Sunday, 14 November 2010

*Highland Highlights*

I have just had a quick read through these last posts and it has dawned on me that I literally haven't stopped in general for at least the last month. Bring on the Chistmas break when I can a have a rest, although, I will be working the week running upto Christmas, so that's that out the bag...

After seeing the Waxwings in Bangor on {Oct 28th}, the following day was my day off so I travelled back to the glorious north, un-packed my bags and then straight after, re-packed them again, hopped on a train to Preston and had a restful evening at Zac's house with his parents, as the next few days; myself and Zac would be birding where I certainly like to bird best, the Scottish Highlands and the Cairngorms National Park near Aviemore.

We had originally planned to drive up ourselves, stay for a few nights and kip in the car. However, the table was soon turned around and we managed to spend 4 days of hardcore birding, {30th October - 2nd November} in which we saw more or less everything we wanted to see, except one particular species.

The only species we didn't manage to see was the Capercaillie, after a whole day's worth of searching, not a sniff..
Highlights of the trip are as follows:

26 Waxwings {Middle of Abernethy Forest - self found}

2 Ptarmigan {8am on Cairgorm summit in 90mph winds!!}

Can you spot them?

Eclipse Drake King Eider at Burghead/Moray

2 Parrot Crossbills at our b and b in Boat of Garten {Totally unexpected}
Photographed by Zac Hinchcliffe
Other birding highlights include:

15 Black Grouse, 2 Red Grouse, 10 Brambling, 3 Hooded Crow, 70+ Long-tailed Duck, 20+ Velvet scoter as well as other Scottish specialitiy species such as Crested Tit!

We made a few seriously crazy decisions during the trip, including a dawn walk upto the Cairngorm Summit at 8am in 70-90mph winds!! This is no joke either, eyes dripping with liquid, coats rattling in the wind and at times it was a struggle just to walk the wind was that strong! The view down towards the car-park after seeing 2 Ptarmigan..

The large Scottish breakfasts were more than enough to fill me up for a full days birding, as well as the biggest bowl of porridge imaginable!

Myself and Zac in Abernethy Forest at Forest Lodge at 5am, in search of the elusive Capercaillie. Spending the whole day searching for this elusive creature, our efforts were not rewarded. I had in 2009, spent 2 weeks Residential volunteering here during the summer and was involved in Capercaillie surveying throughout the 2 weeks. Luckily, I managed to see a grand total of 68 Capercaillies, which includes, Females, Males and Fledged chicks. The purpose of this fieldwork was brood counting to see how much of a successfull year they had in raising and fledging chicks. I am proud to say that Capercaillie in 2009 had a pretty damn good year..

Heading home on the 2nd November, we found several fields of {new-in} Whooper swans, but despite thorough searching, I could reveal no red darvic'd birds from our trip to Iceland this year. A few yellow darvic'd birds were present but all were too far away to read..

All in all, a fantastic trip and worth every second. Huge thanks to Zac's mum and dad for inviting me along and for doing all the driving throughout the few days. I hope you enjoyed the Whisky and Wine!! Cheers for now

To see Zac's report of our trip, check out

No comments:

Post a Comment