🏴 Wednesday 22nd November 2023 🌤️ 14C ~ Wind W @ 5MPH ~ With the weather settled for the day I decided to drive across to St. Mary's old church at Rattray. The church overlooks the southern end of Loch of Strathbeg. I chose to start here as I had heard that a couple of redhead Smew had been spotted earlier and I wanted to add one to my year list. When I arrived, there were already a couple of local birders present. After catching up briefly with Tom and Tim, it didn't take long for me to spot one of the two birds just off the reedbeds. Also of note good numbers of Whooper Swans, Wigeon, Tufted Duck plus a single Scaup.
|One of nine Long-tailed Ducks actually within the harbour walls.
From here I headed over to Cairnbulg to take a look at the many Long-tailed Ducks currently around the Aberdeenshire coast. Surprisingly there were nine birds of different ages feeding within the harbour walls and I enjoyed a good half hour photographing them from the car.
|A 1st winter Long-tailed Duck at Cairnbulg
After parking, I managed a brief walk around the harbour finding two Red-throated Divers more Long-tailed Ducks, Eiders, a few Rock Pipits and a huge amount of Starlings feeding on the seaweed. The tide was well out but feeding in the shallows Redshank, Sanderling, Knot, Curlew and Dunlin.
|Velvet Scoter ~ Although settled I think he knew I was there!
As I walked back past the harbour walls a lone Velvet Scoter was feeding close to the wall where I'd originally stopped. Likely obscured from my view earlier. I managed a few shots hiding behind the harbour wall before leaving the bird in peace. This was likely a bird that was reported a few days previous and still hanging around.
|Hen Harrier at Loch of Stratbeg
As the light faded I decided on a quick visit to the Nature Centre at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg and dropped lucky. As I was viewing a Marsh Harrier a second harrier suddenly appeared and turned out to be a juvenile ringtail, Hen Harrier. A good end to an excellent few hours.
A few more images of the afternoon...