For the birdwatching community, January is when it all begins anew. A brand new year list gets off the ground and we once again begin to take note of birds we've likely filed into the background for the previous eleven months such as Blackbirds, Blue Tits and House Sparrows, which now become the sort after species, if only for a day at least!
|Great Northern Diver at Peterhead Harbour on January 5th|
Like most, I've been out and about since the turn of the year and as the Aberdeenshire Council vision statement reads: 'From mountain to sea, the very best of Scotland'. Indeed, I've made visits into the Cairngorms, the Ythan Estuary, nearby harbours such as Girdleness and Peterhead, plus a number of local walks and with the help of the good lady wife 'Dazza' have well surpassed 100 species for 2022.
|Not the best image you'll ever see of a Red-necked Grebe ~ This one at Strathbeg on the 11th|
I have to say that one or two sightings thus far have meant being in the right place at the right time and this was proven when sitting in the Bay hide at Strathbeg on January 11th. During my short stay, I managed to view the above Red-necked Grebe (likely the one on-site prior to Christmas) for just a few minutes before it disappeared from view.
|Red Grouse at Glenshee Ski Centre|
My visit to the Cairngorms with Dazza on January 17th was enjoyable, although due to the unusually warm start to January most of the early winter snow has melted and our visit was hampered on occasions by low clouds. Notwithstanding we did manage Red Grouse and Mountain Hare the latter easily spotted in their white winter coats. Sadly the chair lifts were not operational so any hope of Ptarmigan or Snow Bunting higher up were scuppered, I'll rely on coastal areas for the buntings. We did have a moment when a large raptor appeared over the distant mountain tops but unfortunately, I was driving and we didn't get eyes on the bird long enough to determine the species. Golden Eagle will have to wait another day!
|Merlin washing at Meikle Loch|
On Friday 21st I dropped into Meikle Loch just north of Collieston and while here spent most of my stay watching a Merlin washing down in the shallows. Also of note were a pair of Stonechat and a good selection of wildfowl including Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye.
|Dipper along the River Dee ~ This one occasionally singing.|
January is a great time to hear singing Dippers and during an afternoon stroll along the River Dee at Banchory on January 22nd with Dazza a single bird obliged. Considering the roar of the river we could still hear his penetrating song long after we'd moved on.
|A family party of Whooper Swans at Monnymusk ~ good to see so many juveniles about!|
I've completed a number of local walks around Fetternear and along the River Don and once again came across a couple of singing Dippers. The regular 100 or so Whooper Swans are now grazing in the fields adjacent to the river bank at Monnymusk and most mornings the Greylag and Pink-footed Geese fill the skies and fields around Kemnay.
|Greenland White-fronted Goose at Kintore|
In one particular field at Kintore, a Greenland White-fronted Goose was noted feeding with a group of Greylags, it's not uncommon to see one occasionally around the area.
|One of the Brambling obliging for a photo in the rain|
During one of my walks at Fetternear, I came across a flock of around thirty or so Brambling feeding on the beech mast. There appears to be a lot more around this year compared to last and I see one or two on most of my visits.
|Just a small sample of the devastation caused by the recent storms.|
January, in general, has been a remarkably mild month up here in the northeast of Scotland but of course, the main weather news has been the storms. January certainly ended with a bang and in quick succession came storms Malik and Corrie causing widespread devastation throughout Aberdeenshire and indeed other parts of the UK with winds in excess of 90mph. On top of the 30hrs we were without power during Storm Arwen last year once again we were personally cut off on two more occasions totalling 26hrs over the weekend. Unprecedented times and I'm sure we can expect more of the same in the coming months/years.
More Images of the Month...
|Common Crossbill at Benview Nature Centre|
|The ever present Eiders on the Ythan|
|Red-breasted Merganser another regular along the Ythan estuary|
|Peregrine on route to Rattray viewed from the car|
|Fulmars are already on breeding sites at Buller of Buchan|
|Not an expert yet! But I'm thinking a Porpoise? passing close by at Cruden Bay|
|Local Sparrowhawk ~ Taken from the garden.|
|A drake Goosander takes flight along the River Don.|
|Treecreeper at Fetternear|
|Tree Sparrow ~ A good population exists with the local area|