Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Scotland Trip - Day Five

The final day...

Day Five - Thursday 14th April

After breakfast, we loaded up the trusty Corsa and said farewell to Glenan Lodge at about 9am. I can highly recommend this B and B, it is good value, the rooms are very comfortable and the breakfast very yummy!!

We all wanted one last look at a summer plumaged Black-throated Diver, so this was the first port of call. It didn't take us long to find a pair of these stunners showing very well indeed...

Just stunning!

Also on the loch were a summer plumaged Red-throated Diver and a pair of Wigeon. Yet again Red Grouse were all around us!

We then headed north (yes I know - even further away from home!), and soon stumbled upon a surprise male Black Grouse...

It appeared to be displaying to itself - unless there was a female hiding somewhere nearby?

After about 50 minutes driving, we'd reached Nairn where we wanted to do a bit of sea watching from...

Looking north from the harbour car park at Nairn

It didn't take long to pick up three Long-tailed Ducks, several Eider, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and Sandwich Tern - then a fine summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe appeared out of nowhere.

A Goldeneye flashing!!

Also here, there were at least 50 Turnstone, a couple of Ringed Plover and a Hooded Crow.

We took to the road again, and headed around the coast (for over two hours!) to Rattray Head - this is where a King Eider had been reported on a couple of days within the past week. Whilst driving here, a singing Corn Bunting and several Yellowhammers were 'trip ticks'.

We got to Rattray - then began to drive out to the head. We hadn't gone far before I just HAD to pull in...

Grey = Geese

There were thousands and thousands of Pink-footed Geese feeding in road side fields, what a sight!! A look through them revealed a couple of sandy brown leucistic Pink-feet, and singles of Greylag and Barnacle Geese.

On the other side of the road was a huge Ley - this had plenty of diving ducks and Great Crested Grebes on. A couple more Corn Buntings were singing here too, though remained annoyingly invisible!

We eventually got to the car park at the end of the track, and walked out over the sand dunes past a flock of over 200 stunning mostly summer plumaged Golden Plover.

Rattray Head beach and lighthouse

There was no sign of the hoped for King Eider, but there was just so much to look at it was fantastic! On the beach were Sanderling, Redshank and a surprise Ruff. About 100 Eider were loafing about just offshore, and behind them AT LEAST 210 Great Northern Divers!! Also 6+ Red-throated Divers, and auks were constantly flying past north, with a few Kittiwakes and Gannets also noted.

A quick check of Birdguides on my Blackberry showed that the/a King Eider had been seen on the Monday just gone on the Ythan Estuary. As this was south of where we were, and on the way back home, we thought we may as well stop off here...

A quick check of the Estuary from a few stopping places on the A975 showed the Estuary was heaving with birds. Pintail was the only bird added to the trip list here, but if we had more time to look closer I'm sure we would have unearthed a few more 'trip ticks'.

We arrived at the golf club car park, and made our way to the mouth of the Estuary. The sight and sound was just absolutely spectacular as several hundred Eider were 'loafing about like Mallards at Radipole!'...


There was no sign of the drake King Eider - much to our annoyance - but another bonus here was the impressive seal colony...

There were loads of them!

Here's a short video too...

if you turn the volume up you can hear the Eider calling

The time was now 17:00 - and we still had an at least 11 hour car journey ahead of us to get home!!! We followed the Sat Nav (which all week had been a god send), and it took us right through Aberdeen City Centre at rush hour!!!!

We finally came out the other side of Aberdeen and began headed purposefully south. Apart from a quick fuel stop, and an hour's stop at a Little Chef near Sterling (where I ate the nicest burger EVER!) we made good progress.

We got back to Bristol at about 3am, and I got back home to Seaton for just before 5am.... I was bloody shattered!!!

I had such an enjoyable five days, in which time we clocked up 115 species of birds, saw some great mammals, stunning scenery and most of all, had a cracking good laugh! I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Bun, Nick and Karen for their company, and everyone who gave us 'gen' to ensure we got the most out of our trip.

From the moment I took this photo on the Farr Pass, I knew this was the photo I'd finish this review with. Thank you Scotland for such an enjoyable birding break....

The 'Famous Grouse'

Well I hope you have enjoyed reading my rather drawn out trip report!? I'm pleased to announce that normal service will now be resumed on Axe Birding...

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