Scotland 23rd AprilĖ 2nd May 2004

A trip to Scotland, mainly for the Scottish specialities and the Harlequin duck.

Friday 23rd April

After getting up a bit late plans changed (Barn owl along A1 in Lincs) and we diverted to Bothal Pool, Northumbs but missed the dowicher by 30 mins or so, birds of note Whooper swan, yellow wags and grey partridges. Next stop was Vane farm for the Rossís goose but there was no sign during a good search still lots of pinkfoots about. We departed for East Weymss and easily picked up the scoters, and the male surf scoter stood out amongst the velvet and commonís, he was accompanied by a female. At Methil the female king eider could not be located, and a return to Vane farm did not produce the Rossís goose.

Saturday 24th April

Up late again, too late to get to Loch Garten for the Capercaillies, so we stayed local for the Black grouse Lek, we parked up and within minutes heard the sound of lekking males, its an amazing sound, make the effort to go to a lek just for the sound. The males were hidden behind a plantation but we moved a short distance in the car and we could see the lek, two males were out in the open with a couple more at least hidden in the undulations of the field, the females were very distant. We left as the males departed with good views of red grouse, but a short distance away a single male was wooing 3 females just by the side of the road we stopped and watched, superb. We went to Glenshee, lots of red grouse and wheatears but no ptarmigan, we had to go up, on the top of the ski lifts and eventually in deteriorating weather we flushed two and had to leave as the mist rolled in. We then drove to the Findhorn valley, common sandpipers and dippers were easily found and at the end common gulls were Ė well common, along with oystercatchers which we found everywhere. Wheatears were plentiful and we found a peregrine flying round. Back down the valley by the turn for Farr (a short cut to Loch Ruthen) a goshawk took off then flew above the trees for a minute, a buzzard and another peregrine were seen further down the valley. We headed to our Pine marten watch not far from Aviemore (Speyside wildlife ) we saw two adults very close, young roe deer and a herd or red deer, well worth going. Got back at midnight.

Sunday 25th April

This time we were up in plenty of time to get to Loch Garten and a male capercaillie was displaying as we arrived, two other males displayed in the next couple of hours, the ospreys were incubating on the nest and at the forward hide we located two females, another female flew behind the hide and we located her in a tree. A male redstart and two crested tits came close to us along with lots of siskin on the feeders competing with the red squirrel. We had a walk round the paths but could not locate any crossbills. We then went to Loch Morlich a pair of summer plumaged red throated divers were on the Loch. We then visited the local reindeer herd not far from Loch Morlich. On our way a golden eagle passed overhead, we were unable to stop however. We returned to Findhorn valley in the afternoon, the sun was up and it was warmer, dippers and wheatears were easily located along the valley and at the end ravens and buzzards were present before a golden eagle passed slowly over the ridge. We took the Farr road to Loch Ruthen and could easily see several slav grebes in full summer plumage. We then drove to Lochindorb (North of Grantown) where we found some summer plumaged Black throated divers although a little distant. We visited Insh Marshes the usual waders and wildfowl but nothing of note.


Monday 26th April

A much more leisurely day and a chance to catch up on some sleep, we visited Killiecrankie, there were lots of redpolls, and tree pipits in the woods as we reached the edge of the woods a wood warbler was located and a cuckoo and stonechat from the top of the hill.

We then drove to Glenmore stopping at Loch Morvich and traipsed through the woods in search for Crossbills, only a closely perched buzzard. Then onto loch Garten for more of the same, only treecreepers for company. We drove north saw a red kite just north of Inverness on our way to Ullapool, the first rain of the trip. We checked into a B & B on the front but did not look for the Iceland gull due to the rain.

Tuesday 27th April

We boarded the ferry to Stornoway, and soon saw lots of gulls, and a bonxie, then came the auks black guillemots first then common, razorbills and eventually puffins, a few manx sherwaters and an artic skua, plus gannets and fulmars. A small flock of common scoter passed and as we approached the harbour an iceland gull was easily picked out in the gull flock. We disembarked and headed straight for Grais for the Harlequin, it was not about but there was plenty in the bay Great northern divers, and red breasted mergansers. We headed up the road about ĺ mile for the bonxie colony, we kept our distance and easily found several nesting. We then headed to Skirgersta but saw nothing of the white billed divers. There were ringed plovers at Loch Stiaparvat, and we headed back to Grais, the harlequin appeared a showed very well for Ĺ an hour. Back at Stornoway a 1st winter Kumleinís gull was in the roost but nothing else of note and no corncrakes could be located at the airport.


Wednesday 28th April

A quick stop at Loch brannihue 30+ long tailed ducks but not much else then straight to Skirgersta, and Port Nis but no sign of the white bills, although some excellent red throated. Then to the Butt of Lewis eventually a white billed diver was located but the heavens opened and the bird went out of sight. The rain stopped and the search resumed, a different bird a summer plumaged bird was located. At Loch Stiaparvait a buzzard was present but the wind prevented the location of any corncrakes.

The Coast on Eriskay

Thursday 29th April

We drove down to Harris, via several stops, great northern red throated and black throated divers were abundant, but no otters at a reliable place we knew near Tarbet. Nothing else of note was seen on the way to the ferry at Leverburgh. The ferry trip was different, despite a few showers lots of great northern divers, red throated and good numbers of black guilemots. On N Uist we drove to Balranald a whooper swan was present on one of the lochens.Sea watching at Balranald was difficult in the high wind, lots of sherwaters but only a couple of skuas, probably artic but hard to tell with the wind, lots of waders but were unable to pick anything out of the ordinary amongst them. We retreated to Benbecula for the night.

Whooper Swan

Friday 30th April

South ford was the first stop, little terns were present but not much else, we visited Penerine, lots of gulls and waders but not much else, the wind was still very strong and birdwatching was difficult and we did some touristy things. A male ring necked duck was observed distantly near Lochboisedale. Then a short visit to Loch Drudibeg, a male hen harrier struggled in the wind. We went to Balivanich for some food a short eared owl obliged as we headed back to Balranald, lots of snipe were displaying.

Record Shot of the Ring Necked Duck

Saturday 1st May

A brief trip to Balranald gave some fantastic views of twite and a callling corncrake before leaving to drive to Lochboisedale and the ferry to Oban. Buzzard, hen harrier were seen on the way and we stopped for excellent views of the ring necked duck behind the Co-op before boarding the ferry. Dolphins and porpoises, lots of auks including some bridled guillemots, and lots of manx shearwaters. We struggled to find some accommodation in Oban due to a music festival and we stayed some 15 mins away.

Eiders on S Uist

Sunset on South Uist

Sunday 2nd May

We went back to Oban for the ferry to Mull where we were booked on a day tour of the island with Island Encounters

First stop produced a pair of white tailed eagles, excellent views of both, we saw whinchat, stonechat some golden eagles, buzzards, ravens, red throated and GN divers, were the birds of note, the last stop produced an otter. We drove back overnight.

Lesser Black Backed Gull from the Ferry



white billed divers


black grouse lek

surf scoter



Long billed dowicher

King eider

Rossís goose

Scottish Crossbill



Mammals - 12

Common Dolphin

Harbour Porpoise


Pine Marten

Mountain Hare

Brown Hare



Red Deer


Red Squirrel

Grey Seal

Birds 144

Red Throated Diver

Lesser Redpoll


Black Throated Diver


Kumleins gull

Great Northen Diver

Red grouse


White Billed Diver


Little Tren

Great Crested Grebe


Common Tern

Slavonian Grebe

Black Grouse

Artic Tern

Little Grebe

Red legged partridge



Grey partridge

Black Guillemot

Manx Shearwater


Guillemot and bridled






Rock dove

Grey Heron


Collared Dove

Mute Swan

Ringed plover


Whooper Swan

Golden plover


Pink footed goose


Tawny owl

Greylag goose


Short eared owl

Canada goose


Greater spotted woodpecker

Barnacle goose




Common Sandpiper




Rock pipit


Black tailed godwit

Meadow Pipit



Tree Pipit



Pied Wagtail



White Wagtail


Great Skua

Yellow Wagtail

Tufted duck

Artic Skua

Grey Wagtail


Black headed gull


Common Scoter

Common Gull


Velvet Scoter

Herring gull


Surf Scoter

Lesser black backed gull


Long Tailed duck

Greater black backed gull



Iceland gull

Crested tit


Wood Warbler

Long tailed tit

Red Breasted Merganser






Ring Necked Duck

Great tit



Coal tit



Blue tit

Hooded Crow

White Tailed Eagle


Carrion Crow

Golden eagle



Red kite



Hen Harrier

Song thrush

House Sparrow


Mistle thrush






Willow Warbler





Reed bunting


Corn bunting

Barn Owl

Feral Pigeon

Stock Dove