Saturday, June 18, 2022

πŸ“– Invercauld Estate ~ June 18th 2022

πŸ’¨πŸŒ€ 18C Saturday 18th June 2022 ~ Despite the strong breeze it was still a lovely day so Dazza and I decided to pack a picnic and head off to the Cairngorms to enjoy one of our favourite walks around the Invercauld Estate near Braemar. 

View looking down towards Deeside

This waymarked circular walk begins at the estate car park and takes you around the prominent Craig Leek. At a distance of 5.25 miles with an ascent of around 1000ft, the walk normally takes around 2.5 hours. As we set off there was a small number of Common Crossbills in the surrounding trees, apparently, all three species can be found around here (Scottish & Parrot) but I've yet to connect with the latter two. 

Common Crossbill

Due to the stiff breeze, I wasn't expecting much in the way of Butterflies, in fact, the only species we managed to identify today were Green-veined White and Small Heath, although a Fritillary did zoom passed at one point, likely a Dark-green! There were plenty of Four-spotted Chaser Dragonflies but the conditions ruled out any chance of finding Northern Damselflies, which can be seen here along the lower track.

Four-spotted Chaser

We made our usual stop for a snack when we reached Felagie Burn and while here had one of those unexpected wildlife experiences! Dazza spotted something swimming in the deeper water and the last thing we expected was to see a Mole hauling itself out. We watched in amazement as he awkwardly scrambled up onto the rocks before disappearing into the nearby undergrowth. Quite a surreal moment!

A Mole ~ Apparently a pretty good swimmer when the need arises!

The birding was excellent today for passerines and I don't think we've ever managed to see so many juveniles. It seems to have been an excellent breeding season up here thus far. Willow Warblers were too numerous to count and the same could be said for Stonechats, which also appeared to be around every bend. We also managed to come across three juvenile Wheatear along with what was likely one of the parents.

This young Wheatear was one of three noted today.

At a woodland stage of our walk, we found a family of five Common Redstarts, busily being fed by both parents. Dazza first noted the youngsters all perched on lower branches but they suddenly disperced into the nearby trees. A few photos before hastily moving on, a wonderful sight nevertheless! We also came across a second breeding pair a short time later.

Two of the five juveniles Redstarts (below) along with the male parent (above)

The final length of our walk takes you back to the car park along the estate road and here we managed two displaying Tree Pipits along with Siskin, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush and Meadow Pipit

More Images of the Day...

Soggy-looking Mole after his brief adventure!



Thursday, June 16, 2022

πŸ“– Ospreys ~ June 16th 2022

I must say I don't envy those south of the border and the chaps back at Brandon Marsh enduring temperatures in the high 20s at present. It was one of the few downfalls of living on a boat made from steel and the best option was always to head out and find a nice tree to shelter under. Ah, precious memories!! 

Thankfully the weather is quite different up here in Aberdeenshire at the moment with the odd shower and a pleasant 20C. So with no sunshine and instead of heading off to Muir of Dinnet today to look for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies, I took a drive out to the Ythan Estuary. It was a pretty quiet visit and the major highlight was watching a couple of Ospreys. One of which took a successful dive, catching what I think was a Salmon.

Despite the rain, the gloom and the distance it's still a wonderful sight! 

Monday, June 13, 2022

πŸ“– A Day Out ~ June 13th 2022

 πŸŒ¦13C Monday 13th June 2022 A day out beginning at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg and then the journey home stopping off at Peterhead, Meikle Loch and the Waulkmill Hide along the Ythan.

Corn Bunting

A few Corn Bunting on my route not far from the reserve but the main target at Strathbeg was a Glossy Ibis reported yesterday on Starnafin Pools. This is where I began my day overlooking that area first from the picnic bench. A pretty overcast and chilly day with occasional spots of rain at this point. Initially, no sign of the Ibis but I noted Greenshank, Little-ringed Plover, several Oystercatchers, (5) Black-tailed Godwit and (7) Shelduck, one with a family of six youngsters. The latter often scattered a small flock of Teal that ventured too close. A female Marsh Harrier was perched up for most of my stay but eventually headed off across the reedbed.

A thriving Tree Sparrow colony at Strathbeg

I spent a pleasant hour at the bench in the company of the local Tree Sparrows, House Martins and Swallows before a leisurelywalk down to the hides. 

Glossy Ibis at Strathbeg ~ A Scottish first for me! 

Here and directly in front of the 'Tower Hide' feeding in some flooded long grass was my target bird the Glossy Ibis, a Scottish first for me which now brings my total Scottish list since moving here permanently in 2020 to 216. 

From Strathbeg a stop at Macdonald's Peterhead to pick up a coffee, which I enjoyed at Skene Street. The sea was particularly quiet but produced a few passing Gannets, Kittiwakes & Sandwich Terns but the highlight was a summer plumage Black Guillemot just offshore. Meikle Loch was also quiet with only a few Oystercatchers and a single Pink-footed Goose of note. Finally a poorly timed stop at the Waulkmill hide on the Ythan, where the tide was only just on the turn. Double figure Sandwich Terns diving was a lovely sight but on the fields opposite, (15) Canada Geese, (2) Pink-footed Geese and (2) Barnacle Geese was a nice surprise to end the day.

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

Thursday, June 09, 2022

πŸ“– Birding Spain πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ & Home June 2022

I'm back into the swing of things after my 5-week trek of Hungary & Spain and It's only now, having been back in Aberdeenshire for the last 10-days, that I've taken time to review the trip and troll through the 100s of images I've yet to process. I've also spent time updating my bird journal and after recording a creditable 138 species of birds in Hungary over the 10-day visit I finished my Spanish trip with 130, which I've listed at the bottom of the post. 

Female Cleopatra butterfly

As the heat was starting to build my final few days in Spain after the Sierra de Loja visit was spent chilling out on the terrace although I did enjoy a walk at Cantera los Arenales on the 27th (site details HERE). I took my normal accent up to Puerto de la Graja and encountered the usual selection of species seen on my many other visits. Although on this particular visit there appeared to be a few more butterflies on the wing, including the gorgeous Cleopatra's.

Short-toad Treecreeper

I have amassed many images of Firecrests and Crested Tits from the woodlands around here but today I spent a little more time watching and listening to the Short-toed Treecreepers, which at this time of year are very vocal. They never normally stay still for long but on this occasion, one or two paused and enabled me to grab a few images.


Pearl-bordered Fritillary

So having missed out on the whole of May it's time to begin my catch up on this year's UK Birding and Wildlife lists and on the afternoon of June 6th I began at the excellent Muir of Dinnet NNR. Here there were plenty of Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies on the wing, along with Four-spotted Chaser Dragonfly, Large Red and Common Blue Damselfly and year-ticks also included Spotted Flycatcher, Sedge Warbler and Osprey! It's great to be back in the heart of Aberdeenshire. 

Several young Mistle Thrush encountered at Muir of Dinnet

A fresh-looking Four-spotted Chaser

Species Seen ~ Spain May 2022...

BIRDS (130)

Shelduck, Gadwall, Marbled Duck, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, White-headed Duck ~ Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe ~ Red-legged Partridge ~ Cormorant ~ Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo ~ Griffon Vulture ~ Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle ~ Black Kite ~ Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier ~ Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard ~ Sparrowhawk ~ Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Peregrine ~ Moorhen, Coot ~ Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little-ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Redshank ~ Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Meditteranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Audoin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull ~ Gull-billed Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Tern ~ Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove ~ Barn Owl, Little Owl ~ Red-necked Nightjar ~ Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift ~ Kingfisher ~ Bee-eater ~ Monk Parakeet ~ Skylark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark ~ Crag Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow ~ White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (flava) ~ Wren ~ Robin ~ Common Nightingale, Black Redstart ~ Stonechat ~ Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Blue Rock Thrush, (Rufous-Tailed) Rock Thrush ~ Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear ~ Blackcap, Western Orphean Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Chiffchaff ~ Firecrest ~ Spotted Flycatcher ~ Great TIt, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Crested Tit, Long-tailed Tit ~ Short-toed Treecreeper ~ Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike ~ Jay, Azure-winged Magpie ~ Jackdaw, Red-billed Chough, Raven ~ Spotless Starling, Golden Oriole ~ House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Sparrow ~ Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin, ~ Common Crossbill ~ Corn Bunting, Rock Bunting.


Brimstone, Black-veined White, Cleopatra, Clouded Yellow, Iberian Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Small White, Large White, Spanish Gatekeeper, Wall Brown, Western Dappled White, Speckled Wood, Iberian Scarce Swallowtail, Spanish Festoon.