Monday, February 06, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Loch of Strathbeg ~ 07/02/2023

🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Monday 6th February 2023 πŸŒ€ 8C ~ Wind Variable @ 1MPH ~An enjoyable visit to RSPB Loch of Strathbeg in glorious springlike conditions and then on to Scotstown and Buchanhaven.

Tree Sparrows at Strathbeg

I arrived at Strathbeg around 10:30am and as is my routine had a quick coffee while enjoying the many Tree Sparrows that reside around the centre. A look over Starnafin Pools and in particular the large gull population which failed to yield anything out of the ordinary. A Skylark singing overhead and the usual selection of Teal, Wigeon, (3) Shelduck and a single Little Egret (4 in total today) before I headed off to the Dunbar Hide. 

Drake Pintail

Before I settled into the hide a Water Rail suddenly took flight as I approached the boardwalk, a nice year tick, to begin with.  There were plenty of Wigeon and several families of Whooper Swans plus a single drake Pintail and many Teal to search through in the hope of finding a reported Green-winged Teal, which I dipped on! 

Marsh Harrier from the Dunbar Hide

A little further out descent numbers of Curlew, Dunlin, Lapwing and circa 300 Golden Plover, which were occasionally spooked by a Marsh Harrier. Likely one of last year's juveniles who has decided to winter here. However a bird high on my list today was the elusive long-staying juvenile Bewicks Swan, which I failed to connect with on two previous visits. 

At a distance the best I could manage on the Canon of the juvenile Bewick Swan

Today was 3rd-time lucky when I noticed a lone Swan way at the back of the pools. It kept disappearing into the reedbeds but I was confident this was the bird, in the scope a smaller bird with a smaller rounded head and the patch on the bill not extending beyond the nostrils. I was delighted when Mark Sullivan arrived, always best to get a second opinion who, once on the bird, left no doubt this was indeed the Bewick Swan!

Eurasian White-fronted Goose at St Fergus.

Mark had mentioned a Eurasian White-fronted Goose he'd come across with a Pink-footed flock in a field North of Scotstown beach road, St Fergus and a Black Redstart at Buchanhaven, both on my route home. Although it was getting quite late in the day thankfully the goose was still there when I arrived and after a few record shots, I headed off to Buchanhaven where the Black Redstart obliged by perching on the roof of one of the dwellings, just long enough for a photo, a great end to an excellent day.

Black Redstart at Buchanhaven

Saturday, February 04, 2023

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ~ Journal Update ~ 04/02/2023

It's been quite mild of late and locally things have remained mostly quiet on the birding front over the past few weeks. I've managed patch visits to Dalmadilly Ponds and with the west pond still frozen, even with the recent warm weather most of the action has been on the east side. 
1st Winter Drake Goldeneye 

Assuming it's the same bird I've had more sightings of a Kingfisher, which I first noted on January 13th, still preferring to fish on the small burn next to the quarry access road. My visit on February 2nd produced the first returning Tufted Ducks of the year with six, this also coincided with my highest count of Goldeneye with seven, one of which was the ever-present first winter drake, now beginning to look the part.

Snow Bunting showing a ring on the bottom right leg.

On the coast, an enjoyable but quiet walk birding-wise around Forvie Sands on February 3rd was brightened when seven Snow Buntings dropped down in front of me as I reached the north end of the beach. One bird, in particular, was ringed but unfortunately, I couldn't get close enough to secure any better images before they took flight.

Parrot Crossbill ~ Invercauld

On January 28th Dazza and I spent the day walking in the Cairngorms at Invercauld in beautiful conditions, managing the above record shot of a male Parrot Crossbill. Also of note year ticks of Red Grouse, Red Deer and Mountain Hare. On the way home we pulled in near Dinnet when we noticed a large group of raptors circling. Incredibly all Red Kites and we counted eighteen but there were certainly more!

More Recent Images...

Rare Nacreous clouds taken from the house on the evening of January 29th

Skylark at Forvie Sands

One of the seven Snow Buntings at Forvie Sands

Cairngorms from Invercauld ~ Surprising how much the snow has thawed already!