Trip reports

Christmas Birding & Lunch

Christmas Birding & Lunch

Sunday, 11 December 2011

In one field was a large flock of grey geese, both pink-footed and greylag. The coach was parked at Kirkmichael and we took a walk along the lane towards Balblair. On the marsh by the ruins was a small flock of whooper swans. There were lapwings and curlews feeding in the fields. A good selection of passerines was seen in the hedgerow, including, mistle thrush, fieldfare, redwing, greenfinch, goldfinch, siskin, yellowhammer and reed bunting and a few skylarks flew over. One lucky member of the group saw a merlin chasing a blackbird, but the outcome of the chase was not witnessed
Moving on our next stop was the lay-by next to the hide, from where we saw many wigeon, teal and mallard. As the tide was by now quite high the waders were settling down to roost. Alongside a flock of oystercatchers were curlew, bar-tailed godwit, redshank and dunlin. On the sea were shelduck, goldeneye, red-breasted merganser and a large raft of greater scaup.
We moved on to Cromarty, seeing a flock of turnstone from the coach, and were dropped off by the harbour to walk round the headland. Eider and long-tailed duck were seen on the water and a pied wagtail and rock pipit were by the harbour wall and the only song thrush of the day was a good find. The sea towards North Sutor was very quiet, with only cormorant and shag along with a few gulls. A flock of about 50 ringed plovers flying around seemingly trying to find somewhere to roost were very entertaining.
As the coach headed back to Maryburgh one or two observant people at the back saw a male hen harrier take off, and a hunting kestrel. A brief stop overlooking Munlochy Bay added only black-headed gull to the day's list.
A lunch of soup, sandwiches and mince pies at the Cottage Bar provided a very satisfactory end to the morning's birding. A total of 64 species were seen.