6th to 10th September 2013 - Scotland

Time for a holiday, up to Scotland.  We drove up (nutters) to stay in Arisaig for a couple of days and then moved up to Plockton.  It wasn’t primarily a birding holiday, but we got a good few sightings in!

As a surprise for me, we took the steam train from Fort William to Mallaig and back again on the first full day we were there with a couple of unusual sightings amongst the more common sightings of Robin, Swallow and others.  When we disembarked from the train in Mallaig, we saw what we initially thought to be a Guillemot clambering over the train tracks, but it actually turned out to be a Manx Shearwater!  Poor baby.  We also had an Eagle high overhead which was later identified as a White-tailed Eagle and on the trip back, I spotted a lone Muscovy duck at the side of the track.  Odd.

First Hooded Crow of the trip

Manx Shearwater scrambling across train track
A trip around Arisaig later in the evening in hope of Red-breasted Merganser didn’t turn up any, but I did see my first Raven of the year as soon as I got out of the car – result!  There were many young Curlew around which were lovely if a little confusing at first and there were lots of Hooded Crow around which are always lovely to see.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish

Herring Gull with starfish
 The next day had another surprise for me, as we took a small boat out to the pub at Knoydart for lunch.  It is apparently the most remote pub, with no roads in or out, only accessible by boat or an 18 mile hike over the munros!  The boat trip was brilliant, with a bird that looked suspiciously like what I’d expect a Petrel to look like sighted, but no tick as I couldn’t ID it!  There was also a lovely little Pied Wagtail hanging around outside the pub throughout lunch.
Hooded Crow
Pied Wagtail
The next day it was off to Skye to head out to sea on a RIB.  It was incredibly exciting, and got a fair list of birds, including Eider, Ringed Plover and Fulmar.  A Tern on Rum that we stared at for an age we have now decided is a Little Tern and a couple of Eagle were seen although not ID’d.  One was having great fun soaring on the thermals, so I like to think it was a Golden.  Obviously not ticking it though, would need more confirmation!

Peacock Butterfly
It was off on another boat trip the next day, this time from the other side of the island and somewhat slower.  There were plenty of Cormorant and Shag around, which was interesting for comparison.  We found a bird in the water which turned out to be a juvenile Kittiwake, very sweet.  There were a few flocks of Guillemot and Razorbill floating around and plenty of different gulls flying overhead.  The best bit of the trip had to be when the call of 'dolphins!' was heard. Apparentl'd they hadn’t been seen in over a fortnight, so this was a great sight!  They swam alongside the boat for ages, leaping out of the water and just looking generally awesome.  We also had another amazing sighting right at the end – the White-tailed Eagle couple coming back to their nest.  One swooped down to get something from the water and one chased a gull past the boat.  Amazing! 

White-tailed Eagle
On the way back, we had a quick couple of twitches for both the Blue-winged Teal at Frankfield Loch and the Lesser Scaup at Pennington Flash.  The Blue-winged Teal was a great success with a couple of Pectoral Sandpiper in attendance too, but unfortunately the Lesser Scaup wasn’t in view, but there was the second Muscovy of the trip!
Trip list: 53
Year list: 187
Lifers of year list: 24

Sylvester the B&B cat


Post a Comment