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Griswold's Vacations 2019

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Old Sunday 6th January 2019, 19:44   #26
Paul Longland
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Once again a great account. Look forward to reading about your spey side trip. Won't be getting up there myself this year as we are planning a may birding trip to the camargue and provence this year instead.
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Old Sunday 6th January 2019, 20:27   #27
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Once again a great account. Look forward to reading about your spey side trip. Won't be getting up there myself this year as we are planning a may birding trip to the camargue and provence this year instead.
Thanks Paul. Hope you enjoy France.

Rich
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Old Wednesday 9th January 2019, 19:57   #28
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Good job it wasn't Ben Nevis/Ian. He'd still be there

Rich
I resemble that remark,Rich.
Sounds like a great trip,with some superb birds.
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 18:37   #29
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Info. request

Heading up to Speyside in just over 5 weeks. Does anyone know if there are any boat trips in the Portsoy area? I can see that relatively recently a couple of skippers have stopped/retired. Would it be worthwhile scanning from the harbour/headland? Not sure if it's the right time of the year for Divers? Also, are there any decent areas for Purple Sands? I'm guessing Burghead or Nairn maybe a good bet.

Our priority is definitely the Speyside specialities but if we have a spare day we may be able to head up to the coast.

Thanks for any advice.

Rich
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 18:54   #30
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Lossiemouth and Nairn Beach may hold some Rich.Or go via Aberdeen.I have decent sized flocks a 10 minute walk from my house
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Old Tuesday 29th January 2019, 19:08   #31
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Lol. Cheers Mr Nevis. Ask Mrs N to put the kettle on.
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Old Thursday 14th March 2019, 08:01   #32
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The great muppet Caper

So we arrived in Nethy Bridge last Friday having stopped at Strathclyde Loch on the way. No sign of the Ring-billed Gull but a female Goosander was present.

On arriving at Nethy we did our usual and stocked up at Mustards and Rothiemurchas Delhi. I can totally recommend the Beef short ribs

A quick drive out Nethy gave heaps of Brambling and Fieldfares at Sliemore Steading.

Time for the hot tub
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Old Thursday 14th March 2019, 08:20   #33
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Up at 06:00 on Saturday and off a wander around the Abernethy tracks. After about an hour Paul got on to a male Capercaillie which was in sight for all of 2 seconds. Unfortunately neither myself nor Kev could spot it in that timescale. Anyone who's been here will know it's incredibly difficult to pinpoint a bird that's only in view for such a short period. Row upon row of Pine Trees

A quick look around Loch Garten Car Park gave Coal Tits, Chaffs, GSW, Siskins etc. but no Crested Tit. Also stopped at the Mount View Hotel for a quick pint but unfortunately the bar did not open until 18:00. Managed a year tick on the feeders though in the form of a Lesser Redpoll We also picked up a selection of pies from the Highland Bakery in Grantown - Steak, Lasagne and Macaroni Cheese. Superb!

Today was always going to be a relatively short day as the match was kicking off at 14:15. Down to The Nethy Bridge Hotel we walked and watched Wales beat Scotland. Really thought the Scots were going to turn us over in the second half but luckily the boys held on Back to the hot tub for a celebratory beer.
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Old Thursday 14th March 2019, 08:31   #34
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Now normally Id be having a gripe about the hire car around about now. Not this time though. The 4 of us splashed out a little and hired a Merc. Really comfortable for covering a big distance. The only thing I noticed was it was a little soft on some of the twisting single laners around Lochindorb/Wester Ross and you couldnt fully turn off the T/C.
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Old Thursday 14th March 2019, 13:43   #35
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We've stayed at this place before. It really is superb. A little pricey but if there's a few going it works out fine.

http://www.nethy-bridge.co.uk/
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Old Friday 15th March 2019, 09:07   #36
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The Sunday after the Wales v Scotland game was always going to be a more relaxed affair. We left the car and walked around the local forest. Not too much bird wise but a couple of Roe Deer and a Treecreeper were a nice sight.


Still being early we decided to do the loop alongside the river that comes out by the Spar. The lane that linked up the road that we were on with Lynstock Crescent was absolutely stuffed with small birds. Loads of Bramblings, Siskins and a handsome male Bullfinch. Along the river itself were more Siskins and a Dipper by the road bridge.


From the road bridge itself, if looking downstream, there are some very well stocked feeders. The bushes were chocca with Chaffinch, Brambling and Siskins


Back at the cottage and Bev had surfaced. After a quick breakfast we decided to head out. First stop was Cairngorm Mountain. Swipe me was it cold and blustery up there. Well worth it though as in the car park there was a good sized flock of Snow Buntings. I hadn't realised this was a lifer for Kev so he was well pleased.

A quick look around Loch Garten gave the same species as previously. Then it was up to the Findhorn Valley. To be honest we didn't stay long. The weather was really closing in - not great for raptors. The only birds of note were a couple of Common Buzzards and a few Red-legged Partridges sitting on top of a dry stone wall.


Time to head back to the hot tub

Rich
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Old Friday 15th March 2019, 09:30   #37
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Weather closing in at the Findhorn Valley/Strathdearn.
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Old Saturday 16th March 2019, 09:11   #38
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So up early again on Monday and back along the productive track from Saturday. A light covering of snow made the whole place incredibly beautiful and atmospheric. Good to see that Roe Deer were using the same path as us. Unfortunately(for me) my worst nightmare then occurred. Kev spotted a male Caper flying approx. 200 metres from the path. Again I couldn't fix on the bird. It's fair to say that Kev and Paul wound me up for the rest of the day

Back to the cottage and Bev and Paul were up. It was off to the Pass of the Cattle. The field alongside the road that runs past Mustards was absolutely full of Curlew.


On top of the pass itself we could find no sign of Ptarmigan in the car park, or on the walk to the top.A word of caution. The wind was very strong at the top resulting in large chunks of ice being blown off the structure there. Very dangerous.

Next it was off to Shieldaig.
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Old Saturday 16th March 2019, 09:19   #39
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This is as cold as it looks!
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Old Sunday 17th March 2019, 16:14   #40
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Off to Shieldaig and we quickly pulled the car over as a Golden Eagle was over the hillside. On stopping we quickly saw that there were 3 circling together. They appeared to be a family as judging by the white on one of the birds it certainly was a juvenile. This had to be one of my best birding experiences ever! I'd been re-reading Tomkies before the holiday where he describes seeing family groups. To see such a group for myself was amazing

At Shieldaig itself there was a Dabchick and some Shags on the loch. On the loch shore were a couple of HoodiesWe were also too late for the Smoked Salmon

Leaving Shieldaig we again had to pull the car over but this time for a White-tailed Sea Eagle. An absolute giant of a bird - superb! A few Red Kites were along the A9 not far from the feeding station.

Back to the hot tub
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Old Sunday 17th March 2019, 16:33   #41
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So the alarm was set and Kev had kindly offered to accompany me as two pairs of eyes are better than one. Again, another beautiful walk when all you can hear is the bird song.

And then, after so many years of trying and failing, there she was. I'd love to say it was due to superior field craft but the reality was she was at the side of the path (after grit?) and flew off when I stepped too close to her. I doubt I would have seen her had she stayed put. Capercaillie finally seen. Big thanks to a good friend of mine who has given me so much advice over the years

On Loch Garten were a few Goldeneye. I couldn't pick out he Scoters that JP had found but we didn't linger long. GSW's seemed to be very common this year but at the Osprey Centre we again failed to catch up with any Cresties. A Red Squirrel was taking advantage of some free food.


In the car park itself an organised group had arrived. They moved up to the hide but a certain Iolo Williams stayed behind to have a chat with me and Kev. Bloody brilliant. He really is a likeable fella and came across as extremely genuine. Cracking to just discuss birds we had seen over the last few days. Evidently the weather had been better yesterday when his group were up at the Findhorn and they had connected with 2 Golden Eagles.


Time to head back to the hot tub and a celebratory beer. Chilling out in the hot tub whilst the snow was coming down was a good way to end the day.
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Old Sunday 17th March 2019, 16:42   #42
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Bravo! Quality birds Capers, and seem to be tougher than they used to be, great to hear you scored. Hopefully it'll follow the frequent pattern that a much dipped bird, once seen, suddenly becomes a lot easier to find again.

Hope the rest of the trip is a success.
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Old Sunday 17th March 2019, 16:45   #43
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Our day of departure. Down to the recycling bins by the Spar and I decided to try for Cresties one more time. And for once it worked out A couple of Crested Tits were in the canopy by the Osprey Centre

We had originally planned to stop at Deeping Lakes on the way home but knocked that on the head. To be honest I just wanted to get back to see the family and the pup (had the most amazing welcome off him when we finally got home).


Another brilliant trip to Scotland but now thoughts are turning to next year's trip. Islay, Arran or back to Ardnamurchan are possibilities. I've not been to either Islay or Arran so would need to look further in to those.

Rich
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Old Sunday 17th March 2019, 16:53   #44
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Bravo! Quality birds Capers, and seem to be tougher than they used to be, great to hear you scored. Hopefully it'll follow the frequent pattern that a much dipped bird, once seen, suddenly becomes a lot easier to find again.

Hope the rest of the trip is a success.
Cheers James. We definitely had 2 individuals and probably 3. It'll be interesting to see if the Caper watch at Loch Garten will be more successful this year.

Rich
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Old Sunday 17th March 2019, 20:11   #45
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Bravo Rich. I am so glad you have finally connected!

I've never been to Islay but can definitely recommend Ardnamurchan.

John
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Old Sunday 17th March 2019, 21:12   #46
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Bravo Rich. I am so glad you have finally connected!

I've never been to Islay but can definitely recommend Ardnamurchan.

John
Cheers John. It's been a long time coming and as I mentioned earlier, I've relied heavily on good advice and guidance from a good friend.

Ardnamurchan is superb and might be the front runner.

Rich
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Old Monday 18th March 2019, 08:49   #47
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Hi Rich,

Congrats on the Caper. We're up in May so I'll be picking your brains before then - send me a pm if the info is sensitive.

I would put Arran at the bottom of your list - a relatively small island with nowhere to go if you want to escape for the day.

I'm always happy to sing the praises of Ardnamurchan. As well as the peninsula itself (stunning, stunning, stunning), there is much to explore nearby as well - day trips to Mull, morvern, Mallaig, Glenfinnan (boat trips on Loch Shiel, ties in well with your love of Mike Tomkies), as well as some of the glens near Fort William - Loch Arkaig etc. There's a very good book I could recommend <grin>. Save Islay for winter.

Cheers,

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Old Thursday 21st March 2019, 12:42   #48
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Cheers Gordon. One of the reasons we went to Ardnamurchan last year was on the recommendation of that (outstanding) book you mention. I know John and Sandra have sung it's praises in the past as well.

I'll be turning 50 the year after next and the very early plans are that myself and the pup will head to the Outer Hebs for a week. Then we'll pick up the family at Inverness airport and head back to Ardnamurchan for the second week. Hopefully in the accommodation we stayed in previously. It was absolutely superb.

Islay looks very appealing and if this is where we go it's likely to be in February. Would love to see those flocks of Barnies. It does appear that we'll have one less in our group next year though so we might save Islay for a time when he (Kev) can join us. He is a Whisky lover - Ych a fi!!! So, after all that, another winter visit to the North Norfolk coast might be on the cards.

I'm hoping the next update to this thread will be from Somerset in May. Another of my favourite places to go birding.

Rich
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