So last full day and we headed of to the RSPB reserve at Loch Kinnordy, where by all accounts there is a Drake Smew present, so after about an hour drive we parked up and a local told us that the Smew was showing from the Swamp Hide, so along we went.
There was a lot of ice on the Loch in front of the hide so sadly all the birds were pretty distant, but the Smew was there along with Teal, Wigeon, Goosander, Goldeneye, Whooper & Mute Swans and of course Mallard, so just for the record:
So after a successful visit we set off to Montrose to visit the Reserver at Montrose Basin, we first stopped at the SWT Visitor Center (to make use of the facilities of course!) Here we had the usual small bird suspects, plus some Tree Sparrows, which are always a welcome sight. We then set off for the hides over the other side of the basin near Dun House. We drove through Montrose and were about to cross the River Esk, when Tina shouted "Waxwings!" so a quick U-turn was called for, luckily there were no parking restrictions and sitting on a TV aerial opposite were 13 Waxwings:
Then we trekked back to the car the only addition being some Roe Deer in the trees.
When driving back over Glenshee it was dark and the snow was coming down quite heavily, but the reward were Mountain Hares everywhere, it took us ages to get down to Braemar as we were constantly stopping to avoid Hares and watch the Red Deer that had come down from the mountains for the night, even though it was pitch black I manged to get a Hare in the headlights and take a very shaky photo:
So Saturday arrived and time to leave, we weren't coming straight back to the Black Country though, we were returning via Edinburgh, so we called in at Loch Leven (Vane Farm) RSPB just north of Edinburgh for a first visit.
The weather was terrible, drizzle and murk, and the reserve was pretty quiet and all the ducks etc were staying way out in the Loch, we tried all the hides, only one had any decent sightings. Goosander, Whoopers, Heron, Greylag:
We were entertained if that's the right way of putting it by 2 wardens rescuing a Sheep stuck in the bog, at one time we thought someone would have to go and rescue them as they kept sinking to their knees in the mud, but they managed it.
We popped back to the excellent Cafe at the Center for lunch and courtesy of the scopes up there, watched two Short Eared Owls hunting along one of the tree lines, so it was worth the visit just for that. (The lunch was pretty good too!)
So endeth the Scottish trip, bringing our year tally to 85 and 59 for the trip.