Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Another Scotland Trip - Part 2 - John O'Groats

This may seem madness but it was Jo and Jimmy's Idea, but day 3 saw us abandon our lovely apartment for 1 night and head up to a B&B in John O'Groats. We had never been that far north before, so pastures new for us.

We set off early (for us) only stopping for drinks and comfort breaks, I have to say though that we stopped at Loch Fleet on the way up for coffee and really liked the place, there were Fulmar circling nearby, Eider on the Loch, Curlew, Shelduck and Oystercatcher flying around a really lovely spot. I will come back to this later as we stopped on the way back as well, as we drove off we saw a road down to a Car Park and Nature Reserve!

We arrived at our B&B at lunch time and what a B&B, fabulous! The owners were brilliant, we had our lunch on the deck looking out towards the Orkneys fantastic. I can only say if ever you are planning a stop up there it has to be The Anchorage B&B, check it out on Tripadvisor!

Anyway after lunch we headed out in glorious weather to walk to the Stacks of Duncansby. The walk is brilliant, not difficult and  the views and the birds are well worth it:

So to the birds. Well this time of year it is definitely Fulmar central:

I usually get my Fulmar 'fix' at the Farne Islands where we see perhaps a couple of dozen, but here there are Thousands, brilliant! So what else; Guillemots and Razorbills are  here too:

Then there are the Shags:
obliging Puffins:

a surprising Brambling, shouldn't you be in Scandinavia?
Hooded Crow:
Great Black-backed Gulls, Meadow Pipit, Gannets on Fly-by:
But the star of the show and a lifer for us was the Great Skuas, our first sighting was a shock it came from nowhere and flew within a few feet of our heads and I didn't have the camera ready! I managed a couple of shots as it disappeared away from us, but that's the luck of the draw! Then as we walked back along the cliff edge Jimmy spotted another on the sea, way below us:
It was happy to sit there for a while before heading off:
Then a bit further out we saw 3 Skuas having an altercation, just brilliant to watch through the bins, but way to far for even my 500mm lens. But what a result!

So back to the B&B for dinner, where we could see Wheatear, Lapwing, Curlew and Rabbits from our bedroom window. Then a great dinner of freshly caught Lobster and Crab, with Prawns, told you, not your average B&B!

Day 4, we woke up to thick fog, we had planned to go to Dunnets Head, so after saying goodbye to our great hosts we headed out, we didn't stay at Dunnets Head long the visibility was poor, the wind was gale force and it was freezing! (Did see some Fulmar and Auks but just too cold!)

We stopped in Brough Bay for a coffee, driving down a track to the old quay, again plenty of Fulmar about, a Rock Pipit, Grey Seal, Jackdaw and  a Kestrel hunting, shame the visibility was so bad:
The hunt was successful and he flow off with a mouse or a vole.

We drove back to Burghead via Thurso mainly in thick fog, stopping again at Loch Fleet, the weather had improved a little here, this time in the small NR Car Park. There was plenty about, Common Sandpiper, Shelduck, Curlew, Godwit, Red-breasted Merganser, Lapwing, Goldfinch, Coal Tit and finally just as we were about to leave an Osprey came in fishing, brilliant, sadly the Gulls drove him off.

Our last port of call was Chanonry Point near Inverness in the hope of seeing Dolphin passing through, but we had missed the tide, although we did see some Linnet in the Car Park. So into Inverness for tea before heading 'home'

End of part 2.

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