Thursday, 18 April 2019

Birding Scotland 2019

Setting off on Sunday with Suzanne we stopped overnight at Gretna Green before ploughing on into Scotland on Monday morning. The scenery was as spectacular as ever as we drove up the side of Loch Lomond and into Oban for a spot of lunch giving me the chance to grab a couple of year ticks in the form of Black Guillemot and Hooded Crow.

Black Guillemot in Oban harbour
Lots of courtship going on with nine birds trying to partner up
Hooded Crow 
After lunch we carried on up through Fort William and along the side of Loch Ness to our cottage a few miles outside Inverness in a small valley near Glen Afflic.

Tuesday saw us heading along the Moray Firth trail taking in some of the small villages and the coastal views as we went. We stopped for birding at Burghead, Cullen and Nairn.
Nairn delivered a quite distant King Eider rafting along with about thirty or so Eider. Cullen gave up distant views of White billed Diver whilst Burghead didn't give any year ticks but was a lovely place to sea watch with hundreds of Long-tailed Duck, Eider, Fulmar, Gannets, divers and auks along with a few Rock Pipit and Wheatear. All along the coast are plenty of Shag and Red-breasted Mergansers.
Our last stop on the way back to our cottage was down the Findhorn valley which is a big favourite of mine. We parked up and watched as large herds of Red Deer walked over the ridges with a singing Ring Ouzel behind us and Wheatears in front we waited for raptors and eventually had Buzzard, Red Kite, Peregrine and a White-tailed Sea Eagle to wrap up a splendid day out in the Highlands. We saw Dolpins both at Burghead and Cullen which is always a nice surprise.

Eiders at Cullen
The King Eider at Nairn (looked better in the  scope)
The Sea Eagle in the Findhorn Valley
Rock Pipit at Burghead

After a good nights sleep we headed up the west coast on Wednesday doing about 200 miles of The 500 which took us through Mellon Charles giving a great (planned) opportunity to see the Blue-winged Teal which was easy as it sat in the middle of the small Loch and we viewed from the car for a few minutes before continuing along the coast. Again lots of Mergansers, hundreds of Shag in large groups of seventy or more, Wheatears  are in almost every field and a few Pink-footed Geese are still about.  On the way down we stopped at Applecross where I climbed to the top to get Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare. Ptarmigan proving much harder to find than in previous years. Raven and Meadow Pipit the only other birds present on the mountain although I was told I'd missed a Sea Eagle by a couple of minutes. We had picked up Black Grouse and both Red and Black-thorated Divers along the route too but all viewed from the car as we drove up. I also picked up a year tick with Greenshank on Poolewe beach.

Blue-winged Teal at Mellon Charles
Black Grouse at Achnasheen (Three males seen here)
Greenshank at Poolewe
So the year list has moved a few notches forward and now stands at a reasonable 213 with the ten ticks picked up so far this trip. Would have expected Golden Eagle, Common Sandpiper and Red Grouse by now but there's always another chance somewhere else.

Currently waiting for my good lady to rise so I can plan the day out with her.....update later.

OH and here's a taster of some of the scenery................

Stunning rivers
The Findhorn Valley
The Holy waters of Loch Maree
This bay had Red-throated Diver, Mergs and hundreds of Shag rafting in it and what a beach.
The Loch (pond) with the Blue-winged Teal on it at Mellon Charles
Views along the west coast 500 trail
The pass of the cattle route at Applecross one of the best drives in the UK


  1. Beautiful countryside which I saw when I cycled the End to End a number of years back. I like the shots of the Black Guillemots and I have never seen a Hooded Crow but my favourite is the Eider which I could listen too for hours. Have a good day Diane

  2. Thanks Diane and yes it is incredibly beautiful