Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Birding downs and ups

Last Saturday I travelled east to the Moray firth in an attempt to find a barred warbler that had been located the day before at Chanonry point.  After an hour of searching the scrub and marram grass behind the lighthouse I just had that feeling that it was not going to be- and sure enough it wasn't. A very tame female bullfinch hopped out of the gorse and started feeding almost under my feet- she appeared to be a very tired migrant 'just in' and a sparrow hawk and kestrel were also distractions, but I still had that 'dipped out' taste in my mouth. A couple of gannets, guillemots and red-throated divers completed the tally for the couple of hours spent at the point. 
An hour later I enjoyed good numbers of wigeon, teal, curlew and knot from the new hide at Udale bay on the Black isle. A little grebe and a few bar-tailed godwits were welcome additions to the day list but the best birds were a flock of c180 scaup out in the bay to the NE of Jemimaville.

Monday and I was back on the road heading to Brora. A local birder had made an excellent find the previous afternoon in the form of a white-rumped sandpiper. I spent nearly 4 hours scouring the coast enjoying great views of sanderling, purple sandpipers, redshank, and red-throated divers and distant views of a number of long-tailed duck, common scoter and a slavonian grebe were also welcome. Having checked all the shoreline and with the 'dipped out' taste starting to return, I went to check one last bay, one last time. I arrived on a small elevated section of dunes just in time to see a mixed flock of redshank and oystercatchers take flight. Through my bins I noticed a single small wader flying with the flock and although it was in silhouette I felt my pulse race! The birds re-settled on a stretch of rocky shoreline and I couldn't see the small wader although I knew it was there. I quickly got my scope onto the general area and was suddenly thrilled to see a very small bird walking away from me and felt sure I had glimpsed a white rump between the loosely folded wings before it was hidden from view. I needed better views to be sure though, and was rather horrified when the mixed flock flew a few hundred metres offshore and settled briefly on some rocks before returning back to the shoreline. I finally got onto the bird properly and enjoyed nice, albeit distant views of another lifer!  

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