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Post Info TOPIC: Cairngorms

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RE: Cairngorms

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.


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.
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!




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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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The mystery animal could have been a Pine Martin. I believe they're quite partial to peanut butter and the like.

Some of my photos. www.flickr.com/photos/nickish77

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Just returned from a weeks break up in the Cairngorms, no serious birding (ie not out of bed before 9am !!) but a bit of casual picked up area specials of;

Loch Garten - adult male Osprey and male young at nest site on the 21/08. A walk around the loch produced Crested Tit.
The only Hooded Crow of the week was a single bird at the Highland Wildlife Park on the 22/08 (loads of Siskin, Redpoll and Bullfinch here also, as well as the first successful breeding of captive Capercaillie I'm told, with 3 young)
Up on the top of Cairngorm (with guide, after ride on Fenicular !!) 3 Ptarmigan, 3 Snow Bunting and surrounded by a Reindeer herd on the 26/08 !! Also on this date Osprey close to Loch Morlich.

Plenty of walking/cycling/pony treking/rowing produced no Crossbill (slightly surprised !) and no Capers (not really surprised !). One other birder bumped into hadn't had either species also.

If anybody wants a recommendation for a superb cottage (sleeps 4), on the Loch an Eilein road, contact me (loads of birds on the feeders, Roe Deer, Red Squirrel on the window cills and a mystery animal that took peanut butter and jam on bread every night !!)


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29/4/2011- 4/ 6/2011 typical scottish weather sunny all weekbiggrin.gif

based at loch garten we did two mornings early start 5.30am for the organised capper watch and we werent dissapointed male cap showed both days although distant views too far to digiscope, none the less another lifer biggrin.gif
managed to get great views of crested tits at loch mallackie liferbiggrin.gif and around visitor centre one came within 5 yards of us whilst we were watching a red squirrel.
ejay and odin the ospeys showed well and a redstart was buisy making a nest within the osprey nest.
Top of cairngorms 9 round trip on fernicular train we had 4 ptarmigan liferbiggrin.gif in half summer /winter plumage and dotteral within 10 yards of us magic and the views are spectacular.Red grouse and wheatear about but missed the snow bunts.cry.gif
We went to loch ruthven and had 6 superb summer plumaged slav grebes displaying and a little fighting over territory also a fly over from a golden eagle probable the juv from findhorn as it came from that direction.Very dissapointed to witness 4 guys turn up at the reserve in range rover vogues discussing building a house next to the car park with heli pad they werent joking either as they were filming and next minute a helicopter came and attempted to land in this area within a few yards of the slavs idiots they were duly reported to the rspbno.gif
Findhorn was great 4 ring ouzles,2 buzzard,1 peregrine but no eagles, lots of red deer
The black grouse lecks were all quiet we were just too late but we did get one flyover.
3 lifers and many magical moments and great weather certainly helpsbiggrin.gif
We also stayed at glen loy near fort william were whinchat were watched and vane farm reserve on the way home were we were treated to garagney and scaup both males


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Just spent a couple of days at a Timeshare Complex at Coylumbridge. Saw Cresties and Treecreepers on the lodges feeders and a pair of Goldcrests flitting in a pine tree. Two foot of snow prevented us from going up to the ski centre or onto Kincardine (Tulloch) Moor but I was given a good tip on finding Black grouse from the A9. Once you get south of the Dalwhinnie turnoff, look on the moor alongside the railway line and you should see Black grouse. Sure enough we did see 10 birds in all today, on both sides of the road. Next time I will allow more time and scope the area from a lay by, there may be more to see.


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Mor typical Scottish weather today - no sign of eagles in the rain but plenty of Hooded Crows and flocks of Scoter numbering over a hundred and a raft of Long Tailed Ducks circa 600 strong - shame it was a bit wet!

Building my lifers

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Ptarmigan today at 3400ft - never gone birding with crampons and ice axe before :) stunning views as the birds dodged the skiers and ice climbers. The males were in dispute over the hens. Also red grouse on the snowfields at upto 3000ft or so. Started the morning at the Great Grey Shrike as an excuse to try and see the Gyr again but no luck on the Gyr.

Building my lifers

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Up in the Cairngorms with Marcus - ebirder, for a few days. First day today saw us watching Snow Buntings, Crested Tits and amazingly what we believe was a Gyr - I have some very poor shots of the Gyr and no way of getting them off the camera til tomorrow! Crestie shots a lot better but then they were six feet away :)

Off for Ptarmigan tomorrow in good winter conditions...

Building my lifers

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We visited last month although we only went to known reserves - Loch Garten, Loch Ruthven and a Black Grouse site which might or might not be public knowledge.

Missed a few of those including Crested Tit (reduced in numbers after the harsh winter), Golden Eagle and Black-Throated Diver but did get a Capercaillie lekking, visible from the Loch Garten visitor centre - we didn't half run to spot that one!


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Was lucky enough to spend two days in Scotland with Marcus of ebirder fame, to try and improve my birding and photography skills but to be honest the birding was so spectacular the photography moved rapidly down the priorities!

Some of the following are sensitive species so I'll only give approximate location as the area bounded by the Findhorn Valley, Loch Ness and Inverness.

What was amazing was the sheer variety of habitat and the wealth of all sorts of wildlife within just a couple of miles of Inverness. Full trip list would be over 80 species if I'd remembered to write them all down but highlights included:

Golden Eagle
Hooded Crow [common up there but interesting for me]
Crested Tits - a party of three feeding in the tree tops - spotted by me as we walked near Loch Garten [the best bit of the trip I think :) ]
Black Throated Diver
Red Throated Diver
Slavonian Grebes
Wheatears galore [again not unusual but I really like observing their territorial behaviour]
Tree Pipits
Red Grouse
Black Grouse - lekking next to a main road!
Common Sandpipers seemed to be in every stretch of river and lochside
Cuckoos - three seen, more heard

And mammals included:

Red Squirrel
Red Deer
Roe Deer [approached quietly to 20m!]
Rabbits [nearly outnumbered by Hares]

Didn't see Capercaillie [only tried one spot] and ran out of time to try for Ptarmigan and Dotterel - so there's a good excuse for another trip sometime... day two was on Skye with White Tailed Eagles on the Skye thread. Never been that far North in Scotland before and will certainly be planning further trips.

Building my lifers
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