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Scotland Trip (March 2004) - Part 1 of 4

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Old Sunday 28th March 2004, 21:23   #1
birdman
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Scotland Trip (May 2004) - Part 1 of 4

Days 0 & 1

Drove up from home to our “base” near Invergordon on the Cromarty Firth. As we passed the Insh Marshes en route, we saw at least three Buzzards - the first of plenty during the week.

Approaching Cromarty Firth, just prior to crossing the A9 bridge, we passed a field full of Pink-footed Geese - this too would be a recurring theme for the week. Then just as we crossed the bridge, we noticed the unmistakable shape of a Red Kite in the sky above us.

The first proper day of our trip was to be spent around the Firth. The birding day started with a Chaffinch around the cabin where we were staying.

We set off to our first intended birding location at Nigg Bay. Pheasant, Buzzard were soon seen, and a couple of Oystercatchers at Nigg Roundabout got the day off to a reasonable start. We arrived at what appears to be a brand new hide on the eastern shore of Nigg Bay on the B9175 below Pitcalnie. The hide has large glass windows and flaps on three sides, affording views over a large area of the bay.

Leaving the car, we heard a Skylark (or two?) overhead. Also in the skies were regular arrivals of geese by the dozen. From the hide (and also from a separate screen) we could see many Pink-footed Geese. Also from the hide we could see good numbers of Wigeon, interspersed with Shelduck and a few Pintail. Herring Gulls were also well represented, with a few Great Black-backed Gulls for good measure.

On the mudflats were many Redshank and Curlew, and plenty more Oystercatchers.

And still the geese flew in.

A flock of 10 to 15 Goldfinches were flitting around, and Lapwing were also on the scene. As were perhaps half a dozen Mute Swans and a good few Hooded Crows.

And still the geese flew in!

As we were watching, flocks of a couple of dozen here or there were joining those already in the bay and the surrounding fields. Suddenly, we were aware of between one and two thousand Pinkfeet in the air, and there were still at least as many on the ground. Amazing!

After a good stay at the hide, we decided to move on, as even more geese took to the air, and a Grey Heron arrived. We set out to follow the Firth around to Cromarty village. On the way we picked up Jackdaw and Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon and Starling. We stopped in the village of Saltburn, adding Cormorant and a single Common Gull (along with more Herring Gull), as well as a Pied Wagtail.

A handful of Turnstone were rummaging around on the rocky shore, until they became aware of our presence, and on the Firth we also picked up a Red-breasted Merganser redhead.
A little further along the way, in Invergordon, we added Mallard, and then close to the Dalmore Distillery, we saw two pairs of Eider and another Cormorant.

We continued around the Firth, but also took a detour up one of the tributary valleys, where we may just have had distant views of a Golden Eagle – but not such that I would dare claim a sighting!

On the south side of the Firth, we added Yellowhammer, before stopping off at Udale Bay. Once again we saw large number of Pinkfeet, and decent numbers of Oystercatchers, gulls and other water birds. Amongst a group of about 100 Pinkfeet, we found a single Barnacle Goose. The last new addition of the day was a couple of Black-headed Gulls at Jemimaville.

(Part 2 here)

Last edited by birdman : Sunday 28th March 2004 at 22:36.
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Old Sunday 28th March 2004, 21:29   #2
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What a sight those geese must have been! Great report so far.

Don't you just love the name of that town, Jemimaville? Sounds like something from a childrens' TV programme.
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Old Sunday 28th March 2004, 21:30   #3
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Nice report Birdman. Not a part of Scotland I know that well but I shall have to try and visit.

Oh, and some impressive time travel
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Old Sunday 28th March 2004, 21:31   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digi-birder
What a sight those geese must have been!
Sure were!
Quote:
Originally Posted by digi-birder
Don't you just love the name of that town, Jemimaville? Sounds like something from a childrens' TV programme.
Just across the Firth from Barbaraville!
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Old Sunday 28th March 2004, 21:32   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifebirder
Nice report Birdman. Not a part of Scotland I know that well but I shall have to try and visit.

Oh, and some impressive time travel
Thanks!

And I noticed the "deliberate mistake" which I have put right.

Even as I was writng the notes while I was there, I kept putting "May" instead of "March". Sheesh!
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Old Sunday 28th March 2004, 21:33   #6
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Sounds like a lovely start to your trip, Birdman. Eager to read more!
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Old Monday 29th March 2004, 17:14   #7
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Great start to your trip. It brings back memories of our visit to the area last Spring.
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 17:38   #8
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Just a quick question: You said you saw Carrion crows. Are you sure?
I've only ever seen Hooded crows that far north.
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