NEW PATCH 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Hello and welcome to the new look blog. BOATBIRDER 'TERRA FIRMA' (formerly 'BOATBIRDER')

Yes, as you can see from the new title we're now living back on 'dry land' and have relocated to our property in the heart of Aberdeenshire Scotland. 

After just over 16 wonderful years living on the water aboard our narrowboat 'Quidditch', it's now back to 'Terra Firma'. Why Scotland and why the North-East? Well, it was always in our future plan to return eventually to dry land and in doing so move closer to the coast. Of course, for me, it was all about the birding. My wife Dazza is from Aberdeen anyway, so it was a no-brainer when the opportunity arose to return home. 

Aberdeenshire makes up most of the northeast corner of Scotland, a large area including a very wide range of habitats along with its very own micro-climate. The habitat diversity and the presence of many of Scotland’s speciality species make for some great birding. The seabird cliffs made up of granite and basalt are among the most spectacular anywhere.



The Cairngorm Mountains, foothills and native forests are just a 40-minute drive away and offer the opportunity of seeing some of Scotland's most cherished species including  Scottish Ptarmigan (endemic sub-sp.), Scottish Crossbill (endemic sp.), Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Red Grouse, Golden Eagle, Crested Tit, Dotterel & Ring Ouzel to name a few. 


Starting from the Girdleness peninsula just south of the entrance to Aberdeen Harbour and running north along the coastline through to Peterhead are many sea-watching vantage points and these will be essential places to visit at any time of year but especially during the migration periods. All of the regular passage birds can be seen around the Aberdeenshire coast and have good numbers of real rarities. The northeast Scotland recording area holds the record for the most species of birds seen in 24 hours (in Scotland) and is second only to Norfolk in the UK. 


The Ythan Estuary & Forvie Sands will be a regular stop for me. This is a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Here there is an extensive estuary with a variety of surrounding habitats including sand dunes, heathland, farmland, reedbeds and mudflats. Eiders are resident throughout the year, and breeding occurs at Forvie on the other side of the river. Four Tern species also breed at Forvie: Arctic Tern, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern and Little Tern


This is a coastal village about a 10-minute drive further up the coast from the Ythan which has a sheltered harbour and beach. There are small areas of scrub and mature gardens, sea cliffs to the north and south for sea watching and bordered by farmland to the west. The local churchyard has an excellent track record for scarcities and rarities and there are two plantations along the minor road to Whinnyfold which are also worth checking.



Just a few miles from the house lies Bannachie a range of hills that has several tops, the highest of which, Oxen Craig, has a height of 528 metres (1,732 ft). Though not particularly high compared to other peaks within Scotland, the mountain is very prominent, owing to its isolation and the relative flatness of the surrounding terrain and dominates the skyline from several viewpoints. It provides a granite ridge with mixed upland moorland flanked by mixed woodlands and surrounded at lower levels by agricultural fields and offers some exciting habitat to explore. 


The River Don is just a short walk from the house and offers some excellent riverbank walks. Dippers are a regular feature here and in the surrounding arable fields, there is a large wintering roost of Whooper Swans


Aerial view of the Ponds ~ Photo from the Kemnay community page

Just five minutes from the house is Dalmadilly Ponds which were originally agricultural farmland. In 1993 work began on quarrying the land for sand and gravel aggregates. The quarried area was allowed to flood naturally according to the existing water table when extraction was completed. The surrounding land has been restored to form a wildlife area for birds and a recreational area for walking and bird watching. This has been accomplished by planting hundreds of indigenous trees, the formation of footpaths around both ponds, and finally, two substantial bird hides have been erected, one at each pond. 

This is an excellent habitat with lots of potential for the odd rarity but unfortunately, the hides have been rendered completely unusable due to the footpaths being situated directly in front! It's a strange planning decision in itself, and I get the feeling you need to arrive here exceptionally early before the local dog walkers and walkers get out and about. 

So as you can see from the above overview my birding options are numerous and I look forward to many field trips over the coming months, so let the adventure begin.