Trip reports

North Kessock to Tollie

North Kessock to Tollie

Saturday, 31 January 2015

As we set off for North Kessock it was blowing a blizzard but by the time we reached the meeting point the sky was blue and all set fair. We were joined by thirteen other birdwatchers and set off to the life boat station to overlook the firth at the base of the bridge. The pattern for the day was set as we debated over the species of a bird in the far distance.It was agreed to be black and white and one camp thought it was a male goldeneye (without it's diagnostic white cheek patch) the other a scaup .Eventually ( maybe because it was blowing a blizzard) after consulting the bird books we labelled it as a first year goldeneye ( which have no cheek patch!)
Beyond Charleston the field across the firth was busy with lapwings, curlews and geese. One goose was noted to be different, was it a bean goose? All the indications were that it was... until you came to it's legs which were pink not orange. We spent a lot of time on this bird eventually conceding it was probably a pinkfoot. Once again we were saved by the weather and returned to the cars to shelter from the incoming shower.
One member of the group thought she had glimpsed a kingfisher as we drove to Redcastle. The tide was going out fast and lots of oystercatchers, curlews and redshanks were feeding at the tideline. We walked down to the firth from Killearnan Church where we spotted several species of small birds, no disagreements here. Once again the weather closed in as we drove to Tarradale house. After eating lunch we walked along a footpath but there was little to see, a sparrowhawk and kestrel were added to the list.
Back to the cars and another blizzard and half the group decided to go home.The rest of us decided to make one last port of call to Loch Ussie. Again we were driving through a blizzard but by the time we reached Loch Ussie the sun was out and we trudged through the snow to the loch side. Here we saw tufted duck,goldeneye, goosander and little grebe. The birch trees looked beautiful in the sunlight with the snow glistening on them and I was glad we had made this last stop. Altogether despite the weather it was a good day with good company and beautiful birds. Total bird count 45 species.