Trip reports

Loch of Strathbeg

Adult whooper swans feeding in fields

Saturday, 29 October 2016

A short stop at Cullen for coffee gave us a chance to do a little sea watching. The tide was in so there were no waders along the shore but the sea was very calm and we had good views of long-tailed ducks, common scoter, eiders, guillemots and 2 red-throated divers.
When we arrived at Loch of Strathbeg everyone immediately headed for the picnic tables and benches to eat their lunch whilst watching the tree sparrows, greenfinches, goldfinches and tits on the feeders. After lunch we went into the visitor centre to look out over the pools and wetland. Telescopes were necessary as most of the birds were a fair distance away but the light was good. Whooper swans, pink-footed geese, barnacle geese, shoveler, lapwing and golden plover were seen in the distance. Among the closer birds were 2 black-tailed godwits, several redshanks and a small flock of long-tailed tits in a tree in front of the viewing window.
We drove round to Crimmond airfield where we split into 2 groups to visit the 2 small hides. Amongst the hundreds of wigeon were mallards, teal, tufted ducks, pintail, gadwall, scaup, goldeneye and a pochard. Many whooper swans were dotted around the loch.
Returning to the centre we walked to the tower hide in the hope of seeing geese and swans flying onto the loch to roost. The light was fading fast but eventually many skeins of pink-footed geese landed in front of the hide calling loudly as they came. We were able to pick out a white-fronted goose from the melee and a fox walking across the marsh in front of the flock caused less panic than expected as presumably they were all aware of his presence and watched him go by. As we walked back to the coach many small groups of whoopers were returning filling the air with their evocative calls.