerous other pairs appear to be settled on the moorland bog area.

The only raptor seen was a single Buzzard, hovering above a nearby ridge. According to the info in the visitor centre Golden Eagles are best looked above the high mountain

ridges West of the loch, but these were partly covered in cloud, and looked lifeless. A female Ring Ouzel posed on a boulder by the loch, then flew off into the pines.

Whilst a Spotted Flycatcher was near the visitor centre, and a pair of Grey Wagtails were by the nearby stream. A very tame newly fledged Chaffinch almost hopped into my car.

The air around the visitor centre teemed with Swifts, House Martins and Swallows, and every small copse around the loch held a singing Willow Warbler.

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Had some leave on Wednesday so did 15km circuit up to Ben Macdui and back via Cairngorm - stunning walk with clear skies but with windchill probably minus 5 degrees - some nice ice forming but no snow by then anyway. Spent an hour checking to make sure the Snowy Owl really had left and saw four Mountain Hare and about six Ptarmigan on the slopes of Ben Macdui - also singles and pairs of Ptarmigan but being half term Cairngorm was heaving with people so the Ptarmigan were at some distance and I heard but didn't see Snow Buntings.

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A visit up the Cairngorm Funicular 12-1.30 Monday gave superb views of 6 Ptarmigan from the back of the restaurant whilst waiting for the downward journey.This after seeing a flock of 15+ from the viewing terrace flying about.

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Another trip up with the family, staying in the usual cottage on the Loch an Eilein road, between 24/05 and the 31/05/14, highlights were;

Area around the cottage between the B970 and Lochan Mor;
Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Bullfinch, Spotted Flycatcher (plenty, seemed to be everywhere), Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Cuckoo. Goldeneye (plenty of young around), Mallard, Little Grebe, Moorhen and Mute Swan on Lochan Mor, with Osprey over on two occasions. Usuals on the feeders at the cottage inc. Great Spotted Woodpecker and plenty of Siskin & Coal Tit. The Wood Warbler wasn't on its usual territory this year which was a shame as it has been faithful for the last few years.

25/05/14;
Feshiebridge Sculpture Trail (with disturbing wooden sculptures !!!) Spotted Flycatcher, Treecreeper, Kestrel, Grey Wagtail.
Aviemore Crags - Peregrine
26/05/14;
Loch Garten - Osprey, Crested Tit, Redstart.
Tulloch area - Jay
Loch Vaa - Tufted Duck, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Common Sandpiper
Loch Morlich - Osprey
Ruthven Barracks - Sedge Warbler, Curlew, Redshank, Woodcock and best of all Snipe drumming just as the light was going.
27/05/14;
The Black Isle - Hooded Crow, Yellowhammer
Chanonry Point - Eider, Common Tern, Whitethroat, Ringed Plover, Skylark, Dunlin, Turnstone, Red Throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Razorbill, Linnet. NO Dolphins !
Loch Ruthven - Cuckoo, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Red Breasted Merganser, Red Throated Diver, Common Gull. NO Slavonian Grebes (2 had been seen the day before but the max count had been 5 in the last month. I was told it had been a very disappointing year for Slavs. Potentially the great sea storms at the beginning of the year that killed many auks may have also took their toll on the grebes).
Lochindorb - Black Throated Diver, Red Grouse
28/05/14;
Loch an Eilein - Tree Pipit, Common Sandpiper, Goldeneye, Redstart, Treecreeper.
Evening spent in the Speyside Wildlife hide close to Loch an Eilein - Roding Woodcock and hunting Tawny Owl were good, a single female Badger very good but the best were two Pine Martin on the feeding table at the same time. The resident male and last years female kit, the (excellent) guide had not had two Pine Martin on the same table for over a year so we were very fortunate.
29/05/14;
Inverdruie - Dipper
30/05/14;
walk from the Cairngorm Ski Centre to the Corrie of the Snows (Coire an t-Sneachda) - Red Grouse (with both Ring Ouzel and Ptarmigan heard but not seen !)
Loch Morlich - Red Throated Diver (via canoe whilst frantically paddling to keep up !!)
Loch Pityoulish - Goldcrest, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Redpoll
Avie Lochan - Slavonian Grebe (1)

All in 96 species seen (plus a couple heard only !)



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Family trip to the Cairngorms so not full on birding but saw:

Snow buntings - upper and lower Cairngorm car park [moved down out of the 70 mph winds I think!]
12 Crossbills at Loch Morlich - have a hunch they could have been Scottish but not sure
Lots of Red Grouse on the Farr Road
Crested Tits - at least three at Loch Garten on the car park feeders and at the centre feeder

and the other expected species for the area.

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After our visit to the Moray Firth this morning Messrs Rigby, Rayner and self headed home through the Cairngorms. Highlights:

Loch Garten:

Crested Tit 1 on feeders/stumps in RSPB site car-park with Blue, Great andCoal Tits, Treecreeper, Chaffinches, Great Spotted Woodpecker
Crossbill Sp. 8 over - call didn't sound high-pitched enough for Scottish, more like Parrot (so I'm toldbiggrin)

GlenShie Ski Complex:

Snow Bunting 11 in the car park, towards the southern end, in poor visibility. As the weather deteriorated slightly, the visivility improved, enabling Riggers to pick out
Ptarmigan 1m4f huddled in the lee of a scree ridge on the lower slopes of The Cairnwell. White on white, a cracking sighting!

Good end to a long but highly satisfying day trip

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A2 day trip to Kingussie on a coach not much time for birding but saw the following

2 Bullfinch
6Crossbills
Barnacle geese
Chaffinch
Buzzards
Coal tit
Blue tits
Great tits
Robins

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A trip up with the family, staying on the Loch an Eilein road, between 25/05 and the 01/06/13, highlights were;

Area around the cottage between the B970 and Lochan Mor;
Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Redstart, Peregrine, Wood Warbler, Cuckoo, Goldcrest, Buzzard. Goldeneye with yound, Mallard, Little Grebe, Moorhen and Mute Swan on Lochan Mor. Usuals on the feeders at the cottage inc. Great Spotted Woodpecker and plenty of Siskin.

25/05/13 - absolute highlight of the trip for me was a Pine Martin streaking across the road in an evening drive through the Glenmore Forest (near the Sugerbowl car park)
26/05/13;
Loch Ruthven - 6 (poss. 7) Slavonian Grebes, Common Sandpiper, Peregrine, Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Grasshopper Warbler
Findhorn Valley - 1 Golden Eagle, Kestrel, Raven, Wheatear
Lochindorb - Black Throated Diver, Red Grouse
Craigellachie NR - Spotted Flycatcher (on a very pleasant walk up behind the hotels in Aviemore)
27/05/13;
Insh Marshes - Sparrowhawk, Teal, Buzzard, Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher, Reed Warbler. Grey Wagtail and Dipper on the river.
Glen Feshie - Jay
28/05/13;
Uath Lochans - Goldeneye, Crossbill (sp. I've a couple of pics I'll send in to Ian for opinion on & putting on website)
Loch an Eileen - Cuckoo, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron
29/05/13;
Cairngorm - Ptarmigan x 6 (including displaying males), Ring Ousel, Meadow Pipit, Dotterel (distant view)
Loch Morlich - Wigeon
30/05/13;
Landmark Centre - Redstart
Loch Garton - Osprey, Crested Tit, Common Sandpiper, Crossbill (fly over, sp. unknown).
Loch an Eileen - Tawny Owl
31/05/13;
Loch Morlich - Red Throated Diver (at one end) and Black Throated Diver (at the other !)
Inverdruie - Osprey
Glenmore Forest - evening drive, female Capercaille beside road within 200m of where the Pine Martin was on the first evening !!! And up near the Cairngorm car park a Red Legged Partridge (!!!!) recorded at 600m; got be a record for highest altitude surely !!!

cracking week, great place !



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Stayed in Aviemore Sat 11 May until Wed 15 May with old school friend John Metcalf. Great, value for money Guest House, Carn Mhor highly recommended. Weather mixed to say the least with drizzle, rain, sleet and snow, some sunshine but generally didn't rise above 8 degrees.

Cairn Gorm - walked up to the summit at 4084ft from the main car park and back down again afterwards. Sunny spells and light snow showers. With wind chill, around minus five on the tops. One Snow Bunting over, a handfull of Wheatear and, higher up eight Ptarmigan. Heard two on the fellside to the left of the restaurant, then had a beauty ten yards to the left of the pathway to the summit. Sat there just watching us. Had a mooch up top and back down to the saddle area, hoping for Dotterel without luck, but seeing more Ptarmigan, so six seen in total with two heard.

Loch Garten & Abernethy Forest - Osprey pair with a rogue male as well on our second visit. Decent views of male Capercaille on Monday at the Caper Watch. Sat still for a while whilst the snow fell and then a bit of strutting around before it was lost to view. Two walks from the Forest Lodge area of the forest, quiet in the main with a few spots of activity producing Redstart, several Tree Pipit, two Crested Tit and a handful of more commoner woodland birds. Crested Tit also on the car park feeders at Loch Garten.

Findhorn Valley & Loch Ruthven - cool, blustery and some drizzle isn't condusive to raptor activity, so we drew an absolute blank in the valley after parking where the road ends and then walking on for a mile and a half, partly up a side valley. Drove on to Ruthven where we had seven Slavonian Grebe, two Red breasted Merganser and two Osprey. Great views of the Grebes.

Lochindorb - blowing a hooley with big waves on the Loch. Greylag Geese about but the main players were a pair of Black throated Diver that were finally located.

Tulloch Moor - arrived at 5.50 am where the screens are. Nothing doing at first, then a male Black Grouse gave a ten minute camio before disappearing. A tip is to scan the valley in the other direction where others have been located. Up to seven birds at the lek earlier in the season. One, possibly two Cuckoo heard in the valley and other birds seen included Tree Pipit and two Whinchat.

Nethy Bridge - did the walk recently featured in the Birdwatching mag. Yellowhammer, Cuckoo, Water Rail seen alongwith commoner stuff.

Grantown Woods - drew a blank with Capercaille here but one was seen a few days previously. Fairly quiet but a great location.

Loch Inch to Insh Marshes - we kept stopping at various viewpoints en route to the RSPB reserve. A pair of Red throated Diver on Loch Inch, also Osprey here. Sedge Warbler at a suitable spot. The Marshes were fairly quiet, more a winter reserve but we managed a female Marsh Harrier, Curlew, Snipe, Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal amongst others. Nearby Inchriach Forest produced our only Crossbill, one over and a spot where two other separate birders had seen Crossbill. Other than that, no Crossbill species seen which was the score with just about every other birders we discussed this with.

Ninety two species seen, the pick being :-

Red throated Diver (2)
Black throated Diver (2)
Slavonian Grebe (8)
Pink footed Goose (3)
Goldeneye
Red breasted Merganser (2)
Marsh Harrier (1)
Hen Harrier (1)
Buzzard
Osprey (9)
Red Grouse
Black Grouse (1)
Ptarmigan (8)
Capercaille (1)
Water Rail (1)
Little ringed Plover (1)
Cuckoo
Great spotted Woodpecker (4)
Tree Pipit (c.12)
Redstart (3)
Whinchat (2)
Wheatear (4)
Sedge Warbler
Blackcap
Wood Warbler (3)
Crested Tit (3)
Common Crossbill (1)
Snow Bunting (1)
Yellowhammer (3)

-- Edited by Mark Jarrett on Friday 17th of May 2013 08:53:48 AM

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Thanks for the info folks! Been to the Cairn Gorm car park before - where we had Snow Bunting - but no higher and it was a fair few years ago. Really looking forward to the trip.

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Was up there three weeks ago Mark and weather was horrific but May should be ok. The car park is well over halfway to the summit and the paths are easy. Guided walks from the top station are no good for birding, its virtually straight up and down. Stroll up from the bottom station at your leisure and take the funicular down.

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End of May should be OK but of course there have been some tragic avalanche incidents in the past few weeks - last time I was up in February it was crampons and ice axe to get to the slopes where the Ptarmigan were and in May its been fine with only patchy snow and ice at the summit.

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Mark - I was up there in 2011 and yes, what you described is correct.

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Hi Mark

We went last year at the end of May. We parked and walked up to the top and then had a wander on the plateau. It's a pleasant walk, with a choice of paths and only takes about an hour (at a leisurely pace). We saw (and heard) ptarmigan on the way up and then saw snow buntings on the walk across to Ben Macdui. There was still some snow about on the top at the end of May but not on the way up and I very much doubt that you would need crampons or ice axes (certainly not if the current weather holds!). It's a great area for birds!

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Should be visiting the area in early May for four or five days. One day will be spent on Cairn Gorm looking for Ptarmigan primarilly. I have heard that if you walk up to the top from the car park you are ok having a wander on the plateau, whereas if you travel up on the funicular, you can't venture out unless you have booked the guide either in advance or on the day. Can anyone confirm fhis? Also, if you do make your own way up on foot, are crampons and ice axe necessary in early May? Thanks!

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Long weekend spent in the area. Coire Cas car park produced 20+ Snow Bunting on and around the picnic tables. No time to hang around as they were closing the road due to snow.
The Osprey centre at Loch Garten definately gives the best views of the Crested Tit, difficult to pin down for a photo but patience paid off. The Coal, Blue, and Great tits feed out of your hand here as well as Chaffinch if you wish to get some flight shots and Red Squirrels run about your feet.
A trip up to Burghead to catch Long Tail Ducks was a little disappointing but several pair gave good views down at Hopeman. In the harbour were also plenty of Turnstone, Redshank, Sanderling, Oystercatchers and Rock Pipits. Over the harbour wall were Common Scoter, Eider (a whole raft), Goldeneye, Cormorant and the usual gulls.
Back toward Cairngorm a stubble field had 40+ Curlew before I had to stop as 15 Roe Deer pranced from one wood to the other across the road. The final one thought better of it and turned back.
On the moors were plenty of Red Grouse easily picked out in the snow and driving into Aviemore a Red Kite swung over the road into the forest. Sadly, no sign of any Crossbills.

-- Edited by john brookes on Tuesday 12th of February 2013 10:49:04 PM

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Had a flying visit between Christmas and New Year to do some wildlife watching with my eldest - just two days but saw around 15 Snow Buntings in the top car park of Cairngorm and my new top tip: Crested Tits at Glenmore Cafe [the Ski/sledge centre cafe opposite the reindeer centre] after failing to see them in all the spots I've seen them before. Failed to see any Crossbill, Pine Marten or Capercailiie but the mammal list was good for just under two days: 12 Mountain Hare, 1 Brown Hare, 9+ Red Squirrels at three locations, Roe Deer [lots], Red Deer [smaller herds than I was expecting - I thought the snow might have driven them down more] and a Wood Mouse.

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Trip out before breakfast for Black Grouse ar Dorback. At least four seen well from a distance.
Red Grouse calling
Wheatear walking along the road in front of the bus
3 Greylags flying over
Brown Hare crossing the road

Hotel sightings :-
Buzzard before leaving for Dorback
Someone saw two Crossbills in trees approx 6pm
I saw a Pipistrelle in the evening whilst trying to get a phone signal on the car park

Back to reality tomorrow, birdwatcing from the train.


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Back in the Cairgorms, time to specialise a bit now. Fine morning, drizzly afternoon.

Dorback :-
On the way up there we passed a flock of Mistle Thrushes. Our van saw nothing else whilst checking for Black Grouse, with no success, just too late again, or so we thought. The following van had a Blackcock fly across. This is a nasty habit of their's as last evening at dusk they had two Red Kites on the Black Isle.
Swallows were still passing through, and Crossbills were flying around. Red Grouse were seen and heard on the hillside, as was a Buzzard.
We then heard a Chiffchaff, a very unusual bird in this area. Someone else heard a second bird, and after playing the call we attracted a small flock.

Next we went up to the Ski Centre. Those of us with rickety joints went up on the funicular railway, the fit ones to one of the corries. It started off with excellent viewing conditions, with only two Ravens and a few Meadow Pipits. Then the low cloud put a stop to everthing, except a pint in the cafe to let it pass. In the ten minutes or so we had when it cleared we watched a couple of Ptarmigan feeding, just in time before our train down. As someone said, who went up last Friday in 20 yard visibility in a snowstorm, it was like scoring a goal in the 91st minute. Those in the corrie also had a few.

Good numbers of Crested Tits were in various woods, but no Crossbills or Capercaille.

Broomfield Station had two nearby Oystercatchers, and a derailed steam train.



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Dorback :- Hen Harrier (ringtail), Buzzard, Peregrine, Kestrel, lots of Swallows passing, 4 Jays which looked like a family group. I found out today that there are a few migrants here now. Lesser Redpolls, and what looked like a flock of Snow Buntings. White birds seen from a moving vehicle which looked right but we were unable to stop to check. Roe Deer.
We had gone uo here for Black Grouse, but they had bedded down in the fields by the time we got there.

Loch Garten :- a skein of Pink-footed Geese flying over (we also saw a skein from outside the hotel as we were leaving), Goldeneyes, Goosanders, a close view of a Crested Tit at the Osprey Centre, and a Coal Tit that seemed to want to land on someone's head. One of the guides then noticed the pattern on her hat looked like peanuts !

Insh Marshes/Loch Insh :- Grey Herons, Mute Swans, 5 Whooper Swans, Mallards, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Ducks, Goldeneyes, Great Black-backed Gull, Swallows, Great Spotted Woodpecker. The only raptor we saw was a juvenile Buzzard, but the sightings book had Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, and Merlin.
Roe Deer, Red Squirrel.
Common Hawker, Black Darter.

Also seen today were Red Deer, but even with our best efforts no Capercaille or Crossbills.


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Yesterday and today on walks from Nethy Bridge. Tomorrow I start an organised trip with Heatherlea in the luxury of the minibuses to rest my legs.
Monday to Harris & Lewis, currently the only place in Britain on Monday waiting for the storm to arrive.

Little Grebe (River Spey)
Grey Heron
Greylag (Loch Garten)
Pinkfoot (flying over)
Mallard
Teal (Spey)
Goldeneye (Spey)
Goosander (Spey)
Hen Harrier. A beautiful male seen three times in 30 minutes on flood plain near Spey.
Buzzard
Kestrel
Pheasant
Lapwing
Snipe
Herring Gull
Woodpigeon
Collared Dove
Tawny Owl (heard in the evening)
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Skylark
House Martin
Swallow
Meadow Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Dunnock
Robin
Stonechat
Blackbird
Mistle Thrush
Goldcrest
Long-tailed Tit
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Crested Tit
Treecreeper
Wren
Dipper
Jay (a local rarity, only my second sighting in 8 years here)
Jackdaw
Rook
Carrion Crow
Raven
Starling
House Sparrow
Chaffinch
Greenfinch
Goldfinch
Linnet
Siskin
Crossbill heard in Grantown woods, the most likely being Parrot there.
Reed Bunting

Small Tortoiseshell
Black Darter
Highland Darter

Roe Deer
Red Squirrel
Rabbit
Missed the usual Pipistrelles and Daubenton's in Nethy as I was led astray in the bar.




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and yeah I didnt count the Scottish Crossbill! Will be up there again for another search soon. Great place for them.

Rob

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Hi Phil,

Im not sure what the guide was called but they have birdwatching trips you can book with the hotel. Inquire at bookings@bwwc.co.uk. The hotel is called the Grant Arms on the main road in Grantown on spey.

Theres also a number you can call on the web site



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Glad you both enjoyed the trip Rob.

I love it up there and can relate to all of the sites mentioned having been a couple of times in recent years.

Regarding Scottish Crossbill on call, unless recorded and analysed on a sonogram to 100% confirm the identity, I doubt I'd take it personally.

Would you mind dropping me a PM with details of the guide?

Cheers


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Easter Weekend birding trip to Aviemore with Chris Chandler.

Good Friday (5.30 a.m.) 'Caper Watch' - for those not in the know this is the RSPB Loch Garten organised event which is pretty good for Capercaillie sightings and for learning more about them. I would really recommend it and it also means the birds dont get disturbed:

1 male capercaillie calling, seen from the old hide (hide only used during Caper watch, whereas the newer hide is always accessible). Fantastic sight as he was establishing territory for all to see) pretty distant views though. Very well organised and only 1 for RSPB members.
5 siskins on the hide feeders and tons of chaffinches around the car park feeders. No sign of crested tit.
1 male osprey - kept flying to and from the nest in front of the hide from 5.30am onwards.

Loch Mallachie and the woodland path (RSPB Loch Garten):

2 Goldeneyes
1 Greylag Goose
1 Goldcrest
1 Oystercatcher
Coal Tits, Chaffinches.
Crested Tit heard but not seen in the woods.
Great Spotted Woodpecker

Cairn Gorm:

3 Ptarmigans (m,m,f) flying low and calling.
Literally no other birds but a first for me so I was happy. There was still snow on the tops but they were in summer plumage. Really great to see the colours when they flew.

Lochindorb:

2 Black-Throated Divers in summer plumage (Regular place for them - recommended) and it is a beautiful loch to visit.
1 Red Grouse
3 Redshanks
2 Oystercatchers
1 Buzzard
2 Meadow Pipits
1 Pied Wagtail

Saturday 7th

Tullach Moor (near loch garten):

(6am) 1 Black Grouse (there is a screen hide here which gives good views across the moors and forest edges). Good if you get here early - I have dipped here before.

RSPB Loch Garten Main Hide:

Just caught the end of the next day's caper watch. Really happy that we did because the capercaillie was sat in a tree right outside the main hide and it was the same bird as the one we'd seen the day before!
2 ospreys m+f (they had just mated according to RSPB guide).

Anagach Woods (Grantown-on-Spey):

1 Crested Tit
1 possible Scottish Crossbill (but neither me or Chris could nail it and as such it could also have been a common crossbill. It never called and I dont trust the 'beak theory'). These woods apparently hold all types of crossbill incl. Parrot.
Siskins
Chaffinches
1 Goldcrest
2 Treecreepers
1 Oystercatcher (they seemed to get everywhere and it was calling as it flew towards the golf course. The hotel nearby has guided morning walks which should help you get Crested Tit and possibly Scottish Crossbill - the guide in the hotel seems to know crossbills inside out.

Although we didnt get any eagles this time it was a fantastic trip. As usual getting up early really payed off - especially for grouse.
Also stopped off for a decent bottle of single malt. Wouldnt recommend the night before a Caper watch though!

cheers

Rob









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Just got back from a weekend in the Cairngorms myself. First stop was Loch Garten on saturday afternoon which was completely void of birds except the chaffinches and tits on the feeders. Nothing on the loop near the lake either. Sat evening we met up with an extremely nice guy in Boat of Garten called Allan Bantick who had a hide on a badger set that was estimated to be 150 years old. We watched the badgers come out of their set at dusk and watched them for a few hours. He even had a nest box for a Pine Marten and plenty of Goldeneye boxes which were sometimes took over by Tawny Owls. Absolutely superb evening!. It turned out that Allan was the chairman of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and this hide was not a money making venture, purely conservational. He was an inspirational person! I would highly recommend going to his hide for an evening. PM me if you want his number.
Sunday we went to RSPB's Insh Marshes near Kingussie. Really bad rainfall kept most things at bay but the hides there are top class. We stayed for a few hours and our list included 6 Roe Deer, female Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, 3 Kestrel, Weasle, 5 Heron, lots of Tits and Chaffinches.
I wish I had more time in the highlands because the habitats up here are jaw dropping and it looks like a truely wild place.

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Nick, Pine Martin had been recorded in the cottage book back in July and I was hoping to tempt one out, but if it was that that took the food then it did so in the middle of the night. It would be my best guess, as I put a dollop of peanut butter on a branch at head height and I doubt whether fox or badger would have got at it (unless deer are partial to crunchy peanut butter I suppose !!!!!) cheers, Nick

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