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The Highlands and Islands Thread

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Old Saturday 28th November 2009, 20:44   #1
TheSeagull
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The Highlands and Islands Thread

Not wanting to intrude on the Highland and Moray forum but I can't personally see why there is no Highland and Islands thread on Birdforum, there is a lot of threads with queries after all. So I've decided to start one, give me a slap on the wrist if I've broken some unwritten rule

So anyway - the Highlands and Islands - probably the most wild and rugged part of Scotland and certainly the most sparsely populated. I'm sure we've all been and I'm sure we've also all been again or planning to! It is the most unforgettable part of Scotland and if I'm going out on a limb, the British Isles. Post all queries and comments about this part of Scotland here.
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Old Saturday 28th November 2009, 21:38   #2
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I'll start by giving the Highlands and Moray Forum a free plug anyway

Joking.................good idea, the forum pretty much tries to just serve as a grapevine. Surprisingly, unlike most other areas the region is sadly lacking in any formally organsied "local" grapevine. To be fair, there is a fairly loose email grapevine, but it could do with something a bit more efficient such as using texts. As I've just finished my 10th year working as a Wildlife Tour Guide in the region can certainly vouch for it's outstanding qualities. There are places on the West which you'd be hard pressed to find more spectacular anywhere in the world.............just drive the road from Stornoway to Tarbet, Harris on an clear late autumn afternoon and you'll know what I mean!

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Old Thursday 3rd December 2009, 18:44   #3
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BBC2 tonight at 9 o'clock, Nature, the wildlife, Pine Martens and all, around Loch Maree. Should be worth watching.
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Old Thursday 3rd December 2009, 18:46   #4
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BBC2 tonight at 9 o'clock, Nature, the wildlife, Pine Martens and all, around Loch Maree. Should be worth watching.
Thanks, looks interesting. Anyway heading to the islands for the first time in April, Barra, Uists and Skye. Looking forward to it and I'll try to fit in Corrimony and Loch Garten on the way home!
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 09:21   #5
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BBC2 tonight at 9 o'clock, Nature, the wildlife, Pine Martens and all, around Loch Maree. Should be worth watching.
superb programme. Concentrated mainly on BTDivers and eagles with very little of Pine Martens, but I'm not complaining. The shots of Beinn Eighe brought back memories of a very long day, a very long time ago. Couldn't do it now!
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 11:36   #6
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I've got my first trip to Mull booked for June next year which I'm really looking forward too. Can't wait to see if it lives up to the wonderful photographs and footage I've seen recently.

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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 15:06   #7
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I drove up Strathconon near Muir of Ord on Wednesday and had 2 near misses in my car. The road was icy so when a flock of birds flew up in front of me and I instinctively tried to id them I almost went over the edge of the road into a wee burn! The birds remain unknown. The second was when 2 whoopers flew alongside me as I drove along by the loch just before the car park. I couldnt look at the swans and the road (I tried but almost lost it!) so concentrated on the road thinking '2 big white birds against a dark loch, easy to find' - never saw them again! Had nice stonechat, oh and I almost forgot - had 2 golden eagles. One landed on something and when I drove along to look for it it flew over my head, my Leicas may be close focussing but not that close!! There are also a lot of goldeneye on the lochs around there just now.
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Old Saturday 5th December 2009, 16:01   #8
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superb programme. Concentrated mainly on BTDivers and eagles with very little of Pine Martens, but I'm not complaining. The shots of Beinn Eighe brought back memories of a very long day, a very long time ago. Couldn't do it now!
A lovely programme, wasn't the photography just beautiful? I loved the bit where they showed the juvenile White-tailed Eagle first taking to the air in particular.

I think the Highlands looks like a beautiful place to go birding. Haven't really given it a great deal of justice to be honest, and think it would be a good idea to take a trip down that way next year.
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Old Saturday 5th December 2009, 19:41   #9
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A lovely programme, wasn't the photography just beautiful? I loved the bit where they showed the juvenile White-tailed Eagle first taking to the air in particular.

I think the Highlands looks like a beautiful place to go birding. Haven't really given it a great deal of justice to be honest, and think it would be a good idea to take a trip down that way next year.
Definitely. Best place for wildlife in Britain.
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 07:31   #10
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I've got my first trip to Mull booked for June next year which I'm really looking forward too. Can't wait to see if it lives up to the wonderful photographs and footage I've seen recently.

Di
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 09:53   #11
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Having just moved up here I have not had the time to get out and about much yet. Are there any bird clubs in Inverness?

Also whilst doing some xmas shopping yesterday I had about 6 waxwings fly over and had an Iceland Gull on the river. Plenty of Goldeneye and Goosander loafing around too.
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 10:23   #12
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Welcome to Scotland Marcus.

Good luck with your new venture.

You've started well with those sightings haven't you.

D
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 13:11   #13
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I think this will be of interest to many looking at this thread: www.scottishislandsaccessrights.co.uk

During the next few months the site will cover access information to at least 20 uninhabited Scottish islands.

If anyone is aware of an access issue on any Scottish island I would be interested to hear of it.

Kindest regards,
Andy
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 18:27   #14
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Originally Posted by Marcus Conway - ebirder View Post
Having just moved up here I have not had the time to get out and about much yet. Are there any bird clubs in Inverness?

Also whilst doing some xmas shopping yesterday I had about 6 waxwings fly over and had an Iceland Gull on the river. Plenty of Goldeneye and Goosander loafing around too.
Welcome to this neck of the woods Marcus! I walked over the Ness a few weeks ago and some guys passed me saying 'that must be a female diver' I got all excited until a female red-breasted merg popped up!

I havent seen any waxwings this year but I did disturb a party of bullfinches in my garden this afternoon, they were new for the garden so I was pleased. Had goldeneye on the lochan at the foot of the garden last week.
Cheers
RO
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 18:29   #15
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Originally Posted by Marcus Conway - ebirder View Post
Having just moved up here I have not had the time to get out and about much yet. Are there any bird clubs in Inverness?

Also whilst doing some xmas shopping yesterday I had about 6 waxwings fly over and had an Iceland Gull on the river. Plenty of Goldeneye and Goosander loafing around too.
You've picked a stunning part of the world to move to Marcus, Inverness (or the 'sneck' as it's known locally) is my home town. I've recently moved south to Fife but it's just not the same, there is however a larger birding community down here with much more hotspots than back home. I'm not aware of any 'Inverness bird club', I don't think there is one to be honest but I would say there was scope for one to be set up....

There are a few nice little patches dotted about the area, Merckinch NNR at the mouth of the caley canal can be good, Lentran on the south side of the Beauly Firth, 6 miles NW of Inverness is worth a look, Alturlie Bay to the east of town is good, Loch Flemmington turns up some good stuff from time to time, the areas around Loch Ruthven and Ashie for Ospreys etc, you've got the Blackisle just over the Kessock Bridge to explore and the north side of the Beauly Firth can be productive, Further north you've got Tarbet Ness - an excellent seawatching spot. Chanonry point is the place for Dolphins and Porpoises but I've found Fort George to be just as good and it's easier to get to...Check out Nairn beach and Whiteness Head for Gulls and Waders and don't forget the Culbin forest and sand bar.....

The area is sorely under-watched but there are a few lads out there that you'll no doubt bump into. I've got a feeling you'll fall in love with the place and you'll be finding some excellent birds pretty soon.

Really looking forward to seeing your photography and your sightings I have to say!
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 18:49   #16
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I am going to the pantomime in inverness on the 27th
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 19:03   #17
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Thanks for the gen guys. I have a clear ten days from Wednesday and just can't wait to get out!
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 21:57   #18
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I think this will be of interest to many looking at this thread: www.scottishislandsaccessrights.co.uk

During the next few months the site will cover access information to at least 20 uninhabited Scottish islands.

If anyone is aware of an access issue on any Scottish island I would be interested to hear of it.

Kindest regards,
Andy
Interesting site Andy. I managed 23 last year and you've encouraged me to make a life tally now, will get back!
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 22:11   #19
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Ok I reckon I've done 31 "Strangeways" Islands though not slept on all of them. That makes about 19%...long way to go! Any other contenders out there?

Edit: 30, I just knocked off Skye.

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Old Tuesday 8th December 2009, 06:40   #20
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Having just moved up here I have not had the time to get out and about much yet.
Well done Marcus, it's a move you won't regret.
I know I haven't
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Old Tuesday 8th December 2009, 08:23   #21
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Well done Marcus, it's a move you won't regret.
I know I haven't
Thanks Bob. I'll be over your neck of the woods again in May (if not before ).

Just had a waxwing over calling on the way for the milk. Too foggy to see it though.
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Old Tuesday 8th December 2009, 17:42   #22
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Its great to hear that you are seeing Waxwings Marcus, hardly any have been reported in Scotland so far this winter. Hopefully they'll head east and arrive down here in Aberdeenshire and elsewhere in the near future. Hope your enjoying your new home.
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Old Tuesday 8th December 2009, 20:52   #23
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Plenty of berry trees here - I hope they stay

Here are some details for the Highland Branch of the SOC

http://www.the-soc.org.uk/highland-branch.htm
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 17:06   #24
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Took a trip to Blackfold on the North shore of Loch Ness. The weather was too bad for shots, but I did see a Red Kite sat on a post, it flew off when I stopped the car. Also a small flock of Bullfinch. Plenty of Buzzards on poles and a few digging for worms in fields.

Headed East (across the border into Moray!) to one of my favourite reserves - Culbin Forest. Plenty of Fieldfare and Redwings and some Linnets splashing in a pool near the entrance. Found a few Tit flocks and saw quite a few trilling Cresties, but no great shots. Headed back via Tesco in Inverness and there is a pretty good Starling roost that I will come back to photograph on a quieter day.

Additionally a Peregrine has been on the church next to our house, which makes a nice living room tick!
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 23:19   #25
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Originally Posted by Marcus Conway - ebirder View Post
Having just moved up here I have not had the time to get out and about much yet. Are there any bird clubs in Inverness?

Also whilst doing some xmas shopping yesterday I had about 6 waxwings fly over and had an Iceland Gull on the river. Plenty of Goldeneye and Goosander loafing around too.
Hi Marcus

Welcome to Inverness! We have 2 clubs here, the RSPB and the SOC. If you like sea birds go here, there's also a kingfisher here and my friend phoned me yesterday to tell me she had watched it for about 20 minutes fishing!

As others have said Culbin forest is great, we had crossbills (jury is out on what kind) follow us as we walked round, but, next time we went they were no where to be seen!! Charleston west of north kessock has a small parking area close to an inlet that has lots of geese, teal, dunlin, godwits....

We are newish to birding but if i can help let me know

Regards

Alison

p.s should really read to the end of a thread! just saw you had been to culbin, HH said about merkinch and you found the SOC!!

Last edited by afras03 : Wednesday 9th December 2009 at 23:38. Reason: read the whole thread!
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