Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Scotland Day 1 - Loch Garten and the North Moray Coast

Courtesy of Groupon we made a whistle stop tour of Scotland for a long weekend. Calling in to see our Daughter in Edinburgh on the way. (Stopped the night before heading on)

We met up with Jo & Jimmy our usual partners in birding at Loch Garten, with two targets in mind, Crested Tit & Red Squirrel. The Crested Tit delivered as planned but sadly no sign of any Squirrels, but we did get our first Treecreeper of the year so that was bonus:

We were going to go up to the Ski area at Aviemore for Ptarmigan before heading to our digs in Tomintoul, but the snow gates were shut and the weather was looking grim so we headed off, just as well as the Snow was starting to come down quite hard.

After a few drams that evening and a good breakfast the next morning we set off north heading for Burghead and Long-tailed duck! We first went to east side of the headland and did a bit of sea watching, picking up some distant Long tails, Common Scoter and Cormorant as well as Great Black-backed Gulls. The sea was pretty rough but the surfers seemed oblivious to the wind and cold! So over to the harbour, this is a great place with brilliant views, we found some Redshank and Cormorant as we approached the harbour:
But the highlight being 5 Long-tailed ducks in the harbour (3 male, 2 Female):

Plus a Great Northern Diver:
So a really good start to the day. We then went for a walk around and discovered this group of Turnstone sheltering:
There was however one bird at the back of the group that caught our eye:
Our first Purple Sandpiper, result! UK List number 199! Does it get any better, well yes it does but that's for tomorrow! Walking on we had another surprise a Shag keeping out the wind:
Carrying on to the end of the Harbour Wall there were about 50 Eider just outside the Harbour entrance
bouncing up and down on the choppy water. We then wandered back to the car, on the way this Rock Pipit posed for us on one of the walls:
We drove on now to Findhorn Bay for a look around, we stopped at the Local Nature Reserve Hide. This was locked so we found another viewpoint. Most birds were pretty distant, there was a nice group of Pintail on the water but much too distant for a photo into the Sun. (The Sun did put in an appeara!nce from time to time!) We went along to the shore behind the town, the only birds of note there were more Turnstone:
We had a look at the Marina adding a pair of Red-breasted Merganser to the tally, the took off as soon as we appeared though. There were plenty of Oystercatcher about over on the far shore but again too distant for any photography! So on to the next peg.... We decided to drop into Cubin Sands NR, but the paths were flooded and time was pressing as we wanted to visit Nairn, so just took a photo of some Highland Laddies to prove we had been there!
So on to Nairn, we initially parked up by the Leisure Centre overlooking the Sea and had a bite to eat, just a couple of things to report here really, some Brent Geese foraging in the rocks:
and a Herring Gull who couldn't quite decide what to do with his catch!
after about 10 minutes he gave up after being harassed by other Gulls and he just dropped it in the sea.

After Being suitably refreshed we drove over to the harbour, there was plenty about, Wigeon, Turnstone, Redshank, Hooded Crow, Herring & Great Black-backed Gull, Oystercatcher and a Goosander.

So endeth day one!


  1. Hi Tom,

    Your picture of a 'merganser' is actually a female goosander - check the clean cut neck demarcation.



  2. your merganser is a goosander - check the clean cut neck

  3. Wow.. So you have had a trip and tour in the countryside. It's a really lovey place. Have you been to Oban, Scotland? There are a lot of places to go in there like taking oban wildlife trips. Oban has a very diverse ecosystem. You'll see amazing animals, birds and more. It's worth seeing too.