Saturday, 13 May 2017

RSPB Trip to Rattray and Strathbeg

I was asked to write the trip report for this event.  Here it is:-

RSPBAberdeen Members Group Trip Report 9th May
Sunny Rattray and Strathbeg

The Trip started at the St Mary's car park at the South end of the Loch of Strathbeg. While we were waiting for people to arrive the opportunity was taken not just to catch up with everyone's news but to train bins and 'scopes on the Loch and surrounding fields. We were able to catch up with a hand full of farmland birds and a good selection of birds in and around the Loch. The Sedge Warblers were a first of the year for some and were good entertainment as they rose up out of the reeds fringing the Loch and glided back again.

As we were gathering I was told I had 'volunteered' to do this trip report and then told to make sure my spelling was correct. The reason I was given for 'volunteering' was that as I write a birding blog so I would be doing a trip report anyway. So shameless plug for my blog:–

From the meeting point we all crammed into as few cars as possible to make the journey down the track to Rattray Lighthouse cottages. The cottage gardens are a great migrant trap. Tim, who was leading the field trip said that the only resident birds were House Sparrow, Robin and Pied Wagtail, anything else would be a migrant and just passing through. We saw Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Linnet, Goldfinch, Swallows and Sand Martin

Gathering at the Lighthouse Cottages
The most spectacular sighting was a skein of over 100 Pink-footed Geese flying over our heads. 

From the cottages we headed for the beach. 

The usual sea birds were there but there was a passage of Whimbrel and Curlew flying North.

The other highlight, fortunately not caught on camera, was a 'mini Tsunami' sending several group members falling over each other in a rush for higher ground. Some of the group had already seen that the tide was coming in and had already escaped the waves. The more stoical members stood their ground but got wet feet.

By now it was lunch time so a long convoy proceeded to the Loch of Strathbeg Visitors Centre. The birding highlight here was a Little Ringed Plover and not one but two Great White Egrets. The no birding highlight was a tray of fine pieces provided by Julie and Jim Pickering.

The group then went to Tower Pool hide. It wasn't big enough for everyone to be seated! Birding highlights here were a pair of courting Herons, A Sparrowhawk fly past and a visit from a pair of Swifts.

Whitethroat seen from the Path to the Tower Pool hide

A total of sixty species were seen during the day:
Mute Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gannet, Cormorant, Great White Egret, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Curlew, Dunlin, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Wren, Starling, Stonechat, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Siskin, Yellowhammer and Red Bunting.

Thanks must go to Tim Marshall who lead the group to such an impressive list and to Julie and Jim Pickering for the pieces.

Two new birds for the year list - Swift and Little Ringed Plover.  My photo of the plover was not good enough for the trip report but I'll put it up here.  

Little Ringed Plover
Total on list 174

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