Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Scotland Day 2 - Findhorn Valley, Lochs and 200 up!

You can't trust the weather forecast! This should have been the better day for going for a walk, but in the end it was a mix of very short bursts of sunshine followed by extended periods of high winds, sleet, rain and snow.

We set out in good faith to Findhorn Valley, with a brief stop at the River Spey by Grantown as some activity was spotted on the river as we drove by. This turned out to be a number of Goldeneye, Goosander and a Little Grebe. Not real good photos just a record shot of a Goldeneye on fly by!
We carried on to Findhorn Valley what a great drive down to the valley, although the weather was now shocking as can be seen by these photos of a Kestrel and a Goosander.....

We parked up at the end of the track and had a coffee whilst we waited for the weather to clear and scanning the ridges for signs of Golden Eagle in the clear spots. The weather did improve and we togged up and set off to walk up the valley, but after 10 minutes the weather turned as was the worst yet, so we fled bedraggled back to the car, deciding that we would save the walk for another visit in better weather and by then the Ring Ouzels may be back. So plan B, off to Loch Ruthven in the off chance that some of the Slavonian Grebes might have returned early. On the way saw some Red Grouse:

We arrived at Ruthven in good weather only for it to pour down as we were walking to the hide. Then looking out there wasn't a lot about certainly no Slavonian Grebe. A single male Goldeneye was about, along with a large flock of Mallard and about 10-15 Teal. Two Buzzards gave us a display over the far shore. We stayed for a while and after lunch and coffee decided we would leave and head over to Loch Flemington. Just as we were packing up I noticed that the Goldeneye was back, but when I looked through the bins it was a winter plumaged Slavonian Grebe. Excellent, although I was too slow with the camera, by the time I had got it ready it had dived and came up behind some trees that blocked a clear view. So I legged it out the hide down the path and found a path to the shore line, I quickly found it, but by now it was some distance away, so for the record:
We left Ruthven happy! So what about Flemington, by the time we got there the light was going, we stopped in the side road alongside the loch and scanned with the scope, looking for any sign of an American Coot, no sign, but we did see Scaup, Wigeon, Pochard, Mallard, Cormorant, Goldeneye, Goosander, Mute Swan, Grey Heron and Great Northern Diver. Not a bad hall. After a bit we moved on up the side road and stopped by a nice mown grass area outside a bungalow. As I turned the engine off, I said, "Plenty of Moorhen, so there should be some Coots about!" As is said it a Coot walked towards the car, we looked and bingo!! It was only the American Coot, we got out the car and it wasn't bothered by us in the slightest. Sadly the light was terrible so these are the best shots I could get:

But that was our 200th UK Bird, not shabby to bring up the 200 with an American Coot. First time for us to get a Mega Rarity as well!

We stayed a while to watch a Cormorant fishing no more than 6 feet away from us, which was very entertaining, he caught so much we thought he might explode! So off back to the digs.. We stopped one last time at the end of the loch in the gathering darkness just to see if anything presented itself, (4 Scaup turned up) but then we noticed a huge murmuration, but it wasn't starlings, a vast flock of crows were behaving just like Starlings, swooping about the sky, settling on the power lines and then taking off again, here is a very poor shot of some of it:
Thats the end of day 2 and a half!

Before heading home, we took time to drive up to The Lecht, which was only 4 miles away and get our Snow Bunting fix in the Ski Area Car Park, after a few minutes they duly obliged!

So in 2 and 2 bits of a day, we managed 59 species of birds, plus Red and Fallow Deer. With 2 lifers, we can't complain, so much so we are already booked to go back in April, this time staying at Burghead!

For a complete look at all the photos from the trip, some good, some not so!  Go to:
All the Photos


  1. Again, your merganser is a goosander


  2. Some really nice photos from your trip. The two of Mergansers are both actually Goosanders though.

  3. Thanks All, I had spotted that (honest!) but hadn't updated the blog, done now.


  4. Hi Tom, excellent write up on your trip. The Slav at Ruthven was nice, very early as well. Your deer were probably Roe, not fallow. Might see you at Burghead next year, your on my patch! Regards, Dave (Birding Ecosse)

    1. Cheers Dave,
      Thanks for the comments. Yes we liked Burghead so much we are coming back in April, already booked and staying in the town.