Thursday, April 14, 2022

πŸ“– Mid-Monthly Update ~ April 14/2022

A rare sun halo over the village on April 1st ~ No, it's not an April Fool!

As March moved into April there was no let-up in the cold northerly breeze with temperatures struggling to get into double figures on most days. The early part of the month produced a few inches of snow, followed by ice warnings and freezing rain. This obviously scuppered any chance of early migrants getting through. The only bonus was the clocks springing forward an hour and I'm not sure whether my back going into spasm and laying me up for four days was a good thing or bad considering the conditions!

Snow on April 4th ~ My birthday

That said a few days of southerly winds in the early part of this week have certainly made the difference with my walk around Dalmadilly Ponds yesterday (13th) producing my first Swallows of the year, three Sand Martin and a year first House Martin. However, there's still no sign of any Warbler movement and I still await my first Blackcap of 2022. During the month thus far I'm also delighted to have come across my first Aberdeenshire ringtail Hen Harrier but due to the delicate nature of these birds, I will withhold the exact location.

Lekking Black Grouse at Glen Muick

With my back now sufficiently repaired I made an early morning visit to Glen Muick on Monday 11th. A highland glen on the Balmoral Estate with varied habitats: agricultural land, conifer and birch woods, moorland, river, loch and surrounded by high hills. It's a great place to see Black Grouse and with plenty of stopping points offering some great viewpoints, it's comfort birding. 

Not the best conditions for photography on the day but managed a shot of a drumming (or winnowing) Snipe showing the outer tail feathers which produce the sound.

Red Grouse is not as abundant as black at Glen Muick

As with last year's visit, although the weather wasn't as good this time around, It was another excellent one with plenty of Black Grouse activity, Red Grouse, drumming Snipe, displaying Curlew, displaying Meadow Pipits and my first singing Tree Pipit of the year. I'm always surprised to see so many Common Gulls in the Cairngorms which is actually a regular breeder here and of course not to mention the noisy Oystercatchers! No sign of much raptor activity this visit, likely due to the low cloud and stiff breeze but I did manage a large distant skein of Pink-footed Geese (circa 300) heading north.

1st Wheatear of the year near the visitor centre at Loch Muick

From the parking area at the visitor centre, I enjoyed a stroll down to Loch Muick but didn't venture as far as Glas-Allt-Shiel, a lodge built in 1868 by Queen Victoria along the far shore of the loch. My stroll produced more of the same species as above with many Red Deer and also included my first Wheatear of the year.

One of three Ruff at Strathbeg.

On a breezy Tuesday, April 12th a visit to RSPB Loch of Strathbeg produced a few highlights which included three Ruff, three Marsh Harrier (summer visitors to Aberdeenshire) and an Osprey, all year firsts.

A forlorn-looking Puffin at Buller's of Buchan

A stop off on route home at Buller of Buchan in search of early Puffins was successful with a half dozen birds seen in total.

Firecrest at Newtonhill

I wasn't able to get across to Newtonhill yesterday for a reported Firecrest so was delighted when the bird came up again on Birdguides this morning. Elusive little chap but not difficult to find in the end by his constant singing. I spent a good 45 minutes on my own with the bird and managed a half dozen or so images before I headed off.

Wheatear on Girdleness golf course.

My final stop was a stroll around Girdleness and here the highlights were a pair of Wheatear on the golf course. Finally, spring migration had begun!

More images of the past two weeks...

Eurasian Hare ~ Not as common as you make think around these parts.

Firecrest Newtonhill

Firecrest Newtonhill

Puffins below Buller of Buchan.

Stonechat ~ A regular encounter around Aberdeenshire.

One of many Red Deer seen at Glen Muick.

Six Crossbill at the Glen Muick Nature Centre.

BUBO Listing
NEW Scottish Life-List Since Relocating Permanently to Aberdeenshire in October 2020