Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

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A Male Harlequin duck
Photo by Peggy Cadigan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/30146540@N02/)

The news that a male Harlequin duck had been seen on the River Don near Aberdeen in NE Scotland would have sent many birders flocking to the site. This visitor from Iceland is both rare in the UK, this being only the sixteenth ever record and attractive to see. It is a bit of a shame that it is a first winter male and therefore does not display the brilliant markings seen on the photo of a full adult male and in fact more closely resembles the plumage of a female. nether the less quite a find!

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A Female Harlequin Duck
Photo by Maggie Smith (https://www.flickr.com/photos/slomaggie/)

Harlequins breed on Arctic rivers and move down to the Arctic coast in winter. The nearest breeding colony to the UK is in Iceland.

Scottish Sunsets

Posted: November 16, 2014 in Landscape, Scotland
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Some pictures of sunsets during my recent trip to Scotland

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Day 3 of my trip to Speyside was the day to find those species in Speyside that we hadn’t found on day 1. Top of the list were Capercaillie and Dipper. In the morning we tried 3 different areas of forest but although we found evidence of their presence the birds remained elusive.

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A coffee stop alongside the River Spey at Grantown delivered excellent views of a Dipper fishing.

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Dipper (taken summer 2014)

Dipper (taken summer 2014)

Then it was back to the forest to try again for ‘Caper’, but again without success. We stopped for lunch beside Loch Morlich and added Goldeneye to our lists.

Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich

Male Goldeneye (taken 2013)

Male Goldeneye (taken 2013)

In the afternoon we had planned to go up to the top of Cairngorm looking for Ptarmigan but one look at the mountains told us this would be a forlorn task as the tops were well within the cloud line.

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Instead we wet to Insh Marshes, an RSPB reserve comprising the flood plain of the river Spey and added a number of new species including Lesser Redpoll, Treecreeper and Hen Harrier.

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Then it was back to the forest as the light faded for a final attempt to find a ‘Caper’ but still we came up short. There are only approx 800 of these birds left in Scotland and the area of pine forest is very large, so even with a local guide it is a difficult task. Despite their large size they can be very hard to spot either hidden in the heather or feeding in the trees.


Male Capercaillie
Photo By Skolan124 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My thanks to Heatherlea birdwatching for organising the trip and a special thanks to Toby our guide for a fantastic 3 days. In total 86 species of bird and 6 species of mammal:
Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)
Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)
European Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Red Deer [sp] (Cervus elaphus)
Bottlenose Dolphin [sp] (Tursiops truncatus)
Eurasian Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

Day 3 birdlist:
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Northern Harrier [sp] (Circus cyaneus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
European Crested Tit [sp] (Lophophanes cristatus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Treecreeper [sp] (Certhia familiaris)
White-throated Dipper [sp] (Cinclus cinclus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coeleb
Lesser Redpoll [sp] (Carduelis flammea)
Eurasian Bullfinch [sp] (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Day 2 of my brief trip to Speyside saw us heading for the Moray coast. Our first destinations was the Findhorn Estuary. As we left Forres we noticed some birds in a hedge and scrub area on closer inspection found a mixed flock of Finches and buntings including some stunning Yellowhammers and Linnets.

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Ye;;owhammers

Ye;;owhammers

Moving onto the coast we had some great views of Long-tailed Duck, Eider, Great Northern and Red-Throated Divers and Slavonian Grebe.

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Long-tailed Duck
Photo by Francesco Veronesi (https://www.flickr.com/photos/francesco_veronesi/)

Eider

Eider

Then back to watch the rising tide on the estuary and to add a number of wading birds to our list.

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We next moved onto Burghead, a headland which juts out into the Moray Firth where again we had excellent views of sea-duck as well as other coastal species such as Rock Pipit.

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Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

In the harbour we had a close encounter with a Grey Seal.

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Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Heading west again we stopped at East beach at Findhorn and got the most amazing views of a group of Velvet Scoter.

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Velvet Scoter
Photo by Stefan Berndtsson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sbern/)

Our final coastal stop was at Nairn where we again had good views of sea-duck and added Hooded Crow to our total.

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Hooded Crow

Hooded Crow

On the way back to our base we saw a Woodcock flying over the road and stopping were treated to another couple of flight views as it completed its circuit flight.

Red Grouse [sp] (Lagopus lagopus)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Common Eider [sp] (Somateria mollissima)
Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca)
Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)
Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)
Great Northern Loon (Gavia immer)
Horned Grebe [sp] (Podiceps auritus)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
Bar-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa lapponica)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Sanderling [sp] (Calidris alba)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Hooded Crow [sp] (Corvus cornix)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

In Scotland for 3 days of Birdwatching on a short break run by Heatherlea, a holiday company based in Speyside. The first day stated with an early trip to a Black Grouse lek. Although we could hear both Red Grouse and Black Grouse the thick mist did its best to thwart our attempts to see them in the heather.

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I did briefly see one Male Black Grouse in the undergrowth and a Red Grouse in flight.

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Black Grouse male
Photo by Michael Sveikutis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/micksway/)

After breakfast we made our way to Loch Garton, where we had excellent views of Coal Tit and Crested Tit, although the later never stayed in one place long enough for me to photograph them.

Crested Tit
Crested Tit
Photo by Sergey Yeliseev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

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Next it was onto the forest and after a lot of searching we found a group of female Black Grouse. After giving us excellent views they retreated into the undergrowth. but we drew a blank for Capacaillie.

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Female Black Grouse

Female Black Grouse

Our next stop was the Strathdearn, the valley of the River Findhorn. Given that it was a sunny day there was limited bird ativity and 5 Ravens and a distant view of a juvenile Golden Eagle were all we had. We did have some very good views of Red Deer. However on our return up the valley we were delighted to see an adult Golden Eagle circling above the road giving us excellent views.

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Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Photo by Sergey Yeliseev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

Our final stop was on the moor on the Farr road which gave us excellent views of Red Grouse.

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An excellent start to my trip to Scotland with many of the target birds seen although it would be nice to see Black grouse better.
Black Grouse [sp] (Lyrurus tetrix)
Red Grouse [sp] (Lagopus lagopus)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Goosander [sp] (Mergus merganser)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Golden Eagle [sp] (Aquila chrysaetos)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
European Crested Tit [sp] (Lophophanes cristatus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
Eurasian Bullfinch [sp] (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)