Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Winterwatch Our Way! Part One

It has been a while since I have posted anything, not because we haven't been out and about, but because we have been so busy, I just haven't had time, but here we go......

By shear coincidence we chose to be up in Scotland staying in Braemar the same week as Winterwatch were holed up just a couple of miles down the road on the Glen Mar Estate, so it was interesting to 'compare notes' on a day by day basis when watching the programme in the evenings tucked up in our lovely rented cottage in Braemar.

I think the only things we didn't see that they showed were Pine Marten and Ptarmigan although that wasn't for lack of trying on our part.

We toured a fair way over the week  venturing north to Burghead, west to Aviemore and east to Loch Kinnordy as well as staying local and exploring the Mar Estate, Muir of Dinnet and Glenshee.

So we started with a walk on the Mar Lodge Estate heading out from the Linn of Dee car park, wildlife was non-exisitant on a dull day, the highlight being a Stoat that raced across the path in front of us with what looked like a mouse or vole in its mouth. The views were great though:
We finished with a drive up Glenshee for Mountain Hares and were rewarded with numerous but distant sightings:
The next day saw us head up to Moray and Burghead via the Lecht. It was a miserable and murky start to the day but as we started climbing up the mountains we saw a large bird perched on a fence post that was then 'attacked' by some crows, a Golden Eagle, I have to apologise for the photographs it was difficult to get focus in the murk!

A tremendous start to the day followed by some Red Grouse:
Once we were over the Lecht, and after stopping for a single Snow Bunting at a freezing Ski Centre, and heading north the weather improved and we arrived in Burghead in glorious sunshine, although the wind was fierce. We had hoped for some Long-tail Duck in the harbour, we had seenthem there before a couple of years ago, but no such luck this time, instead they were braving the rough seas a little way offshore:
along with the Eider:
The harbour side did produce some Turnstone and Redshank though:
A couple of Seals were hanging around among the boats:

Before leaving Burghead we drove around to the north coast and were luck to find some Red-breasted Merganser, and a small group of four Velvet Scoter, we had good views through the scope, but the distance was too much for the camera.
From Burghead we headed out to Findhorn stopping at the public hide on the bay, but apart from Crows there was nothing to report. I'd say not our lucky day, but we had seen an Eagle so musn't complain. We decided then to head over to Lossiemouth, as we got there the weather turned very nasty so we stayed in the car overlooking the sea. Here we had a real bonus if you like your heavy metal birds which I do of course. A couple of Typhoons came in and gave us a bit of a show:
Luckily they arrived just before the rain came lashing down.

We planned from here to try and find the hide at Loch Spynie, I had done some reserarch before hand and with the aid of 'following my nose' we found it. The rain was still coming down pretty hard, but Jimmy and me went for a recce and we find the hide was only a 5 minute walk from the car so I reported back leaving Jimmy in the hide and went and brought the kit and the girls!

As we walked down to the hide the rain stopped, hurrah! Followed by two Roe Deer running through the trees and across the path. A good omen!

As always when you go somewhere new first impressions can be there's nothing here, but once settled in and coffee poured we started finding plenty. This is the view front and right of the hide:
 There are feeders to the right on the shore line and woodland edge, the Long-tailed Tits were the most of the time, that is until a Sparrowhawk cane hurtling through the trees, that was pretty awesome. All the 'little uns' escaped though.
 Mute Swan passing through:
 Great Spotted Woodpecker in for an easy meal:
A very profitable day. As we had a long drive back to Braemar we headed out well before dark as the roads can be a bit dodgy going over the Cairngorms.

Part Two to follow very shortly.

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