Trip reports

Coach Outing

Coach Outing
Tawny owl chick - Hugh Conner

Sunday, 7 June 2015

RSPB Loch of Kinnordy & Murton Nature Reserve

It was a lovely, sunny drive to RSPB Loch of Kinnordy through the Angus countryside. Arriving at the Reserve, we were met by a red squirrel who took one look at us, and disappeared! However, an osprey and marsh harriers were far more accommodating, giving us many close views. The other bird of prey seen over the loch was a common buzzard, along with swifts, barn swallows, house and sand martins hoovering up insects. On the water there was a variety of ducks; mallard, gadwall, shoveler and tufted, and the waders were represented by oystercatcher, lapwing and redshank, there were also moorhen and coot. A solitary pink-footed goose perplexed us. Also there were greylag geese and mute swans, and the only heron of the day flying past. Lesser black-backed and black-headed gulls were on the bog bean islands, and reed buntings posed on reeds in front of the hides. We heard a water rail close-by, but it didn't show.

The short walks between the 3 hides gave us the opportunities for a range of woodland birds. Blackcap, sedge- and willow warblers were seen, besides goldcrest, spotted flycatcher and treecreeper. Great-, coal- and blue tits, chaffinch, and goldfinch were active in the trees, with wren and robin at a lower level. Again we heard the water rail nearby, and did see a dark bird make a short, quick flight, but was it a rail or another of the blackbirds? We couldn't tell!

Just before leaving Kinnordy some of the group were directed to a very fluffy tawny owl chick, bringing our time there to an interesting close.

At Murton Nature Reserve it was interesting to see how it has developed and matured in the 4 years since we were here, and lots of eyes lit up at the sight of the home-baking in the café! Besides being of interest for birds and wild flowers, Murton is very forward-thinking on environmental issues, and in training young people in land-based skills.

Obviously, there was going to be an overlap with Kinnordy, but we added another 24 species to our list. As we sat in the sunshine having lunch, lesser redpoll, bullfinch and yellowhammer flew over, and on the first of the pools we noted shelduck, wigeon, teal, pochard, and were particularly pleased to see garganey. We spent some time discussing whether a bird on the shingle was ringed- or little ringed plover, but it became clear that both species were there. Walking past the lovely orchids we reached the sand martin nesting facility, and paused to watch the birds popping in and out of the holes. Skylarks were above us, and a song thrush and pheasant were in the area behind the nest wall. Further along, we located a linnet in the broom.

Continuing the Reserve circuit, little- and great crested grebe were on the pools, pied wagtails with some young were on the fringe of the water, and long-tailed tits were in the woodland. Jackdaw, rook and starling were around us as we enjoyed the pleasant trail, in great weather. At the end of the loop we managed to locate a whitethroat, but the calling greenfinch remained hidden.

Some folk popped back to the café for a little more home-baking to take back, and were rewarded with views of dunnock and house sparrow to top up the day's sightings.

Val Donaldson