On the ferry crossing, we had another winter-plumaged Black Guillemot on the sea, better numbers of Common Guillemot and Razorbill and close views of 1 Bottlenose Dolphin and 3 Harbour Porpoise.
Sunday, 30 August 2015
Drove from Tobermory to Craignure to catch the return ferry this morning. Had a single Red-Breasted Merganser on the drive down. While waiting for the ferry at Craignure, Seawatching produced another Otter and good views of a dark-morph Arctic Skua chasing a Kittewake. Also good numbers of Common Tern, Common Gull and Kittewake.
Drove south to Salen then followed the West Coast south this morning. Scanning the mountains produced 2 Peregrines, lots of Kestrels, Buzzards, Ravens and Hooded Crows and had a single Wheatear near Gribun. Continued onto Glen More, where we had more buzzards. Finally, we Picked up the first Golden Eagle of the Trip, however it flew up above the clouds before we could get a photograph.
Had a look on Duart Bay from the Approach Road to Duart Castle, and had a large of Red-Breasted Mergansers and a ringtail Hen Harrier.
Returned to Loch Don but again failed to locate the Osprey. However, it was well worth the visit as we located a distant winter-plumaged Black Guillemot. We also had a single Red-Throated Diver, a ringtail Hen Harrier (Probably the same bird at Duart Bay) and a calling Tree Pipit by the road south of the loch.
Shag - Tobermory
Drove South this morning, had another Goosander near Salen. Stopped off at Garmony and had 8+ Eider, and singles of Red-Breasted Merganser and Red-Throated Diver, lots of Meadow Pipits and also had an Otter.
Continuing South, we had a further 5 Eiders at Scallastle as well as large numbers of Kittewake.
In Craignure, we had another Wheatear. We went to Loch Don but failed to locate the osprey, however we did have a Red Deer, a Goosander and 2 more Red-Throated Divers, one of which was Summer-Plumaged.
Also saw plenty of Hooded Crows and Ravens again today.
Drove from Aviemore to Oban this morning, had good numbers of Hooded Crow from the car window, including 5 before leaving the Highland.
Caught the Ferry from Oban to Mull at Midday, on the trip we had good numbers of Kittewakes, Gannets and Common Tern, a handful of Manx Shearwaters and singles of Little Gull and Common Guillemot.
We drove to Tobermory where we are staying. On the way we had a Goosander near Salen, and we found a Dipper on the river by the Tobermory seafront.
We drove along the North Coast this evening. We picked up our first 2 White-Tailed Eagles of the trip at Dervaig, one adult and one juvinile.
We had another juvinile White-Tailed Eagle when we stopped off at Calgary, as well as 3 Wheatears and 5 Hooded Crows.
A morning trip to Lochondorb produced good numbers of Red Grouse, many showing at close range, however bad weather hindered our search for any black grouse. As we were leaving, we did pick up 2 summer-plumaged Black-Throated Divers, both quite close to the shore.
Disappointingly, a drive through Findhorn Valley with several stops to scan the hillside failed to produce any species worthy of note.
We drove to the Cairngorms and took the Mountain Railway to the Top Station. From the viewing terrace, there was a large flock of Snow Buntings, some of which sat on the walls of the building, allowing very close-range viewing. Within the flock was an extremely white bird, probably a partial-albino.
Once visibility improved, a scan from the other side of the platform produced a large flock of at least 21 Ptarmigan.
A late start at Curr Wood this morning produced a large flock of Siskins and singles of Willow Warbler and Treecreeper. A Crested Tit was heard briefly, and a Common Crossbill was heard flying overhead a couple times but it never perched near us.
A quick look at Loch Garten produced singles of Goldeneye and Crested Tit, 3 greater spotted woodpeckers, lots of Siskins and a Red Squirrel.
A breif look at the Forest Lodge area in Abernethy Forest produced very little of interest, other than more Crested Tits which were all heard only. However, we did see our first Scotch Argus Butterflies of the trip.
Made the 2 hour drive to the Loch of Strathbeg this morning. We had 3 Goosander from the car window while driving through Macduff.
Once we arrived, RSPB staff told us that the black stork had not been sighted today from the viewing area in the visitor centre, so we walked to the Tower Hide. As we were approaching the hide, something in the corner of my eye caught my attention. It was a Long-Eared Owl, sat just a few meters away staring at me! What a fantastic bird! It seemed so surreal to see it sitting right there next to me!
Once in the hide, we had numerous Grey Herons and a Great White Egret fly up from the reedbed on the left-hand side, and eventually, in flew the juvinile BLACK STORK! The massive bird flew towards us, and landed just in front of the hide, however it was not visible through the tall vegetation. It flew a couple more times in the direction of the visitor centre. This definitely more than made up for the bird that I dipped on at Middlebere.
2 fantastic birds at unimaginably close range all within half an hour! Absolutely Amazing!!!
Happened to be in Aberdeen when the report went out of a wryneck at Girdle Ness. It was rush hour, so it took us 20 minutes to get there, by which time there was no sign of the bird. Only consolidation was an Eider on the sea.
On the return trip, we saw 2 Red Grouse near the Lecht Ski Centre.
Sunday, 23 August 2015
Drove up to Aviemore, Scotland today. On the way, stopped off at the services at West Moorland, Cumbria where we had singles of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin.
Visited Loch Garten this evening (though the visitor centre was closed), we had a Goldeneye, 4+ Grey Wagtails, and we breifly had a female Crossbill, but views weren't good enough to be certain what species.
We had our first Hooded Crow of the trip while driving from Loch Garten to Aviemore.
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
Returned to Cley Marshes mid-day today, had the usual selection of waders, including lots of ruff. All of interest was a little stint, a sanderling, a green sandpiper and 3 Knot.
We drove up to Norfolk yesterday to visit relatives, however we saw no Red Kites while driving through London. We had a Nuthatch in the Garden of our relatives house in the afternoon.
Today, we had a fantastic trip along the North Norfolk Coast seeing 87 species. This morning a Sparrowhawk caught a Blackbird, and sat with it on the back lawn.
First stop was Burnham Overy, where I Quickly located my first Egyptian Geese of the Trip. As we walked down towards Burnham Dunes, we had very close views of a flying Barn Owl. We arrived at the Dunes at 0800hrs. A birder already present said that he had been watching the Apple Tree for the Icky for 1.5 Hours and hadn't seen it, so it wasn't looking good. I decided to move over to higher ground to get a better view of the whole area, and I instantly picked up the Icterine Warbler! I called over to the other birders, but it disapeared back into the bushes before any of them arrived. For a while, no one saw anything, and I was starting to think no one would believe me, but to my relief one of the others saw it breifly, and then it came out and showed very well for everyone. A brief seawatch off Burnham Dunes produced an Arctic Skua.
(Unfortunately, I didn't have access to my usual camera today, so most of the photos on this post are taken with my phone through the scope)
Next stop was Titchwell. We had a fair selection of waders, though nothing better than lots of Ruff and a summer-plumaged Grey Plover. There was 3 Spoonbills and at least 1 Yellow Wagtail on the freshmarsh, and a female Red-Crested Potchard between the island hide and the visitor centre. Seawatching produced a Marsh Harrier being mobbed by another Arctic Skua, and interestingly, a male Common Scoter was found sitting on the Beach!
We drove to Cley Marshes and parked up at the visitor centre, where we had 2 Lesser Whitethroats in the car park. We walked to the North Scrape hide, where we had 2 Little Stints, a Wood Sandpiper, 4 Green Sandpipers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, a Hobby and a Wheatear.
We then walked out to Blakney Point, where we had relatively little except a few Little Terns.
Blakney Seal Colony
We returned to Cley in the evening and watched Simmond's and Pat's Pools. We had a Curlew Sandpiper, another 2 Wood sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper at close range, a sleeping male Garganey, a Water Rail, 2 very showy Little Gulls and 2 adult Yellow-Legged Gulls. Just before 2100hrs, a sub-adult gull flew in that may have been the caspian gull that has been present here recently, however the light was very poor at this point and I lost bird after my scope was moved.
Summer-Plumaged Curlew Sandpiper
Nice to see some Yellow-Legged Gulls in adult plumage for a change!
Driving back to the house in the evening, I had my second Barn Owl of the day flying over the road.