Thursday, December 03, 2020

πŸ“– Ythan Estuary ☀️1C ~ Wind ↑ S@ 4mph ~ 03/12/20

🌊 High Tide ~ 14:55 @4.19m ~ ☀️ Sunrise 8:27am Sunset 3:29pm 

It was another beautiful day but before setting off to the Ythan Estuary I spent my breakfast sat at the kitchen window, camera at the ready! My aim over the last few mornings has been to capture one of the many skeins of Pink-footed Geese flying across the now gibbous setting moon, which was just sat like a gorgeous orb floating above the Bennachie hills.

Success ~ Pink-footed Geese across the setting moon

They say patience is a virtue and it finally paid off when at last one large group veered off and across the moon, a wonderful moment but all over in an instant!

The mouth of the Ythan Estuary at Newburgh on my arrival

Half an hour later I was at the Ythan Estuary once more, which was again bathed in the beautiful winter sunshine. Today I parked at Newburgh and decided to head south along the beach and then take my return journey back alongside the sand dunes. It was such a lovely day I did, in fact, spend most of it just enjoying the Estuary before heading off to the Waulkmill Hide to enjoy another magical sunset.

What follows is a pictorial of my day..

Newburgh, of course, is famous for its Seal colonies and within minutes of arriving this morning, these lovable characters were already offering some excellent photo opportunities.

Some large numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers winter around the Ythan Estuary and today I counted over 30 birds, with more arriving as the tide came in.

As you walk along the beach you just can't help being mesmerised by Sanderling. The batteries never run low in these charismatic birds and catching one at rest is a task in itself. 

Among a varied selection of waders seen today Red Knot could be found feeding along the shallows and there was a good number passing through just prior to high tide.

Dunlin (top) Redshank (middle) and Turnstone (bottom) make up the largest numbers of waders currently around the estuary. 

Eider Ducks winter all around the north-east coast of Scotland and breed close by at Forvie. This area holds one of the largest populations in the UK but I could never tire of seeing these colourful sea ducks and they are always the first bird I look for during any visit.

Common Gulls can be found here in large numbers, along with Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull. Surprisingly Lesser Black-backed Gulls are rare to the area in winter and I've only managed a couple of sightings since moving here last month.

Whooper Swans at Sunset ~ What a magical place this is!

On route to the Waulkmill Hide, a large flock of Golden Plover was on the fields just prior to the turn on the A975. At the hide feeders 20/30 Tree Sparrows, Coal Tit, Chaffinch and Yellowhammer but the large Linnet flock noted yesterday were across the fields and more distant today. Also of note Buzzard, Kestrel and a single Snipe flew up from the nearby reeds. The icing on the cake of another magical day was the skeins of Pink-footed Geese overhead and the amazing sight of thirteen Whoopers Swans heading out of the Ythan around sunset.