Thursday, October 29, 2020

πŸ“– Ythan Estuary ☀️ 12C ~ Wind ↗SW@15mph 29/10/20


An early start this morning before the forecasted rain comes in later today. It was another gorgeous start and a frosty one too and so I spent the first 10-minutes defrosting the car. A quick stop at our excellent local bakery/cafe for a bacon roll and a couple of 'Aberdeen Rowies' for later and I was at the Ythan Estuary a half-hour later.

A Bar-tailed Godwit passes by along the Ythan.

Tide times were better today and so there was plenty of mudflats showing around 'Inch Point' and as usual the place was simply awash with life. Overhead skeins of noisy Pink-footed Geese were on the move and the sounds of Oystercatchers, Redshanks & Curlews was almost deafening. Some large flocks of Dunlin were constantly on the move too, dropping in close by occasionally for a feeding frenzy. Out in the channels Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Little Grebe, Wigeon and the resident Eiders. The Seals were also out in force and an Otter swam through keeping close to the far bank. Passing overhead during my visit Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Rock Pipit.

A very inquisitive Long-tailed Duck at the Ythan Estuary

The highlight of the visit was a stunning drake Long-tailed Duck, which I first scoped at distance but then it seemed to spot me and fly in landing directly in front, pretty surreal! I have to say I was literally mesmerised by him and watched him for some considerable time. The last time I saw a drake like this close in, locally known as an 'Oldsquaw' was in Canada some years ago.

Turnstone enjoying the weather

My next stop was for a walk along the Ythan shoreline further upriver, parking at the bridge car park. This is where the Ythan River begins to open out into the estuary and just as I arrived 17 Whooper Swans passed south. Immediately below several Turnstones were feeding in the glorious sunshine.

There are a small number of Greenshanks wintering along the Ythan ~ I think this one caught a crab?

The tide had now turned but there was still a few mudflats to explore. There was eight Shelduck feeding on one section and a selection of Gulls to go through. I'd been reading that Lesser-Black-backed Gulls are not common in these parts during the winter and so it would seem. I think I've only recorded a couple since moving here but Common Gulls are everywhere! There's also a small population of wintering Greenshank and I noted two today. My main reason for visiting this stretch was to do a spot of hedge bashing and also to search for Twite and Snow Bunting along the shore but apart from Yellowhammer, Stonechat and Goldfinch, I drew a blank. 

I couldn't get in at Coliieston today for a seawatch as they were resurfacing the car park (thankfully) and when I nipped around to the church for a reported Yellow-browed Warbler, frustratingly they were working there too! 

Roe Deer ~ A wonderful sight & quite a common one around these parts.

I had to head off to Peterhead B&Q at some stage today so I drove the back roads stopping at a few plantations to listen out for anything unusual. A Roe Deer suddenly appeared alongside and after hitting the brakes I managed to grab a few images before it bolted off. 

Three of sixteen Purple Sandpipers roosting at Gadle Braes

The weather was deteriorating by the time I reached Peterhead but before shopping, I stopped off at Gadle Braes. My target here with the tide almost fully in was Purple Sandpiper and I wasn't disappointed with 16 birds roosting on the rocks.

More Images Of The Day...

Long-tailed Duck coming in to investigate!

Long-tailed Duck

Unlike most of the others, this Purple Sandpiper was actually awake!