On Friday, Me, Kieran Lawrence, Derek Lawrence and Michael Murphy made the trek to the Cairngorms for the long weekend kindly driven by Derek. Over the trip we managed 114 species just in Scotland including Surf Scoter at Musselburgh Lagoons on the way up, Michael also found a cracking Iceland Gull.
That night we went to look for Pine Martens and Badgers from a hide at Loch an Eileen, and after 2 hours waiting, we were watching 3 badgers and one pine marten showing very well!
The following morning we were up early in search of Capercaillie, and after getting reasonable but distant views of a lekking male at Loch Garten, we drove down the road towards Boat of Garten and on the way, we had mega views of a male lekking in a tree by the side of the road! This was followed by breakfast and then a trip out looking for golden eagles and hen harriers, however we did not score either species.
Sunday was a different story! After an early start to go for ptarmigan, we got the ski lift to the top and within 100 metres of the centre was a stunning pair of ptarmigan, on the trip up we got a total of 8 birds! Also got a nice male snow bunting while we were there.
Afterwards, a trip through the Findhorn Valley was in order to try for golden eagle again and after almost 3 hours of searching, Kieran spotted one as we were driving out, an excellent find and put everyone in a very good mood, even though we dipped crested tit later in the day!
Monday was hometime, and we got up early and managed to get our first and only crested tit of the trip at Boat of Garten after another hour of waiting! Then we went on to Aberdeenshire to look for White-Billed Divers, no sign of any WBD but 7 stunning Great Northern Divers, 2 Black-Throats and 2 Red-Throats. Our final stop of the trip was Ythan Estuary for the drake King Eider where we met up with Joseph Nichols. Derek spotted the bird on the far bank asleep with eiders after a while, which was a relief and an excellent spot! Another lifer for me! We also got little terns here bringing our final total to 114. An excellent trip!
King Eider (2nd Bird from Left)
Record Shot of Crested Tit!
However, yesterday me and my grandma were on our way up to Hauxley to look for the GWE when my phone buzzed and I screamed 'COLLARED FLY!' and within 30 seconds the SatNav had been rearranged and within the hour, we were watching the stunning Collared Flycatcher at Low Newton, found by Gary Woodburn, cracking bird, the best I've seen for a long time! Stunning!
Best photos can be found here: http://www.birdguides.com/picture?f=395718