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The Highlands and Islands Thread (1 Viewer)

Hotspur

James Spencer
United Kingdom
had about 50 gn divers and 25 black throats on the ferry to islay yesterday plus 4 lesser redpoll, 5 willow warbler and a couple of crossbill at the ferry port on kintyre. Today about 30 manxies to the west but little else.
 

shorebirder

Well-known member
Drake American Wigeon on Loch Eriboll on Sat 10th April, if anyone up that way may still be there. Southern end of loch best viewed from Eastern shore with a small group of wigeon.
 

tom mckinney

Well-known member
Just got back from Highlands: Aviemore then across to Skye for some red hot mountain action, and I mean red hot, we've both been sunburnt the weather has been so good! Weather in Aviemore was fine. Snow had all gone from the town/forests by the time we got there. Still thick snow up on the tops though and plenty of people still skiing.

Crested Tits very hard work, only single birds at Loch Mallachie and Loch an Eilein (walking clockwise around the loch by the sign for the Lairig Ghru - I've never failed to see them here). From my own visits I think there's a long term decline of Crested Tit going on (certainly at Abernethy and Rothiemurcus) and this freak cold blast a few weeks ago has probably given then another good kicking. None around Forest Lodge.

We also had all the other Speyside specials, though crossbill sp were only fly overs, also a fantastic pair of displaying Red-throated Divers on Loch Morlich and a group of 6 Whooper Swans on the extensive floods between Broomhill Station and Dulnain Bridge. There have been recent sightings of Wildcat in the grounds of Tigh na Sgiath hotel near Grantown, though you may need to sell a kidney or two to stay there.

After Aviemore we took a quick trip up to Burghead Bay (dipped King Eiders, but plenty of other good seaduck, grebes and divers), then up and across to Lochinver. Found a couple of pairs of breeding Greenshanks and lots of Black- and Red-throated Divers on the lochs. Twite all over the place, big numbers of Wheatears around the headland at Point of Stoer (Greenland migrants?) and good numbers of moulting Great Northern Divers in pretty much every bay we stopped at. But the big highlight was an amazing passage of Pinkfeet going on over three days. No idea how many thousands we saw, but we must have watched a substantial proportion of the British wintering population come over us - absolutely spectacular.

I also had four pies in two days at the Lochinver Larder - best pies in the world.

After Lochinver we worked our way down the coast via Ullapool, Gruinard Island and Loch Maree - not a single eagle anywhere. Lots of divers though, and with a bit more time you'd almost certainly pull a White-billed out of the bag.

The summit above Applecross had 2 Ptarmigan on a short walk up to the radio mast.

On Skye we had 6 soaring eagles (five White-tailed [!] and one Golden) at the same time at Portree viewable from the clifftops at Torvaig. Also Goldies elsewhere on the island. Camped two nights at Glenbrittle for easy access up to the Cuillins - Ptarmigan, tons of Twite, Greenshank, divers, Tysties etc...

Must find a way of moving to Scotland!
 

jpoyner

Well-known member
Scotland
Hi Tom,

I think maybe you were just unlucky with Cresties, they are certainly a bit elusive at the moment but are still showing regularly in all the usual places including forest lodge.

Could just be the time of year, they are busy getting down to nesting at the moment and do become incredibly hard to find some days with little calling.

Hopefully they have made it through the bad winter with not too many casualties

Sounds like an excellent trip, you hit the best weather for sure!
J
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
Are Crested Tits common on mainland Europe? If so, why are they restricted to such a small part of Scotland?
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
Camped two nights at Glenbrittle for easy access up to the Cuillins - Ptarmigan, tons of Twite, Greenshank, divers, Tysties etc...

Must find a way of moving to Scotland!

Did you actually go up the Cuillin? If so, it must have been a bit hairy this early in the year...
 

tom mckinney

Well-known member
Hi Tom,

I think maybe you were just unlucky with Cresties, they are certainly a bit elusive at the moment but are still showing regularly in all the usual places including forest lodge.

Could just be the time of year, they are busy getting down to nesting at the moment and do become incredibly hard to find some days with little calling.

Hopefully they have made it through the bad winter with not too many casualties

Sounds like an excellent trip, you hit the best weather for sure!
J

Hi John,

With Cresties, well it must be the time of year then, I've never found them so difficult as this trip, though we didn't spend all that long in Speyside. The weather was extraordinary - never known it so good, especially considering what you had just the week before!

T
 

jpoyner

Well-known member
Scotland
Are Crested Tits common on mainland Europe? If so, why are they restricted to such a small part of Scotland?

Yes they are. I don't think the answer is really known as to why they exist in such a small area of Scotland, but it seems it is probably a relic population now confined to just a small area. They are a very sedentary species very reluctant to disperse. There is plenty of suitable habitat such as Deeside not that far away yet they are absent.

As an example of just how sedentary they are, I live just half a mile from habitat with breeding Cresties, with an area of farmland between. In ten years I have NEVER recorded a Crestie at my feeders, yet they use feeders no more than half a mile away!!!
 
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tom mckinney

Well-known member
Did you actually go up the Cuillin? If so, it must have been a bit hairy this early in the year...

The weather was so good that there was no real problem. Very little snow (I don't think it snows that much on Skye anyway, compared to further east?)

We did Bla'Bheinn one day, and then Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr nan Eag the next. We did Bla'Bheinn via a steep gully that became quite tricky near the summit, it was probably about a grade 2 scramble, but at least it took us straight to the top without having scurry about on the steep scree slopes where other walkers had gone. We descended on a less risky ridge, but it was still pretty steep.

The two true Cuillins we did were amazing. Again some pretty hair-raising moments, but providing you're relatively fit, have good gear and have a reasonable amount of experience being up high (also some common sense regarding weather conditions!) I don't think you'd find yourself in too much trouble. We wouldn't have gone up if the forecast hadn't been so good.

Regarding some of the other Cuillins though, well looking at Sgurr nan Gillean and Inaccessible Peak, I think I might have to build up quite a bit more experience before I try those!
 

jpoyner

Well-known member
Scotland
Hi John,

With Cresties, well it must be the time of year then, I've never found them so difficult as this trip, though we didn't spend all that long in Speyside. The weather was extraordinary - never known it so good, especially considering what you had just the week before!

T

Yes certainly April and May are the most difficult time to find them until they have fledged young. I have searched for them in vain during May at usual spots many times, they can just seem to vanish.

As you say, it is possible they may have suffered in the bad weather, be interesting to see what the RSPBs breeding surveys throw up.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
As an example of just how sedentary they are, I live just half a mile from habitat with breeding Cresties, with an area of farmland between. In ten years I have NEVER recorded a Crestie at my feeders, yet they use feeders no more than half a mile away!!!

It's easy to see how vulnerable they must be to bad weather or habitat loss if they rely on such small areas to get by.

I remember watching a TV programme, I think it was in the Amazon, and a dirtroad cut through the forest and some birds just would not fly over this small gap in the forest to get to the other side.
 

Marcus Conway - ebirder

Well-known member
I had actually wondered if the hard winter may have removed more competitors that had increased more in recent years. Insectivores such as Long Tailed Tit and Goldcrest.

What are the effects of cold winters on Crested Tits?

I had assumed that despite recent warmer winters the Crested Tit is perhaps better placed to cope with things than some other species.
 

TheSeagull

Well-known member
Anywhere anyone recommends going this weekend, are those otters that were at Inverness a few months ago still showing? Is it worth going to Loch Garten if I can't possibly make it early enough for Caper-watch?
 

Marcus Conway - ebirder

Well-known member
Anywhere anyone recommends going this weekend, are those otters that were at Inverness a few months ago still showing? Is it worth going to Loch Garten if I can't possibly make it early enough for Caper-watch?

The Otters have not been seen for about three weeks and the trees have now been removed from the river bank - the temporary holt was under one of them. I had one at North Kessock recently.

Capers have been showing frequently, but distantly, at Loch G.

Depends what you after I guess...?
 

timwootton

Well-known member
Hi Tim,
The Dornoch area is my local patch,and i do BBS in the rogart area.
Hi D,
I expect to be spending a bit of time down in your area in the near future - be good to hear about it from you. Flushing blackgame from the train north last autumn on the approach to Rogart was a highlight of the homeward journey for me, no doubt.
 

Dmacaskill

Well-known member
Hi D,
I expect to be spending a bit of time down in your area in the near future - be good to hear about it from you. Flushing blackgame from the train north last autumn on the approach to Rogart was a highlight of the homeward journey for me, no doubt.

Hi Tim
it`s a great area for birds,the autumn is a good time to see black grouse in the area, often feeding on the buds of trees.let me know when you`re in the area and i can let you know whats about.

Dean.
 

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