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Planning a scotland trip for 2020

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Old Tuesday 2nd April 2019, 09:46   #1
Owene
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Planning a scotland trip for 2020

Hi, I'm looking to make a concerted effort to see in Britain all of the resident species I'm missing (Defining resident being a whole other can of worms)

Anyway I think I have the option of a 5 or 6 day trip to the highlands next year. either in mid april or the last week of may. With travel that probably means 3 or 4 days in the north of scotland/cairngorms. It can easily be multi-site if that makes sense.

The travel up and down can involve staying somewhere near the firth of forth or northumbria with limited birding opportunities there too.

I'm most interested in seeing the following species although I'm realistic about how hard some of them will be and don't expect to get all or even most of them.

Ptarmigan
Crested Tit
Capercailie
Golden eagle
White Billed diver
dotterel
Parrot/scottish crossbill (more interested in parrot than scottish)
Roseate Tern (more on the way up than in scotland)
Any scoter apart from common.
Pom or LT Skua
pine martin


I'd also be interested in seeing breeding plumage divers or grebes and an exciting supporting cast is always great. It's not like I see WTE or ospreys every day.


Anyone got info on whether april or may would be better (i know its a trade off between things like Dotterel and Divers with the different months)

I don't mind some walking but long solo hikes on bigger mountains than I'm used to probably won't be sensible. I'll have a car but not a 4by4

While I was on Mull a few years back I noticed a number of half day and day landrover trips. I'd be up for something like that but all the ones I've seen run to several hundred pounds to hire the whole van and I'll be a solo traveller. Does anyone know of any that you can book where you are part of a group rather than quoted a price for 6 people.

I'll have Birdguides and will probably want to factor in anything interesting and long staying that is around.

Last edited by Owene : Tuesday 2nd April 2019 at 09:49.
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Old Tuesday 2nd April 2019, 10:09   #2
delia todd
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Hi Owene

First of all have a look at The Opus pages for Scotland, particularly those for Central.

Second get Gordon Hamlett's book: Where to Watch birds in Scotland (think that's the right title... other's will keep you right): got it: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Best-Birdwa.../dp/0956987656

Mull will give you a lot of the species you want. If you go to Oban, Calmac (the major ferry company) usually run away day trips, which could be day or half day with a guide. Went on one a couple of years ago and it was great. Ah! just looked at their site, seems they don't do some of the ones we went on: https://www.calmac.co.uk/article/6291/Adventures but something may suit.

Then move across to the Cairngorms.

The best time is really about the end of April through May, the divers should be in breeding plumage and more available (stop at every loch and scan) will be back.

You may get migrating Dotterel in the Welsh hills - though they could turn up anywhere.

Hope this gets you started.
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Old Tuesday 2nd April 2019, 18:46   #3
ClarkWGriswold
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Totally agree with D about Gordon's book, Mull and Cairngorms. I think we used this tour: http://www.mullwildlifetours.co.uk/non Mull. They're pretty popular so you shouldn't have to pay for everything.

I follow John Poyner and David Slater on Twitter. Both run tours in the Cairngorm area. Might be worth checking out their websites.

Enjoy.

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Old Tuesday 2nd April 2019, 18:48   #4
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And the book is called:Best Bird Watching Sites:Scottish Highlands. I've had several copies over the years
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Old Tuesday 2nd April 2019, 19:01   #5
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John is a member here (jpoyner) and actually led us on a Scottish Bash of his area a few years ago.

A lovely guy and very helpful.

David is a member too.
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Old Tuesday 2nd April 2019, 19:06   #6
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Velvet Scoter and possibly Surf Scoter (slim chance of White Winged Scoter - which seems to have gone missing) should be get-able in the Firth of Forth - best bet probably off Musselburgh.

Funicular railway is out of action on Cairngorm meaning a walk up to the tops for Ptarmigan, though Glenshee on the hills around the ski centre can also turn up the species (and is possibly less walking).

Quite a few of the others listed are Schedule 1 species and in April/May might well be breeding, though you might get an Eagle flying over somewhere, if you are lucky. Slim possibility of Cresties coming to feeders at Loch Garten - no idea if they still put out food in Spring though. Loch Ruthven has hides for seeing Slavonian Grebes without disturbing them.

White Billed Diver may be possible off Portsoy area coast until early May - though numbers vary from day to day and sightings might be distant. Scope required.

Pomarine and Long Tailed Skuas route up the west coast but I think a trip to the islands might be required to have a decent chance of either (and favourable winds required too).

Some B&Bs etc advertise Pine Martens as a wee extra - with the animals coming in to gardens to feed after dark.
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Old Tuesday 2nd April 2019, 19:42   #7
Owene
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Thanks for all the replies, i'll definitely get the book and the opus pages look brilliant. I'll follow those two on twitter as well.

I know that the time period could be a bit awkward for schedule 1 birds but it's whats available and it should still be a fun trip if I come home having missed a few birds then it's an excuse for another visit. I can't quite see me fitting in mull as well as the mainland this time. I had a lovely visit there the year before last and would love to go back but I want to keep the amount of time spent travelling down once I've got up there.

I'll see which species I can pick up this year first to cut down on the number of sites needed. Velvet scoter and the skuas might well be easier beforehand anyway and i've heard of a few sites for passage dotterel nearer me.
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Old Friday 5th April 2019, 20:44   #8
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Re Ptarmigan at Glenshee, if the Cairnwell chairlift is running you can get onto the tops where the birds are with minimal effort. I've seen them within 20 yards of the top station walking around casually (them not me) - great sightings. Mountain Hares up there too. Highly recommended, free parking in huge car park, decent café, loos and so on.

Glenshee is not a great place for raptors, too much grouse shooting in the area.

John
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Old Friday 5th April 2019, 20:56   #9
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Think the chairlift is weekends only in April, not sure about May, but certainly every day later in the summer. Never done the walk up so can't speak as to how easy, or more likely hard, it is.
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Old Friday 5th April 2019, 21:36   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWN Andrewes View Post
Think the chairlift is weekends only in April, not sure about May, but certainly every day later in the summer. Never done the walk up so can't speak as to how easy, or more likely hard, it is.
I have done the walk up and provided you take the track to the col and thence along the ridge its a piece of cake for the averagely fit person. Normal mountain precautions apply, and that includes going up by chairlift.

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Old Saturday 6th April 2019, 14:37   #11
gordon hamlett
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Hi Owene,

If you are interested in my book, then send me your email address in a pm and I'll send you a sample chapter and details of a special offer for a signed copy. This applies to any other BF members reading this who might be interested. No obligation whatsoever.
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Old Saturday 6th April 2019, 17:31   #12
Owene
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Thanks for the very kind offer but I bought it this week from amazon and it looks amazing. Will be studying it a lot as I plan my trip
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