A very early start this morning arriving on the northern Aberdeenshire coast of Portsoy, a very attractive harbour with plenty of history. The main reason for the visit was to catch up with White-billed Divers, this is a well-known area where the birds can be found regularly during their moult between March and May. It actually wasn't too difficult a task to find one today as when I arrived at the Dolphin Statue, a good place to begin scanning, a fellow birder, who told me he was up from Glasgow, put me straight on to four birds. As per the norm, all birds are generally quite distant and a scope is essential.
While enjoying the views there was plenty of Bottlenose Dolphin activity, with many breaches and Gannets were diving in an area that actually held (11) Long-tailed Duck, most in summer plumage. Close by a Rock Pipit was a nice distraction and back out to sea Guillemots and Razorbills, along with two Red-throated Divers.
|Rattray ~ A good place to find Corn Bunting|
From Portsoy, I headed back around the coast to Rattray. Once off the main A90 the road passes the remains of St. Mary's chapel and offers good views of the southern end of the Loch of Strathbeg. I paused here for a while to take a short walk picking up a couple of Corn Buntings along the fences and several Meadow Pipits in the surrounding fields, where Golden Plover, Lapwing and a few remaining Pink-footed Geese were noted among the Greylags.
From the chapel, the road becomes extremely rough down to the parking at the Lighthouse Cottages but with care, it can easily be navigated. The area itself is renowned for its rarities in spring and autumn but today my main focus was to try and catch up with a drake Surf Scoter, which had been hanging around with a large raft of Common Scoters to the south of the lighthouse. It was more difficult than I'd anticipated with the harse mid-morning sunshine (must remember I'm on the east coast) and a stiff breeze but having finally found some high ground shielding me from the southwesterly I eventually connected after a 90-minute vigil. In fact, I was actually ready to give up when the bird was seen in flight at the head of a large group of Common Scoters. Other notables during my stay included Velvet Scoter, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Black-throated Diver, a steady passage of Sandwich Terns, Kittiwakes and Fulmars. A look at the flooded fields before heading off found (9) Ringed Plover, (4) Redshank and (5) Curlew.
A final bonus during an excellent day and just 15 minutes from home were managing some distant views from the roadside of one of the three Ring-necked Ducks at Loch Skene but I dipped on a redhead Smew. Not many images to upload today with all views of my target species mainly distant.