Sunday, June 19, 2011

Right Place - Right Time!

Nesting Fulmar @ RSPB Fowlsleugh
After a short summer break from blogging it’s time to get back down to it and although things locally are extremely quiet, the last few days in Aberdeen have proven to be anything but!

Dee and I travelled up on Thursday; the main reason for our trip was to visit Dee’s Grandmother, who’s been recuperating in hospital for the past few months. Dee had booked an excellent little B&B right on the harbour at Stonehaven that had a nice balcony that looked out across the harbour. Here with the use of my scope we had constant views of many Oystercatcher, Common Eider and passing Gannet, Fulmar and Kittiwake.

Very Content Looking Razorbill
On Friday we managed to grab some time away from hospital visits and paid a morning trip to RSPB Fowlsheugh, which lies just off the A92, around 3 miles south of Stonehaven.

Fowlsheugh is a spectacular seabird city with 130,000 birds nesting on the cliffs, including Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, and smaller numbers of Fulmars, Herring Gulls, Shags and Puffins. Skylarks, Meadow and Rock Pipits, and Linnets also breed on the reserve. I’m delighted to say that we managed to connect with all the above species, plus a bonus in the shape of a lone Bonxie (Shetland name for Great Skua), which was hanging around the colony for a short while!

Grey and Common Seals, and Bottlenose and Common Dolphins can also be seen offshore. Harbour Porpoises, White-beaked Dolphins and Minke Whales are seen occasionally but sadly not during our visit! Thrift and red campion grow in abundance, it’s simply a wonderful all round location.

Although I’m not a twitcher, and hate it when someone refers to me as such, I do have a definite knack of being in the right place at the right time. A few years back I stumbled into Hollands biggest ever twitch on Texel Island, purely by chance, when a Caspian Plover and American Golden Plover were both on the Island during my visit. So when news reached me of two mega vagrants for the UK, North American White-winged Scoter and ♂King Eider only a few miles up the coast from my current location, well, what can I tell you!!

My Attemp @ Fulmar in Flight!
I must say that the weather was appalling on Saturday but thanks to local help (Cheers Gordon and Tay), and to be fair in the case of the White-winged Scoter, recognition in the gloom, I managed both. The Scoter was seen offshore at Blackdog, a short drive up the A90 north of Aberdeen. Also seen in the rain and gloom were good numbers of Common Scoter, a few Velvet, but unfortunately during my brief stay I failed on the reported ♂ Surf Scoters.

Desperatley running out of time but slightly further up the coast I arrived at Ythan Estuary and I can tell you that the weather had in fact deteriorated even further, but thanks to persistence and determination the King Eider was duly seen in all it's glory. I managed a quick look at the Ternary with Arctic, Little, Common and Sandwich Tern all in residence before darting back to Aberdeen to pick up Dee, two UK lifers in the bag!!