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Saturday, 28 February 2015

Scottish Highlands February birding trip

Having received a call from John H proposing a trip to Scotland for the Harlequin and Speyside specialities (weather permitting) I could only commit to the Feb 14/15 weekend and on Friday the 13th we drove from Caister at 9pm. The Scottish team from last year, Tim H, Tony S, John H and myself were reassembled for an assault on the assorted Scottish goodies. After a 12 hour drive, we reached Aberdeen's Seaton Park at around 9.30am. I saw a calling Grey Wagtail fly over car park. The weather was very grey and overcast but fortunately wasn't raining. We were told to follow the river at the end of the park but we turned right and followed the fast flowing river for a mile which proved to be the wrong direction! We saw a female Goldeneye and then a couple of Goosander on the river first a female and then a male. We retraced our steps and this time we turned left at the toilet block and coincidently bumped into Matthew D and his Suffolk party and we walked along the path following the riverbank and then past a construction site and then past a new build of flats where we saw a path down to the river over a mound a ditch and some barbed wire, safely negotiated (no ripped trousers this time!) and a small group of people with scopes were looking through a wire fence panel and immediately saw the excellent Harlequin Duck sat on a rock, a truly superb bird it stood up and then started swimming in the fast flowing water over to the edge of and island area before it flew towards us and amazingly stood on a rock barely 30 feet away! It stood here for over half an hour in the rapidly detiorating weather which was starting to drizzle. We saw the Harlequin, an immature male dabble its bill, stretch its wing before some canoeists forced it to vacate its rock and quickly swim out past us and fly back to its original rock. Also seen were some 6 Goosanders (3 male and 3 females- all in pairs) and 2 singing and displaying Dippers (I sadly missed the display) on rocks on the stream behind us. As we walked back near an island copse we saw an excellent Otter scrabble out of the wood and scramble down to its drey then briefly swim in the water before clambering up the bank into the wood again and then back down the bank and into the water again. The rest of the dat we drove to Speyside and between Grantown on Spey and Aviemore I saw 2 Buzzard and a Mistle Thrush in the fields. As it was half term week we were struggling to secure reasonably proved accommodation one Hotel could put us all up for £85 a night! After trying 6 places in Aviemore, we decided to try Grantown and our 3rd B&B rang up and we secured accommodation at the bargain rate of £30 a night each for 2 twin bedded rooms. We saw a group of birders who had just seen a Waxwing we didn't see it that night. The next morning we drove up the Lane and Tony spotted the excellent Waxwing perched in a tree/ bush in the front garden of a cottage. Next stop was Anagach woods where we saw Coal Tit and heard Crested tit, which Tim did well to spot. We tried to go up Cairngorm but the ski road was closed so next stop was the car park at Loch garten- Coal tits, Chaffinches, great tit, GSW, 2 Crested tit, 4 treecreeper, 4 Wood pigeon Abernethy- not a lot seen h Sisken 4 Eider 2 male & 2 female, C- score 2 groups of 50, 3 LT Duck, Black scoter swimming left seen through tony's cope, Gannets, 3 RT Diver, 4 Razorbill, 15 Mute Swans.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Smew at Burgh castle

On Saturday 7th February, whilst shopping in Yarmouth I received a call from OFB (thanks Rog!) and promptly made my way to Burgh castle at 1.50pm I saw the fine redhead Smew swimming right, at 2.20pm it suddenly took off and flew right towards Breydon Water and Great Yarmouth seeing it disappear north and out of sight.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Pair of Bullfinches again in the garden

A male and female Bullfinch were perched right at the top of the Cherry tree feeding on the cherry buds at both 8.27am and 8.37am this morning on Saturday 7th February.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Rain shower birding!

Sunday 1st February, a day of bright sunshine then followed quickly by a rain shower this weather pattern was prevalent all day I tried dodging the rain showers, albeit unsuccessfully as I got wet on each time I stepped out of the car! First stop was Pakefield beach by the Jolly Sailors pub (doing a roaring line in Sunday lunches as a whole host of people were going in!) and I met Derek B who just put out some more seed out within minutes the fine flock of Snow Buntings flew in, 11 strong they frequented the marram grass area before building up courage to feed on the seen put out in a line in the grassy area. 3 whiter males were seen among the flock and they fed for some 10 minutes before a few, 4 Feral Pigeons flew in and spooked them flying east and onto the beach. Also around 12 Turnstone flew past plus a winter plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull flew over the beach and southwards. Next stop Oulton Broad, the heavy rain shower shortened my visit here but I failed yet again to connect with either the Rail of the 'Fisher! (showy for others but definitely not me). At Ness Point 10 Purple Sandpipers fed on the area just east of the compass and a further 2 fed a few yards further north under a rock overhang, totalling 12 Purple Sandpipers in total, my highest tally this winter. The birds fed on the seaweeds encrusted rocks flying a little closer when a wave threatened to engulf them, as always charmingly endearing birds especially when they are just a few feet away from you!