Sunday, 17 April 2011

Scotland Trip - Day Two

I was hoping to have had this post written last night, but was just too tired! Anyway, here goes....

Monday 11th April - Day Two

After breakfast, and a look at the weather forecast, we decided to head over to the west coast. The drive was absolutely spectacular - driving through glens and past snow-topped mountains. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, there were a few heavy showers (one we sat out in a cafe), but as the afternoon went on the weather got better and was wall to wall sunshine.

At about 11:30 we pulled up in the layby overlooking Gruinard Island - where White-tailed Eagles can be seen roosting on the island.... though not today!

aka 'Anthrax Island'

Over all we spent and hour and a half here without a whiff of an Eagle. The sea was productive though, with 30+ Great Northern Divers, a summer plumage Slav Grebe and 6+ Black Guillemots.

One of the divers gave us a bit of a headache - it was always very distant but showed a pale bill which it held pointing upwards.... White-billed!!!?? The only thing that put me off was how dark its rear neck and mantle looked, but that may have just been down to this distance?? A White-billed has been reported here before and after us, so I reckon this was it. Anyway, here's a diver that was easily identifiable....

Summer plumaged Great Northern... nice!

Also here we added Hooded Crow (4+) and Rock Dove to our trip list.

After we realised our Eagle chances were looking bleak, we continued south along the A832, stopping at regular intervals for a scan. The scenery was just stunning...


The view in the lower photo got better when I picked up an adult White-tailed Eagle soaring distantly further up the coast being mobbed my Ravens. Luckily it came our way, and we were watching it for a good five minutes as it kept getting closer - what a bird! We lost it as it went behind some mountain tops to the east of us.

We had another White-tailed a little later on too, right above the road - this one being an immature. It didn't half move; it was right above our car - then in about two minutes appeared to be two miles away! Impressive!!

Other birds we noted during our regular stops were another summer plumaged Slav Grebe, a further ten Great Northern Divers, a couple of Eider and four more Rock Dove.

As we started to head back east, the nearer to Inverness we got, the more regular Red Kites were - awsesome! Better still was an Osprey soaring low over the road, which revealed a nest on a nearby electricity pylon. Crossing the bridge in Inverness, a flock of c1000 Pink-feet made a dull green field a lot more exciting!

By the time we had eaten in Inverness, the sun was setting. We stopped at layby 151 (on A9) briefly, where a mostly white Mountain Hare, and fly over Hooded Crow and Osprey (complete with fish) were the higlights.

Bun and Karen at 'Layby 151'

We decided to take an evening drive up the Findhorn Valley after this stop... bird wise a flock of Golden Plovers and a couple of roding Woodcock were the best, but mammals stole the show with this Mountain Hare...

Still with white bits on its ears

And several hundred Red Deer grazing beside the river...

It was quite a sight!

We headed back to the B and B, preparing ourselves for a very early wake up the following morning... (stay tuned!)

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