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Trip to Scotland in June

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Old Wednesday 24th May 2017, 16:09   #1
Pau Lucio
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Trip to Scotland in June

Hi everyone,

I am going to Scotland with my wife the first week of June. We plan to spend 3 days in Speyside and then move to Handa and the West coast.

Any good place for Scottish crossbill and Woodcock around Speyside? maybe the track of Loch Mallachie?

I know Capercaille is difficult, but any suggestion for this and black grouse?

Finally, is there any good place not far from Handa where White-tailed Eagle can be seen?

Many thanks and good birding
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Old Thursday 25th May 2017, 07:21   #2
gordon hamlett
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Hi Pau,

WTEs can turn up anywhere round the Inverpolly coastline.

Some good places to try include the lay-bys at Kylesku, The viewpoint along the B869 at Drumbeg and anywhere along the road between Reiff and Achiltibuie.

Just south of Ullapool, take the road towards Gairloch. Gruinard Bay/Island is the traditional site but there are several pairs along the coast between there and Inverewe gardens.

HTH

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Old Thursday 25th May 2017, 08:40   #3
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Hi Pau,
I am heading to Speyside in July, and am also hoping to find Scottish Crossbill. As such, I've done a bit of research as to where I (you) might try to find them.

Loch Garten area is the favourite, but one other area that I have identified is Curr Woods just off the A95. The area north of Broomhill House is the exact area I have identified from Bird Track as worth a try (A well known UK twitcher appears to head there to get SC on his year list). OS Map reference is NH99335 22609. I can't advise on access, but looking at Google Maps, it would appear that you just park up alongside the road and walk into the woods.
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Old Thursday 25th May 2017, 19:56   #4
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We enjoyed Scottish crossbill along the famous Findhorn Valley. Exactly at NH 76045 24421, and flying around the conifer tops to the north and west (scope recommended). That was in January this year.

Hope it helps
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 11:45   #5
Pau Lucio
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Many thanks for your help!
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 12:23   #6
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Can Scottish Crossbill be ID'd in the field with 100% certainty?

My UK life list is approaching 430 and Scottish Crossbill isn't on it; interested in opinions please :)

Last edited by NAB : Friday 26th May 2017 at 13:53.
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 12:51   #7
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The comment I had from the local recorder;

>> Scottish crossbills are relatively common, though erratic in appearance, in the right habitat - proving their identity is extremely difficult and can only be done with confidence by taking precise measurements of birds in the hand or recording and analysing their calls. For this reason Highland Records Committee (HRC) decided it would only assess records with evidence of this nature and Highland Bird Report would only publish records accepted on this basis by HRC.

Personally, I do count as Scottish Crossbills birds seen well which have obviously stout bills. The much rarer parrot crossbill has a massive bill but there is a continuum of bill size from common, through Scottish, to parrot crossbills <<

Not easy!
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 13:28   #8
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Wasn't there a big surprise a few years back, when a breeding survey found that in some years, Parrot Crossbill is the commonest breeding Crossbill species in the Abernethy area?

Also I'm pretty sure that when I read the book, Whilst Flocks Last, where the guy set out to see every UK bird on the Red List, he only had Scottish Crossbill confirmed by DNA analysis?

Edit: I'm not trying to crap in anyone's cupboard by the way, just curious, as would like to add to my own BOU list :)

Last edited by NAB : Friday 26th May 2017 at 13:32.
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 15:44   #9
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As a beginner, I find this BOU stuff a bit confusing. Crossbill and Scottish Crossbill are different species although very close to indistinguishable in the field, yet something like Lesser and Mealy Redpolls, although more distinguishable, are now deemed to be the same. Is it just a question of genetics?

As I indicated, I'm hoping to have a go for Scottish Crossbill in July. I'm probably not going to be able to discern the difference in call or slight differences in bill size (unless I get some video maybe), but I'm led to believe that if the Crossbill is in pine, feeding on pine, then it likely is a Scottish. Or this too clumsy an ID method?
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 15:51   #10
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Not that straight forward and don't forget the Parrot Crossbills:

http://www.the-soc.org.uk/identifica...ot-crossbills/
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 16:05   #11
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and don't forget the Parrot Crossbills:
Good point. Think I should be researching sites for Parrot Crossbill also.
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 23:00   #12
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Can Scottish Crossbill be ID'd in the field with 100% certainty?

My UK life list is approaching 430 and Scottish Crossbill isn't on it; interested in opinions please :)
I've lived in and birded around Aberdeen for the last 20 years and it's not on my list either, and I've seen 'stout billed' crossbills on numerous occasions. However, if people want to believe that a) Scottish crossbill exists and b) that they can identify it just by looking then thats up to them!
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Old Sunday 28th May 2017, 17:13   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAB View Post
Wasn't there a big surprise a few years back, when a breeding survey found that in some years, Parrot Crossbill is the commonest breeding Crossbill species in the Abernethy area?

Also I'm pretty sure that when I read the book, Whilst Flocks Last, where the guy set out to see every UK bird on the Red List, he only had Scottish Crossbill confirmed by DNA analysis?

Edit: I'm not trying to crap in anyone's cupboard by the way, just curious, as would like to add to my own BOU list :)
That was also my understanding. It seems you can gauge to an extent, but given that there's overlap in bill sizes among the species, unless you have extremely large or extremely small, it's difficult to know. We were with two guides who knew the area, and crossbills, very well, and they were sure they were Scottish - as to what that actually means, who knows?! I'd only consider 100% as coming from DNA or sound recordings (and I'm sure an expert will be along to say sounds are not sure either).

(FYI on the pine cone issue, we have common crossbills in Lothian, and I've only ever seen them in pine, feeding on pine - so I doubt that would be a differentiator unfortunately. (We've actually had them in our back garden, which was a very happy day!)
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Old Monday 29th May 2017, 22:05   #14
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Can Scottish Crossbill be ID'd in the field with 100% certainty?

My UK life list is approaching 430 and Scottish Crossbill isn't on it; interested in opinions please :)
Nope. Sonogram of supposedly distinctive call is now the only "accepted" ID. There are claims however that birds have been recorded in England giving similar sonograms. These could be just be Scotbills on holiday, fed up with their sedentary lifestyle, as were the ones recorded in Spain....probably on a package tour.

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Old Monday 29th May 2017, 22:18   #15
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Originally Posted by Gander View Post
As a beginner, I find this BOU stuff a bit confusing. Crossbill and Scottish Crossbill are different species although very close to indistinguishable in the field, yet something like Lesser and Mealy Redpolls, although more distinguishable, are now deemed to be the same. Is it just a question of genetics?

As I indicated, I'm hoping to have a go for Scottish Crossbill in July. I'm probably not going to be able to discern the difference in call or slight differences in bill size (unless I get some video maybe), but I'm led to believe that if the Crossbill is in pine, feeding on pine, then it likely is a Scottish. Or this too clumsy an ID method?
Common regularly feed in Pine here, it's not an ID method. If the birds are managing to slice open tight green cones, then they are probably Parrot but once the cones are fully open, even Redpolls can feed on them.
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Old Tuesday 30th May 2017, 11:33   #16
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Crossbill Sonogram

Pardon me if this is taking us off subject a little, but what would I need to make a sonogram? I have video facility on my camera. Would the sound recording off that be sufficient, or would I need something more specialised?
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Old Tuesday 30th May 2017, 11:54   #17
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Pardon me if this is taking us off subject a little, but what would I need to make a sonogram? I have video facility on my camera. Would the sound recording off that be sufficient, or would I need something more specialised?
I think to be 100% a sonogram of the call is the best method, it's that subtle! Human hearing is too subjective.
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Old Wednesday 31st May 2017, 05:55   #18
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Pardon me if this is taking us off subject a little, but what would I need to make a sonogram? I have video facility on my camera. Would the sound recording off that be sufficient, or would I need something more specialised?
If you are close enough to the birds, then your camera might be good enough. You'll need to download some sound analysis software too - Aufacity is good - you can find some instruction on how to use it on this blog (among all the stuff about chiffchaffs...)

http://birdsoundsblog.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

Also, remember it's not just 'the call' you need to record - it's specifically the excitement call. There's some useful info here.

http://www.the-soc.org.uk/identifica...ot-crossbills/

Good luck!
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Old Wednesday 31st May 2017, 11:23   #19
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Thanks.
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