Thursday, 4 May 2017

Tickety Boo

Yesterday Alex and I went on a long trek (by car of course) to various bits of the Cairngorms.  I suppose we went the long way round to get to Glenshee.  We went via Strathdon and over the moorland to Balmoral.  Not a bad long way round.  This is what we saw:-
A very obliging Snipe that stayed on the fence post for quite some time while we took photos.  It even changed its pose every so often without being asked.

 n aloof looking Red Grouse that had clearly posed for professional photographers taking shots for whisky adverts and did not want to be associated with rank amateurs

 A Meadow Pipit that didn't stay around for long

and a Stonechat looking decidedly scruffy

Our target bird was a Ring Ouzel and we were told that it is often in the car park at Auchallater south of Braemar.  If there wasn't one there we were bound to see one on the four mile walk to the bothy at Loch Callater.  It was a hot day.  We didn't fancy a four miles there and another four miles back.  But our luck was in.  At the car park we got out to stretch our legs and straight away heard the plaintive song of a Ring Ouzel.  I have to confess it was a sound that I was not expecting.  The book says '...a few repeated notes or motifs at a slow tempo'.  This was one long call descending in pitch that had an unearthly quality.  It was not long before we saw the bird itself.  It wasn't with us for very long - a dash across the heather at the back of the car park, a short stop on a fence post and off across the road into the valley.
Ring Ouzel
That saved us an eight mile hike.

We carried on along the A93 t0 the summit at the Glenshee Ski Centre.  We did this mainly because it would have been churlish not to given we were in the area.  We may have sen some more Ring Ouzels or even a Ptarmigan or two or perhaps a Golden Eagle but we didn't, just more Red Grouse.

From here we retraced out steps and headed for Glen Tanar.  On our way we stopped outside the Boat Inn in Aboyne because we had been told that the trees on the river bank held Garden Warbler.  No luck on the warbler but we did spend some time trying to get photos of Sand Martins that were nest building in the river bank. We couldn't get views without a lot of vegetation in the way. There are much better photos of Facebook

Sand Martin
Alex wanted a picture of a Green Woodpecker.  On our last visit we heard one but it remained out of sight.  On this visit it wasn't even calling.  We did a short walk on the Juniper Trail.  It was full of Willow Warblers and Chaffinches we did hear a Chiffchaff and another warbler but ere unable to identify it by sound and couldn't see it.  Had we got a positive ID it would have meant one more tick for the year list.

The next and final stop was the Forest of Birse.  On the way I was given a lesson on the pronunciation of Doric place names.  The village of 'Strachen' is pronounced 'Straun' but the manager of Scotland's national football team is still pronounced 'Strachen'.

It is a long single track road running along side the Waters of Feugh (don't ask me how to say it) to the car park at the end.  What struck me was the number of Mistle Thrushes, there are very few in the Fraserbugh area.

Mistle Thrush

From the car park the road became a private track leading to farms and into the mountains

We made two discoveries here.  The first was a Red-legged Partridge and the second a Slow Worm.
Red-legged Partridge

Slow Worm

It was then the long drive home.

Just for fun we put together a 'trip list'.  Here it is, in no particular order:-

Buzzard, Pied Wagtail, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Woodpigeon, Red Grouse,Black Grouse, Pheasant, Raven, Snipe, Common Gull, Lapwing, Willow Warbler, Stonechat Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Goosander,  Dipper, Chaffinch, Curlew,Jackdaw, Swallow, Ring Ouzel,  Mallard, Blackbird, Siskin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, Rook, House Sparrow. Sand Martin, Dunnock. Robin. Blackcap. Great Tit, Starling, Herring gull, Magpie, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greylag Goose, Feral Pigeon, Black-headed Gull, Teal Redshank and Linnet.  I make that 45 so a target has been set for future trips.

We also saw Red Deer. Roe Deer, Mountain Hare, Brown Hare and Rabbit.  A Slow Worm, Speckled Wood and some White and some Reddish butterflies but we were not paying much attention to them.

Today there were three 'Tick to add to the year list.

A Sedge Warbler heard on my morning walk it would not come out to be photographed.

And a Lesser Whitethroat and Whimbrel at Rattray this afternoon.  I took some time to find these birds.  The Lesser Whitethroat was in the garden of the Lighthouse Cottages and only came into view when I went back for a second look after seeing the Whimbrel which I only found after I had given up on the Warbler.  The Cottages had Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and loads of Swallows as well as Linnets, Robins, a Wren and a Dunnock and House Sparrows.  Meadow Pipits, and Sky Larks, Curlews, Lapwing, Jackdaws and Carrion Crows were in the adjacent fields with the Whimbrel. 

Lesser Whitethroat

Curlew on the left, Whimbrel on the right

Swallow, this one kept returning to this perch

And don't forget the rabbits

Back lit Bunny

Total on list 168

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