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Scottish Wanderings

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Old Monday 7th January 2019, 09:44   #1
Gander
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Scottish Wanderings

As my wanderings with Stonefaction quite often cover more than one area in a wander i.e. starting in TayForth and ending up in Highland, Lothian, NE etc, I have started this separate thread for wanderings. If anyone else is doing spot of multi-area birding, please feel free to use this thread if you feel it is the best place to capture your birding activity.
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Old Monday 7th January 2019, 10:45   #2
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New Year's Day Wandering.

With the aim being to kick off the year with a rush of bird species, we had decided to do a loop of the Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose area. We had a few target species in mind, but were really out to see as much as possible, so we would be constantly moving.

Hitting the road while it was still dark, I soon realised that the lack of traffic meant I was going to hit Dundee far too early for my arrange pick up of Barry(Stonefaction), so as it was just getting light, I pulled in beside Letham Pools for ten minutes. It was here I got my first bird of the year, with the white plumage of Mute Swans standing out in the half light. I added a few of the commoner waterfowl residents to my list before continuing on my way to Dundee, although not before I noted the arrival of a couple of Goosander at the pools.

Picking up Barry, we tried for Waxwing in the city centre, but were unsuccessful, so we moved on to a small Dundee park where we found Dipper, and an unexpected Jay. Next stop was the Riverside Nature Park. We were soon spotting plenty of the resident bird population, including a Common Snipe. At the screen that looks down over the mud flats, we found a concentrated group of Redshank. Barry's practised eye soon picked out the long staying Spotted Redshank from amongst its common cousins.

From the RNP, our next stop was Arbroath. We pulled in at a golf course on the edge of the town and wandered down a track in the hope of seeing reported S-E Owls, however, it was not to be. We thought we had found a Jack Snipe at one point. It behaved very much like a Jack Snipe, but examination of Barry's photos later proved it to be a Common Snipe.

Out over the golf course, a Kestrel was seen. It flew towards us landing in a close by tree and giving great views (see photo). I have to say that the more I see of Kestrels, the more I appreciate them.

Getting back to the car we headed towards the harbour, stopping at the seafront. We had seen a Black Redstart here the week before, a bird Barry had found prior to that. There were already birders on site when we arrived, but there was no sign of our bird. It was getting busy in the area, as there was a scheduled New Year's Day dooking to take place in the harbour. Wanting nothing to do with dookings, we headed off again.

Next stop was the the cliffs on the other side of Arbroath. There was not much doing there, with the highlight being me choking on a scotch egg I tried to eat on the move. Heading inland a little now, we pulled up at some farm buildings. A little waling along the road soon revealed Corn Bunting sitting on the wires over the fields. A nice addition to a New Year's Day list.

We headed on to the Montrose basin. The basin was pretty quiet, so with the light now noticeably starting to fail, we headed back to Arbroath. We again checked out the golf course, then made our way to Carnoustie to unsuccessfully look for the known Parakeet,

We finished out first wandering of the year with a couple of coastal stops to add a few waders to the list before we called it a day and headed back to Dundee. A great way to spend the first day of the year.
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Old Friday 11th January 2019, 16:43   #3
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First 2019 Wednesday Wandering

Having spent the first day of the year wandering around Angus, we had decided to make a circuit in Fife for our usual Wednesday wandering, which fell on the 2nd of January.

Meeting up at the Eden Estuary Centre, we carried out a brief scanning of the mud flats. I was hoping the White-Tailed Eagle would be in attendance, however, there was no sign of her. We didn't spend long here, as tide and daylight hours would be working against us, so it was not long before we were heading across Fife towards Ruddons Point.

As we approached Kilconquhar, we decided to make a brief stop at the Barnyards Marsh. We hoped to find Jack Snipe here, but only a Common Snipe obliged with a showing. A passing Bullfinch was added to our year lists.

Leaving the car parked at the Barnyards, we walked around to the FBC hide on the loch. The usual residents were evident, with a drake Pochard being a year first for both of us. Returning to the car, we were soon heading down the road that leads to the Elie Caravan Park, passing a Buzzard in the roadside vegetation. I stopped the car and backed it up so we could get a better view of the bird, which had flown into the low branches of a nearby tree. It was holding on firmly with its talons to what looked
like a clump of moss and grass. As we watched though, it managed to pull a Bank Vole out of the mossy package. A nice winter meal for the Buzzard who made short work of it.

We parked at the top car park, and headed towards the Cocklemill Marsh, along a forestry track. We emerged from the trees, above the marsh having added Goldcrest to the year lists. Following the path that headed to Ruddons Point, we carefully scanned the area between where the burn crosses the beach and the first of the wooden bridges. There were Rock Pipits evident, but it took a little while before our main target was spotted. A resident Water Pipit became my first lifer of the year.

We made our way out to the end of the point without finding much out on the waters, so we we soon trekking back to the car, with our march through the campsite only interrupted by a passing Raven.

Back on the road, we headed into Elie, and turned down into the harbour area. It didn't take us long to locate the Black-Necked Grebe that abides in the area off the harbour wall. It took me longer in fact to get a photo of it than it did to find it, due to its continuous diving.

Hitting the road again, we headed back towards St Andrews. Surf Scoters from the Golf Museum car park were on the agenda, however, there was time for a visit to Cameron Reservoir first. I always find this place a fairly peaceful place to visit. This is probably due to the state of the access road, but is worth the slow drive over and around the pot holes.

From the car park at the west dam we walked across the dam and made our way along the north bank to an opening in the trees that allowed us to look across the water. It was from here that Barry pick out one of the resident Red-Headed Smew. Seconds later, I saw a Smew flying west back towards the dam. At this point we were distracted by a flock of Crossbills in the treetops above us.

Turning our attention back to the waterfowl, I found a Smew heading across the water toward us. This was probably the original bird Barry picked out, with the bird I saw in the air being a second. We never saw more than one at any one time though, but there have been tree birds reported there this week.

With the light starting to die, we now headed to our last stop at the Golf Museum. The Scoter flock out on the water was much reduced from our previous visit a week ago, and despite much scanning, no Surf Scoters were seen.

With all of the day's light used, I dropped Barry off at Guardbridge for his bus, then headed home. We had missed a few targets, but got a few good birds, and a nice bonus or two along the way. All in all, a good day's birding.
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Old Tuesday 22nd January 2019, 13:27   #4
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Pity I only just joined here, you were on a lot of my regular spots, I could have shown you a couple of off the beaten track places, give me a shout when you are up again.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4874/...d95bf651_c.jpg
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Old Tuesday 22nd January 2019, 20:07   #5
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That's a cracking shot of a Short-eared Owl.
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Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 07:24   #6
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Yes, that's a nice S-E Owl shot. If it is where I think it is, I saw it from the train just over a week ago.
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Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 13:49   #7
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Thanks for the comments guys, keep in touch
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Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 14:03   #8
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Yes, that's a nice S-E Owl shot. If it is where I think it is, I saw it from the train just over a week ago.
I'm sure you know the spot, I got in early before the crowds arrived, there were 3 birds at one point, we think 1 female and 2 males, pressure from folk trying to chase them about moved them on sadly.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4813/...db9029a1_c.jpg

Two of them having a bit of a tussle over the best hunting grounds.
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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 19:40   #9
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This is Paul and I's Wednesday's outing from last week - although we stuck to Fife it's as well in here as we didn't just stick to one place. Started at Guardbridge then headed via Leuchars to Tentsmuir then to Fife Ness/Kilminning then back to Balgove Bay and Out Head. A nice mix of birds with 2 different Merlins at 2 different locations (and no sign of 1 where we hoped to see 1).

https://stonefactionbirding2014.blog...more-6219.html
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Old Friday 22nd March 2019, 10:05   #10
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Winter Wanderings

For various reasons, I have been a little lax in putting up any reports of our Wanderings over the this years first winter months. So here are the highlights.

The 9th of January saw us (Stonefaction and I) touring the lower Angus area. This produced a lifer for me in Carnoustie with a Green-Necked Parakeet. It feels strange seeing such a bird like this in Scotland, in wintertime. It almost had a novelty feel to it, however, it was a smart looking bird, and very welcome. Also on the 9th, we found Green Sandpiper at Monikie, Twite and Little Egret at and relocated the Black Redstart at Arbroath.

The 6th of Feb saw us doing a tour of North East Fife. We were hoping for Merlin at Tentsmuir, but we first stopped off at a field near Leuchars to try and find Grey Partridge. There were no Grey Partridge there, but amazingly, there sat in the middle of the field was a ........Merlin.

We continued to Tentsmuir as there were still plenty of potential targets there. Walking along the dunes from the car park, we found my first Fife Green Woodpecker, but hoped for Snow Bunting evaded us.

A visit out to the Crail area produced our second Merlin of the day. We had popped into Kilminning, again in the hope of a Grey Partridge, and again we had found a Merlin instead. This one was busy chasing a Skylark. Both birds gave an amazing aerial display, wheeling and turning low over the car park. The Skylark with Merlin n right on its tail feathers was actually heard to be singing as it flew for its life. As far as we could see, the Skylark won its battle.

Ending our day at the Eden Estuary, a quick walk out along the Balgove golf course produced Brent Geese.

On the 13th Feb, we made our first visit of the year to the Angus Glens. A passing eagle would have been nice, however, we were well pleased with both Red and Black Grouse, along with our first Red Kite of the year. On the way back, we dropped in at Kinnordy to successfully find a Brambling at the feeders.

Which brings us to the day before yesterday. Again the Angus area was chosen, with Little Gull at Monikie being the prime and first target. Arriving at Monikie, we were soon aware of gull activity with plenty of BHG sounding off. It was not long though before Barry picked to what looked like a distant Little Gull, over the far end of the main water body. We hiked up the bank side path to get a better look, and found that the group of birds that we thought contained a Little Gull had moved back towards the direction we had come from. Watching for a while though, we realised that some gulls over the water were potentially Little Gulls. A BHG joined the four birds we were looking at, and the contrast along with long range photos helped confirm four Little Gulls. A good start to the day.

Next stop was a new site to me. Cromrie Country Park. A circuit of the main water gave us plenty of birds, although nothing unexpected for the time of year. At one point we thought we heard Tawny Owl in a stand of conifers, but extensive investigation did not reveal the birds. Moving on to Montreathmont Forest, we only made a short stop, but it was enough to give me Lesser Redpoll as another year first.

Finally, We headed for Kinnordy, stopping at Balgavies Loch on the way. Both were still sitting largely in winter stupor, although the feeling of impending spring was strong. A few more weeks I think will make a huge difference.

After dropping Barry off in Dundee, I made a slight diversion to Leuchars in search of Waxwing. I had done the same thing in the morning on my way to pick Barry up. Waxwings had been reported in the station area the previous few days, but neither of my visits produced anything. Next day of course, they were reported there again. Don't birds drive you bonkers?
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Old Friday 22nd March 2019, 10:40   #11
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This one was busy chasing a Skylark. Both birds gave an amazing aerial display, wheeling and turning low over the car park. The Skylark with Merlin n right on its tail feathers was actually heard to be singing as it flew for its life. As far as we could see, the Skylark won its battle.
I've never witnessed this myself, but I believe it's possible the Skylark was saying to the Merlin "I'm fit and strong, you'll never catch me, give up!".
From an unrelated world, Springboks are seen to do this (spring into the air a lot) when pursued by a big cat.
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Old Friday 22nd March 2019, 17:37   #12
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I've never witnessed this myself, but I believe it's possible the Skylark was saying to the Merlin "I'm fit and strong, you'll never catch me, give up!".
From an unrelated world, Springboks are seen to do this (spring into the air a lot) when pursued by a big cat.
I've never witnessed it either, but seems to be a well-known phenomenon.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/4600934...n_tab_contents

Would be interesting to see it actually happening. Nice one!

Cheers,

Matt
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Old Friday 22nd March 2019, 22:21   #13
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Did manage to get a photo of the Merlin and Skylark 'singing' (though I kinda imagine it was letting out a long string of expletives).

Links to blog-posts adding a bit of detail (and more pics) to our wanders.

9/1
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blog...ding-9119.html

6/2
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blog...more-6219.html

13/2
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blog...och-13219.html

20/3
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blog...ing-20319.html
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Old Friday 29th March 2019, 18:59   #14
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just back from a week in Aviemore- spent a day over towards Fort Augustus and had excellent views of a couple of Golden eagles on the road over as well as numerous Buzzards.
Found an Osprey nest with a bird on it too- did not get anywhere near though for obvious reasons though the bird seemed pretty chilled!

Nice weather too!
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Old Monday 1st April 2019, 21:02   #15
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just back from a week in Aviemore- spent a day over towards Fort Augustus and had excellent views of a couple of Golden eagles on the road over as well as numerous Buzzards.
Found an Osprey nest with a bird on it too- did not get anywhere near though for obvious reasons though the bird seemed pretty chilled!

Nice weather too!
Sounds good.
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Old Sunday 5th May 2019, 21:01   #16
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Having arrived back home on the last day of April, I was out for a wander on the first day of May. Picking up Barry in Dundee, we were soon making a circuit of the Riverside Nature Park. Blackcap, Swallow and House Martin were year ticks for me.

Next on the agenda was the Tay Marshes. The marshes have given me two years of non-cooperation in my hunt for Bearded Reedling. I wasn't hopeful, but Marsh Harrier, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler were possibilities, with an outside chance of Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat.

Marsh Harrier was the first target to come our way. I love the way they swoop over the reeds. A Sedge Warbler also showed itself at this first spot. We headed along the bank for quite a way, stopping several times to scan for our other targets. At our final location, we could hear at least one Reed Warbler, but it was resolutely remaining hidden.

Suddenly, Barry announced Beardy, I scanned in the direction I had been facing trying to find a bird in the air, but I was wasting my time, as Barry had been facing the other way. Soon after that, I spotted a bird that flew across the tops of the reeds before it dived into them. Two big for Beardy I thought, but I noted the tan colouration.

We stayed in this spot for quite a while, as the Reed Warbler continued to call. Then Barry called Beardy again, and this time I was onto a fast moving bird that skimmed across the reed tops before descending into their concealment. I was pretty sure that I was onto the same bird that Barry called, but it seemed too big for me. After a couple more Beardy sightings, with one at fairly close range, my lightning fast mind realised that my size expectation of a Beardy, was way off. I don't know where I got the idea, but I was expecting a bird the size of a large Bumblebee. It was only when I got home later, that I realised the first mystery bird I had seen, was probably a Beardy. Strange how an ID misconception can throw you.

With the Reed Warbler a no show, we headed back to the car. Fatigue and a ricked back were taking their toll on me, but we still made a stop or two along the way back to Dundee, before ending the day's wandering. Next week will most likely be the Angus Glens, so hopefully plenty of birds to come.

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Old Thursday 9th May 2019, 21:03   #17
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Three days a wandering - Part 1

I have had a pretty active three days of birding.

Tuesday saw me heading out into Perthshire on a solo wander. I arrived at the Killiecrankie visitor centre at 07:30 hrs. The early start was to avoid any tourists that might make the birding harder. It was starting to drizzle as I got out of the car, however, there were birds singing away, including at least one of my two main targets for the day. Somewhere in the trees across the road from the centre, a Wood Warbler was sounding off. I stood at the roadside for a matter of seconds, then up he popped on one of the high twigs. I wish all birds would be that thoughtful.

Crossing the little wooden bridge below the centre, I started to scour the woodland for Pied Flycatcher. Any notion of birding being easy, was soon dispelled. Despite the increasing rain, there was still plenty of bird activity; most of it coming from Great Tits, who constantly barracked me in the rudest way.

With no Pied Flycatchers evident by sight or sound, I decided a walk along the river might produce something. I'd heard Common Sandpiper, which would be year tick, so I was soon following the riverside path downstream in the direction of Linn of Tummel.

There was no sign of Common Sandpiper, and little else, although another Wood Warbler did pop up at close quarters, with a bright green caterpillar dangling from its beak. It would have made a great photo, but the rain meant the camera was kept firmly in its case.

The rain was now getting much heavier, so I turned back short of Linn of Tummel, and headed for the car. As I made my way back along the path, a slight movement on the far bank caught my eye. Further investigation with the binoculars revealed a Common Sandpiper. From the cover of a large tree, I risked bringing the camera out for a few moments to grab a record shot.

Now making my way back up the slope from the river towards the centre, I continued to check out every bird I saw move. Mainly Great Tits until one of the, "just another Great Tit", turned out to be a smart male Pied Flycatcher. And just for a bonus, I had hardly moved a few steps, when another year tick flew into view, in the shape of a Nuthatch.

I reached the car flushed with success. I even toyed with the idea of pushing on up the road to Speyside, but decided that with a full day planned for the next day, that wisdom, and the weather, dictated a retreat back to Fife. That said, I did make a call at Scone Palace in search of Hawfinch. They were heard, but not seen. They will be there for another day though.
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Old Friday 10th May 2019, 20:01   #18
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Three days a wandering - Part 2

Wednesday saw me heading to Dundee to pick up Stonefaction (Barry). Our plan of heading up the Angus Glens had been abandoned due to heavy rain being forecast in that area. Our new plan was to head past the rain belt into Aberdeenshire, with RSPB Strathbeg and the Ythan Estuary being the main ports of call.

Approaching Strathbeg, a road diversion took us slightly out of our way, so we made an impromptu call at the small harbour at Inverallochy. It was here that I got my first year tick of the day, as groups of auks, some containing Razorbill, past by out to sea. On the shore we found a few Whimbrel before moving on.

At RSPB Strathbeg, we found a school group of young children paying a visit. I am not sure which was noisier. The kids or the colony of Common Terns (year tick number 2) just outside the centre. The warden with them was very apologetic giving us detail of the kids planned visit, so we could work around it. We headed off to the hides with half an hours head start on the youngsters.

At the furthest out hide, we were soon into birds. A Spoonbill (third year tick of the day) was busy feeding close by, giving great views. And then a drake Garganey was spotted not too far away from the Spoonbill. After a short while, we realised that the drake was being accompanied by a female.

When the school group caught up with us, we spent a little time pointing out the main birds of interest to their wards, before heading off to the higher hide on the way back to the centre. It was from this hide that Barry spotted a year first for both of us, as a Swift worked the airspace above the marsh.

Back at the centre, we checked the tern colony for Arctics, but found none. Speaking to another birder that was there, he put us on to a flock of Dotterel, that had been frequenting a nearby field. We headed for said field, however, despite extensive searching we found nothing, apart from a Wheatear which made the new fifth entry to my year list. Later that day, the Dotterel were again seen in the same field, but it was a miss for us.

Now en route to the Ythan Estuary, we made a brief stop at Bullers of Buchan where I picked up a quick Puffin year tick. Arriving at the Ythan Estuary, we kept an eye open for Elvis (the King Eider), but he did not make a show. What were making a show though were the class of mixed terns, that with a bit of examination gave me year ticks seven and eight with Arctic and Little Tern being present.

When I first started serious birding, I thought I would probably gravitate to some of the A lister birds, however, I have found that I have a particular liking for Terns. For me a bird does not get much better than a Little Tern, although our bird of the day was decided as being the female Garganey

Dropping Barry off in a rainy Dundee, I decided to check out a bird alert in Fife. Wood Sandpiper had been seen at the Wilderness. I arrived in heavy rain. The forecast had been a 70% chance of light rain, but had not explained that the other 30% would be a chance of heavy rain. I made a cursory check of both ends of the main water, but there was not a single wader in sight.

Thursday dawned dry, if not exactly bright. With a few hours free in the morning, I decided to give the Wilderness another go in search of what would be a lifer if I found the Wood Sand. I arrived at the same time as another birder, so we both headed out between the two main pools. A Redshank was spotted, but I also noticed a smaller bird close to it. Closer examination revealed the sought after Wood Sandpiper.

Three days of wandering had given me thirteen year ticks, including a lifer, but more importantly, I had seen some stunning birds that have given me memories that I will keep forever. Hopefully, the next generation of birders, such as those youngsters at Strathbeg, will have the same opportunities to make similar memories
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Old Saturday 11th May 2019, 09:15   #19
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For me a bird does not get much better than a Little Tern
Agreed, they are magical.
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Old Monday 9th September 2019, 09:57   #20
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Summer

I have fallen behind in writing up reports of my wanderings over the summer, so this is the briefest of summaries. The Angus glens and coastline have been my most usual hunting grounds, producing pretty much all of what I would describe as the expected summer birds, including Cuckoo, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher etc.

Although it has been a generally slow year for me in terms of total species seen, with some noticeable, and slightly surprising misses, I can't complain, as the lifers have continued to flow in at a good rate. My wanderings, largely with Stonefaction have covered Angus, Fife, the NE, Perthshire and even the west coast, and have been pleasingly productive in birds that are new to me. I've attached a few photos of some of the highlights.
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Old Wednesday 25th September 2019, 07:43   #21
Kincraig
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Aberdeenshire
Posts: 17
Hiking in Angus

Last weekend I was away for a four-day walk through the low hills of south Aberdeenshire and Angus, supervising a Duke of Edinburgh hike group. The weather was actually too sunny and hot at times, but all-in-all the weather was very pleasant, and that made sitting around during breaks from walking comfortable. I always take a pair of decent binoculars on these hikes, partly to check up on the hike group from afar, but also to spot all of the wildlife that inhabits these areas.
One of the most noticeable things about the areas we passed through was that from Glen Dye to Glenogil I spotted no deer at all. At one point there was an electric fence with signs on it saying that deer were being kept out to aid regeneration of the moorland – but that won’t work when there are sheep on both sides of the fence. I know that there are deer up around Loch Lee, but none further east in the areas that we were.
I spotted the usual moorland birds – meadow pipits and red grouse mostly, with one unidentified wader that hasn’t left the moor for the winter yet and some migratory thrushes starting to move in. There were still some swallows and martins, so not all of them have gone south for the winter yet. A couple of grey herons working the burns were also spotted. Of particular note were two groups of six black grouse, which were a welcome spot. Down in the valleys there were the usual common small birds – coal, blue and great tits, robins, black birds, song and mistle thrushes. Finally there were the raptors, and there were plenty of these, mostly working the ridges in the sunshine and easily visible with the binoculars. Particularly numerous were the buzzards, which were so common that I gave up on counting them. Alongside these we spotted three golden eagles, five or six red kite, one peregrine mobbing a raven (quite a few of those kicking around) and a single sparrowhawk. Once again, it was worth lugging the extra weight of a pair of good binoculars.
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