Monday, January 23, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Peterhead Harbour ~ 23/01/2023

🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Monday 23rd January 2023 πŸŒ€ 10C ~ Wind SW @ 5MPH ~ While in the area a late afternoon visit to Peterhead Harbour today and what a treat to find two Iceland Gulls at the end of Alberts Quay late afternoon. The birds remained just yards away during my 30-minute visit.

First of the Iceland Gulls

Second Iceland Gull on the rocks at Albert Quay

Friday, January 20, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Ythan Walk ~ 20/01/2023

🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Friday 20th January 2023 πŸŒ€ 3C ~ Wind NW @ 5MPH ~ I had intended to travel a little further north today along the Aberdeenshire coast but with most of the back roads like sheet ice, I decided to take the main 'A' roads across to Newburgh and the Ythan instead. Even the route out of the village to Kintore was treacherous but I made it down to the A92 unscathed!

Eider Duck ~ An icon of the Ythan

I parked at the Waterside Bridge Car park and from there I took a circular route from the Ythan anticlockwise, heading back along the beach. With the tide in there were only a few waders feeding along the water line: Sanderling, Turnstone, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Dunlin. At this time of year, the Eider Duck is already beginning to display and it's always a treat to hear their cooing display call echoing around the estuary. Not much movement overhead today, just a small passage of Skylark, (4) in total before I reached the beach.

Snow Buntings

The usual flock of thirty or so Twite were around the ternary, although as usual very flighty. I spent a while here trying to search out a small flock of Grey Partridge reported recently here but to no avail. However, I did manage to capture a shot of three Snow Buntings as they flew by.

Some of the 21 Grey Plovers seen along the shoreline today.

The return walk along the beach provided the best spectacle of the day with an unprecedented (21) Grey Plovers along the shoreline. I think my previous best count was three! In the foreground was a colour-ringed Knot but unfortunately, the flock moved off before I had a chance to attempt any better images, several Ringed Plovers were also noted.

One of a group of (18) Curlew

With little wind, the sea was pretty calm today and indeed quiet, with the exception of the odd Seal which would come up occasionally for a nose. In fact, the walk back from the shore was particularly quiet, best was a group of (18) Curlew, which had discovered an area of unfrozen pasture, plus three Fieldfare and a Redwing. I left the best until last with a Merlin perched on the roadside fence as I drove around to Meikle Loch which produced the usual wildfowl, my first two Stonechats of the year but nothing unusual during the briefest of visits.

Today's Route ~ MapMyWalk

Friday, January 13, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Dalmadilly & Paradise Woods ~ 13/01/2023

🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Friday 13th January 2023 πŸŒ€ 5C ~ Wind WNW @ 5MPH ~ I stayed local today with visits to Dalmadilly Ponds and Paradise Wood. The pools at Dalmadilly were only partly frozen today but with the imminent cold snap almost upon us, I suspect the thaw won't last! 

Not the best photo I've ever taken of a Kingfisher but a first for me at Dalmadilly.

On the partly frozen areas of the eastern pool, the larger of the two, a count of (21) Common Gulls, (5) Herring Gulls and a lone Black-headed Gull. Checking the perimeter, just a single Snipe was noted but it was when I reached the burn to the south just before the quarry access road that I was delighted to see my first Kingfisher here in the 2 1/2 years I've been visiting.

Dipper below Dalmadilly on the River Don

The rest of the visit was parred for the course, one the highlights a flock of circa 50 Siskin, with the odd Lesser Redpoll mixed in and looking down onto the River Don I spent a half hour watching a Dipper swimming out and diving for food.

Paradise Woods & River Don ~ Library Photo

A first visit this year to Paradise Wood a lovely circular walk near Monymusk, around a 10-minute drive from home. Owned by the Grant family since the early 18th century the walk takes you through ancient woodland with giant Sequoia trees and alongside the River Don through paths and fields. Due to the lateness of the day, it was a particularly quiet visit with the river running above normal levels but it did throw up (4) Brambling and at least a dozen Redwings in the woodland and Mistle Thrush in the surrounding fields.

Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Greenfinch now regular visitors to the garden.

Back home my new garden feeding station is now beginning to produce. Having struggled to attract some of the key winter finch species of the area like Siskin and Redpoll, with a change of position and produce there now regular visitors.

Lesser Redpoll

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Girdleness ~ 11/01/2023

🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Wednesday 11th January 2023 ☀️ 6C ~ Wind SW @ 7MPH  ~ My first visit of the year to Girdleness today and I arrived mid-morning just as the wind had abated and in beautiful sunshine.

This Bottlenose Dolphin was feeding along the harbour inlet

I parked at the allotments and walked the shoreline below as far as the lighthouse. A few Eiders to start within the harbour mouth, plus a Bottlenose Dolphin was busy feeding, one of many seen offshore today and I was fascinated as it swam first one way and then the other, occasionally surfacing. 

Red-throated Divers within the harbour mouth.

There were also at least four Red-throated Divers within the harbour walls too, a couple coming reasonably close to the shoreline, I recorded eleven during my visit. On the rocks below a few Rock Pipits and Oystercatchers and also seen along the bank (2) Song Thrush, Wren and Meadow Pipit

Purple Sandpiper

With the tide just ebbing there were only a few waders on the breakwaters with (11) Dunlin, (7) Purple Sandpipers and (8) Ringed Plover. Turnstone, Redshank and Curlew were also noted, plus a flyby Great Northern Diver heading south. Out to sea, a steady build-up of Auks with Razorbill and Guillemot both noted, along with usual Gulls, Cormorants and Shags.

Friday, January 06, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Cairnbulg & Strathbeg ~ 06/01/2023

 πŸ΄σ §σ ’󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Friday 6th January 2023 ☀️ 8C ~ Wind W @ 12MPH ~ Of course up here in the northeast of Scotland at this time of year we are still barely getting 7hrs of daylight and today I watched the moonset across the Bennachie range from the kitchen window at dawn and the moonrise from RSPB Strathbeg at dusk! 

Moonset over Bennachie from the kitchen window at dawn ~  iPhone 

Today a morning visit to Cairnbulg and Inverallochy for a few year ticks before spending the rest of the afternoon at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg. 

A year first Purple Sandpiper at Cairnbulg

Although a little breezy the light was excellent for photography, particularly waders. I spent a little time searching the many gulls flying against the crashing waves at Cairnbulg but frankly, there were so many I wasn't surprised to draw a blank on any white wingers. I managed a couple of ticks with a half dozen Rock Pipits feeding in the shallows along the seaweed and a couple of Purple Sandpipers along the rocks before I headed to Inverallochy.

A locally breeding Shag on the rocks at Inverallochy

Here I had a walk along the golf course and down to the beach but spent most of my time photographing the Shags and waders along the shoreline. 

A single Grey Plover poses between Purple Sandpipers and Golden Plovers

There was a good mixture with a single Grey Plover along with various counts of Golden Plover, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Turnstone and Oystercatcher.

A selection of waders at Inverallochy

During my drive over to Strathbeg, a report came through of two Russian White-fronted Geese in a field just east of the B9033 feeding with Pink-footed Geese. I did find the field and spent a good half hour searching the large flock and if indeed the white fronts were still there I certainly couldn't find them. 

Corn Bunting

After my search, I took the back road to the Strathbeg centre stopping near Crimond graveyard, a great place to find Corn Buntings. Normally they can be found singing on the wires of the surrounding electric pylons and I located four birds fairly quickly. 

I spent the remainder of my day at Strathbeg, beginning with a walk to the Tower Pool and Dunbar hides, taking the farmland bird route. As usual the wonderful sight of 1000s of wildfowl from the hides, which included many Wigeon, Teal, Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans, along with some circa 800 Lapwing and two Little Egret. A single Marsh Harrier was also noted, plus three Buzzard and I did spend a considerable amount of time searching the many swans for the single juvenile Bewick Swan reported several times recently but to no avail.

A healthy Tree Sparrow colony at Strathbeg

Back at the centre, plenty of Tree Sparrows on the feeders and a look over a very quiet Stranafin Pool from the bench area produced my final bird of the day, when a Great White Egret flew into trees to the northeast, likely going to roost!

Thursday, January 05, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Welcome 2023

Another new year and the first days of January have been busy on the birding front with visits to the Ythan Estuary with the Aberdeenshire RSPB Local Group on the 2nd and two local walks on the 4th at Dalmadilly Ponds and the River Don, south-west of the village.

Golden Plover on the Ythan ~ Sadly this one has a damaged left leg! 

With a high tide predicted the group met on Monday the 2nd at the Waterside carpark and headed downstream towards the ternary. It was a gorgeous day to get the new year list off the ground with cloudless skies and a balmy 1C. Plenty of waders to be found along the shoreline including Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Sanderling, Redshank and a single Grey Plover in flight.

A few of the thirty or so Twite near the ternary.

As we reached the ternary, which is accessible in the winter, we located a decent flock of wintering Twite, along with the odd Linnet mixed in. The walk back to the carpark along the beach was pretty quiet for birds, a bank holiday here and lots of folks taking advantage of the glorious weather, but a single Red-throated Diver and two Red-breasted Merganser at sea, a couple of Porpoise and the bonus of three Snow Buntings flying low over the shoreline.

Always great to see the Eiders along the Ythan

An excellent day with 47 species and with a stop at the Snub layby before heading off to check out more of the Ythan, an addition of Greenshank to the day list.

Today's track Dalmadilly Ponds ~ MapMyWalk

My first visit of the year to Dalmadilly Ponds was on the 4th and with both pools frozen it was a quieter visit than normal. However, there were still (11) Common Gulls and (2) Herring Gulls on the ice. I paid particular attention to the peripheral of the pools today where I came across six Common Snipe and a single Jack Snipe, which, unlike the noisy departure of the others, left silently and dropped back in rather quickly. 

One of three Bullfinch ~ 2 male and one female.

The surrounding trees and vegetation produced of note no less than (6) Goldcrest, (2) Treecreeper, (3) Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a flock of circa 30 Siskin.  From the viewpoint which looks down onto The River Don, which was running above normal, just (3) Goosanders were noted.

1st Winter drake Goldeneye along the Don ~ Quite possibly the one noted at Dalmadilly Ponds recently.

After Dalmadilly a walk along the southwest side of the river from Kemnay Bridge to the lagoon, the surrounding marshland holding 6 Snipe. Along the river (2) Goldeneye, one a first winter drake, (4) Goosander, (2) Little Grebes and in the fields to the west the Whooper Swans, which gather here each year were now at fifty in total. Also of note circa 30 Pink-footed Geese heading west, my first Sparrowhawk of the year and in the local burn just off the river (18) Teal.

Todays track along the River Don SW of Kemnay Bridge ~ MapMyWalk

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

Sunday, January 01, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Happy New Year 2022

I ended the year with a final total of 203 bird species for Scotland as a whole, which considering I was out of the country for the last part of April and the whole of May, missing some top short-staying rarities, I'm pretty pleased with. For the UK as a whole, I finished with 212, the balance of which was spotted during my visits back to Warwickshire in April and November.

I also added a creditable 26 new species to my Scotland Life List during 2022, a list I created when moving permanently to Aberdeenshire in late September 2020. This now stands at 236 species for Scotland. 

Greater Sand Plover ~ August 21st St. Combs, Aberdeenshire

Mainland Highlights included: Ross's Goose, Ross's Gull, Greater Sand Plover, Dusky Warbler, Pallid Swift, Arctic Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Firecrest, Glossy Ibis & Baird's Sandpiper.

Ross's Gull ~ Kinnaird Head Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire

Ross's Goose ~ Portlethan Aberdeenshire ~ This photo featured in Birdguides

Shetland Highlights included: Least Bittern, Myrtle Warbler, Pechora Pipit, White's Thrush, Great Grey Shrike, Turtle Dove & Lanceolated Warbler during my visit in October.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle Warbler) ~ Bigton Shetland

White's Thrush ~ October 9th Lerwick Shetland

In late April and the start of May Dazza and I visited Hungary for eleven days recording 138 bird species with some wonderful moments which included our best-ever views of a Black Woodpecker and finally managing to secure a photograph of a Moustached Warbler. Other highlights included nesting Collared Flycatchers and seeing species such as Roller, Pygmy Cormorant, Red-backed Shrike, Wryneck and breeding Red-footed Falcons at close range.

Collared Flycatcher ~ Hungary 

Moustached Warbler ~ Hortobagy Hungary

Black Woodpecker ~ On our final day ~ Csakvar Woodlands Hungary

I also managed a couple of visits to my second home Spain, which took place in mid-May and late November, recording 140 bird species in total. Many highlights as usual and this year included my first sighting of a Lesser Flamingo at Fuente de Piedra. A sad moment came when visiting Cantera Los Arenales after the devasting wildfire in July. A wonderful habit in the mountains of Mijas simply wiped out but I'm happy to say already beginning to recover.

The devastating wildfire above the Mijas mountains ~ July 2022

A Black Wheatear returns to the quarry at Mijas after the fire!

Black-eared Wheatear ~ Sierra Loja Granada Spain

Of course, during my many field trips in 2022 other wildlife was recorded and there are some wonderful highlights to reflect on.

Red Squirrel ~ Taken from a nearby neighbour's garden

Bottlenose Dolphins ~ March 14th, Girdleness Aberdeen 

Crimson Speckled Moth ~ Several seen during my visits to Spain

A large colony of Monarch butterflies reside at Palermo Park Benalmadena Spain

Iberian Ibex ~ Cantera Los Arenales

Common Hawker ~ Loch of Strathbeg Aberdeenshire

Souslik ~ European Ground Squirrel ~ Hungary

European Hare ~ Sadly not a common sight in Aberdeenshire

Roe Deer ~ Common locally & throughout Aberdeenshire

Muskrat ~ Hortobagy Hungary

So here's to more memorable highlights in 2023 ~ Happy Birding to my reader