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Welcome Aboard! Below is my live twitter feed & Diary entries. ~ LATEST DIARY UPDATE..... Diary Entry #66 Monday November 19th SCOTLAND......

Monday, November 19, 2018

📖 #66 ~ Scotland 🍁

After our visits to RSPB Loch of Strathsbeg and the Southern Highlands at Glenshee, we spent the remainder of our week in Scotland working our way along the north-east coast.

Dipper at Cruden Bay
There are lots of bays and beaches to explore working up from our accommodation at Cruden Bay as far as Rosehearty on the Moray Firth coastline. However, Cruden Bay itself has been productive, with Dippers on the river and lots of Yellowhammers and Tree Sparrows, which appear to be in good numbers right across the area.

Plenty of Shag at Girdleness, Aberdeen

Large numbers of Purple Sandpipers roost at Girdleness
On Thursday Dazza was meeting an old friend in Aberdeen for lunch after which we spent time at Girdleness, which is the headland that protects the southern side of the harbour. The short walk around it takes in the lighthouse, sea views and Torry Battery - built to defend the harbour in 1860.

1st yr Long-tailed Duck at Aberbour

Many Turnstones along the shorelines

Hooded Crow (hybrid) 
On Friday, our final full day we managed to get as far along as Rosehearty, just four miles west of Fraserburgh, where we spent time in both places checking out the harbours, bays and beaches.

Waxwing ~ Blink and it's gone!

Rock Pipit at Sandhaven
Fraserburgh produced the only two Waxwings of the week, despite many reports in the local areas and at Sandhaven we recorded over thirty Rock Pipits around the harbour. The weather, with the exception of Wednesday, when it rained all day, has been exceptional with mostly clear blue skies and temperatures on some days in the mid teens, incredible for November. To be honest, the weather was too good for birding, with little wind, mostly southerly and so no Skuas, Petrels, unusual sea ducks or rare Gulls to report, in fact, Divers were a little scarce too with only Red-throated seen. That said a great week, particularly for my wife Daria, who had a well-deserved break in her homeland!

Cattle Egrets at RSPB Leighton Moss

Cattle Egret
A stop off on Saturday night at Lancaster on the route home gave a perfect opportunity to visit RSPB Leighton Moss, a place where I have many childhood memories. Here the highlights were good scoped views of a Great Grey Shrike, Merlin and two Cattle Egrets at a nearby farm.

Other Images of Scotland...

Marsh Harrier Leighton Moss
Marsh Tit ~ RSPB Leighton Moss

Pintail & Gadwall
One of many Whooper Swan

Haven for Curlew

Bathing Tree Sparrows

Dunlin at Rosehearty

Full List Of Sightings....

Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Red-legged Partridge, Red Grouse, Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Pheasant, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Knot, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Redshank, Snipe, Guillemot, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel, Merlin, Great Grey Shrike, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow (including intermediate), Raven, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Skylark, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Stonechat, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Goldfinch, Siskin, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

📖 #65 ~ Southern Highlands, Scotland 🍁

⛅️13C Tuesday 13th November 2018 ~ A two-hour drive into the southern Scottish Highlands with a few stops on the route before our final destination at Glenshee ski centre.

Red Grouse at Glenshee
Having already come across several small groups of Red Grouse on various stops along the A93, which incidentally is the highest public road in the United Kingdom at 665m, we spent some time at the resort, which is a great place to get the scope out and scan the higher slopes. With patience and care Ptarmigan can be spotted, along with Moutain Hares, which much to Dazza's delight were already sporting their white winter coats.

A good sized herd of Red Deer at Glenshee
Large herds of Red Deer were also a feature, with one constantly on the move, toing and froing across the slopes. Ravens, as you would imagine are also in good numbers with one group of fifteen birds noted.

Fieldfare at Glen Clunie
After Glenshee, we backtracked, parking at Glen Clunie, the conifer plantation at Baddoch along the A93 and headed off for a walk into the hills to the west. Too late in the year for Ring Ouzels, which are regular nesters here but we did come across a large flock of Fieldfare, which find productive feeding grounds along the tracks. It's a good place too for finding Dippers along the river but not during our walk.

Young Roe Deer at Ballochbuie Forest
With the day ebbing away our final stop was at Ballochbuie Forest, which is best accessed from the car park at Keiloch on the Invercauld Estate. From here you walk back over the A93 and across the River Dee by way of the old General Wade bridge, entering the forest through the large gate.

Iconic Red Squirrel
However, just before entering what I would imagine being one of the estate houses had a selection of feeders outside, always worth checking. Among the six or so Coal Tits a single Red Squirrel was a good find.

Ballochbuie Forest is a breeding area for Black Grouse, just two today and is also a good place to find Scottish Crossbill. Three species breed in Aberdeenshire ~ Common, Parrot and Scottish. Common Crossbills are widespread across the area in any conifer plantation. Parrot Crossbills are found in very small numbers in the old pinewoods and plantations of Upper Deeside. Scottish Crossbills (the UK's only endemic bird species) are notoriously difficult to nail. Whereas the extremes of Common and Parrot Crossbill is more straightforward so of the four birds seen and heard today I can rule out Parrot. As for a Scottish Crossbill 'tick' there are many intermediates and so due to the short period and distance of observation, I can only register Common Crossbill for our visit.

Monday, November 12, 2018

📖 #64 ~ Aberdeenshire, Scotland 🍁

Our home for the next week is a delightful cottage overlooking Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire Scotland, arriving on Saturday evening. We spent our first day just chilling out locally, enjoying a long beach walk in the morning and heading just a few miles further up the coast to explore the harbours of Peterhead.

Juvenile Eider Duck ~ Plenty around here!
This area has some excellent sea watching opportunities and also holds large concentrations of Eider Ducks and there was certainly plenty around the bay during our walk.

Possible Scandinavian Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus littoralis)
Also of note was a possible Scandinavian Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus littoralis) found by Dazza along the inlet at Cruden Bay but I'm no expert!

Purple Sandpipers at Gadel Braes

Today we visited RSPB Loch of Strathbeg, only a short drive from the cottage. Firstly, a stop at the rocky sandstone shoreline along Gadel Braes, Peterhead. This is a great spot to sea watch from the comfort of the car and along with two Red-throated Divers more Eiders and Shags offshore at least a dozen Purple Sandpipers with the foraging OystercatchersTurnstones and Redshanks.

Gorgeous Hen Harrier passing the Dunbar Hide
RSPB Loch of Strathbeg has a large population of Tree Sparrows around the small visitor centre and well worth a look. At this time of year too, there are good numbers of Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans. It's also a great place to find wintering Hen Harriers and we were not disappointed. Huge flocks of Golden Plover and Wigeon seemed to be constantly on the move, mostly put up by at least six Common Buzzards, Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier. We also managed a quick view of Merlin, which flashed through while chasing a flock of Linnet.

More Images of the Day!

Golden Plover

Pink-footed Geese

Whooper Swan in the evening light

Thursday, November 08, 2018

📖 #63 ~Brandon Marsh 🍁

A quick pictorial update on visits to Brandon Marsh over the past few weeks. 

Eclipse Pintail ~ Likely a Drake ~ Note the two-tone bill
The now long staying eclipse Pintail (most likely a Drake) was still on site during a visit yesterday, along with a couple of waders, quite a rarity for Brandon these days, with a single Dunlin on East Marsh and single Green Sandpiper on Teal Pool. While in East Marsh Hide circa 30 Golden Plover were noted in flight towards the east but never dropped in. Wigeon counts remain high with a few exceeding 200 and Shoveler numbers have finally begun to rise!


All the usual winter visitors can now be found with small numbers of Lesser Redpoll, best seen in the Alders near the 'Mouse Maze' and metal gates, plus Siskin, Redwing and Fieldfare. Keep an eye out when walking along the path towards the right hide, where I was lucky enough to find three Bramblings feeding on the leaf litter. A Little Egret is also a regular visitor and despite its colour and size can be quite elusive. So too a pair of Stonechat from the Ted Jury hide, just the male noted on a recent visit.

Record shot of Caspian Gull (Saturday, November 3rd), East Marsh by Bob Lee
Yellow-legged Gull (Friday, November 2nd)
Gull numbers, in particular, Common Gulls are beginning to rise with lots arriving to wash off after feeding before heading on to roost. Rarer species to Brandon such as Caspian Gull and Yellow-legged Gull have been noted recently too!

Away from the birding, a Red Fox performed well on Wigeon Bank, offering some good photo opportunities.

Monday, November 05, 2018

📖 #62 ~Bearded Reedling 🍁

🍁🌞14C Monday November 5th 2018 ~ With a few chores to complete today, I decided to stay local beginning at Napton Churchyard shortly before 10am. A particularly mild morning overcast with a light breeze from the south.

On arrival a number of Redwings departed from the nearby treetops, leaving a couple of bold and quite vocal Mistle Thrush. Three Greenfinch and a small group of Chaffinch, which contained three Brambling, including a stunning male.

I sat for a while on the churchyard benches, where I'd sat on many occasions with the recently departed Richard Mays. In fact, I'd only been with him a few days before he passed away, enjoying brilliant views of a Yellow-browed Warbler at the marina. I didn't know Richard outside of the local birding community but met up on numerous occasions while out birding the locality and at Brandon Marsh. I liked Richard, he had a great sense of humour and I'm sure he'll be sorely missed by many, including me, RIP Richard.

Record shot of Great White Egret as it drifted over the reservoir to the south-west.
A couple of Ravens cronking overhead before I departed for Napton Reservoir, arriving just as the sun had begun to break through the cloud. I made my way down towards the top reedbeds and while here a number of Fieldfare and Redwings, plus what seemed like a constant passage of Skylarks overhead. In fact, it was while counting a group of 11 birds overhead that I noticed a large Egret heading at height towards the south-west. A Great White Egret, which I followed before finally losing sight.

Stunning male Bearded Reedling at Napton Reservoir
After a short while some absolutely stunning views of a pair of Bearded Reedlings, which at one stage came so close I had to step back to focus! Also of note during the visit a count of (36) Common Gulls on the water, plus (17) Lapwing and (4) Siskin over.

More images of the Napton Reservoir Bearded Reedling....

Female Bearded Reedling

Almost the 'money' shot!

Monday, October 29, 2018

📖 #61 Yellow-browed Warbler 🍁

On Friday morning (26th) while leaving the boat I was certain I'd heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling from the nearby willows, literally yards away from the boat. A good search of the area around the canal junction and mooring, unfortunately, proved fruitless.

I was away in Suffolk for the weekend visiting friends, arriving back on Sunday evening and with the clear skies and NN-Easterly winds expected overnight, I was keen to complete a nocmig (recording of nocturnal bird migration). The recording took place between 23:30hrs and 06:00hrs and yielded some excellent results, which can be found HERE.

This morning I'd decided to leave the speakers and microphone on while getting ready to head off, listening to the local Magpies, Jackdaws, Robins and more passing Thrushes. You can imagine my surprise when suddenly a Yellow-browed Warbler began to call once more, pretty close by! I immediately turned the recorder on as the bird continued to call. (listen to above xeno-canto)

Yellow-browed Warbler ~ My 1st record for Warwickshire
Once again I began a complete a search of the area and while doing this decided to call another local birder and nocmigger Theo de Clermont to aid the search, probably dragging him out of bed. Theo arrived some 30-minutes later but within minutes I'd spotted a small bird at treetop level, a Yellow-browed Warbler, my 1st Warwickshire record and once more right on my doorstep.