Trip reports

Black Isle Birding Trip

Male merlin perched on old fence post, Shetland

Saturday, 28 January 2017

We hurried on to Udale Bay to get there before the tide was too high. Two snipe flew up from the marsh in front of us and along with a large flock of roosting oystercatchers were many redshank, dunlin, knot, bar-tailed godwit, lapwing and ringed plover. Wigeon, teal, shelduck and a little grebe were seen.
At the pull-in after Jemmimaville we got the telescopes out again to scan the sea. The sea was very calm but visibility not so great. The flock of scaup was easily located and a slavonian grebe floated quite close to the shore. A small group of male long-tailed ducks looked beautiful in their splendid winter plumage and a distant red-throated diver gave us a challenge to identify.
Only three lucky members saw a merlin on the drive back to Rosemarkie but everyone saw the huge flock of pink-footed geese, estimated at about 5000. Mary's feeders at Arabella added four tit species to the list along with two great-spotted woodpeckers and small flock of redwings. We didn't linger at Chanonary point after adding turnsone to the list as the sea was choppy and the rain a little heavier. A few more species were added at Avoch including tree sparrow and red-legged partridge.Fourteen barnacle geese were with small flock of grey lag and pink-footed geese in a field near the A9. Finally we drove down to the firth at Redcastle where despite the gloom we had excellent views of pintail but the best was yet to come. Further along the firth we stopped to watch two otters, a female and a smaller cub, fishing along the tide-line with the cub coming to sit on a rock very close to the shoreline. 73 bird species were seen during the day.