Friday, 13 May 2016

Day 2 - Aviemore

First up was a trip out before breakfast to have a look at a site for Capercaillie, after finally finding the correct place, there was no sign of the actual bird but plenty of evidence it had been! The only bird of note was Tree Pipit for the year.

 Capercaillie poo!!

With breakfast fast approaching back at the hotel, we made our way back but jammed on to a Crested Tit feeding on a lone roadside tree. 

After breakfast we headed back out, hoping for a bit more luck. First up was a new site for us with nesting Osprey.

Next up on the list was a trip up the Cairngorms, or so we thought! With all of the snow still at the top of the mountain we were fairly sure that we'd be able to get out at the top with a decent chance of connecting with Ptarmigan. Unfortunately, when we walked into buy our tickets for the funicular train to the summit, we were told that it was having maintenance work until 16th May!!! With none of us up for the hike up by foot, we decided to head out along the lower lying paths and hoping our luck would be in, it wasn't and after a fairly long trek, we'd only had more Red Grouse, Raven and a Wheatear. We headed back to the car park for a coffee, unfortunately we were then told by the person parked next to us that he'd had a pair of Ptarmigan just up from the base station. So off we went again, but other than some excellent views of 6+ Ring Ouzel, we saw little else.

Male Ring Ouzel

We also had a flock of 6 Snow Buntings in the car park including 3 smart black and white males. 

Our next stop was one of our favourites with the Slavonian Grebes just outside Aviemore but despite there normally being at least a pair present, we could only find 1 bird, the other perhaps on a nest as it was seen by others the next day. Also seen here were Common Sandpiper and Siskins around the bird hide.

Having read fantastic reviews of the wildlife seen at the Rothiemurchus hide, we had pre-booked our spaces. We met our guide just after 8 and headed down to the hide, which was hidden away within the Rothiemurchus estate. Once the food had been placed all around the outside of the hide, the lights were switched off and we waited. It didn't take long before we were joined by our first visitor. 

 Pine Marten 


 Sorry but couldn't resist this one!!

Altogether, we had 4 Pine Martens and 4 Badgers visit the feeding station before we left at about 11.30. We also had brief views of roding Woodcock and stunning close views of Tawny Owl as we left. A truly amazing experience and one I'd thoroughly reccommend. 

Monday, 2 May 2016

Herrieven Highland Tour

Day 1 - Brough to Aviemore

Leaving Brough just after 9, we headed North towards our first target bird in Cumbria. Arriving at 11.30, we immediately saw the bird before we'd even stopped the car, albeit distantly. Feeding along side the stone walls we had 4 Black Grouse (161), far easier than I'd expected them to be at this time of the day. Driving a little further on, we then found another 3 feeding much closer to the road.

 Male Black Grouse

Continuing along the road and looking further back into the same field we found a total of 12 males altogether. Surprise of the day then came when a Hooded Crow (162), flew over the field being mobbed by the nesting waders, totally unexpected and one we thought we'd have to wait until Scotland for.

By now it was time to make tracks for Aviemore and we headed towards the M6 getting a couple of roadside Red Grouse (163), on the way.

We arrived in Aviemore just before 6pm and checked into our accommodation for the next few days. We then headed out hoping to make the best of the last couple of hours of daylight. The rain didn't help but we struck lucky with a fabulous pair of Black throated Diver (164), at a nearby loch. Also seen here were Goosander, Goldeneye, breeding Redwing and Mistle Thrush.

Pair of Black throated Diver (honestly!!)

All in all a fabulous start to our trip, let's hope the weather holds off for the next few days.