Monday, 18 April 2011

Scotland Trip - Day Three

Day Three - Tuesday 12th April

It was an early start for us today, and we were at Loch Garten for 05:20! It was soon apparent that we weren't the only people with this idea - there were at least twenty others making their way to the Osprey hide under the cover of darkness.

The hide flaps were soon opened, and we were told a male and female Capercaillie could be seen on the cameras leking somewhere to the right of us... soon enough the male Caper could be seen now and then strutting about between trees. It was distant but I managed to get some good scope views - and at one point even watched it jump into the air. Even got a brief glimpse of the female as she flew a short distance.

It was great to see them yes, but the viewing conditions were uncomfortable with everyone trying to look through the few slits in the hide at once! It seemed as though that whenever you had the Caper in your bins or scope, someone got in the way - or even knocked you out of the way!!! I reckon though it was just an ultra busy morning when we were here, and on a quieter morning would be more enjoyable.

Outside the side door of the hide, several Siskins were feeding on a feeder, and in the trees above a very smart male Crossbill (sp!?). As we were in the 'Osprey hide' I would have been disappointed not to see an Osprey - I wasn't disappointed....

Ospreys at dawn

We were back to our cars by 07:30 - then drove to a nearby car park to have a wander around Loch Mallachie...

Atmospheric or what!?

It was as we were heading back to the car that our target bird showed itself - with three Crested Tits calling high in the canopy. We all got some sort of views of at least one of them, before they flew off and away from the path.

A male Redstart singing by the loch was an addition to the trip list, and we heard a couple of Crossbill flying over.

We headed back to the B and B and ate our well deserved breakfast. We were soon out again though, and drove up the Findhorn Valley once more. The weather was glorious, with bright sunshine, but a strong and cold wind meant most of the scanning was done from inside the car!!

After a few Buzzards, two Golden Eagles (an adult and an immature) were picked up circling above the ridge beyond where the road stops. We watched them for a minute or two before theyl glided off south....result! As we were driving back up the valley, a male Ring Ouzel was a welcome addition to the trip list, with a second (invisible) bird calling from nearby gorse.

We turned off the road, and headed along the Farr Pass - a simply stunning road...

What a view!!

We saw several Red Grouse (they really are everywhere around here!!!) and a wing-tagged Red Kite flew over the car...

Quite a chunk missing out of its right wing

Next stop was 'the famous Slav Grebe Loch'...

Although most birders I'm sure know where this is, I still won't post it

Six breeding plumaged Slav Grebes were here, along with a cracking pair of Red-throated Divers. Little Grebe was also added to the trip list here.

Our tummies were starting to rumble (despite the monster breakfast!), so we stopped off at Carrbridge Spar - which is right opposite this rather impressive bridge...

No Dippers under it though!

We then headed to a known Black-throated Diver site, and on arrival were soon treated to stunning view of an full breeding plumaged bird.... what a STONKER!!!! Also here were a pair of Goosander and several Greylag Geese.

The surrounding area held many more Red Grouse, some of which came quite close to the car...

Two photos of a male, and one of his lady

We then moved to a forest just east of Granton-on-Spey, and spent a good two hours walking around it...

Bun looking Smurf-like! No he hasn't shrunk, the trees really are that massive!

We heard Crossbill once or twice, but the highlight of this 'expedition' were three more Crested Tits, with one bird in particular showing well feeding intently high up in a couple of conifers...

Am well pleased with my Lumix for this one

Arriving back at the car was a bit of a relief - especially for me! Readers of this blog will know I am not a huge fan of woodland birding. I had thought Scotland would be a different matter - but not by the end of this trek!!!

Anyway, it's about time I posted a photo of our transport really! Yes this car really did get us from Bristol and back, with four people and all our gear....

A three door Vauxhall Corsa with an engine less than 1000cc!

It was getting late now, so we found ourselves a fish and chip shop in Aviemore, then spent the hour of dusk staring at some bird feeders speculatively hoping for a Pine Marten! Our efforts weren't rewarded, so we headed back to the B and B ready for bed...


  1. Loving the Scottish round-up - brings back some good memories of great places. I also remember the Loch Garten Caper watch as being a bit disappointing with distant views. I went for this after no luck when looking for Capercallie on previous visits before the Loch Garten watch started. Unbelievably, as I was heading back to the digs in Nethy Bridge after the slightly underwhelming tick I almost ran over a stonking big male Caper in the middle of the road - much more satisfying views albeit surreal.

  2. Cheers Skev - only two more days to write about!! As we were driving about we wondered what the chances were of jamming into a Caper crossing the road in front of us - unlikely yes, but they must have to cross roads now and then! (as you've proved!)