Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Touring the east...

Day 1 of the Scottish trip commenced with a team pickup at Newcastle (collecting a hire car for the trip) and Edinburgh (collecting the remaining members of the party).

Edinburgh was convenient in that a drake surf scoter was available for relatively easy observation off the River Esk, Musselburgh. Although quite distant and in murky conditions it only took a matter of minutes to pick the drake up - loafing about with velvet scoter. Not a particularly great view of what is typically a very bonny duck, but none the matter, a quality start. White and pied wagtail were on the river banks, while our drive into the area had also provided the only swift of the trip. One member of the team thought that a particularly distant and drab long-tailed duck was the highlight of the visit...

Next up a drive north and east, past the granite city and onwards to the delights of the Ythan Estuary. I had dipped drake king eider here in the 1980s on a family holiday - todays visit was better. Parked up at the golf course and headed over the dunes to find a very low tide and a concentrated flock of eider on the estuary.

Armed only with the 100mm-400mm lens, some ok record shots were achieved - how I wished I'd brought the 500mm! My first "proper" drake king eider, a contender for bird of the trip... Wonderful to here the eiders calling away, arctic terns overhead seals in the background noisy too!

Next stop was a short drive north to Meikle Loch - a drake ring-necked duck had been reported earlier in the week (and a blue-headed wagtail), but none were on show on this visit.

Further north, Portsoy was to be the final birding destination of the day, and a little while later were were enjoying tricky viewing of a summer plumaged white-billed diver! An incredible finale to the day, made all the better that it was a life tick for one member of the team, albeit a little distant in choppy conditions. Better still, we were treated to great views of gannet and fulmar riding the blustery conditions.

Bleak conditions at Portsoy - but a tick on view through Ian's scope

So a good start to the trip - three quality birds. Next port of call was inland, to our lodgings in Grantown-on-Spey...

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