Tuesday, April 16, 2024

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 The Lek 16/04/24

Up with the larks this morning for a few hours drive around the Cabrach. This area is located on the northern edge of the Cairngorms National Park and is about a 40-minute drive from my home. It's a beautiful but remote and sparsely populated area consisting of mountainous terrain, stretching ten miles (16 km) wide by eight miles (13 km) long.

View across the Cabrach from the roadside.

The main reason for the early start was to catch the Black Grouse lek and I managed six Black Grouse, all in the surrounding open fields. Unfortunately, the sun was shining almost directly at me and photography was difficult. 

Black Grouse

Not one of my best photos of Black Grouse

While parked up a couple of Buzzards were displaying high up in the distance, plus a couple of 'cronking' Ravens passed overhead with plenty of Meadow PipitsCurlew, Oystercatchers, Lapwings & Skylarks, all regular nesting species here. Common Gulls and Black-headed Gulls also breed here and several pairs were noted. 

A female Wheatear on a roadside fence 

A few summer migrants are now beginning to arrive and a Willow Warbler was seen, along with at least three Wheatear. I say three but I'm pretty sure I picked up a few distant birds. 

Song Thrush takes a breather. 

On the edges of the surrounding woodland, a few Song Thrush along with Chiffchaff, Wren, Robin & Chaffinch all singing and doing their best to attract a mate against a stiff northerly breeze.


When I was up here with Theo de Clermont, one of my Warwickshire buddies, earlier in February we managed Golden Eagle and Goshawk but disappointingly none today. Another raptor normally encountered while on the Cabrach, Hen Harrier was also another of today's absentees. Also of note today was a single Dipper on the Burn of Redford and a large mixed flock of Siskin/Lesser Redpoll, around 100 or so. A bitterly cold day with a stiff northerly breeze may well have had an influence on today's absentees but it's always a treat to see a lek.

A Few More Images of the Visit...


Oystercatcher display.

A pair of Wheatear