Saturday, 28 April 2012

Loch Maree

Had a drive down to Loch Maree yesterday with fellow birder Richard Rafe. We went to have a look for Scottish xbill and then onto the west coast for a check on the divers and a brief sea watch. Early  excitement came in the form of the narrow escape for the male pheasant that started to run in front of the car! As is often the case with recognised sites, no xbills were seen or heard. In fact the whole visit was a bit of a let down- no migrants with the exception of small numbers of willow warblers. Even common woodland species were scarce on the ground. Temperatures of 4-5 degrees celsius, a very cold northerly air flow and fresh snow cannot be too inviting to passage migrants.

Loch Maree- few birds but stunning natural beauty!
gorgeous- but not exactly inviting to migrant passage!
Anyway a couple of black-throated divers were heard and seen distantly but that was it! A short stop for coffee and cakes in Gairloch was followed by a run up the 'road' to Rubha Reidh light house. Although one of  my preferred sea- watching sites on this stretch of coast,  I don't get here as often as I like because it can be a drag to get too, with a very long and narrow approach road. It was worth a brief look though, with 150 or so kittiwakes close inshore on the sea, a small movement of gannets and razorbills, an eider, 1 ringed plover, 1 fulmar an iceland gull, 3 great skuas heading north and 12 purple sandpipers on the rocks below the light house.  A fairly casual look for the white billed diver on loch Ewe failed to locate the bird as did further scans of the sea from Mellon Udrigle beach. 10 GND's were on the sea around gruinard island, an otter was seen in the sea and a white-tailed eagle drifted overhead bringing my year list up to 110.


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