A few days on Speyside with Dazza staying in Aviemore for the duration. Not specifically a birding short break but as per usual we did set aside a few outings. The weather was a mixture of showers and clouds but we did manage to enjoy a little sunshine.
|Slavonian Grebe ~ One of five seen today at Loch Ruthven
On Monday, May 15th we spent the morning at RSPB Loch Ruthven. This is a freshwater upland loch with sedge beds, deciduous woodland and heather moorland. It's the best place in the UK to see breeding Slavonian Grebes and we weren't disappointed today with five birds noted around the loch. Also of interest a fishing Osprey and Tree Pipits from the car park before the rain arrived.
|A Cuckoo while at Glen Mazeran Burn
After lunch a slow drive along the single-track route through Strathdearn, stopping at several vantage points for short walks. This is an upland river valley (River Findhorn) with mixed birch, juniper scree slopes, open farmland and a few plantations. Highlights included single Golden Eagle, Golden Plover, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Wheater and Common Sandpipers along the river. Meadow Pipits were plentiful with Dipper and Grey Wagtail also noted.
|Wood Warbler ~ A scarcity in Aberdeenshire so nice to pick one up in Aviemore.
Tuesday, May 16th and after a hearty breakfast we walked across from the hotel for a look around part of Craigellachie National Nature Reserve in between the showers. The reserve boasts birch woodland, open glades, tree-fringed lochs and slopes rising to a craggy summit. Unfortunately, the weather denied us a chance to venture up to the summit but the woodland was alive with Willow Warblers, Chaffinch, a few Treecreepers and my target bird, a single Wood Warbler!
|Red Squirrel from the visitor centre at Loch Garten.
After Craigellachie, we drove the short distance to Loch Garten. A look at the visitor centre which had live cameras of the nesting Ospreys and good views out towards the nest site. It's also a good place to see Crested Tit around the feeders but apparently not during the breeding season. I'm happy to say that we did eventually see and hear two birds while walking the trail around Loch Mallachie. Also of note are Redstart, Tree Pipit, Treecreeper, nesting Goldeneye and Red Squirrels. A nice break and a good chance for Dazza to chill out.