Sunday, 30 April 2017

A Day with the RSPB

23rd April

The Aberdeen and District RSPB members group had a day out.  It was planned that we meet at the Linn o' Dee Car park at 10.00 for a bird watching walk.

Brian, Alex and I left from Fraserburgh and took a route that took us to Huntly on to Strathdon and over to Deeside via the A939 and B796 to join the A93 at Balmoral.  This went over open Grouse Moor and sure enough there were Red Grouse aplenty.  We had enough time to stop for photographs.
Red Grouse

Red Grouse looking like a Whisky Advert

We even had time to get some habitat shots

Brian getting close and personal to a Red Grouse
  We also saw a Black Grouse (Blackcock).  Unfortunately it was strategicaly placed behind some fencing.

Black Grouse
When it eventually had enough of us trying to get a clean, fenceless shot it flew off.  Only then did we see that there was a female (Greyhen) as well.
Blackcock and Greyhen in Flight
Unfortunately the A93 was closed due to a very bad accident earlier in the day and we could not get to Braemar and then on to the Linn o' Dee.  All the RSPB trippers were waiting at the road closed sign wondering what to do.  At last a decision was made and we went in convoy the Glen Muick instead.

At Glen Muick we saw more Black Grouse and more Red Grouse,  a Snipe


Lots of Red Deer

A Peregrine - a long way away on top rocky outcrop.

The highlight of everyones day was a flock of Crossbills.  Red ones are males and the green ones female.  There are three types of Crossbills live in this part of the world.  'Common', that can also be found throughout the UK bat are not that common, 'Scottish' that are endemic to the UK and only live in the Scottish Highlands, and 'Parrot' again in the UK these only live in the Scottish Highlands but can be found in Scandinavia.  Parrot Crossbills have much thicker bills than the other two.  Common and Scottish are very difficult to tell apart.  To be sure you would have to take sound recordings of their songs, take detailed measurements or a DNA sample.  None of these techniques were available to us, so these are either Common or Scottish.  As a year lister aiming to see 200 species in 2017 this leave me with a bit of a dilemma.  Do I just list these birds as 'Crossbill Speicies' and count it as 1 for my list or do I say 'this is the right place and the right habitat I'll list it as a Scottish Crossbill'.  I know that if I see a Crossbill outside the Scottish Highlands it will be a Common Crossbill.  So by calling this on a 'Scottish' I will have 2 ticks rather than 1

Male Crossbill

Female Crossbill

Male Crossbill
Female Crossbill

Here are a few more images from the trip.  Great landscapes.....
Looking towards Lochnagar

Field Trip Leader Tony getting in the way of a Loch Muick view

.....more common birds....


Song Thrush



.....and the group

It is Brian looking back at the camera.

But the days story does not end there or even with the trip home.
On the way back I got a message that a  Bonaparte's Gull was at the Loch of Strathbeg.  Other messages came through saying that it was 'now in a ploughed field' and 'not seen for ten minutes'.  Alex and I decided to look for it and there it was in the ploughed field.  I have to say that we only saw it thanks to Paul who had re-found the bird after it had left the Strathbeg reserve. 

Total on list 153

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