2nd to 6th January 2015 - Scotland

We started 2016 with a renewed enthusiasm towards birding and on the 2nd, headed up to Aviemore in Scotland. We hadn't birded this area before, so Stuart set a target of 5 lifers and, preferring not to be disappointed, I set a target of 3 lifers.  Our first day out was targeting the local specialities. The first stop was Dorback, where in the driving cold rain (which, due to my stupid illness and inability to regulate my body temperature, I didn't recover from until we returned to the hotel and wrapped up in a duvet by the radiator for a while) we watched 8 Black Grouse lek and a couple of Raven flew overhead.  The weather eased up ever so slightly for the rest of the day and at Loch Garten I got the first lifer of the trip, a Crested Tit.  Despite taking about a million photos, they were all a bit rubbish.  The rest of the day was spent looking for Capercaillie, but they were busy hiding, so we finished off with three Whooper Swan and then spent the evening sampling Scottish gin.

Red Grouse

The second day was a day at the coast, which was a lot of fun!  We saw a few Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting, which we had missed last year, so they were lovely to see.  At Spey Bay we saw a few Red-throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander amongst a list of 40 other birds.  Lossiemouth was our site for lunch which had a few waders and a small group of Snow Bunting.

The main part of our watch was at Burghead from which I saw my first ever Little Auk.  The usual sea suspects were there, Eider, Common Scoter and Guillemot with a suprise fly past of a lone Purple Sandpiper.

Two Little Auk!
The last day we spent hunting the elusive Capercaillie again which again were not playing ball, but we saw a couple of Crossbill that were apparently as close to the current definition of Scottish Crossbill as possible, which was quite cool.

'Scottish' Crossbill
The trip was finished with a drive through the Findhorn Valley which was full of raptors, a female Goshawk, a few Buzzard, Peregrine and the icing on the cake, 4 Golden Eagle, harassing a White-tailed Eagle.  Epic.  Finished the trip on 7 lifers, so well surpassed my target.  Happy happy.

Year list: 88
Lifers this year: 7


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