Thursday, 14 February 2013

Scotland Trip Part 1 (Braemar Again!)

Well last week we were up in Scotland again using Braemar as our base. We had quite a few plans, visit Loch Garten, Loch Kinnordy, Montrose Basin, Loch Muick, plus various other places. However the weather had other ideas!  We arrived on the Sunday (spent Saturday with our fantastic daughter and partner in Edinburgh) and it promptly started snowing and didn't stop, so much so the snow gates were closed and we couldn't get very far.

Before arriving in Braemar though we did stop at Glenshee at the Ski Center car park, to see our first Snow Buntings of 2013 and they duly obliged with a small flock of about 12 birds:

We then headed down the valley to Braemar keeping our eyes peeled for Dippers and again result!
in fact we saw 3! We finally finished off with a White Mountain Hare, very distant though and only just about visible in the snow.

So Monday and Tuesday were spent going for local walks in the snow and a drive down the Linn of Dee. (in a blizzard!) The first walk on Monday around Keiloch Crag didn't produce much in the way of wildlife or birds in fact we only saw 4 species in a 3 hour walk, however the walk was fantastic with some great views (when it wasn't snowing).
Coffee Break in the Snow! Halfway up the hillside
On Tuesday we walked through Braemar and out on a track that runs parallel to the A93 but the otherside of the river, this proved a good choice with 15 species (not a huge amount but better than the 2 or 3 we expected)  The best being Buzzard (3), Lesser Redpoll, Red Grouse and Siskin, so a few record shots:

 Oh and a Westland Lynx!
In the few hours we were out the weather changed from Blizzard, to Glorious Sunshine, to Blizzard, Sunshine and then pouring rain! This made photography a nightmare!

So onto Wednesday, we thought we would head out as the Snow Gates had opened on Tuesday afternoon, only for the Tuesday afternoon rain to turn into heavy snow overnight and the gates were shut again. So we headed north to Glen Tanar a supposed Crossbill hotspot. After seeing some Goosander on the River Dee we arrived on the Tanar Estate and went on one of the circular walks through the woods and along the river. In 2 and a half hours we didn't see a single bird, despite stopping and being patient not even a Pigeon or Crow! Then just as we arrived back at the car park, I got excited a bird in the distance on top of a fir tree, so I whipped out the bins and............. a Woodpigeon! You can't win them all! That's birding for you!

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