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Moray birding (1 Viewer)

Thanks Delia, funnily enough hope to be popping in to Kinnordy tomorrow morning, visiting friends in Fife for a few days. Was a bit of a shock when it came round the trees, then a local birder arrived and said it's been around for a few weeks. I'll maybe get a Bittern at Kinnordy !
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
I am going to bring the Moray forum back to life.

I got recently into bird watching during the UK lockdown and I live by the Findhorn bay, so it's a perfect area to report daily sightings.

In the area where I live, we have recorded the following species, since March:

- Very abundant species: robin, dunnoch, house sparrow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, greenfinch, willow warblers, goldfinch, wren, blackbird, starling, magpies, crows, jackdaw, wood pigeon, collared dove, blue tit, coal tit, great tit, long tail tit, yellowhammers (in open fields), sand martins (sand dunes), herring gull, swallows, oystercatchers, curlew (at the bay), pink legged geese (many during winter)

- Less abundant: bullfinch, greenfinch, tree creeper, song thrush, mistle thrush, pied wagtail (near the bay), meadow pipit (open areas), garden warbler, skylarks (in open fields), pheasant (farmland), hooded crow, rook, buzzards (occasionally at open fields, but further inland they are much more common), osprey (quite regularly by the bay), shelduck (at the bay), common gull, black back gull (at the bay), shag (at the coast), reed bunting (by the bay/ dunes), whinchat (by the bay/ dunes), tawny owls

- Scarce: puffins (only seen once by the coast)

- Not recorded here yet (but I have seen them elsewhere in the surrounding region), nearby: jay, siskin, grey herons. Further inland: stonechat, swift, sedge warbler, wood warbler, red and black grouses, grey and red-legged partridges. Further west (Black Isle): kestrel, raven and red kites

Species that I am not familiar with or I have not seen yet: most wildfowl and most seabirds (still learning about those), flycatchers, woodpeckers, goldcrest, blackcap, wheatear, whitethroat, twite, linnet, redstart, redpoll, redwing, crossbill, crested tit, grey and yellow wagtails, house martin, merlin, hobby, sparrowhawk, harriers, eagles, dipper, fieldfare, corn and snow buntings

I am probably missing quite a few species on this list.
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
Oh wonderful!!! You're so lucky to be living in such a lovely place.

I'll so look forward to reading your reports lad - it's ages since I've been up that way.
 

burnie

Well-known member
I spent a fair bit of time there when my son was based at Kinloss, there's a lot of variety to go at as well as watching the sea for cetaceans. Slavonian Grebes not that far from you.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I was up at Roseisle Forest and Burghead Bay the other week. I had a nice walk and was able to see Crested Tits in the forest. I also saw the drake King Eider that's been in the bay over the summer, although it was starting to look a bit less colourful when I was there.
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
Oh wonderful!!! You're so lucky to be living in such a lovely place.

I agree, it's a really great place for birding. We have the Findhorn bay which is a haven for waders and seabirds. So far I only identified the very abundant oystercatchers, and redshanks and curlew. But there are many other species here, especially in winter. The pink geese are a show in winter days. I have seen 3 puffins but it was only once in 3 years of living here.

Then it's also a great spot for birds of prey. Osprey fishes often in the bay, and usually it's a guaranteed sight if I watch the bay for more than just 10 or 15min. It's sometimes hard to spot if it flies far, unless it hovers and makes its dives, which then it's obvious. I saw one the day before yesterday, fishing at low tide.

Buzzards are very easy to see in the area, but usually more inland. At Logie, buzzards are super easy to see. I see them every time I go there, and usually I do not have to wait more than a minute to spot them.

An hour away, in the Black Isle peninsula, it's easy to see red kites. But I haven't spotted them here yet. As I am a beginner, I haven't seen a merlin, hobby, sparrowhawk or harriers yet. Any tips to spot these?

Also an hour away, it's the Cairngorms national park, where Cappercaillie can be seen. I tried a few times (always sticking to walking paths) but I haven't spot it. I have seen other grouses and partridges an hour away, in the moors surrounding the Findhorn valley. Have you guys explored also the moors around the Findhorn river region?

In terms of other birds, the area is rich, due to the mix of woodland, farmland and dunes. I haven't seen crossbills and crested tits yet. I know that crested tits are relatively easy here in the area, so I am counting to see them in soon. The area is very abundant in yellowhammers, chaffinches, all other finches, chiffchaffs, house sparrows, many magpies and many sand martins. Any other species to pay attention to?

I also saw the drake King Eider that's been in the bay over the summer, although it was starting to look a bit less colourful when I was there.

Where in the bay was the Kind Eider? Did you spot it from Findhorn or Kinloss? I imagine it was in the southwest flank (the other side), as it is where most waders and ducks are. Because it's summer and things are quiet, it's probably a good opportunity to spot it (without having the thousand of birds that usually are in winter).
 
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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Where in the bay was the Kind Eider? Did you spot it from Findhorn or Kinloss? I imagine it was in the southwest flank (the other side), as it is where most waders and ducks are. Because it's summer and things are quiet, it's probably a good opportunity to spot it (without having the thousand of birds that usually are in winter).

It was about half way between Roseisle and Findhorn, in amongst a large flock of Eiders and Common Scoter. It's surprisingly hard to pick out, particularly when it's asleep, so take your time to search for it and don't assume it's not present if you don't see it straight away. It took me at least half an hour to find.
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
I went to the beach location, between Roseisle and Findhorn, this evening and did my first try to spot the King Eider (and hopefully still with the colourful plumage). But I did not succeed.

It was low tide, a balmy overcast evening, and immediately I spotted a few flocks of common scoter, and after a few minutes one flock of eiders. The eiders were far less numerous than the scoters, but both flocks were a bit far in the sea, so with my 10x50 it was impossible to make any details out of the eiders, as they appear far too small. I tried hard for 40min, both from up at the dunes, and down by the water edge. And I couldn't make any details.

How did you spot it?
Did you have a scope with you? Or was it high tide and the ducks were nearer to you?

Other than this I saw some black back gulls and ring plovers in the area.


It was about half way between Roseisle and Findhorn, in amongst a large flock of Eiders and Common Scoter. It's surprisingly hard to pick out, particularly when it's asleep, so take your time to search for it and don't assume it's not present if you don't see it straight away. It took me at least half an hour to find.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I went to the beach location, between Roseisle and Findhorn, this evening and did my first try to spot the King Eider (and hopefully still with the colourful plumage). But I did not succeed.

It was low tide, a balmy overcast evening, and immediately I spotted a few flocks of common scoter, and after a few minutes one flock of eiders. The eiders were far less numerous than the scoters, but both flocks were a bit far in the sea, so with my 10x50 it was impossible to make any details out of the eiders, as they appear far too small. I tried hard for 40min, both from up at the dunes, and down by the water edge. And I couldn't make any details.

How did you spot it?
Did you have a scope with you? Or was it high tide and the ducks were nearer to you?

Other than this I saw some black back gulls and ring plovers in the area.

Yes, I had a scope. I think it could be hard with just binoculars most of the time. If it's asleep (which is probably quite often) it's surprisingly hard to pick out even with a scope.
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
Today I went to Lossiemouth and spotted a grey wagtail there (by the river), as well as a grey Heron.
There were also a possible whimbrel there (not sure if it is one or just another curlew - I attached a picture). Also great black back gulls, black head gulls, and what I tentatively identified as kittiwakes (they were a bit far from view) and a few fulmars.

Are kittiwakes easy to see here in Moray?
How about gannets? Is there another place where they are present in our Moray coast besides the colony at Troup Head?

Other than this, no other new species, especially when I went to the highlands towards the southwest of Nairn and Inverness and spotted many birds of prey (but that was outside of Moray). Here at the Findhorn Bay I have just seen buzzards and ospreys (many of both of them).
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
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Scotland
You should be able to see Kittiwakes and Gannets quite widely along the coast. Sometimes Kittiwakes will gather in harbours at this time of the year.

The photo shows a Curlew.
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
I saw today at lunch time 4 ospreys feeding at the Findhorn Bay. This was the highest number of ospreys at same time. I saw a spectacular dive from one of them. At least two were close enough to be seen for details such as their colour pattern and kinked wings, and the other two I identified them by the way they were hoovering and gliding downwards, despite being far away but still above the bay.

I feel tempted to saw that about half of the times I go to the bay to do bird watching, I see an osprey.

I usually do not see buzzards over the bay (despite that in nearby woods such as Culbin they are very common). And so far I haven't seen anything else that would be identified as a falcon or a merlin or a kestrel at the bay. Could there be other birds of prey to pay attention to? Or any bird of prey that I could confuse for the osprey?
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
And I have a couple more questions:

1) Regarding whinchat, stonechat and wheatear, which of these birds is more common in Moray and are they all relatively common?
I think I saw what it looked like a whinchat at the Findhorn dunes (in June). But it might have been a wheatear instead. And then in July I saw a couple of stonechats inland at the moors (in quite exposed location so I could identify the bird quite well) Also I heard its call. So I was quite confident about this second sight.

2) Are common warblers and corn buntings common here? I have a few suspected reports in June and July of the common warbler, but warblers are a bit hard to identify correctly.

3) Other birds I haven't seen yet (and I would like to know where to easily see them in Moray) include the spotted flycatcher, the great spotted woodpecker, ring ouzel, redstart, goshawk and hen/marsh harrier. I also haven't seen yet blackcaps, treecreepers and goldcrests, which are supposedly very common birds.
 

Ratal

Well-known member
And I have a couple more questions:

1) Regarding whinchat, stonechat and wheatear, which of these birds is more common in Moray and are they all relatively common?
I think I saw what it looked like a whinchat at the Findhorn dunes (in June). But it might have been a wheatear instead. And then in July I saw a couple of stonechats inland at the moors (in quite exposed location so I could identify the bird quite well) Also I heard its call. So I was quite confident about this second sight.

2) Are common warblers and corn buntings common here? I have a few suspected reports in June and July of the common warbler, but warblers are a bit hard to identify correctly.

3) Other birds I haven't seen yet (and I would like to know where to easily see them in Moray) include the spotted flycatcher, the great spotted woodpecker, ring ouzel, redstart, goshawk and hen/marsh harrier. I also haven't seen yet blackcaps, treecreepers and goldcrests, which are supposedly very common birds.

Wheatear and Stonechat are super common. Winchat far from common.

No one will tell you of any Goshawk locations publically. They are persecuted as bad as Hen Harrier.

Ring Ouzel you need to go back UP the Findhorn and into the 'Raptor Valley' and there is a pair nesting at the top of the hill behind the old school house to the right as you walk in.

Redstart? Culbin Sands, ditto Spotted Flycatcher. Also, if you venture to Loch Garten they (Redstart) are everywhere between the visitor centre and the loch itself. If you want Pied Flycatcher, head back into Aviemore and walk UP the Cragalachie cliff path to the water works pumping station and three pairs are nesting up there. Look for nesting boxes inside the woodland.

Hen Harriers are best seen around RSPB Loch Ruthven and surrounds. And Golden Eagle regularly over fly too. Black Throated Divers also can be seen in the waters around the area, especially if you head from Loch Ruthven, via the backroads and keep a scope to the waters when ever you stop.
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
Thanks Ratal. Due to my passion for conservation I do appreciate knowing that it´s better to keep secret about goshawk locations. Any other rare bird that I should be mindful of, that needs to be kept secret, like goshawk and hen harrier? Cappercaillie is one that I can think of. Any others?

I went to loch Blairs today, near Forres, and I was happy to see some treecreepers today and one bird that looked like a blackcap. Could not see the spotted flycatcher, crested tits or woodpeckers, but in a few occasions I heard birds that sounded like them. I recorded them and I will now see what they were. An info board stated that nuthatch has been seen there, as I was surprised to know this.


Wheatear and Stonechat are super common. Winchat far from common.

No one will tell you of any Goshawk locations publically. They are persecuted as bad as Hen Harrier.

Ring Ouzel you need to go back UP the Findhorn and into the 'Raptor Valley' and there is a pair nesting at the top of the hill behind the old school house to the right as you walk in.

Redstart? Culbin Sands, ditto Spotted Flycatcher. Also, if you venture to Loch Garten they (Redstart) are everywhere between the visitor centre and the loch itself. If you want Pied Flycatcher, head back into Aviemore and walk UP the Cragalachie cliff path to the water works pumping station and three pairs are nesting up there. Look for nesting boxes inside the woodland.

Hen Harriers are best seen around RSPB Loch Ruthven and surrounds. And Golden Eagle regularly over fly too. Black Throated Divers also can be seen in the waters around the area, especially if you head from Loch Ruthven, via the backroads and keep a scope to the waters when ever you stop.
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
I went to Loch Spynie today and saw great spotted woodpecker (finally!) and wheatear (these were my first sighting too, and they looked with a more creamy yellowish belly than I would expect, besides the black line at the eye and a grey crown). Also many chaffinches at the feeders, and in the water, I saw what looked like great northern divers. I did not see any little grebes (but I saw them the other day at Loch Blairs). A few unidentified ducks. Mute swans. Could not see any grey herons (but I have seen them before at Lossie). There were also geese in there (I think they were pink-footed) and what looked like a shag drying its wings. I could not see any marsh harriers, despite my best efforts (which was my great wish), but I saw what looked like an osprey flying high.

Anything else that can be spotted at Loch Spynie that I might have missed?

Where is a good spot in Moray to see kingfisher? I have been looking for them every time I come through bodies of water. And where to see goldcrests?
 
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