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Wild in Aberdeen - City and Shire (1 Viewer)

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I went up to the Ythan Estuary today and eventually had some good views of the drake King Eider near the mouth of the river. Lots of tern activity there too, including a few Little Terns.

Later I walked from Blackdog to Donmouth. I found an adult male Surf Scoter in amongst the other scoters off Murcar. The scoter flock was quite well south today, much nearer to Donmouth than Blackdog. At least 30 Velvet Scoters were in with the large numbers of Commons. There were an awful lot of Red-throated Divers around - at least 50 - which I guess are mostly failed breeders and immatures. I usually reckon it's not a good sign when there are a lot of Red-throats about here in the middle of summer. Three dark phase Arctic Skuas were milling about and 23 Manx Shearwaters went north in a tight flock. I was surprised to see a Puffin very close inshore off the mouth of the Don.

Here are a few King Eider shots.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Here are a few more shots from the Ythan today.
 

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Joseph N

Lothian Young Birder
I have just returned from a trip to Speyside, but some birding was done in Aberdeenshire on a couple of occasions. On the way to Speyside on Saturday, I stopped off at Cragendarroch near Ballater to have a look for Wood Warbler, as advised by people on here. Despite it being a cool morning and the light being poor, I had great success. About 200m along the track above the street called Cragendarroch Walk, one Wood Warbler was singing its heart and showing fantastically. It was totally unphased by our presence, and was singing and flying around the trees right by the path no more than 20ft away from us. The bird sang regularly, even whilst flying, and as it sang you could see it's whole body virtually shaking with the effort it was putting in. At it's closest, it was no more than 10ft away. Views were unbelievable, and hopefully the photos below show that. I was wondering if the reason it was coming so close to us and seeming unphased by our presence was partly territorial behaviour?

I found myself at Strathbeg from lunchtime onwards today, having decided to visit on the way back from Speyside what with American Wigeon and Bonaparte's Gull there recently. I arrived in the Visitor Centre to find the drake American Wigeon with a group of 10 Wigeon on the pools just over 100ft away. Fantastic and prolonged views of this delightful duck were obtained. It spent a majority of its time roosting on a bank with the other Wigeons, occasionally opening its eyes. After a while, it proceeded to swim on the pools with the other Wigeon, where it seemed to pursue a female Wigeon and engaged in some aggressive behaviour towards a male Wigeon, which it chased on a couple of occasions. This was my first American Wigeon in Britain so it was a great delight to see it. Nearby a drake Garganey was showing beautifully, as were 7 immature Little Gulls . However, there was no sign of the Boneys. Nonetheless, this was a great to end to what overall was a good trip. Along with the Wood Warbler photos are a few images of the Wigeon.

Joseph
 

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Capercaillie71

Well-known member
I saw a Barn Owl today, near Huntly. It was my first since 2008, so it's good to know that some have survived the past two winters in this part of the world. Don't tell anyone, but I accidentally flushed it from a derelict building (Schedule 1 etc. etc.!)

I also heard a Quail yesterday near Inverurie and a Grasshopper Warbler from my garden on Sunday night.
 

Stonefaction

Stuck in Dundee.....
Scotland
Looks like I'll be heading north (-east) tomorrow with a friend to visit the Ythan and Strathbeg. Can I ask a few wee questions, please?

Is Rigifa pool worth a wee detour, despite the departure of the Avocet etc? I assume that pretty much anything can show up there (saw the Temminck's Stint there last year).

Has the King Eider been favouring any particular section of the Ythan (Birdguides seems to suggest around Inches Point - would this be a sensible place to start, rather than the car park near the golf course?)

Any word on the American Wigeon still being around at Strathbeg today?

I don't see any mention of Short Eared Owl on the RSPB site blog, but saw one hunting last summer during the walk between the hides, is there any chance of seeing one around tomorrow? (ie. have they been seen on the reserve recently?)

And lastly, anywhere else that might be worth a stop in the area? (Sea watching at St Coombs?).

Thanks, in advance for any info.

Baz
 

Stonefaction

Stuck in Dundee.....
Scotland
Well, made it up north to Aberdeenshire today. Stopped at Rigifa Pool and saw a few Canada Geese but not much in the way of waders (a few Lapwings).

Next stop was the Ythan where we scoured as much as possible for King Eider, but drew a blank. Did see my first Little Tern of the year though. 3 Knot and a small group of Bar tailed Godwits were the other interesting birds.

On to Strathbeg, where we wasted a large chunk of time trying to see a Wigeon that was offering glimpses of a promisingly grey-ish head from behind a grassy island. Unfortunately when it did eventually break cover it turned out to be just a female Wigeon. A bit more searching didn't help finding the American Wigeon (it had apparently been seen around 9am), though another visitor did find a Garganey, and we briefly saw a Pochard with some Tufties. Almost had really good shots of a very low hovering Buzzard by the access road but a sudden lurch forward by the car resulted in me clipping the wings on the photo. In the rest the head is hidden by the wings on the downstroke. Also a single Greenshank was feeding along the back of one of the pools to the right of the Centre.

We stopped off at Bullers O'Buchan on the way home (having never been before) and added a few cliff-dwellers to the list including Puffin. Lots of birds offshore. Looks like a place I'd like to spend more time at, though we were only able to stop for 5 mins today.

Another attempt at the King Eider resulted in a wee bit of damage to my pal's car's bodywork due to the potholes in the car park (or should that be the pothole that is the carpark), but still no luck with the bird. Then it was homeward bound and into the rain.

Slightly disappointing, but still rather enjoyable, day out, with 64 species of birds seen, but just 1 for my yearlist.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I've just spent an enjoyable, though rather wet, weekend in Deeside around Ballater. As always, it's good to see a lot of the regular birds of Deeside that I don't get to see very often on the coast. Cuckoo, Tree Pipit, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and Jay were all around in good numbers. A Whinchat was on the lower slopes of Morvern and a male Stonechat (my first of the year in northeast Scotland) was on Culblean Hill. Only a few Red Grouse were on the moors, though I did see one young bird. I heard a few Green Woodpeckers calling around Ballater but didn't manage to see any. This area seems to be a stronghold for this species in the northeast. The usual Dippers and Common Sandpipers were on the rivers but only one Grey Wagtail was heard. They seem to be a bit thin on the ground at the moment, perhaps having suffered during the winter. A Garden Warbler was singing at the caravan site in Ballater. Woodcock were roding over the village in the evening and a Tawny Owl called once night had fallen. A lone Whooper Swan was on Loch Kinord, getting some grief from one of the local Mutes.

The best bird was the Wood Warbler at Craigendarroch, which showed extremely well on Saturday morning. It was singing almost constantly and often coming down very low in the trees. Such great birds. Light wasn't too good but I managed one okay picture.
 

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Capercaillie71

Well-known member
I called in to Strathbeg at lunchtime today and the American Wigeon was showing very well on the visitor centre pools. Also 5 Black-tailed Godwits and some fluffy common tern chicks
 

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Joseph N

Lothian Young Birder
I called in to Strathbeg at lunchtime today and the American Wigeon was showing very well on the visitor centre pools. Also 5 Black-tailed Godwits and some fluffy common tern chicks

Congratulations Paul - some great images and I'm glad that you saw the bird at such close quarters (much better than my shots!) . Did you go for the White-winged Scoter? I got good views of it on Sunday evening along with 3 Surf Scoters, arriving before the masses appeared on Monday. Although listing is not my main concern when it comes to birding, can I ask if those Aberdeenshire birders who have also seen the White-winged Scoter have life-ticked it? Due it being to a pending bird on the British List and what not I'm not sure whether to life-tick it for now or not, but if others have then I would certainly be inspired to do so.

Joseph
 
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Capercaillie71

Well-known member
Congratulations Paul - some great images and I'm glad that you saw the bird at such close quarters (much better than my shots!) .

Thanks Joseph - I think I was pushing digiscoping to the extreme there though.

Did you go for the White-winged Scoter?

No - can't say it excites me that much. Velvet Scoter with a bumpy nose! Rarities aren't really my bag anyway, although I did have another failed attempt at the King Eider today.
 

kawwauser

Well-known member
well done with the widgeon pics capercaillie71,i have been intending on an aberdeenshire visit for the last 4 weeks,my main day off is monday and the weather has beaten me every time,im going to go for it this mon rain or shine hopefully this bird will still be around
 

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
HI Joseph,

As far as I'm aware, Velvet has been split from the white winged complex (ie deglandii and stejnegers...please excuse spelling!) so it's probably good for a tick.

Not that any of it is relevant to me as I am stuck on a boat. Hopefully it will stick around for a couple of weeks and I'll get to have a good look at it.

I wonder how many of these have gone unnoticed in the past?
 

Capercaillie71

Well-known member
At Last!

Rarities aren't really my bag anyway, although I did have another failed attempt at the King Eider today.

Well, I was in the Ellon area again today so I had another go and finally got lucky!

The King Eider was sleeping at the mouth of the Ythan but I had to wait nearly 45 minutes before it finally showed its head. This is the fifth time I've tried for it this year on top of three failed attempts last year, so I'm pleased to have finally caught up with it, as my only previous King Eiders were this uninspiring pair.
 

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Joseph N

Lothian Young Birder
HI Joseph,

As far as I'm aware, Velvet has been split from the white winged complex (ie deglandii and stejnegers...please excuse spelling!) so it's probably good for a tick.

Not that any of it is relevant to me as I am stuck on a boat. Hopefully it will stick around for a couple of weeks and I'll get to have a good look at it.

I wonder how many of these have gone unnoticed in the past?


@ Mark: Thanks for your opinion. The general consensus all over the 'net and the birding community is of course that its a gen bird and that it is likely to be accepted, so I'm going to tick it for now. In the very unfortunate but unlikely event that it isn't accepted, I will remove it. Ticking it doesn't matter too much though, the main thing is though that it was a fab bird and very exhilirating to have seen this very likely first for Britain! I might head up in a couple of weekends' time if it's still about as I've got a birding relative coming up who will almost certainly want to see it. Hope it sticks around for you too, I feel your pain! I should imagine quite a few have gone by unnoticed in the past, especially first-summer birds like this one - very tricky to identify, so huge respect to Chris, Paul and Hywel for finding it!

@ Paul: That's true, it's not the most aesthetically exciting of birds, but certainly exciting for me to have a first for Britain only a few miles from the house!! Well done on managing the King Eider after several tries - yet again some nice pictures! When I first saw it, it was similarly roosting pretty much all the time just opposite the lifeboat station and didn't show its head for a similar amount of time until it waddled over to a new roosting place on the sand. You could certainly have a duck fest in Aberdeenshire at the moment!

Joseph
 
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Stonefaction

Stuck in Dundee.....
Scotland
Tried for a mini duck-fest on Saturday, and failed to get either King Eider or American Wigeon....and the Scoter wasn't reported while we were in the area. Not likely to be able to get back up to Aberdeenshire any time soon, so have to hope at least one of them fancies a visit to Angus soon (preferably this Saturday, Sunday or Monday when I'm not stuck at work). Fingers are crossed.
 

Capercaillie71

Well-known member
I just heard then saw a Woodcock roding past my house over the adjacent field - I've flushed a couple from my garden in the winter time, but this is my first roding bird from the house in the 20 years I've lived here.
 

Ben Nevis

Registered User
Supporter
Scotland
High Rise Youngsters..!

The 4 Peregrine chicks have now fledged from the city centre nest site and 2 Oycs have fledged from a nest,on top of St Nicholas House.
 

Joseph N

Lothian Young Birder
Tried for a mini duck-fest on Saturday, and failed to get either King Eider or American Wigeon....and the Scoter wasn't reported while we were in the area. Not likely to be able to get back up to Aberdeenshire any time soon, so have to hope at least one of them fancies a visit to Angus soon (preferably this Saturday, Sunday or Monday when I'm not stuck at work). Fingers are crossed.

Hi Barry,

That's unlucky that you can't make it up to the area any time soon. I wouldn't worry a great deal though, the King Eider will probably stay for most of the summer as they usually do, and there is also a good chance that the White-winged Scoter will stay around too as it is moulting along with the other scoters off that stretch of coast, which could well keep it there for most of the summer. I'm relatively confident that both will still be around in a few weeks time, so all hope isn't lost :t: . Fingers crossed both birds are still around in the future!

Joseph
 

Capercaillie71

Well-known member
The 4 Peregrine chicks have now fledged from the city centre nest site

That's good to hear Ben.

I was coming up the coast road from Inverbervie this morning so I stopped to have a look at Fowlsheugh. It was heartening to see quite a lot of well grown guillemot and razorbill chicks and most kittiwake nests seemed to have 2-3 large fluffy young in them too. There were 4 puffins on show too.

I was interested to see the new shelter at the end of the path. Quite a nice building and a comfortable place to appreciate the view up the coast. However, although I know it's not meant to be a birdwatching hide, it does seem a bit of a shame that you can't actually see the birds on the cliffs from it.
 

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